SESTA: The Next "Sex Trafficking" Crackdown

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion & War Issues' started by stevenkesslar, Sep 26, 2017.

  1. tassojunior

    tassojunior Baron

    There is no Oz, there is no Palestine. There's only Israel from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. Welcome to the 1-state solution. 4 million Palestinians who have lived there for thousands of years still live in Israel but are not considered citizens of Israel but of some mythical neverland. That's Apartheid, no different than white South Africa pretending to be a "Democracy" (The only Democracy in Africa! ) where blacks were pretended to be citizens of other countries. Either allow those 4 million (at least) to be citizens and vote or shut up forever about the nonsense of Israel being a "Democracy"....that is pure drivel crap.

    And Gaza is nothing but a huge concentration camp of 2 million people held behind barbed-wire fences and randomly shot at by laughing Israeli crowds and burned alive by Israeli napalm to keep them living in terror. Tear down that damn fence and let those people live in the country they've lived in for thousands of years and be citizens.

    The "Israeli Dream" has turned into a nightmare where the country is being taken over by right-wing religious bigots and whose national pastime has become killing people in front of cheering crowds.
  2. quoththeraven

    quoththeraven Prince

    Jordanian control may be the next-best thing solution. (It's not something I've seen mentioned before.) You're right that there is no partner on the Palestinian side who can deliver on a deal. I see Abbas more as ineffective than corrupt, but at the end of the day the result is the same.

    I'm not at all surprised that your friends in Israel, however you met them, are left of center.
    marylander1940 likes this.

    I've hyperlinked and cited the Congressional Record floor debate on the US Senate on FOSTA/SESTA a few times on other posts. I think there are several things in 24 pages of testimony that are really worth singling out and noting. I think they are important both in terms of how we got to where we are, and where we go from here.

    1. There was no real discussion with stakeholders.

    Here's what Democratic co-sponsor Richard Blumenthal said:

    "Mr. BLUMENTHAL. [This bill] is the product of stakeholder consensus. It has the support of every major human trafficking organization, every major law enforcement group, and every part of the tech community—if not unanimous, at least of many of its leaders."

    Sen. Wyden discredited much of that argument quickly and effectively. The parts of the tech community that supported the bill - like Facebook and the Big Tech lobby - don't care about pulling up the ladder for everybody else, Wyden argued. They also have egg all over their face right now, and probably figured this was an easy fight to cave on, since they probably care way more about making ad revenue than about freedom of speech.

    There was no discussion with sex workers or escorts or prostitutes, and no explicit recognition that prostitution or sex work or escorting involve anything other than the abuse and manipulation of women or children. While Blumenthal claims there was "stakeholder consensus," he implicitly admits that the discussion with stakeholders only involved one side of equation.

    2. This is a bill written by and for former prosecutors of sex traffickers who have a very narrow understanding of "prostitution."

    If you go down the list of Senate co-sponsors and floor speakers, most of them are lawyers who built careers in part on prosecuting sex traffickers. They mention their experience in their testimony. Good for them. They clearly have experience that resonates about how trafficking is a horrible crime against women and children. Interestingly, they all go to pretty much one example, and one example only - the rape and murder of Desiree Ambrose, who was trafficked off Backpage. I don't blame them for using her as their one real world example again and again in 24 pages, because it was a horrible crime.

    The word "sex worker" is not used in any Senator's testimony. The word "escort" is not used in any Senator's testimony. If this bill was meant to go after sex workers or escorts, you'd have a hard time figuring that out from 24 pages of constant attacks on "sex trafficking."

    The bill does essentially create a new federal crime against websites involved in facilitating prostitution. But even "prostitution" is only mentioned a few times - as opposed to hundreds and hundreds of citations of "trafficking." Senator Blumenthal says the bill is intended to go after websites that "facilitate prostitution," without saying what that means. He does say the bill is not meant to go after websites that offer "harm reduction" for prostitutes. He states:

    "Mr. BLUMENTHAL.[The bill] would not criminalize the so-called harm reduction communication—information designed to ensure that women and men wrapped up in commercial sex trade can avoid violence, prevent HIV, and access community and support services."

    His is one of only a few sentences in 24 pages of testimony that even remotely imply that there could actually be anything consensual about sex work or escorting.

    But there is no real discussion or even acknowledgement that people like sex workers or escorts exist. Or that they are interested in things like harm reduction. Or that there are websites or reviews that attempt to protect both escorts and clients from harm. It is mentioned simply as something the bill is not about, and then quickly dropped.

    3. The bill is not about Gays - maybe.

    I've cited this before, but in 24 pages of testimony, there is only one explicit reference to the existence of Gay sex workers or Gay escorts. That comes - again, vaguely - from Senator Schumer:

    "Mr. SCHUMER. Finally, I want to note that I have heard concerns that this legislation could be misused or abused to penalize websites that promote important health and safety information to survivors of sex trafficking, including about HIV prevention and treatment, and provide access to community and peer support services. This information is particularly critical to the victims of sex trafficking and others who face high rates of violence and exploitation, like people who use drugs, people of color, and LGBTQ people. I believe the use of this legislation to create any liability for this important work would be an impermissible misreading of the statutory."

    If you assume that Sen. Blumenthal's vague reference to "men wrapped up in commercial sex trade" refers to Gay men, it would appear that only two Senators acknowledged the existence of the Gay community, or the fact that many Gay men wish to hire sex workers or escorts. The only thing Schumer and Blumenthal seem to say, vaguely, is that this bill is not meant to target the Gay community or its consensual activities. Maybe.
  4. WilliamM

    WilliamM Regent

    It is understood that honorable people may not completely understand the full consequences of this law.

