Google Search Contradicts HB 244/SB 8

I wrote extensively last week about the Georgia Republicans waging a war on adult entertainment establishments and expanding civil forfeiture practices in our state with no data to back up their legislative premises.  I have a hard time understanding why a $5,000 OR 1% gross revenue annual fine is necessary for these establishments without cause. And why only the adult entertainment industry?

So, I did a little Google search last night. I spent a significant amount of time sifting through sex trafficking articles. Below is a list of industry-related examples and sources:

You’ll note that none of the above are industries included in the legislation. House Bill 244 and Senate Bill 8 both exclusively call for adult entertainment establishments. Wrongfully and dishonestly. There’s no doubt it sometimes happens in these establishments. But what about every other industry?

70% of child victims are sold over the internet.  Every day. Read that again. 70%. An exceeding majority of sex trafficking is known to originate over the interwebs (and the private sector is already targeting this issue) but we are going after one teeny, tiny industry. That is despicable.

The bill also calls for what some might consider a “government-organized charity.” So I wanted to see what types of 501(c)3 non-profits were already out there operating:

  1. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center
  2. The Polaris Project
  3. A21.org
  4. The Not-For-Sale Campaign
  5. The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women
  6. Out of Darkness
  7. Coalition Against Traffic in Women
  8. Daughters Rising
  9. Slavery No More
  10. Love146

And considering Google returned 1,450,000 results, I can say with certainly that there are plenty more. The industry to help and counsel these women and children is alive and thriving. We don’t need our state government to set up another fund and commission to do so.

Utah seems to be taking a much more reasonable approach, where they are removing a current requirement for prosecutors to prove fraud or coercion for a conviction. North Dakota is increasing penalties for convictions and statute of limitations for victims. Same with Texas. These other states aren’t waging a war on businesses.

A judge in India, where human trafficking is painfully prevalent, said this is a social issue, not a legal one…one that the courts cannot solve. “Implementation of guidelines is in the hands of enforcement agencies.” I could not agree more.

51 comments

  1. Scarlet Hawk says:

    I appreciate your writings on this- it gives press to a scourge in the state that otherwise isn’t getting much attention, despite the YEARS of work the above organizations have put in. You can also add to your list:

    Wellspring Living
    YouthSpark
    Street Grace
    Rotary (both international and local orgs)
    Georgia Cares

    Commissioner Tim Echols also hosted a bus tour right after the beginning of the session that toured the red light district. The link to that story is here: http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/former-dancer-takes-local-lawmakers-tour-sex-indus/njs2c/

    Your posts rally the anti-tax base against this bill so much that when the “tax” portion is removed, it will be considered a victory and a compromise. You’ll feel like you’ve won, and there will be a bill passed nonetheless- win-win. Thanks so much for all your help and attention it’s giving the issue. It’s a really uncomfortable topic (particularly for men) and so I appreciate that you’ve taken it up as such a personal project.

    For a little background on the previous bills Senator Unterman has worked on (as well as House members, like Rep. Brockway), you can find that history here: bit.ly/StopCSEC

    I wrote it from the perspective of the Junior League of Atlanta’s service and involvement, but it gives a fairly comprehensive list of bills that have passed in the addressing of CSEC. If you would like anymore background on the issue, or the players at hand, please don’t hesitate to call.

    Thanks again for your writing on this topic- it’s incredibly helpful!

    • Dr. Monica Henson says:

      Please also add the Georgia Department of Education and Provost Academy Georgia to the list of organizations that have been collaborating with Wellspring Living, Street Grace, CHRIS Kids, et al.

  2. benevolus says:

    CHRIS Kids is another organization that helps. Their mission is helping homeless kids, who are often vulnerable to exploitation.

  3. Ellynn says:

    This is more then a tax. This is the nice southern Christian moral police who have high jacked a real problem and projected to strp clubs in the hopes of getting rid of them.

    • Ghost of William F. Buckley says:

      This is a serious and well written article that shows how a well intentioned principle becomes so hard to legally articulate, thus adversely affecting the end result. Go after the strip clubs, while 70% of the abuse occurs through online predators using the internet.

