Sex Work

Don't Blame Me

The year's highlights in buck passing

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For years New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has insisted that people who pay for sex and the intermediaries who facilitate that exchange are responsible for violence against women. Hence his February 26 column celebrating the arrests of men who were guilty of nothing but negotiating terms with cops posing as hookers.

In reality, it is prostitution prohibitionists like Kristof who make the occupation unreasonably dangerous by creating a black market in which vendors are subject to theft and assault without legal recourse. Kristof is hardly unique in avoiding responsibility by casting blame on others. Here are some other memorable examples from the past year:

Surveillance Switch. In a speech last January, President Obama expressed concern about the National Security Agency's mass collection of telephone records. He worried that the database "has never been subject to vigorous public debate" and that "without proper safeguards, this type of program could be used to yield more information about our private lives and open the door to more intrusive bulk collection programs." Yet it was Obama who approved the program and kept it secret, thereby preventing a public debate. The president did not perceive the NSA's phone-record dragnet as a serious threat to privacy until months after it was revealed by leaks he condemned.

Righteous Wrath. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who last week pleaded guilty to tax evasion after proclaiming his innocence and this week announced his resignation after insisting he would not resign, eventually apologized to Michael Scotto, the NY1 reporter whom he threatened to "break…in half" and throw from a Capitol balcony after Scotto asked about an investigation into Grimm's fundraising practices. But at first Grimm blamed Scotto for the outburst, saying, "I was extremely annoyed because I was doing NY1 a favor by rushing to do their interview."

Pot of Trouble. After President Obama observed, in a January interview with The New Yorker, that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol, CNN's Jake Tapper asked him whether he was open to reclassifying marijuana, which is currently a Schedule I drug, a category supposedly reserved for substances with no accepted medical applications that have a high potential for abuse and cannot be used safely, even under a doctor's supervision. "What is and isn't a Schedule I narcotic is a job for Congress," Obama replied. "It's not something by ourselves that we start changing. No, there are laws undergirding those determinations." That last part is true, but those laws—in particular, the Controlled Substances Act—allow the executive branch to reschedule drugs without new legislation.

Hidden Hazards? Last July a Florida jury decided that R.J. Reynolds should pay $23 billion in punitive damages to Cynthia Robinson, the widow of a smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996. The jurors evidently were swayed by evidence indicating that R.J. Reynolds executives questioned the hazards and addictiveness of cigarettes in public while acknowledging them in private. Yet anyone who began smoking in the 1970s and continued smoking for the next two decades, as Robinson's husband did, voluntarily assumed the well-known risks associated with the habit. Nothing R.J. Reynolds said or failed to say changes that reality, because it is impossible to conceal common knowledge, no matter how much the tobacco companies might have wished otherwise.

Baby Burners. Last May an early-morning SWAT raid in Habersham County, Georgia, left a toddler horribly burned by a flash-bang grenade tossed into his crib. Police, who were looking for a meth dealer in the wrong place, said they had no idea that children were living in the house—a fact that even the most cursory surveillance would have revealed. A grand jury later faulted the cops for a "hurried" and "sloppy" investigation. But Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell said responsibility for the botched operation actually lies with someone who was not even there. "The person I blame in this whole thing," Terrell said the day after the raid, "is the person selling the drugs." 

© Copyright 2014 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. It’s only a matter of time before people finally start doing as they’re told. Black markets and opposition journalism are just birth pangs we must endure until they finally deliver utopia.

  2. “What is and isn’t a Schedule I narcotic is a job for Congress,”

    At least he acknowledges that Congress actually does have a job. Even if he is wrong about the specifics in this case…

    1. “Since Congress has, uh, acted, there is no need for me to, uh, pursue whatever legal actions are available to me.”

  3. “THE BUCK STOPS HERE SO THAT I MAY REDIRECT IT.”

    I imagine that there was a lot of Obama material left on the cutting room floor for this article. My personal favorite was this bus-undertoss on underestimating ISIS.

  4. It’s not something by ourselves myself that we I start changing…

    “Because there is no illegitimate power to be gained from it.”

    …the Controlled Substances Act?allow the executive branch to reschedule drugs without new legislation.

    See?

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    1. I think the bot’s gotten into the eggnog early today.

  6. Don’t Blame Me

    I voted for Kodos.

    1. The Executioner?

  7. People were complaining about tobacco’s cough and death-dealing back in Sir Walter Raleigh’s day.

    1. It was always known that smoking was unhealthy and could kill you. But the anti-tobacoo campaign is now seen as the progressives shining moment when they protected us from an evil corporation that lied about killing its customers. It’s a great narrative used by leftists and statists all the time…

      1. The statists are anti-Prohibition. So they are not totally without redeeming value.

        OTOH a lot of their rationale is TAXES. So perhaps I’m giving them too much credit.

        Cannabis cures cancer. Cancer kills 586,000 Americans every year. Every Prohibitionist is complicit in mass murder.

        Pass it on.

        1. if statista were anti prohibition they would end the drug war. cigarette taxes arent the only way that rent could be extracted over tobacco. you illegalize tobacco and then expand taxes to spend on “enforcement”.

          frankly i dont think statists are for or against prohibition of any given substance a priori, so much as they are for maintaining the current status quo.

      2. We could tell people that corporations are self interested, that they should, like think critically about it when Marlboro tells you that the thing they’re trying to sell you won’t kill you (they did of course do that and are morally reprehensible for doing so of course).

        But that would be victim blaming. Instead we need to make the world so perfect that everyone can believe everyone else about everything. In other words, leftists are trying to create a world in which critical thinking is unnecessary. They’re clearly doing their part to set the example.

  8. County Sheriff Joey Terrell said responsibility for the botched operation actually lies with someone who was not even there. “The person I blame in this whole thing,” Terrell said the day after the raid, “is the person selling the drugs.”

    This is why all cops should be treated as murdering thugs until proven otherwise. Scum of the fucking earth. If only the war on cops wasn’t a myth peddled by power-grabbers…

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  16. “It’s not something by ourselves that we start changing. No, there are laws undergirding those determinations.”

    Since when does our Dear Leader concern himself with the legality of his actions? Laws are applied to the ruled, by the rulers.

  17. Hidden Hazards: Sorry, but the tobacco companies should be held liable for every penny that might be wrung from their duplicitous fists. They lied about the lethality of their product. They covered up the data. They sold a product they knew was dangerous – all the while claiming it was not.

    Then there’s the addictive nature of cigarettes. Imagine a heroin dealer who (in the absence of other data) assures her clientele that heroin is “good for your health”. Once hooked, the addict then learns from third parties that the heroin dealer might not have been telling the truth. What place in hell would be hot enough for the heroin/cigarette dealer?

    Had the cigarette manufacturers never made the dishonest statements, then any punitive damages would be debatable. But when a manufacturer represents their product as safe – as good for your health – KNOWING that the statements are false, they should get life in prison, lose all of their assets and be utterly and finally destroyed as thoroughly as their victims. Mere death is too good for them.

    1. Yes, but in 1966 the Surgeon General put a warning on every pack of cigarettes.

      Caution: Cigarette Smoking May be Hazardous to Your Health (1966?1970)
      Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health (1970?1985)
      SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, And May Complicate Pregnancy. (1985?)

      Anyone taking up smoking in the mid 1970’s cannot claim they were oblivious to the dangers. Not only was the addictive nature of cigarettes commonly known, there are danger warnings right on the package!

      If you are stupid enough to ignore those warnings and the common knowledge, you’re just an idiot and should get nothing, not a penny.

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