Lisa Works Hard for the Money

Let me tell you about Lisa.
Lisa isn’t her real name, by the way. It isn’t even her professional name. It’s just a name I chose for her, to protect her identity.
Lisa is a fun girl. She’s caring, forthright, independent, and hard-working. I love spending time with her. She makes me feel good and I get a genuine sense that she enjoys my company, too. If she doesn’t, she at least gives me the feeling that she does. Since I have been a professional actor in my time, I can usually tell when someone is acting. She doesn’t give me that impression, so if she is just pretending, that makes her a great actor, too.
Lisa is a prostitute.

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There are other names for her type of worker, but I won’t put them here. She doesn’t deserve it. Lisa prefers the term “sex worker”. She takes her job seriously, and doesn’t like the negative image some people have about her line of work.
Lisa works hard. She has to put up with all sorts of stupid people, demanding people, crazy people, obnoxious people, angry people, scared people…

“Lisa”, as I said, isn’t her name. That’s because Lisa is an amalgam of sex workers. She is representative of the vast majority of them. I never met a sex worker I didn’t like. I know there are some desperate girls out there, hooked on drugs or whatever, selling themselves because they have no other choice. But I haven’t met them.
And I can tell you why I haven’t. Because I live in a society (Australia) where brothels are legal and registered. There may be streetwalkers out there, but I haven’t seen them. I’ve seen them overseas, but have avoided them.
Most of the girls working in the brothels here are young, intelligent ladies earning a bit of extra cash. Ones I have met have been nurses, teachers, university students, housewives and mothers. They know what they are doing and have chosen to do it. Most of them have high sex drives (a benefit in their job) and genuinely enjoy their work. That must be hard, given some of the clients they must have met.
They have regular health check-ups and insist on safe sex always. So do I. That’s just logical.
I would hazard a guess that it’s the places where sex for sale is illegal, where their services are frowned upon, that have the problems usually associated with the sex industry.
So legalised prostitution is a good idea.
There are restrictions, of course. A girl (or guy) can work from home or a hotel room, as long as they work solo. One can see the sense behind that, but it does limit the services that can be provided, such as when a client wants more than one girl or guy at a time. Still, the situation is much better than in some countries.

And of course, the illegal sex trade, where workers are exploited and abused, is not good. But the prostitution laws are designed to discourage that sort of activity.
So, why the stigma? The usual objections, I guess, arise from people concerned about morals, family values, religious edicts and so forth. None of these are really convincing. There is some evidence to suggest that having a sexual outlet allows people to experiment with other partners in a safe, discreet way. Sure, a partner cheating on their spouse with a sex worker is still cheating, but that’s something for individual couples to sort out. The sex worker isn’t going to say anything, or expect the cheating spouse to get a divorce or give them gifts or hold them to blackmail.
Lisa deserves more praise than she gets. She works hard and fulfils a vital service. She won’t do it forever. She has other things to be getting on with. It’s just a job.
So cut her some slack. And pay her a visit. Or her, friend, Jim. He’s available too, ladies. Or guys.

– Russell Proctor http://www.russellproctor.com

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The Other Kids – You Know, the Good Ones

A few posts of mine recently have been about kids going wrong. “It’s not what kids do” is one of those, where I point out how some kids these days just don’t seem to get it. They are also, apparently, being treated leniently by the courts. (See my post “Crime and Punishment”).

So today I thought I’d blog about the other kids.You know, the good ones, just to show I have no hard feelings and that I do acknowledge there are good young people out there doing extraordinary things. I may be a grumpy old man, but I do try to see both sides of the coin.

So, here are some amazing people under 18:

1) Malala Yousafzai.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/20/taliban-victim-malala-yousafzai-school 

Malala Yousafzai

This is the Pakistani girl shot on the head by the Taliban for daring to suggest that girls should be educated. Apparently she has been advocating for equality since she was 11 and has already won  won Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. She was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and is the youngest nominee in history. What happened to her was horrific, but she has achieved an enormous amount in her short time so far.

2) Daisy Morris. Daisy, an English girl, discovered a dinosaur when she was 5 years old. How cool is that?

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-21850080

What kid would not want to discover a new species of dinosaur? I’d like to discover one even now. The creature is now named after her. Vectidraco daisymorrisae. It means “Daisy Morris’s Isle of Wight Dragon”. It even has a cool name. She stumbled over some blackened fossilised bones on the beach when walking with her family. She’s always been interested in dinosaurs, apparently. Well, all that dedication has paid off.

