Opponents of Prop K Use Lies and Fear Tactics to Sway Voters

The ‘Not For Sale’ campaign has joined in the attacks against sex workers in San Francisco. They have a No on K Coordinator dedicated to defeating sex workers’ rights, Louisa Barry.

Her call to action included the same misinformation and flat out lies that are characteristic of the No on K argument this year:

At first blush Prop K’s language appears to be an attempt to decriminalize prostitution; the terrible truth hidden within Prop K is that it would: (1) severely hinder if not completely stop- local law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute crimes of trafficking and slavery, by making it illegal for police to garner funds to investigate crimes of trafficking, and (2) de-fund programs that assist survivors, women and children, exiting the sex industry.

Neither of these claims is true. So let us address them (again):

(1) Prop K decriminalizes the act of exchanging sex for money between consenting adults. Any law related to sexual assault remains intact. This includes: laws that outlaw forced or coerced sex (rape/sexual assault), forced or coerced sex for money (rape, assault, sexual exploitation), laws that outlaw sex with minors (statutory rape and child sexual exploitation) and laws that outlaw moving an individual from place to place, including across national, county and state borders for the purpose of paid sex (trafficking as defined by TVPRA). Prop K DOES NOT prevent any form of investigation into the crimes mentioned above. In fact, if police were spending less time doing undercover operations to target adults engaging in prostitution privately, they could focus more of their attention on these very real crimes and other violent crimes.

(2) Prop K says that the city cannot fund arrest-based policies that force people into diversion programs. Prop K does not de-fund any of the programs, shelters or other services that are avaiable in San Francisco to those who need them. We believe that people should have access to these programs when they need them and that nobody should have to be arrested to get the assistance that they need. As it stands, when prostitutes are arrested they’re forced to pay a fine for the diversion programs, that fine money is split between DA Kamala Harris’ office, SFPD and SAGE program, who administers the diversion course. How is this economic exploitation of prostitutes helping women in San Francisco stay safe?

The ‘About No on K’ link at the No On K website says:

No on K is a coalition of health and human service providers, doctors; scientists and researchers, artists and activists, civic leaders, and the leaders of S.F. progressive law enforcement including specialists in harm reduction, human trafficking, and units that enforce, investigate and prosecute crimes against prostitutes.

Let’s evaluate the people we’re dealing with here:

“human service providers doctors; scientists and researchers, artists and activists, civic leaders” Sounds an awful lot like the folks who are proponents of Prop K. Individuals, community workers and professionals who have an opinion on this for one reason or another. I think we all probably agree that we shouldn’t put women in jail, but their project funding is dependent on the city’s arrest-based policies to keep money coming in. However, the city would have plenty of money to keep these projects afloat and even more efficient if this next group of people weren’t draining more than $11 million from the city just to harass and arrest poor women, women of color and women surviving in the streets (including trans women and some men).

“the leaders of S.F. progressive law enforcement including specialists in harm reduction, human trafficking, and units that enforce, investigate and prosecute crimes against prostitutes.” SF progressive law enforcement? Progressive? Really?

This group includes not only the police department, but the DA Kamala Harrris, of course, who is so concerned about her office losing revenue it makes off the backs of prostitutes that she embarrassed herself at the SF Democrats’ Gala last night. During her introduction of Mark Leno (who endorsed Yes on K) she said (in summary) that even though the Democrats of SF voted to endorse and support Prop K, she feels it will not make things better for women (no explanation) and that the people putting this forward are not actually concerned about the health and safety of women! It was absurd! Out of place! It made things extremely uncomfortable in the room, esp. at the “Sex Workers for Prop K” table, where several female and male-identified sex workers were seated for the gala. It was an obvious attack on us, although she supposedly didn’t know that we were there. Later we were told that Aaron Peskin whispered to her “you know that they have a table in the back right?” and then she immediately left the event, not sticking around to hear Nancy Pelosi speak.

There were a few audible agreements with the DA, but mostly people were hissing (it started at other tables, our table was too stunned to respond) and everybody was looking over at us with “WTF?” expressions. Everybody was whispering about her for the rest of the night, many people came by our table to apologize and say they thought her behavior was tacky and poor form. If anything, she only made herself look bad and riled up a few who are already against us. Dem’s in SF are still supporting Prop K.

Proponents of Prop K are fully opposed to any and all forms of coercion or abuse. It is completely possible to oppose trafficking while at the same time supporting health and safety rights for those who do choose to exchange sex for money. We support all programs that serve the community in positive, healthy ways that don’t involve arrests or forced diversion. Voting Yes on K does not mean that you condone or encourage any form of prostitution.

We have five days left. The No on K campaign has over $50k. $20k of which was sent from a donor in the midwest. Anti-choice and religious forces all over the country are joining forces with anti-sex ‘feminists’ to spread lies about us. The opposition is staggering and our crew here on the ground in SF are tired and a little bit emotionally bruised from facing the opposition’s mean-spirited lies and assaults. We need your help! This is the weekend to come out to SF. Halloween is a blast in the City, there are plenty of places for people to stay, come on out! If you can’t come out and help, please send a donation. And finally, everybody, PLEASE get blogging, posting, emailing, calling, linking, do everything you can do get our message out to SF voters and to combat the awful lies that Harris and the other special interests who profit from arresting prostitutes are attacking us with.

