April 11, 2018

The new federal legislation that closed down Backpage.com "is creating an actual market for pimps."

WaPo reports on the unintended consequences of the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act.
According to The Guardian, the site allowed sex workers to screen potential online clients before meeting them in person. It was a simple layer of safety without resorting to pimps for protection. These deals, that were once handled online, will now be pushed back into the open streets, leaving women on their own to protect themselves.
From the linked Guardian piece:
“It’s devastating,” said a sex worker who goes by the name Jala Dixon. “They just took everything from me.” Dixon, who is based in Georgia, said she chose to do sex work to help save money for school and that she was now considering turning to the streets. “This is really not doing anything but making us unsafe and putting us at risk.”
By the way, Trump hasn't signed the bill yet, so this is a plea for a veto.
Kristen DiAngelo, executive director of the Sex Workers Outreach Project of Sacramento, said her phone had been ringing off the hook since the seizure of Backpage: “The fear is astronomical.... They’ve just unemployed massive amounts of marginalized people... They’re taking away life-saving resources.”

51 comments:

jwl said...

How can Backpage already be shutdown if Trump has not signed legislation yet?

Unknown said...

Right..l and how can the owner be prosecuted if it hasn't been signed yet?

Ralph L said...

If we deport the alien sex workers, the native ones can raise their prices and fire their pimps. Or buy guns and shoot them.

John Borell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Borell said...

So the law hurts those it is supposed to help. Shocking.

I find those who favor more government regulation rarely consider the unintended consequences of that regulation. As Althouse likes to say, doing nothing is often the best choice.

rhhardin said...

It's lawmaker virtue signalling. Hang the costs.

prairie wind said...

It's lawmaker virtue signalling.

Being worried about sex trafficking is the most virtuous way to signal virtue. Legislators know this.

MayBee said...

“They just took everything from me.” Dixon, who is based in Georgia, said she chose to do sex work to help save money for school and that she was now considering turning to the streets. “This is really not doing anything but making us unsafe and putting us at risk.”

I really don't know what to say about this.
Does she need to turn to the streets? Are there other lines of work she could get into?

Rigelsen said...

“How can Backpage already be shutdown if Trump has not signed legislation yet?“

How cute you think that DOJ prosecutors, like prosecutors in general, need actual laws to go after “miscreants”. They just need a law that could be read to illegalize an activity, if you ignore the actual words used, and find a judge who won’t immediately shut them down, as many won’t.

If we’re still a nation of laws, it is barely so, and miscarriages of justice can take years and hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to correct. Instead, much of the right and left seem to be able to agree that prosecutors need a free hand to shut down whatever citizen behavior they feel like on a given day. And then you have the libertarians, who are admirable in standing against this form of autocracy, but then don’t seem to understand that it’s not only governing institutions that can infringe upon rights.

It’s a tough era for those who care about liberty.

Xmas said...

Backpage was shut down using the facilitating and money handling laws normally used against pimps. They took money for the ads and provided anonymous messaging services.

Fernandistien said...

This is far worser than RubeTube demonizing my "Dances with Rabbits" videos.

Tatter said...

"Right..l and how can the owner be prosecuted if it hasn't been signed yet?"

It takes time to shut down a service. People need to be given notice, final bills need to be paid, accounts need to be balanced, and so on. If the bill goes into law while a single service is still in operation, the operators WILL go to jail, so they have to shut down ahead of time if they don't want to be turned into felons who can no longer vote or bear arms for the rest of their lives.

Ralph L said...

Can the old hookers be grandfathered in?

Bob Boyd said...

Prostitution is illegal, right?
You can debate the merits of that, but in the mean time...

For the sake of argument, suppose it was a website to facilitate connections between drug dealers and junkies?
Would you be moved by the pleas of a dealer who said he just lost everything and he'd chosen to sell drugs to save money for school and now he would be forced to go out on the street corner to push and the law was putting him and his fellow pushers at risk?

Caroline Walker said...

“They’re taking away life-saving resources”: lies we tell ourselves.

Gahrie said...

Surely the Writers of the 14th Amendment included a right to commit sex crimes in the "right to privacy" they created.

the 4chan Guy who reads Althouse said...

So, like, they're shutting down the parts of the internet where prostitutes could get their gig on, which means that the shit ends up back on the streets. Like, was there a pimp lobby pushing that shit? Because I don't see why you don't just let people work their work and, like, worry about North Korea instead, maybe.

But I can see where this might be going. Hos are always going to need pimps, and while some pimps are bad-ass and cool there are a lot of them who are just bad people, I bet, they don't even make rap albums. Because Ice-T did a song called "Somebody Gotta Do It (Pimpin' Ain't Easy!!!)", which was pretty bad-ass and cool, and then he got to be a cop on a TV show and sell lemonade and shit, the dude's got skills.