3) Zack Kopplin.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/03/02/young-atheist-and-science-advocate-zack-kopplin-interviewed-by-bill-moyers/

 

Ok, he’s 19 now. But he started when he was 14 as an advocate for education law reform in the USA. He is against the teaching of creationism in Louisiana science classes. Apparently, some teachers wanted to kick evidenced-based science out of the classroom altogether. No more evolution, just what the Bible tells us is so. Zack has been successful in thwarting these attempts. He is also an advocate for “good science”. And, of course, for the teaching of science in general. Oh, and he’s actually studying history.

These three “kids” have done some extraordinary things. I seem to have been biased towards the science/education side of things, but those are my interests.

It’s encouraging to see young people achieving amazing things. Sometimes, like Malala Yousafzai, they almost lose their lives doing it. But it doesn’t stop them.

So, if my previous posts about teenagers have been a bit negative, I hope these three wonderful people make up for it. There are a lot more out there. Let’s encourage them.

It’s not what kids do.

Another party advertised on Facebook got out of control here in Brisbane on the weekend.

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/two-police-officers-hospitalised-with-head-injuries-after-acacia-ridge-party-goers-beat-them-with-bricks-in-cowardly-attack/story-e6freoof-1226599348872

Two police officers were injured and a City Council bus damaged as idiots decided they didn’t like the police closing their party down. Poor little darlings. Apparently there had been complaints from the neighbours about noise from the party and reports of fighting in the streets. So the police decided to attend and told them to shut it down. Most of the partygoers – some as young as 11 – left peacefully. Some stayed and proceeded to break other people’s property and ended up injuring two police officers.

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Following this, the host of the party, 17 year old Jordan Fuller, made one of the great stupid comments of the day: “It’s what kids do.”

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No, Jordan, it isn’t what decent, civilised kids do. It’s what stupid thugs who can’t get their own way do.

So your party was closed down? That is no excuse to hurt other people. Is your party more important, more precious, than the health of two police officers? Is it worth more than the bus? I don’t think so.

Just because other people (the neighbours – remember them, Jordan?) didn’t like what you were doing is no reason to throw bricks at someone. It really isn’t.

You are not the centre of the universe, and we do not revolve around you.

The party was advertised on Facebook, another brilliant planning idea in the mind – if I may use that term – of Jordan Fuller. There have been a number of parties that have spiralled out of control here in Brisbane lately after being advertised on Facebook. I’m not blaming Facebook here, just the mentality of people who don’t have enough friends they have to call on anyone who is a friend of a friend of a friend.

People who advertise their parties on Facebook must be wanting trouble. They cannot be ignorant to the recommendations of those in authority who say don’t do it. They must have seen reports (or even perhaps attended) parties of a similar nature and decided to “go for it”.

Hopefully, as indicated in the news article, people will be charged over this and Jordan gets the bill. He has an 18th birthday party in a year’s time. God help us.

Bullying the Queen Street Gunman

We had some excitement here in Brisbane the other day. The Queen Street Mall (the heart of the city) was evacuated on Friday when a gunman appeared and looked about to shoot himself.

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/breaking-news/brisbane-mall-evacuated-amid-gunman-fears/story-e6freono-1226593160916

The man was Lee Matthew Hillier, and he was disturbed because a court had denied him access to his children, which was what drove him to the extreme measure of drawing a gun in Queen Street.

The Mall was cleared and the police did a fantastic job in calming him down and eventually capturing him. No one was injured (apart from the gunman). No one died. No one panicked. A good result from a situation that could have been a tragedy.

The thing is that mere hours later, this picture appeared on my Facbook page:

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It’s the gunman, surrounded by police, both uniformed and plain clothed. Some “wit” (or is that half-wit) has inserted a speech bubble that has two major qualities about it:

1) It is not in the least bit funny;
2) It is making fun of a man who is seriously disturbed emotionally.

The speech bubble is, I believe, based on the Half-wit’s belief that the man was looking for someone. He wasn’t.

My complaint is that Half-wit, and the people who liked his link, are laughing at a man who needed help, not mockery. Sure, he could have hurt someone, but he was apparently asking the police to shoot him and held the gun to his own head for a long time. That leads me to believe that harming someone else was not his intention. If he had wanted to shoot someone, he had plenty of opportunity, and he didn’t do it.

So, why laugh at him? Are we that cruel, that heartless, that we can’t see a call for help when it’s there? The police acted correctly. They acted bravely. They did exactly the right thing. And some Half-wit comes along and thinks he’s the funniest guy in the universe.

This is bullying. What’s worse, it is cyber-bullying, where potentially millions of people can see the post, and where the victim has no chance to defend himself.

I personally hope that Lee Hillier gets the help he needs. I have  pity and sympathy for him, not derision and mockery. Laughing at someone who needs help is a cowardly act.

Improving the Penis

Now I have your attention…

A couple of days ago, 60 Minutes here in Australia ran a report on the case for and against circumcision of male babies.

