Feeling the News

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Feel-good story of the day: The Los Angeles Times tells how a semi-literate volunteer in a Brazilian favela organized a 10,000-volume free community library.

Feel-bad story of the day: New York's Columbus Day parade is honoring a bona fide fascist who fought for the Salo Republic.

Feel-a-cop story of the day: The Seattle Times reports:

Lynnwood police concede they engaged in "rarely used" tactics during an undercover investigation into a suspected prostitution ring.

Those tactics, which included officers allowing prostitutes to masturbate them in exchange for cash, have raised questions among law-enforcement officials, legal experts and the Snohomish County Prosecutor's Office.

Lynnwood police Cmdr. Paul Watkins said he spent a great deal of time justifying the officers' actions to prosecutors to prove that the officers themselves weren't breaking the law…."The officers didn't cross that line of engaging in intercourse or oral sex," Watkins said. "I advised them no oral sex, no intercourse, that's not going to happen. That's the understood policy. There's no written policy regarding this."

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  1. Wasn’t there some Dennis Leary cop show with a premise similar to this? The cops were sort of thinking about busting a massage+ parlor but decided to enjoy it first?

    Also, I wonder if the cops are going to be more like teenagers, and start having anal sex with hookers, because they’re “saving their Real Virginity.”

  2. I did not have sexual intercourse with that massage therapist, Miss Lewinsky.

  3. Why would it be legal for an undercover cop to get a handjob but not a BJ? The police chief spent a great deal of time worrying about this issue.

  4. It’s requisitioning nonessential items northwestern style. Pull-ya’ll-up.

  5. Why is it legal to pay porn stars? People being paid for doin’ it = prostitution, or doesn’t it? So, were I to pay a prostitute to star in a porn movie with me and tape it, would that make it legal and not prostitution somehow? Or is porn not really legal to create outside Nevada?

  6. Don’t ask questions like that, Carl. You’re trying to make sense of it all.

  7. So what’s worse – to cop a feel or feel a cop?

  8. RULE NUMBER ONE: Don’t bust anyone who is holding on to you.

  9. Carl,

    Porn stars aren’t paid by the people they’re having sex with.

  10. Do the cops draw straws to decide who gets hooker duty? And could a cop’s wife use hooker duty as adulterous grounds for divorce?

  11. crimethink,

    You can get arrested for buying a hooker for your friend. And your friend can get arrested for knowingly having sex with a hooker that you paid for.

  12. Jim, nobody ever said being a prophet is all about sending bears to eat snot nosed kids. Sometimes, you gotta take a ride on the village bicycle– for the greater good.

  13. “Hey, a handjob is still a JOB.” — male hustler character getting busted on “Reno 911.”

  14. You can get arrested for buying a hooker for your friend. And your friend can get arrested for knowingly having sex with a hooker that you paid for.

    But if you film it and keep the requisite paperwork for age identification…?

    H&R, leading the nationwide drive for de facto prostitution legalization..

  15. what ever happened to the office-supplies-and-sex rule?????

    that does it. k-tel’s version of the Generation X hit “dancing with myself” to be sent to lynnwood, post haste.

  16. Maybe it makes a (legal) difference if both (or, um, all) members of a sexual encounter are getting paid for it?

  17. Maybe it makes a (legal) difference if both (or, um, all) members of a sexual encounter are getting paid for it?

    I don’t think that’s the legal distinction–I’m pretty sure it would still be illegal for you to hire two hookers to have sex with each other while you watch.

  18. Jennifer-

    You’re probably right.

    So, what is the legal distinction?

  19. I suspect it has something to do with the First Amendment — and that the potential loophole is closed by the fact that most people wouldn’t like to have their paid sexual encounters recorded on video or in the government’s tax records.

  20. So, what is the legal distinction?
    Comment by: thoreau at October 10, 2005 01:20 PM

    The legal distinction is that, in this case, the men soliciting prostitutes are law enforcement officers.

    Those that they arrest are not.

  21. So, were I to pay a prostitute to star in a porn movie with me and tape it, would that make it legal and not prostitution somehow?

    Yep. Take a camera with you next time you pick up a hooker and you’re not a John, you’re a pornographer getting started in the business of Gonzo-style porn. You don’t even ever have to sell anything. Since there’s never been a test case, nobody really knows where the line between prostitution and the creation of porn is.

    This is not to say that it would be a slam-dunk. If you’re just a guy going in with a camera, whether or not it flies depends on whether the Judge feels sympathy for you or for the Prosecution. A business model or some proof that you might, one day have attempted to sell a movie would help quite a bit though.

  22. I have an etiquette question:

    If a lady cop is working undercover, is it good form for her to finish the “john” off before she arrests him, or should she wait until he’s in cuffs?

    Thank you.

  23. Since there’s never been a test case, nobody really knows where the line between prostitution and the creation of porn is.

