Tag Archives: prostitution in ri

Dirty Money

Two stories were published this past weekend in the Providence Journal.  The first, RI sex lobby weeks larger voice at the General Assembly, went into how there is big money in the sex industry, and some of that money ends up in the hands of RI’s politicians.  I don’t know how this is any different from the story a few months ago on the Asian massage parlors “donating” to the State and local police.

I guess the politicians and the police are not much different, taking money with one hand and shaking a condemning finger with the other.

The second story was “New prostitution law buttons up the Strip Clubs” The main point of this story was how tax revenue was down and the clubs were changing the way they do business.

Revenues at adult entertainment clubs already had been declining along with the economy. Sales tax revenues fell to $11.1 million last year, from $12.1 million in 2004, according to the state tax office. Even The Foxy Lady, the state’s oldest and best known strip club, has seen its business decline to about $4 million a year, down from as high as $5 million during the late 1990s, said the club’s manager, Richard Angell.

Club managers aren’t the only ones feeling anxious. Since indoor prostitution was outlawed, customer traffic — already down 25 percent to 30 percent since the economy tanked — has slipped further. Business fell another 7 percent after the new law took effect, said H. Charles Tapalian, the property owner for two strip clubs — Cheaters and Club Balloons — on Allens Avenue.

These stories come just a few days after the police release info on the first stings. The front page of the PROJO on Sunday,  just a few inches away from a the Strip Club story, was a story on how charities are struggling with finances, and today the Governor cut $100 MILLION from cities and towns budgets.  I guess we don’t really care about the poor or the budgets of the cities and towns, we spend money on police overtime, placing ads in the Phoenix and craigslist, and even more money on hotel rooms so we can set up a sting to catch Pat Patriot!  Way to go RI! Now those are some interesting priorities!

Opinions are like…

Belly ButtonI have an opinion too.  Actually I have 2 opinions. (Well I have a ton of opinions, but 2 as it relates to the situation on the prostitution law in Rhode Island)  While I am against laws that would criminalize sex between consenting adults, I fear that the over abundance of  media is forcing the General Assembly to create a law.  Since a law may be passed, I am  hoping for one that will not imprison the women who I have come to know in the process of making “Happy Endings?”  I guess you can say my second opinion is a compromise, a “plan b” as it were.

My “plan b” was printed in the Boston Globe today.  This “plan b” is known as the Sweden law.  I know that people who are in the sex industry will be upset with me for advocating for this law, but because it looks like a law is going to pass I am going to advocate for the lesser of two evils.

I’ve been had!

But so has a bunch of other people on both sides!  A spoof site called Christwire.org did a story on Rhode Island named “Foreign Sex Radicals Invade Nastiest State in the US to keep Strippers and Hookers Legal”.   The story is a spoof, but at first I couldn’t tell.  It seemed like it was just another guy writing doing little to no research, similar to Donna Hughes, and expanding on the hatred of prostitutes.

Of course none of what was written was true, but since that has never stopped Hughes I figured I wouldn’t stop anyone else, but I didn’t know that the whole site was a parody site.  I even commented a few times before I realised what I was doing.

If one lesson can be learned from this event, it is that THE INTERNET CAN NOT BE TRUSTED.  (Donna, I hope you are reading this, and I know you are.  When you base you all of your research on the chat boards of men who go to spas, what percentage of the truth do you think you are getting? These chat boards are the 21st century version of men’s bathroom walls, how can you actually present research on that and consider it valid?)

I guess the old adage is correct “Don’t argue with fools, because people from a distance can’t tell who is who.”

The “Sex Radicals” Respond

On Friday, Donna Hughes and Citizens Against Trafficking put out a letter titled “International Sex Radicals Campaign to keep Prostitution Decriminalized in Rhode Island” .  I responded to this pile of propaganda here, and I was not the only one.

Here is a couple of the “Radicals” that responded to Hughes’ lies. (I have included some excerpts, but click on the links to read the full articles)  The interesting part is that Hughes says this is Part One of her attack on the 50 Academics that signed a letter to the RI General Assembly against the proposed prostitution law.

Starting locally at ProvidenceDailyDose.com check out Sex Radical’s International Conspiracy Afoot in RI, Apparently. Beside the article being great, check out the comments by local Rhode Islanders.

Now lets check out the woman who was actually attacked.  Elizabeth Woods responds with this: Don’t Lets Personal Attacks Distract Us, where she tries to keep people focused on issues, and also reprints the letter I sent to the General Assembly.  The next day Norma Jean Almodovar also wrote a excellent letter to the RI lawmakers.