So anyway I'm thinking the answer is going to be the government stepping into the pimp business.

Like, a prostitute gets her whore license, and she gets, like, a parole officer, except the parole officer is a pimp, who makes her pay her taxes and get free healthcare and shit. And maybe if she's got kids the government pimp officer could hook her up with food stamps, that would be making government more efficient, which is a good thing.

But government never gets more efficient, so I bet the government would fuck up the pimp shit, because I don't think anyone has ever called a government worker 'gangsta'. At least not when they're meaning it right. Because a lot of government people like to think they're kinda gangsta, but Ice-T would definitely fuck their shit up, and then drop a dope-ass track about it.

I post my shit here.

Martin said...

Prostitution shouldn't be illegal, any more than taking drugs should be illegal. You're a sovereign individual who owns his/her own body (once you reach majority). If you want to put cocaine into it, or let someone pay you to use it for sex, that's your business. As long as it doesn't hurt anybody else.

Prohibition has never worked, and will never work. It's puritanism, and legislating morality, neither of which are the proper function of government.

Fernandistien said...

Bob Boyd said...
For the sake of argument, suppose it was a website to facilitate connections between drug dealers and junkies?


Like Total Wine shipping the most harmful recreational drug to children with credit cards?

Ralph L said...

he got to be a cop on a TV show
About sex crimes, no less.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Bob Boyd said...

Prostitution is illegal, right?

Not in all states.

Fernandistien said...

"I believe in making the world safe for our children, but not our children's children, because I don't think children should be having sex." -- J. Handey

Unknown said...

This is not in preparation of an upcoming law. So this law is either on the books or sessionzzzzz used something else so he could continue to let mueller hunt for trump crimes.

“Authorities seized Backpage.com last Friday. Its cofounders now face 93 federal charges related to facilitating prostitution through the website, described by Attorney General Jeff Sessions as "the dominant marketplace for illicit commercial sex" and "a place where sex traffickers frequently advertised children and adults alike."

Xmas said...

Tatter,

Backpage was seized by the DOJ 2 days ago:

Deadline Article

Bob Boyd said...

"Like Total Wine shipping the most harmful recreational drug to children with credit cards?"

Hadn't heard of Total Wine, but I'm sure the government will be happy to start over-regulating them, especially now that you just ratted them out on the widely read Althouse Blog comments. Dammit man! You can't just be blurting stuff out.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I would assume sex-trafficking is often enough interstate, such that regulating it is a valid commerce-clause issue, and is essentially slavery, so is a valid 13th/14th Amendment issue.

Prostitution in general is not, and the link between the website posts for prostitution and the sex-trafficking business are too thin to support this federal action.

Bob Boyd said...

"Not in all states."

I don't know much about it, but I'd guess it's only legal in certain licensed venues.
Free range chicken is probably not allowed.

Gahrie said...

I don't know much about it, but I'd guess it's only legal in certain licensed venues.

AFAIK, prostitution is only legal in one county in Nevada. And in that county it must take place in licensed brothels.

miklos000rosza said...

I've become friends in the last few months with a fellow in his 30s who for a number of years was employed as the "right-hand man" of a high level Los Angeles madam. The services provided are extremely expensive and the clientele are as a rule quite wealthy older men.

The escorts are often young struggling actresses, models, or college students who want to pay off their loans. Of course they use stage-names. Some who realize their beauty is their main attribute in life seek an advantageous marriage -- my friend says many of these really do like older men. It was my friend's job to recruit these young women, and he says he was good at it.

There's frequent turnover because the rich old men always want someone new and young. Only a few girls can continue to work beyond the age of 27, or even 25. Some then become strippers, doing outcall escort as an extension of the private dance. My friend says the strippers blow a lot of money on cocaine, ecstasy and so on, and usually seem to have a black boyfriend who neither protects them nor arranges dates. He mentioned one guy who showed him his collection of 35 different shoes.

Yes, girls that are independent need the internet to do business.

Actual streetwalkers have really declined in number in the last 10-15 years. They're very much at the low end of the sex worker business, often seriously messed-up on drugs and much less goodlooking than those higher up on the food chain, unemployable as strippers at upscale clubs.



MayBee said...

My guess?

Feminists will be outraged that Backpage has made it hard for sex workers to be independent and safe. They will push to make prostitution legal.
Then, in 5 years, they will start saying that paying women for sex is the same as rape, because the woman is put in the position of having sex with people they don't want so they can feed themselves. The balance of power goes to the man. Time's UP.

prairie wind said...

Would you be moved by the pleas of a dealer...

Yes.

Driving business underground means that business disputes cannot be taken to court and are often settled by violence. If we want less violence, legalize the businesses we hope our families never use. I don't want my kids using drugs nor my husband using prostitutes...but if they DID, I would want them to be able to do it safely.