Thanks to all of the amazing contributors, phone bankers, canvassers and everybody else who has contributed to the campaign!

19 Responses

  1. Way to go, Stacey! The anti’s remind me so much of George W. Bush’s tactics—Create moral panics and use fear tactics to gain control. The anti’s were doing the same thing during Measure Q in Berkeley 4 years ago, but hopefully, the San Francisco voters will see through these moral panics and Prop. K will pass.
    Also, I noticed when the opponents listed who they were, they listed various occupations, but sex workers were not included among the occupations listed. I think that speaks volumes. These people who don’t identify as sex workers are trying to dictate policies affecting sex workers, while at the same time fighting against sex workers’ efforts to end their persecution and mobilize for their rights, safety, and wellbeing.

  2. It seems you want people to do this and that but I the proponent wasn’t invited to sit at your ‘yes on k table’.

  3. From the Not For Sale website

    “Twenty-seven million slaves exist in the world today, more than at any time in human history. ”

    There are more slaves in the world today than at any time in human history.

    Slavery is an awful thing that should be eliminated. However, statements like the above are astonishingly out of context and ridiculous. They give the perception that there is a global outbreak of slavery of epic proportions and that the key to stopping this opposing proposition K. Actually proposition K will make it easier for those actually trafficked and/or enslaved to go to the police because they won’t fear being arrested for prostitution.

    If there truly are more slaves now than at any time in human history it would be in volume not percentage. The population of the world is significantly higher than say during Roman Empire days or in 1861. A more accurate question would be what is the percentage of the world’s population that is enslaved compared to any recorded time in human history. Something tells me it would be significantly lower than the previously mentioned historical precedents.

    On to Not For Sale’s worrying about exit programs being de-funded. Not mentioned is that a significant portion of the de-funding would come from sex workers no longer being arrested and mandated into paying significant sums of money to take part in the exit org’s court mandated programs that are paid for with fines. Perhaps the exit organizations could give full disclosure on how they are financially impacted by proposition K and how that financial impact alters their actions. Oh but wait,,,, It is much more melodramatic to say they are worried about all the sex slaves in the world and conjure fear through misinformation than to say they will face budgetary issues because they no longer have a court enforced revenue stream paid for in significant portion by the women they are “rescuing”. Personally I haven’t ever found losing my income and being fined and mandated into a program to help me recover from something that keeps me from working as positive. One has to eat and pay rent while being rescued. Hard to do both when one is paying for their rescue.

    Perhaps exit organizations could be straight forward rather than fear mongering and deliberately inaccurate with the facts to protect their salaries? Perhaps they could focus on rescuing those who are being trafficked and enslaved rather than calling all sex workers slaves?

  4. I was reading Stacey’s comments about Kamala Harris’ uncalled for comments at the gala and that doesn’t surprise me. I think her behavior may actually help Prop. K get passed because I don’t think she presents the anti’s in a very favorable life, and considering that she’s one of their main media spokespeople, that will probably help us. Her demeanor in the media often seems very brash and she also seems really hypocritical. On the one hand, she talks about how people working as prostitutes are victims, but on the otherhand, she promotes the persecution of these sex workers. Also, the “Pretty Woman” comments are getting really old and have nothing to do with Prop. K.

  5. it doesn’t help prop k that they supposed yes on k were too ‘stunned’ to stand up to her right them and there.

  6. Even if the Prop. K proponents were too stunned to stand up for her, I don’t think her behavior represented the anti’s in a favorable way. Maybe, the proponents were making a powerful statement by not acting the same way she did. Also, I wasn’t saying that she could be unintentionally helping Prop. K just because of her behavior at the gala. I also noticed in the media, her comments seem hypocritical and her facial expressions and tone of voice seems brash, which could be a sign that Prop. K is gaining momentum. Even Mayor Newson acknowledged that.
    Also, Harris keeps saying that decriminalizing prostitution will make it harder to prosecute human trafficking cases when she hasn’t even prosecuted any human trafficking cases under the criminalization of prostitution. If the voters are catching onto this, this could help Prop. K also.

  7. I am a volunteer for Yes On K because I support it. I paid for my own ticket to attend at a table with others, I was not responsible for the guest list. Whatever problems you have with others Maxine is neither my business nor my responsibility. And this most definitely is not an appropriate venue to have this discussion.

    I think those in attendance handled the situation in the best possible way and an outburst of any sort would not have served us in a useful way. A remark about opposing Prop K would not have been terribly surprising, but the nature of her delivery caught us off guard. It was surreal and we were not reactionary, we were calm and respected the hosts and guests of the event.

  8. I support Proposition K all the way from here in New York, but my primary support lies in giving everyone here a warning:

    Suppose Prop K passes. What then? The people who opposed Prop K are not just going to give up and disappear. They will try dirty, underhanded tactics in order to undermine the decriminalization that you in San Francisco fought so hard for.