The people who also responded to attacks by Donna Hughes who could hardly be labeled as a “Sex Radical” were Senator Paul Jabour and Senator Michael McCaffery.  In their Guest Opinion in the Boston Herald they write :

“The Rhode Island State Senate passed bill S596A on June 25, closing a “loophole” by making indoor prostitution unlawful in the state. Reports to the contrary are inaccurate…We must delineate the lines that have been blurred among the problems of indoor prostitution, outdoor prostitution, human sex-trafficking and strip-club dancing by minors. Each of these issues has an appropriate legal and moral response and confusing them will lead to ineffective policies and political responses.”   I wonder if they think that Hughes is the one “blurring the lines”

A great response to this letter can be read at Rhode Island’s Future.  Brian Hull does an incredible job disecting this opinion piece in “More About Prostitution”

But, back to the “Radical’s” response.

Renegade Evolution wrote “Donna Hughes & The War Against Whores”

Amber Rhea wrote “Notes To Self” where she points out one of the many major flaws in Hughes letter.

Wood isn’t a sex worker and is in no way affiliated w/ $pread (I also love your cute little comment about how, OMG, the “S” is a dollar sign! tee-hee!) other than as a subscriber – but why should that matter? We’re all a monolith to you.”

If you just want a good laugh, (not that this is a laughing matter) check out Looser Dust.  Radical Feminist gets facts wrong shock (among other things)

The best account of disecting Hughe’s letter is on A Feminist View.  In The Battle for Rhode Island’s Sex Life

In Bust Out Your Pepto, Jane Brazen makes the excelent point:

What I find most interesting is that of the two main signers of the letter (Elizabeth Woods and Ronald Weitzner), Hughes personally attacked Dr Wood. The woman of the two. Sexism for the win!

By the way, it is usual for Hughes to go attack the women and side with the men.  I wrote about that in a previous post when she attacked the women she was “trying to save” when they testified, and sided with the cops and judges who testified (all of whom were men) that they want to put them in prison.

I know I missed a bunch of blogs, if I missed yours, sorry.  Please let me know in the comments section if you know about anyone else responding to Hughes and her fear mongering.

It is a 3 legged CAT!

Some of you who have read this blog for a while know I actually know the women in the spas.  I have actually been in a few of the spas, met the so-called “slaves”.  I remember it was almost a year ago when my cat Kolangi died and I brought his left over food to one of the spas because I knew they had a stray cat they liked to feed.

It is weird that story popped into my head when I learned today that CAT got a third member.  CAT, or Citizens Against Trafficking, is now a 3 person group that has never met any women in the spas, yet loves to talk to the press about them.  This 3 legged CAT has sent a letter to all the Senators today, responding to the 50 professors that wrote a letter against new prostitution legislation.

The letter attacks the professors who have signed, and since I know the source to be Hughes, I know not to believe 99.99% of it.   Back in May when I was on the radio a few times, Hughes and Shapiro wrote a 7 page paper on me.  Unfortunately I never got a copy of that paper, but when Dan Yorke saw it he said he would not  let Hughes or Shapiro say anything on it because it was an un sourced character assassination.  This is Hughes obvious m.o.  Attack and make up ridicules propaganda, stay away from the facts in the debate.  Hughes can not debate on facts because she doesn’t have any.

So lets look at pieces of the letter, I will disect some parts, but not link to the entire pile of shit the letter.

“Part 1 focuses on initial discoveries made by Citizens Against Trafficking researchers about some of the authors and signers of the letter. We found shocking information about what they stand for and the goals of their international campaign…The leading signers of the letter call themselves “sex radicals,” meaning they oppose any limits on any sexual behavior as long as it has the superficial appearance of being consensual.” My uncle could drink a 24 pack and not be as loaded as that sentence.  The repetition of “any” builds the sentence up and the “superficial appearance”  puts the cherry on top of that propaganda sundae!  Since I guess all is fair in a political war, I will now define Citizens Against Trafficking.  CAT is a trio of “radical feminists” some even “radical lesbian feminist” who oppose any heterosexual behavior as long as it has the superficial appearance of being a product of force, fraud, or coercion.