Inga said...

“For the sake of argument, suppose it was a website to facilitate connections between drug dealers and junkies?
Would you be moved by the pleas of a dealer who said he just lost everything and he'd chosen to sell drugs to save money for school and now he would be forced to go out on the street corner to push and the law was putting him and his fellow pushers at risk?”

Exactly.

“My guess?

Feminists will be outraged that Backpage has made it hard for sex workers to be independent and safe. They will push to make prostitution legal.”

Not me. Backpage was making human trafficking easy.

“Then, in 5 years, they will start saying that paying women for sex is the same as rape, because the woman is put in the position of having sex with people they don't want so they can feed themselves. The balance of power goes to the man. Time's UP.”

This sounds nonsensical.



MayBee said...

This sounds nonsensical.

As nonsensical as Louis CK getting pulled off Netflix because he masturbated in front of women who he had asked if he could masturbate in front of?
As nonsensical as publishing an article about a Aziz Ansari being a sexual abuser because a woman chose to have sex with him but really didn't want to?

Inga said...

Trump is signing the bill as we speak. He said they’ve been working on the bill “long and hard”...making me chuckle.

PB said...

This is a first amendment issue and it says "Congress shall make no law..."

Owen said...

As Glenn Reynolds remarked at Instapundit, "The Internet is about disintermediation. If you take away the Internet, you re-introduce intermediation."

Demand <--> Brokerage/Agency <--> Supply.

What's the big SJW plan here? Discourage supply without affecting demand? Prices go up, more competitive brokerage/agency. Discourage demand without affecting supply? Prices go down, more competitive brokerage/agency.

That intermediation don't care what it sell. It is just a natural market-clearing operation.

If you outlaw pimps, you don't get rid of pimps. You just get different pimps.

YoungHegelian said...

I would be inclined to not trust prostitutes telling us that shutting down Backpage.com is making their lives more dangerous, except for the fact that I have heard the same thing a few years back out of the mouth of a Montgomery County MD Vice Squad detective.

The cops often send officers to county business mixers for PR, I spoke to this guy and asked how could BP be so blatant. In the course of the conversation, he said that BP management was always co-operative with law enforcement when approached about underage or trafficked women. The officer didn't quite say it in so many words, but if it was a single woman out there hawking herself & both her & her johns kept a low profile, they just looked the other way.

mccullough said...

Those who know how to actually use Uber and Lyft are putting Backpage out of the prostitution business. Much easier to do this by app and gives good cover to both the driver and passenger. Uber and Lyft Get their pimp cut.

Darrell said...

For the sake of argument, suppose it was a website to facilitate connections between drug dealers and junkies?

Not a website, a multimedia messaging app. According to the BBC, most personal drug deals in London are set up on Snapchat, because of the disappearing feature. Snapchat cancelled their interview when the Beeb wanted to show them their footage.

R.J. Chatt said...

Sex robots are really needed, ASAP. Rentals would be a great idea.

I really don't see how legalizing prostitution is a feminist goal. Objectifying women and women's bodies is OK if they do it to themselves?

Trashhauler said...

All you people are asking the wrong questions. If the majority of voters wanted sex workers to be safe, the practice of sex for money would be legal. Not just in quaint places like Las Vegas, but everywhere. Allowing a website intended to enable prostitution to be conducted safely is contrary to that first premise. You are asking the government to act counter to what the voters want.

Just because you fancy yourselves to be more wise and sophisticated doesn't mean you actually are.

Jack Whambo said...

If you talk to sex workers, they don't want legalization which brings regulation. They would prefer decriminalization.

JaimeRoberto said...

It's another case of Bootleggers and Baptists. Some intrepid reporter should track down the campaign contributions of Big Pimp.

hombre said...

The pimp lobby is strong in the swamp.

Rick said...



Unintended? What on earth makes you think that?

tolkein said...

White moralistic middle class women attacking the livelihoods of working class women.
Nothing changes

Gahrie said...

I really don't see how legalizing prostitution is a feminist goal. Objectifying women and women's bodies is OK if they do it to themselves?

No woman must be made responsible for, or be made to feel bad about, anything, ever.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

Just like every piece of right-wing social engineering, this one seems to have backfired miserably.

walter said...

Exactly. The Left knows nothing about unintended consequences...nothing.

Freeman Hunt said...

These people think social cons are going to be upset that they made prostitution more difficult? Doubt it. Maybe instead of starving to death, the prostitute in the article can go get a job that is legal.

Bob Loblaw said...

So the law hurts those it is supposed to help. Shocking.

It's not really supposed to help sex workers. Not really. That's just a fig leaf. The women who really benefit from decreased prostitution are women who don't engage in prostitution, at least, not the straightforward kind.