      Then the issue goes to the ridiculous, as we see in Sandy Springs, GA the Praetorian Guards of Morals make Constituents look idiotic: Warning Not for Work.

      http://www.georgiaunfiltered.com/2014/01/sandy-springs-law-lets-mayor-rusty-paul.html
      http://www.addictinginfo.org/2014/05/26/doctors-note-for-married-couple/

      Sadly, my favorite:
      http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/221410/woman-sues-georgia-city-for-requiring-doctors-prescription-to-buy-a-vibrator/

      And, “We look stupid to the rest of the World”
      http://theweek.com/speedreads/452886/only-america-vibrator-ban

      • Ellynn says:

        To clarify my post, this bill only has traction because it is attached to a target – strip clubs. A very large number of bible belt types who back some key people in the house and senate want them closed. It’s good PR, and it sells well back home at your Sunday service. It’s not even a good tool law enforcement can use as a legal loop hole.

        As Jessica pointed out and you highlighted again, strip clubs are not biggest issue, not even the low hanging fruit. I’m against the bill because it does nothing to really solve the issue – it just creates a level of red tape that is silly and the only people who benifet as I noted before are the moral police who can say ‘look what we did’ to stop the issue.

        • Ghost of William F. Buckley says:

          “A very large number of bible belt types who back some key people in the house and senate want them closed.”

          Ay-yup.

        • Harry says:

          Please know that many strippers provide prostitution services and drugs to their customers. Please also know that strip clubs destroy many household budgets and families. Not innocent places of entertainment.

          • georgiahack says:

            Please know that many churches sell a false bill of goods to their flock (think Scientology, or radical islamic clerics). Please also know that some churches destroy household budgets and families. Not innocent places of worship.

          • Ellynn says:

            I know it might shock you Harry, but I do get out in the world. I never though of a strip club as where the sainted hang out. Georgia already has a set of protitution rules on the books. If law enforcement wants to raid a strip club that might be involved in illegal activitty, and have a warrent in hand, have at it. Taxing a whole classification of legal workers and business owners because ‘some could be doing illegal stuff’ is like saying all people using the sign in ‘Harry’ need to be taxed because a few of them ‘might’ use internet links from far right fringe media that in the past have carried trojan horse malware when opened, and ‘some could do it’ again…

          • How many strippers are minors, Harry?

            For instance, if you go to the Pony or the Cheetah, don’t you think they’ve made sure their girls are not minors?

            Or are you saying that there are strippers who are minors? Because the only one who is conflating minors and strip clubs are people who think this is a moral issue.

    • Dr. Monica Henson says:

      It’s not an attack on strip clubs, nor is it a “moral police” issue. By all means, though, please continue to talk and publicize. This is helping the cause more than y’all know.

      • Jessica Szilagyi says:

        I’ll ask you the same thing I asked you on Twitter last night which yielded no response when you called me ‘wrong’ and ‘misguided’..
        Is this your personal opinion or do you have data to back it up?

        • Scarlet Hawk says:

          Since when does data drive any decision made by the General Assembly? 🙂

          I’m not saying that’s right, Jessica- and bravo to you for suggesting that they should! It would be my hope that would motivate more policy decisions. It would make for better policy overall.

          Yet this is just political theater. In negotiations, you always ask for more than what you want. Then when you give a little, the other party feels they’ve won.

          Don’t you already feel vindicated? You’re fast becoming the next Debbie Dooley, and prettier to boot!

        • Dr. Monica Henson says:

          Jessica,

          I had much bigger fish to fry on the Twitters, like tracking the legislative effort to ensure that we all have the freedom to float drunk down the river without fear of The Police State infringing on our #Liberty. 🙂

          It’s both my professional opinion and the fact that in three years of working extensively with all of the organizations Scarlet Hawk has listed, as well as joining the Statewide Task Force on Human Trafficking as a chair, I have yet to hear a single person make the statement that Georgia needs to “shut down the strip clubs” or otherwise behave like “moral police.”