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As expected, there was a lot of debate on both sides. Barrister Paul Mason declared that it was child abuse. In fact, he called it child sexual abuse. http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/extraminutes/8620217/fore-and-against-the-case-against-circumcision

As a barrister, however, he would be aware than a baby is deemed to be not legally able to make its own decisions in regard to health and that responsibility falls to its parents. So, it isn’t sexual abuse as the parents are legally able to decide if their son is to be have this particular medical procedure. End of argument.

The report also contained an interview with a male adult who had been circumcised as a baby and, now he was an adult, felt he had always been missing something that had been taken from him. In some mysterious way he felt its loss.

What? He has no memory of what it was like to have a foreskin. How can he say he feels its loss if he only had the thing for a few days or weeks after he was born and now he’s all grown up? Maybe he just needs a girlfriend.

On the other hand, Professor Brian Morris argues that every boy should be circumcised. http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/webchats/289966/chat-brian-morris-on-his-opinion-of-circumcision There are sound medical reasons for it. It’s just plain cleaner. I believe that at one time soldiers were encouraged to have circumcisions because lying around in foxholes in the mud for weeks on end was not a good way to keep Mr Rogers clean. Even if you aren’t fighting a war, it saves a lot of mucking about in the shower. And it’s better for sex, too. The man expereinces much more sensitivity in the tip. He’s happy; she’s happy. Everyone wins.

I’m circumcised. I’m happy to be that way. I have no traumatic memory of the surgery, which anti-circumcision people seem to feel is carried like one of Scientology’s engrams throughout the man’s life. No, that one passed me by, sorry. Can’t say I feel any problem at all with missing a couple of square centimetres of skin I wasn’t using anyway. I’ve had my appendix out too, and my tonsils and adenoids. Can’t say I feel violated there, either.

Parents have not just the right, but the duty to make the best decisions for their children. Paul Mason had nothing to say about the medical side of circumcision, since he isn’t a doctor. It’s the doctors who are best able to advise on this matter. Inventing excuses of sexual abuse isn’t going to help anyone reach a rational decision.

Ultimately, it’s up to the parents. And of course, we are only talking about male circumcision hre. Female circumcision is a crime and an abomination. It’s a completely different thing that has major repurcussions for the girl. But for boys, I’d reach for the knife. Just don’t slip!

Crime and Punishment

There is ongoing controversy about the punishments handed out by Courts, especially to juvenile offenders. The Courier-Mail had something to say about this today:

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/teen-criminals-laugh-at-court-ruling-after-eight-month-crime-spree/story-e6freoof-1226586344837

But it’s not just offenders under 18. People are complaining that many offenders seem to be getting off lightly. The judges seem to be reluctant to hand out prison sentences, or anything at all like a “real” punishment.

There is some sense in their reluctance. Keeping someone in prison costs money, and the emphasis on punishment these days (at least here in Queensland) is rehabilitation rather than retribution. Both of those reasons make sense. Of course, really serious offenders may be exceptions to the rehabilitation rule, but surely teenagers just being immature and making mistakes should not have the full weight of the law thrown at them? Especially given that most of us could probably remember stupid things we did at that age and didn’t get caught for.

But it’s a complex problem. At what point does a bit of teenage stupidity become punishable by something more than a slap on the wrist? There are millions of possible scenarios and millions of people to make judgments and that means that no punishment will ever be able to satisfy everyone.

We can all feel distress when some kid walks out of Court figuratively (or even literally) thumbing his nose at the law, smiling because he avoided any real punishment, and not deterred in the slightest from breaking the law again. That’s understandable. But the judges have an enormous – some would say impossible – and certainly onerous task before them.

You can’t satisfy everyone. Does punishing one person deter others from doing the same thing? Does the punished person learn from their mistake? Does setting up someone as an example to others work?

Yes and no. Sometimes. Not in all cases.

And that’s the problem. I don’t know what the answer is; I don’t even know if there is one.

I used to be a lawyer. I saw a lot of punishments handed out to my clients and to other people. And I know that each time the Judge or Magistrate thought long and hard about what to do. They are bound, too, by the rules laid down by the government. If anyone should be targeted for being too lenient, it should include those making the laws, not just those enforcing them.

As a lawyer, too, I saw the effect punishments had on my clients. Some were genuinely affected by it. Others not so. That’s only to be expected. No one solution works for everyone.

Social reform may be the answer. Maybe we should be tackling the reasons crime occurs as well as handing out punishments when it does.

I remember when I was a full-time teacher seeing a sign on a Deputy-Principal’s wall: “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll always get the same results.”

Something needs doing. But just what exactly is a hell of a big question.