    McCain's tweet

    Today, @POTUS signed into law our bipartisan #SESTA. This bill will enable Backpage and other websites to be held accountable for knowingly facilitating human trafficking, and allow victims of these horrific crimes to seek the justice they deserve.
  5. WilliamM

    WilliamM Regent

    Thanks, Steven. I have been less involved. Sad that only Sen. Schumer addresses this issue -- maybe.
    stevenkesslar likes this.
  6. bigjoey

    bigjoey Peer

    Today’s NY Times has a story on China banning gay content in the internet. Part of a “clean up” of sexually suggestive content, the object is to make a “clear and harmonious” environment.

    President Xi Jinping has tightened his grip on the internet going beyond political opponents to a public morality similar to that of the “old days” when the Communist Party dictated what that should be.

    Once the government starts controlling something, its area of reach just seems to expand. China shows us what a future can be like with government controls.
    honcho, Lookin and stevenkesslar like this.
  7. Does anyone know anything about either of these events: (June 1 Lobby Day) (June 2 International Whores' Day)

    Since the last time I looked, it appears the June 2 event was added. I assume so that people can engage in protest locally without having to go to DC.

    I also assume that this is mostly or exclusively organizing by female escorts.

    At this point I'm mostly curious to see where it goes. I am hoping the primary resistance is based on freedom of speech (ACLU) and internet freedom. Having said that, I'm glad to see some escorts and sex workers are organizing as well.

    Here's also organizing notes from SWOP up in Seattle. I'll highlight a few points:
    • The take away from conversations with [Congressional] staffers: They are not hearing about sex worker rights, and want to know more
    • We know of people in Congress whose votes changed because of our outreach
    • If you have a chance to send some thank yous – the National Center for Transgender Equality, National Center for Lesbian Rights, AIDS United and Rep. Barbara Lee’s office were *instrumental* in this work
    I wasn't even aware that any national LGBTQ organizations had spoken out on this issue, like they did when the Rentboy bust happened.

    It also rings true to me that there was really little or no discussion about sex workers. All I can base it on is reading reports and Senate speeches, but words like "sex worker" weren't even used. "Prostitute" was barely used and when it was as I said above it was equated with nonconsensual trafficking. So it would not surprise me at all that there is just a massive amount of ignorance and darkness.
    quoththeraven likes this.
  8. tassojunior

    tassojunior Baron

    Google and Yahoo pretty much coddle China and help enforce it's filters. Notably, I heard that a filter Google was testing for the US to filter for FOSTA had rejected the statement "I am a homosexual" as offensive.

    China's internet censorship has ripple effects everywhere.
  9. Sex Workers Fear for Their Future: How SESTA Is Putting Many Prostitutes in Peril

    Meanwhile, two community debrief calls aimed to make this sort of resource-sharing and community-building even more widely accessible. Lola told The Daily Beast that there were somewhere between 250 and 300 dial-in numbers, but noted that, since many people were listening in groups, the actual number of participants was probably much larger. Moving forward, Lola said, “We are planning a national lobby day on June 1st and a national direct action day on June 2nd, which is International Whores Day, which has a long history of really radical, women of color-centered organizing that we want to honor in our movement.”

    D’Adamo elaborated on the lobbying day, describing plans to reach out to and engage staffers and politicians: “To say, you were really committed to voting for this bill, now we want your same commitment to ending violence against sex workers, because that is the impact of this bill.”

    “And that’s not only going to happen in D.C., because we know that there are state and local laws that really impact people—especially communities of color, especially trans folks, especially migrants, every day,” D’Adamo continued. “SESTA only built on the criminalization that they are subjected to constantly. And so it’s not just about D.C., it’s not just about our federal representatives. It’s about going to every single place that we can and saying sex workers are your constituents, and we are asking you to value our lives.”

    Many of the activists and sex workers who spoke to The Daily Beast described the legislation as a catalyst for an unprecedented groundswell of organizing, sharing, and action. Lola explained that, “I’ve been organizing for four or five years, I work with people on this stuff who have been in the movement for 10 or 20 years, and they say it is the largest groundswell of action and voice around a single issue in the sex-worker rights movement that they’ve seen in the U.S.”

    “This community is the most resilient that I’ve ever seen,” said D’Adamo. “It is brilliant, it is innovative, it’s really funny—and so, even though lawmakers let this community down, this has been a moment of coming together, and of reaching out, and of realizing the value of those connections in a way that is huge.”

    Still, Lola warned that the pace of shutdowns and self-censoring would likely only increase, “Because critical to this piece of legislation is not whether or not trafficking is actually happening on that platform, it’s the conflation of sex work and trafficking, and if there’s even a trace of sex work on any [website]. And every corner of the internet has that! So I think we’re going to see tech companies announce a lot of different censorship and bans and shutdowns over the next couple of weeks, and I think we’ll continue to see the community react.”

    “The part that makes me the angriest about all of this is that they’ve put these new laws in place and they’ve shut everyone out of these online communities but they haven’t offered anything other,” she concluded. “There aren’t more resources to help sex workers find different forms of employment. We have done nothing nationally and, in fact, we’ve taken many steps backwards in terms of helping trans women who often are forced to do sex work because of employment discrimination. The anti-trafficking organizations certainly haven’t added more services or housing for people who are now potentially not going to be able to pay their rent because they can’t put up ads and work online. This is backwards. This is the worst possible way to try and help trafficking victims, and yet we passed it in the name of saving people. Saving people is not shutting down a website. Saving people is offering real resources, and real opportunities for people to save themselves.”

    Note: As I outlined earlier this thread, Sen. Wyden did offer an amendment to fund DOJ $20 million a year to target and fight sex traffickers, including resources for sex trafficking survivors. The amendment was defeated about 3 to 1.
    honcho and quoththeraven like this.