          I see this bill as similar to what many states do with alcohol revenues: impose a fee on the sale and then direct those monies to efforts that benefit the public good. Does that mean that what churches, Alcoholics Anonymous, and other nonprofits is being replicated or marginalized? Of course not.

          Same with this effort. But by all means, please continue to beat this drum, as loudly as you can. It’s getting a lot of people to read your posts. And your Tweets.

          [Full disclosure: Scarlet Hawk and I work together, she in government affairs for Provost Academy Georgia.]

          • Jessica Szilagyi says:

            Monica,
            This has never been about clicks for me…as it is something that I am actually opposed to and feel passionately about – not that that needs to be justified to you, though. I’m still waiting for someone to tell me why we shouldn’t tax every other industry I listed and why we are only targeting strip clubs. I would imagine I’ll keep waiting.

            Also, the persistent chastising by both you and Lora does not change my opinion on this issue.

            • Scarlet Hawk says:

              Not chastising- encouraging! I’m being sincere in that your stance is helpful to the overall debate. It makes the theater more engaging!

            • Dr. Monica Henson says:

              I haven’t requested any justifications from you, although you seem pretty insistent on demanding them from me.

              Not chastising either, Jessica. I actually support these bills and feel passionately about them. Your insistent posts are drawing attention to this issue, and that’s a good thing. I hope that you continue to post as much as you wish about this topic.

              I didn’t write the legislation, and I don’t pretend to be an expert on any policy issues than education, so I am not the person to ask for an answer to the question as to why not tax other industries.

        • Scarlet Hawk says:

          In your “extensive” google-led research, I didn’t see any reference to the report provided by the GBI back in 2012 that references on page 34 the adoption of a Safe Harbor law.

          4. The State of Georgia can protect minor victims of human trafficking by adopting “safe harbor” laws. To implement such laws, it is necessary to legislatively declare trafficked and commercially sexually exploited children as victims of abuse and neglect (Polaris), grant age based immunization from prosecution for prostitution related offenses and or conditional diversion from juvenile facilities. (Polaris 2013)

          Here’s a link to the full report: http://gbi.georgia.gov/sites/gbi.georgia.gov/files/related_files/document/2014%20Human%20Trafficking%20Report.pdf

          …Or in one of the organizations you referenced, The Polaris Project said this, “Sex trafficking exists within diverse venues including fake massage businesses, online escort services, residential brothels, in public on city streets and in truck stops, strip clubs, hotels and motels, and elsewhere.”

          …Or the Report to the Texas Legislature Sexually Oriented Businesses and Human Trafficking: Associations, Challenges, and Approaches. Link here: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/files/agency/20131912_htr_fin_3.pdf

          I particularly like the part on page three that answers your request for data in both narrative and footnotes. (It also handily refers to strip clubs and the like as “SOBs”.) I’ve copied and pasted here for your ease:

          While a consenting adult’s voluntary employment at an SOB can be legal so long as the employee complies with the law, these establishments often operate under circumstances that are ripe with opportunity for a wide array of illicit behavior – which can span from willing prostitution to forced sexual slavery. However, legal employment can cross over to instances of illegal behavior such as human trafficking. For example, performing at an adult dance club or cabaret is considered sex trafficking when (1) the performance is involuntary, (2) the performer is a minor, or (3) performing illicit sexual acts is a requirement for retaining employment. Links between sexually oriented businesses and human trafficking have been documented in published reports by the National Institute for Justice (NIJ), nonpeer reviewed journals, and professional publications.12 State, local, and federal law enforcement agencies in Texas and around the nation have also released information detailing human trafficking cases involving SOBs. For example, the March, 2009 NIJ Journal featured an article on sex trafficking written by the director of the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, Robert Moossy.13 The author presented principles to help build upon the successes and failures from prior human trafficking investigations, including identifying victims in the hidden businesses – such as brothels and illicit massage parlors – and to make the activities of the trafficker more “public” while providing law enforcement with a chance to intervene when clients seek services or when victims are forced to provide those services.14 To better equip investigators in taking those hidden crimes and bringing them into the light, Moossy called for effective training programs and more robust multi-disciplinary collaborations to help law enforcement identify victims and better assess trafficking situations. Similar strategies were echoed in 2011, when the FBI released a Law Enforcement Bulletin on human trafficking.15 That bulletin highlighted a high profile case involving domestic minor sex trafficking operation where minors were forced to strip and engage in street prostitution.16 Authors issued a call for law enforcement to look at normal police activities differently especially when investigating massage parlors, spas and strip clubs – calling them “havens for prostitutes forced into sex trafficking.”17