The sex radicals are very worried that we might achieve a “moral victory.” “Moral Victory” excellent choice of words.  CAT does not care about women who are working in the spas.  They want to impose their moral values on women who obviously have a different set of morals.  Even when you look at Hughes’ history and see her ultimate goal is to not only impose her morals but also profit once again from the criminalization of prostitution by setting up “John Schools”.  In California “Johns” are given redemption if they agree to go to “John Schools” and learn about stds and the lives of prostitutes. (Actually I might like to see a politician like Spitzer in a class led by Hughes just for shits and giggles)

I could go sentence to sentence and rip apart this pile of propaganda.  When you have no facts, when you have never talked to one women in a spa in RI, when you have no reason or logic on your side, you have to rely on emotional arguments based in morals judgments.    The tactics of CAT offend me as a woman, a feminist, and a Rhode Islander.  To use an analogy, I would say that Hughes and CAT are to Rhode Island and sex workers as Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church are to homosexuals.  (Actually, Phelps is more honest with his hatred and moral judgements and doesn’t try to blanket it in an a false idea of helping homosexuals.)   I am an artist, so I believe in freedom of speech, so even though I do not agree with Hughes or CAT, I believe they have the same right to freedom of speech as everyone else.  I just hope that people don’t confuse the propaganda and fear mongering for fact.

It is the Fight of the Coalitions!

When I started “Happy Endings?” the National Association of Jewish Women RI Chapter decided to start the “RI COALITION AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING” or RICAHT.  I went to a bunch of their meetings.  It is obvious that I am against Human Trafficking.  I testified in favor of  the bill against Human trafficking this year.  This Coalition had a wide variety of people, men and women from various backgrounds.  Some were social workers, some from religious organizations, all were citizens of RI concerned about trafficking.  They were very adept in politics, and with-in one year they passed the first human trafficking bill in 2007.

It is unfortunate that this group had been hijacked by Donna Hughes and Melanie Shapiro.  People began to drop out.  Nancy Green, a nurse, Providence resident and concerned citizen was one of the first to go.  She wrote about her experiences in her blog calling the transition from their good work to a Big Anti-Trafficking Tent.

“I never wanted to be a part of a moral crusade using law as a weapon. All I cared about was legal protection for people who are trafficked, and punishment for the traffickers.

To fight immorality, I would use other weapons– reason, persuasion and example. Laws against immorality have never been very effective, and have often been cover for worse crimes. Remember the Scarlet Letter?

Morality, like patriotism, provides a convenient cover for other agendas.”

This year RICAHT decided to work for a new trafficking law.  They also maintained that they would not take any position on the two prostitution bills.  This angered Donna Hughes, and she spoke out against RICAHT bill, (yes the bill against Trafficking).  She then left RICAHT and began Citizens Against Trafficking with Melanie Shapiro.  From the CAT website:  “ This year, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Human Trafficking (RICAHT)  failed to advocate for the essential prostitution law needed to make sex trafficking law work.”

It is obvious that we have 2 coalitions.  One against Trafficking, and One against Prostitution.  I don’t understand why the “Citizens” group gets to use Trafficking in their title when the are actually focused on prostitution.  (And I think you should be required to have more than 2 people to have an official Coalition)   It is really unfortunate that a good group like RICAHT could be torn apart by radicals, and when the radicals couldn’t control it they could start their own off shoot with a similar name.  What is ironic is people think it is the Asian massage parlors that set up “Shell Corportation” to hide what they are doing.  It seems that this coalition is a shell corporation for Hughes xenophobia and hatred of prostitutes.

Is this the ol’ bait n switch?

Today’s Providence Journal has an article on the front page about “Minors in RI can be strippers”  The article tells of how the age of concent in RI is 16, and that all a 16 year old needs is working papers and she or he can be a stripper.  But is this much to do about nothing?

I don’t think it is right for a 16 year old to strip, and I would support a law that would ban the activity, but I can’t help but wonder about this article.  First, the police have visited all of the  strip clubs in the city and found no juveniles performing.  So why this article?  Could it be some people got their panties in a bunch because the prostitution law was not passed, so they are looking for another way to pass it?

I was babysitting all day today, so I didn’t get to listen to talk radio too much, but from what I did hear, all conversations were linking back to prostitution.  From my few minutes of listening, people are going to try to use their outrage about this non-existent law for an non-existent problem to push the anti-prostitution bill farther.  If the state can’t save the women from human trafficking, they will have to save the children from the strip clubs.  It is all propaganda, and it is all sad.

The saddest part of this is that there was one girl who was 16 who was both a vicitm of human trafficking and working in a strip club.  She had used a fake id to get the job, and when the police found her beaten and incoherent outside the club they brought her to jail.  If the General Assembly didn’t waist so much time on a prostitution law, they could have passed the human trafficking law.