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Of course, sex workers don’t actually sell their bodies: like everyone else, they sell services. The “selling bodies” line is used simply for shock value and adds an assumption that it’s wrong into the question itself. But still, you might ask, why those, why sell sexual services? I think it's for the same reason that men become fishermen, which is to say that it varies, and may include

  • They are forced into it, as happens with tragic frequency on fishing boats off the coast of East Asia. Literal slavery is unfortunately not dead.
  • They have no other options, though they wish they did. In some places there are no jobs, and even if you loathe the very sight of water, let alone the stink of fish, your choice is between fishing and starving.
  • They have no access to better jobs. If the choice is between fishing and cleaning toilets, you might choose fishing.
  • They see it as just another job. To some people, fishing isn't special. Everybody has to earn a living; why not through fishing?
  • The money tempts them. The king crab fishery is hard and dangerous work, but a captain can make $200k in a season and take the rest of the year off, if they want.
  • They genuinely enjoy the work. Personally I don't get it—I love the sea and enjoy fishing under certain circumstances, but turning it from a private pleasure to a job would make me miserable. But even if it wouldn't suit me, I have no reason to think that there aren't people who love it and cannot get enough, and even if some proponents are just putting on a brave face, it seems foolish and rudely dismissive to insist that someone who claims enjoy it must be lying. Different strokes for different folks.

Personally, I think the poor fishermen kept as slaves deserve help, to be freed and helped to find new means of subsistence, lest they have no option to go back to a now angrier and warier ship owner. Child labour is horrible and should never be tolerated. Those who regard the job as a foul, stinking drudgery should have better opportunities. And obviously all fishermen should enjoy the protection of occupational health and safety laws. But who am I to criticise the others for their choice? It would be foolish to judge their job satisfaction by how I feel about the job, and if some people sneer at the hands-on, blue collar work, that's snobbery and classism we are better off without. If they're treated poorly for their profession, it's the ill-treatment we should stop, not the fishing!

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Or, Satirical depictions of religious leaders should be illegal, says Ottawa imam.

This is a fascinating study in the art of getting things completely backwards. It should be mentioned up front that this guy (wrong-headed though he otherwise is) does denounce the terrorist attacks and refer to the terrorists as disturbed individuals—he’s disingenuous but not an apologist for monsters. (Nor did he claim that the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists bore the responsibility for their own deaths, unlike some old, white, male Christians¹.) That said:

"Imtiaz Ahmed...said it should be against the law to publish cartoons that depict religious figures in a derogatory way.

“Of course we defend freedom of speech, but it has to be balanced. There has to be a limit. There has to be a code of conduct,” Ahmed said."

“We believe that any kind of vulgar expression about any sacred person of any religion does not constitute the freedom of speech in any way at all.”

Ahmed said there should be limits placed on freedom of speech to prevent the publication of offensive material. He says that seems to be the case for events such as the Holocaust. Members of the public denounce those who say the Holocaust never happened.

It’s worth noting that his position is in fact against free speech. He’s for free speech…unless it’s just too offensive. However, the legal right to free speech is entirely about offensive speech; after all, it’s only once speech has been deemed offensive that anyone wants to silence it, and therefore only offensive speech ever needs, and uses, legal protection. In practice, “free speech except for really offensive speech’ is exactly equivalent to no free speech at all. (Incidentally, his words are incredibly offensive to free speech advocates; but of course he wants special protection only for religious speech, on the basis of…who knows?)

His remark about public denouncement of Holocaust denial is an even more stunning miss, because public denouncement of offensive remarks is precisely what free speech advocates strive for. Legal protection of free expression necessarily includes the protection of responses to said speech. That’s the whole idea of the principle: Let everyone speak their mind, and let those who are in the wrong be defeated by having their ideas exposed, rebutted, and rejected, not by shutting them up and forcing them to nurse their grievances and resentment in private.


¹ Stephane Charbonnier, the paper’s publisher, was killed today in the slaughter. It is too bad that he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death. Bill Donohue, everybody.

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Via a CBC article here, the International Olympic Committee is promising to deliver guidelines on how to deal with athletes with ambiguous sexual characteristics. This was brought into the limelight with the controversy over the South African runner, Caster Semenya, in 2009.

This’ll get long; if you are impatient, or are uninterested in or offended by my own opinions, jump down to the quote below on what the IOC had to say.

My thoughts ) What the IOC said ) Footnotes )

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