Sunday, August 30, 2015

New York Times Slams Rentboy Raid

The LGBT community has made tremendous gains over the last two decades: we are no longer would be felons for having same sex relationships and we can now marry in every state in America.  Yet, there are still many messages being sent that being gay is wrong or morally reprehensible.  The Christofascists continue to depict gays as pedophiles and would be sexual predators.  Then there's CNN's obsession with the sexual orientation of Virginia shooter, Vester Flanagan, who had gay porn sited registered in his name.  And then there's what the New York Times sees as another effort to raise questions about the morality of gays in the form of the raid of's offices by Home Land Security, diverting efforts that might be better aimed at stopping Islamic terrorist and right wing domestic terror.  Here are highlights from the Times editorial:
The website is accused of connecting male sex workers with clients, enabling prostitution, which is unlawful virtually everywhere in the country. It operated fairly transparently, giving annual parties, announcing a scholarship contest for escorts and promoting the motto “Money can’t buy you love … but the rest is negotiable.”

It’s somewhat baffling, though, that taking down a website that operated in plain sight for nearly two decades suddenly became an investigative priority for the Department of Homeland Security and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.

Kelly Currie, the acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, trumpeted the case against, calling it an “Internet brothel” that “made millions of dollars from the promotion of illegal prostitution.”  . . . . That’s less revenue than an average McDonald’s franchise generates.

The criminal complaint is so saturated with sexually explicit details, it’s hard not to interpret it as an indictment of gay men as being sexually promiscuous.

Prosecutors can credibly argue that the site’s operators were breaking the law. But they have provided no reasonable justification for devoting significant resources, particularly from an agency charged with protecting America from terrorists, to shut down a company that provided sex workers with a safer alternative to street walking or relying on pimps. The defendants have not been accused of exploiting sex workers, featuring minors on the website, financial crimes or other serious offenses that would warrant a federal prosecution.

Gay men in the United States turn to sex work for a variety of reasons. In New York, where homeless shelters for gay and transgender youths have lengthy waiting lists, sex work can mean the difference between sleeping on a bed and sleeping on the street. For others, it is a way to afford a degree.

The bust may spook clients and sex workers for a while, but it would be na├»ve to think it will do much more. Federal authorities should consider whether continuing to spend time and money turning the website’s operators into felons is worthwhile, while far more serious crimes, including human trafficking and sexual exploitation, go unpunished.
I have to agree with the Times that the whole affair seems bizarre given Homeland Security's supposed purpose.  Islamic terrorist (and domestic terrorists) must be shaking their heads in disbelief - and relief that efforts have been so misdirected. 

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