    Per this and Jesse’s post, it occurs to me that I often say that anything is legal if you can get away with it. But nothing is legal if you can’t. If you can convince the judge or the jury that you were making a movie, then you’re innocent. If they don’t buy it, you’re guilty. What is or isn’t likely to work will only be known after several intrepid souls test the waters….

  24. Another “feel a cop” story, right out of Reno 911- in a skit in front of grade schoolers, one cop doesn’t take well to a mild prank and puts the other into a headlock, then punches and chokes her.

  25. Another “feel a cop” story, right out of Reno 911- in a skit in front of grade schoolers, one cop doesn’t take well to a mild prank and puts the other into a headlock, then punches and chokes her.
    Comment by: dead_elvis at October 10, 2005 02:06 PM

    From the story: “If the officers in the incident had been civilians, they might have faced arrest for misdemeanor battery, some officers said.”

  26. “There’s no written policy regarding this.”

    Do they really need a written policy for this?

    To be fair to the cops, Lynnwood is the armpit of the Puget Sound. They may think they are living in a post apocalyptic world where normal social mores no longer apply.

  27. Can’t Reason even post a link to Lynwood’s job-application site? Geez, a guy’s gotta do all the work himself.

    At least, until that application is accepted.

  28. These our witness, Aunty. Us suffer bad. Want justice. We want Thunderdome!

  29. “These our witness, Aunty. Us suffer bad. Want justice. We want Thunderdome!”

    To be fair, in turn, to Lynnwood, most of the S and M midgets I see in this area are in Seattle itself.

  30. Feel, feel, feel, feel, feeeeeeeel…

    Feel my news…

  31. Bremerton is the armpit of the Puget Sound. Lynnwood is a bunch of strip malls.

  32. “The officers didn’t cross that line of engaging in intercourse or oral sex”

    Yo, genius: THAT’S NOT THE LINE.

  33. Two men enter, one man leave

  34. I don’t think that’s the legal distinction–I’m pretty sure it would still be illegal for you to hire two hookers to have sex with each other while you watch.

    You’re right, it is illegal to do that — a lesson I learned the hard way. 🙁

  35. I am not sure that the basic making of pornographic movies is as settled-law legal as everybody seems to think.

    While the First Amendment considerations and analysis are probably different for pornographic movies, that doesn’t neccessarily mean the movies are okay. If there is a case that says that pornographic movies are presumptively protected by the first amendment, then I don’t know it. Off the top of my head, I am not sure why a movie is considered to be more like speech or more like political speech or have redeeming social value or whatever than a private encounter. To the extent it matters, it is difficult to see why a pornographic movie would be less “commercial” speech than a private encounter. I mean, saying that you believe in non-marital sex and are comfortable with any power imbalances inherent in the hooker-client relationship is a powerful political statement in an O’Brien nails Julia kind of way — it is not clear that it should matter whether your audience is 1 and there to receive your mess(age) personally, or whether your audience is 50,000 and behind the fourth wall.

    I think it is better to think about the legal status of pornographic movies as one might have think of the legal status of the pledge (Under God remix) in the public schools. Illegal in theory, but legal in practice. At any rate, I wouldn’t draw legal inferences based on the premise that porno movies are neccessarily legal to make.

  36. Actually, Renton is the armpit of the northwest.

    I am glad to know that there is so little crime in Lynnwood that the police can spend their working hours enjoying handjobs.

    Free country? Yeah, right.

    In related news, Seattle has lately been imposing death by regulation on its strip clubs. When I was growing up there I always thought of the Northwest as a pretty open-minded sort of place, but that seems to be disappearing.

    Jeff

  37. Illegal in theory, but legal in practice.

    Interesting. Backs what I said earlier, that ultimately whatever you can get away with is legal and vice versa. Hard to imagine, though, that no vice cops have ever gotten it into their heads to bust the principals on a porn movie site. There must be some reason why they haven’t and why they thought such charges wouldn’t stick. I wouldn’t think they’d just defer to the porn industry’s wishes out of niceness.

  38. Hard to imagine, though, that no vice cops have ever gotten it into their heads to bust the principals on a porn movie site.

    I am sure they have, but visible, successful porn producers pay taxes. Whether we are talking porn or other stuf, not every bust turns into a prosecution. It ain’t niceness, its $$$.

    They asked porn actor Ron Jeremy didn’t put his substantial earnings back into porn production since the ROI is so high. He said perceived legal risk. He didn’t stutter, neither.

  39. Well, there is room for 2 armpits, and I’d nominate Renton as the other. Bremerton isn’t so bad, but I’ve just driven through it, so maybe I’m missing something.

    You need to get away from 99 to appreciate how bad Lynnwood is. Lot’s of weird winding dark roads and single-wide meth labs being swallowed by the jungle. In the last 3 years, some gentrification is thankfully moving in from Bothell and Kenmore.

  40. John Stagliano is a big contributor to the Reason institute! For what it’s worth.

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