    In one instance, they, along with law enforcement, can declare certain immigrant sex workers to be “trafficking victims”, and then use that as an excuse to claim that decriminalization causes more trafficking.

    In another instance, law enforcement could pay someone who works at a massage parlor, or strip club, or escort agency to claim that they were trafficked by the owner. This of course will cause the establishment to shut down and the workers will be out of a job.

    In a third instance, they could pay a minor to claim she was forced to work in the sex industry.

    So I guess my message is this: If Prop K passes, celebrate, but be on your guard. Because of course they don’t give a rat’s ass about trafficking and abuse of minors, but once Prop K passes, they will look for trafficking in every nook and cranny to undermine decriminalization.

    Be on your guard.

  9. Susan, your statement reflects the lack of resolve of the sex worker rights activist to do the right thing. It reflects the vacuum of strategy at the local, state, national and global level to stop the violence against us workers by stopping arresting us.
    And as far as you swim,yeah, i get that you are not responsible and that your are out of your league when it comes to dealing with well entrenched political of San Francisco.

  10. Susan I think your comments are relevant and certainly reflect some of the things that I’ve been thinking about. But nobody in this campaign believes that decrim is the final step in protecting workers. Decrim will makenour efforts more efficient hopefully, but it will no doubt make us a target for a brand of political scapegoating. That’s no reason not to fight though.

  11. Maxine, you’re right, I’m not familiar with San Francisco politics. I’m merely saying that if Prop K passes, certain forces will try to undermine it, and to be on your guard about that. I live in New York, and the political climate here is quite dirty and corrupt; there is nothing they don’t try to pull here.

    My intention was not to belittle the efforts of sex worker activitists.

  12. […] Opponents of Prop K Use Lies and Fear Tactics to Sway Voters « Bound, Not Gagged "Proponents of Prop K are fully opposed to any and all forms of coercion or abuse. It is completely possible to oppose trafficking while at the same time supporting health and safety rights for those who do choose to exchange sex for money. We support all programs that serve the community in positive, healthy ways that don’t involve arrests or forced diversion. Voting Yes on K does not mean that you condone or encourage any form of prostitution." (tags: sexworkersrights propk law) […]

  13. all politics are corrupt and based on lies, check out this video of the mayor. Talk about lies.
    http://video.google.com/videosearch?sa=N&tab=nv&q=prop%20k%20prostitution#

    Arresting people for working for their human rights is the best the Mayor can offer you.
    Standing in front of a empty massage parlor, the Mayor reaccounts his version of sex in the city; rape of ‘what must have been a 15 year old girl’. The citizens of San Francisco deserve to have the facts, not the mayor’s fancy. Business have gates and cameras to keep out the creeps who rape, rob and molest us because your police force and the DA have ignored us when we’ve come forward.

  14. I just did the math on the volume v. percentage thing. That’s 0.45% of the world’s population. I’ve been doing some investigating, and at the height of this horrible practice in the US, 40% of the population in the South were slaves. In Roman times, the percentage of the population in slavery ranged from 25% to 40%.

    I’m not trying to minimize human slavery because it is horrible. I’m concerned that all this wrongful attention on defeating Prop K completely misses the issue. Most experts on trafficking will tell you that the vast majority of trafficked persons are trafficked into domestic work situations, not sex trafficking. So these efforts to paint decrim as this effort that will make sex trafficking explode really do just injustice to these 27 million people. Police by and large have this image of trafficked people as needing to be raided and rescued from being chained up in a dirty brothel. This is simply not true. And it does a huge disservice to 27 million people.

  15. It’s always the burden of a yes campaign to convince voters.

  16. This is an example of just what a “selectively liberal” city SF is. If it fits the agenda of the higher ups here (hello Kamala, Gavin) they can be as liberal as Belgians, but in this case opposing K we see that they are really just as uptight as the puritans in fly over states they mock.

    The sad part is their fear mongering technique is working. Several “free thinking” liberal friends of mine all oppose it. They spout things like “rising crime”, “human trafficking” while never even considering the tough times women have in this profession, and as liberals, we should be doing everything we can to keep them safe. After all, they are citizens too.

    On Wed morning we will find out what kind of city my hometown is. Will is be a shining light of liberal life, or a city of selective liberalism with some light fascism. Prop K is a referendum on the city itself.

  17. […] Stacey Swimme at Bound, Not Gagged: “Opponents of Prop K Use Lies and Fear Tactics to Sway Voters”: Prop K decriminalizes the act of exchanging sex for money between consenting adults. Any law […]

  18. I have not been involved in the campaign and don’t personally know any of these people who are arguing about who said what and such-and-such fundraiser, but I’m a sex worker and a resident of San Francisco and have done my best to understand Prop K, how it affects me, how it might affect other sex workers here in the city, as well as how it might affect those of us who actually live in this city. Here’s what I think and how I will vote next week: http://www.peridotash.com/?p=1822

  19. I was glad to read that you will be voting yes on Prop. K, Peridot. Thank you for your support of this important initiative.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: