Reason Roundup

Massage Parlor Massacre: 8 Killed in Atlanta, Media Speculate About Anti-Asian Motive

Plus: Columbus, Ohio, wants six months in jail for first-time sex customers, Texas' new social media bill is a mess, and more...


Motive for fatal Atlanta shootings unclear. There's no indication that last night's fatal shooting spree at several Atlanta-area massage parlors was connected to conspiracy theories about sex trafficking at Asian massage businesses. Atlanta police say they showed up at one of the businesses in response to a call about a robbery in progress.

The motive for the shooting, which left eight people dead, is still unclear, despite many in the media attributing it to anti-Asian racism.

Seven women and one man were killed in the shootings; six of them were Asian and two were white, police report. One other man was injured as well.

A suspect in police custody, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, is thought to be behind the shootings at the two massage parlors in northeast Atlanta (Gold Massage Spa and Aromatherapy Spa) and one (Young's Asian Massage) about 30 miles northwest of the city.

Red Canary Song, a group devoted to Asian sex worker and migrant rights, notes that workers at Asian massage parlors and spas are frequent targets of violence from both customers and police. People speculating about possible motives for this horrific crime probably shouldn't overlook that fact in the rush to portray the shootings as stemming from anti-Asian racism tied to COVID-19.

But as of this morning, we simply don't know what drove the Atlanta massage parlor shooter to commit these atrocities.

The identities of the victims have also not yet been released.


Ohio city seeks six months in jail for people who pay for sex. Authorities in Columbus, Ohio, are trying to put a social justice spin on ratcheting up penalties for prostitution. City Council members say it's concern for people selling sex that is leading them to consider a new policy—but this policy would keep penalties for selling sex intact and continue to direct police resources to targeting sex work between consenting adults, increasing penalties for people who pay for sex.

"The Council's proposed amendment institutes a penalty of up to $1,500 and 180 days in jail for a first offense," notes WOSU. "The second and third offenses include mandatory minimum fines of $550 and $800 respectively, as well as 10 and 15 days in jail."

Ohio State University professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies Jennifer Suchland has been speaking out against the proposed changes. "When you add more criminalization to the sex trade, it both makes it harder to reach potential victims and worsens the conditions for those who rely on the sex trade for survival," Suchland said in a WOSU interview.


Some good news on the economic front. "Federal Reserve officials, who are scheduled to release their latest economic projections at 2 p.m. ET, are likely to say they expect the labor market and inflation to rebound faster than they anticipated in December," reports the Wall Street Journal. "The central bank is broadly expected to reaffirm its commitment to ultralow interest rates and bond purchases for now."


• The Violence Against Women Act is up for an authorization vote. (Read more about the trouble with this Biden-driven legislation here.)

• Trying to protect internet user privacy is now being called an antitrust violation.

• Tennessee is trying (again) to limit residents' ability to ship in wine from other states.

• Texas' new social media bill is a mess.