“I’m going to change the world one snuggle at a time,” declares Hannah Rode, manager of the Snuggle House in Madison, Wisconsin. Hannah, and her stable of professional snugglers (including the lone man Lonnie!) were all set to open their doors and their arms to those in need of non-sexual stress relief. However, local officials didn’t buy the non-sexual part. They figured the Snuggle House to be a front for prostitution.
“No offense to men, but I don’t know any man who wants to just snuggle,” says assistant city attorney Jennifer Zilavy. The Madison Police Department spoke openly about busting the new business with sting operations, boasting that officers make frequent use of stings to rack up arrest stats for everything from drugs to alcohol and sex-related offenses. You may even find undercover officers at local restaurants and dance clubs trying to bait suckers into swiping unattended smartphones.
"That's just what we do, for drugs, bars, anywhere we think it's beneficial," police Lt. David McCaw says. "We do it all the time. You can't expect that's not going to happen to you."
The Snuggle House ended up buckling under city harassment and shutting down before dishing out any snuggles. But c'mon, don’t cops have better things to do?!
Turns out the cuddly controversy erupted around the same time the state’s attorney general released a report finding that human trafficking is on the rise in the Badger State, and is especially common in cities. Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen joined 46 other attorneys general to call on the federal government to devote more resources to combating this crime that often involves forced sex, and where victims are often children as well as adults.
But why wait on the feds? Maybe Madison’s sting-happy cops could devote more resources to fighting human trafficking, and lay off the non-violent adults engaging in consensual acts.
"Don't Cops Have Better Things to Do?" is written and directed by Ted Balaker (@tedbalaker). Produced by and motion graphics by Matt Edwards (@MattChrisEd). Opening motion graphics by Meredith Bragg. Camera by Zach Weissmueller. “Jerry the Professional Snuggler” played by Paul Detrick. Music by audionautix.com and "The Contessa" is by Maurice and the Beejays (Magnatune Records).
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