Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tell the Times: You Don't Prevent Coercion by Practicing It

The Woodhull Freedom Foundation's newslist has forwarded an editorial from the New York Times which makes the Orwellian argument that in order to stop sexual slavery, we should criminalize consensual employment of prostitutes by "traffickers." Here's the letter I just sent them:

Your editorial "Taking On the Traffickers" is represented as being about concern for women and children "smuggled" into the country as "sex slaves." That is, it appeals to our revulsion at coercion. Yet, later you call for coercion to be removed from the definition of trafficking for purposes of the law. What sense does this make? Clearly if the government prosecutes people for a consensual activity, then it is the government itself that is practicing coercion, not preventing it.

As for some traffickers' taking advantage of prostitutes' fear of police, the solution is plain even though you don't mention it: take away the reasons for that fear by abolishing legal restrictions both on prostitution and on immigration.

Eric Hamell

Philadelphia, PA

You can write the Times at letters@nytimes.com.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Support Release of Records in the Death of Deborah Jeane Palfrey

Citizens for Legitimate Government has reported that the attorney for the late "DC madam," Deborah Jeane Palfrey, is requesting the release of records relating to her death, which was described as an apparent suicide. Her attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, says Palfrey specifically asked that he do so in the event that she were to die of an apparent suicide.

The request is addressed to the police department of Tarpon Springs, Florida. Obtaining fulfillment of this request may be non-trivial because Palfrey's mother has sued to have the records withheld.

Although this may superficially appear not to be a sexual freedom issue, I believe it is related because whoever killed her may have believed they could get away with it because the public would not care about a sex worker's death, or be concerned about respecting her posthumous wishes. A public demonstration of support would prove otherwise and thereby set a beneficial precedent.

The Tarpon Springs police chief is named Mark LeCouris. The address is:

City of Tarpon Springs Police Department
444 S. Huey Ave
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689

The non-emergency number is (727) 938-2849 and the email address is cityclerk1@ci.tarpon-springs.fl.us. (Note: "Under Florida law, e-mail addresses are public records. If you do not want your e-mail address released in response to a public-records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead contact this office by phone or in writing.")

Eric Hamell