          There’s lots of other data to provide linking strip clubs to this problem- as a matter of fact, as many have already pointed out, The Pink Pony is one of a few clubs in Atlanta that actively let groups that deal with sex trafficking come in and work with the girls.

          There’s also 13 other states that have adopted Safe Harbor laws. You might look to them for data as well.

          Hope this was helpful.

          • Jessica Szilagyi says:

            For the 46th time, my problem is that there are plenty of other industries that are aiding in this process. Either go after all of them or none of them.

            • Scarlet Hawk says:

              *giggle*

              So impatient! Policy takes time. And Georgia is particularly known for being slow to move. If it addresses things at all. 🙂

      • Rick Day says:

        What is the ’cause’ in your mind? Shut down strip clubs or eliminate a major source of sex traffic? Because you are doing neither with this bill.

        You must be a gyno because your nose is all up in other’s privates, Good Doctor.

        • Dr. Monica Henson says:

          Neither. See my response to Jessica, above. The only place my nose is with this bill is working with kids who have been rescued from trafficking operations to ensure that they are able to resume their educations, many of whom have been denied schooling for years. It’s nearly impossible for a survivor to go back into a traditional public school environment.

          • Jessica Szilagyi says:

            So, are you admitting that you have a vested interest in this?

            And please tell us more about how this is the role of government.

            • Dr. Monica Henson says:

              Not sure why I need to “admit” that as a public school superintendent, I have a “vested interest” in ensuring that children rescued from trafficking receive appropriate services and education. The entire Georgia Department of Education shares that vested interest along with me. None of the funds generated will accrue in any manner to Provost Academy Georgia or to me, personally. What a silly question.

              If you really are deluded to the point that you think this is some sort of profiteering scheme, please feel free to visit me at 100 Edgewood Avenue, NE, Suite 915, to inspect our financial statements, which are public documents.

              You and I differ on the role of government on this issue. You state your opinion, I state mine. Thus far, “government” is supporting Rachel’s Act and SR7. That’s how it works.

              If you had not blocked me on Facebook, dear, you could keep up with all of these developments instead of having to interrogate me here about them. Another Debbie Dooley tactic…

              • Jessica Szilagyi says:

                I can’t imagine why I would block you. A grown woman name-calling. Let me know when you come back to the table with civil discourse.

                • Dr. Monica Henson says:

                  Not sure what names you feel you’ve been called, dear. Redacting and blocking those who don’t agree is the very opposite of civil discourse—a juvenile practice that I don’t engage in myself, although there are an unfortunate many who indulge in it in an unsuccessful effort to assuage their own insecurities.

                  Let me know when you have questions specifically about the education of Georgia’s rescued children that have been denied schooling because of victimization in the horrific scourge of sex trafficking that happens daily in our state. I’m glad to talk about that. All. Day. Long.

      • The moral question comes from how do you fund these services outlined in the bill.

        A constitutional amendment to tax industries who are vulnerable or out of favor with the establishment is what’s at issue. That to me is where we start to go wrong.

  4. Teri says:

    “Please also know that strip clubs destroy many household budgets and families.”

    That’s nonsense. The force that’s destroying household budgets and the families isn’t strip clubs. It’s the men (in most cases it’s probably men) who choose to spend their family’s money there. The solution to alcohol abuse isn’t to shut down liquor stores, and the solution to crappy husbands isn’t to tax strip clubs when clearly, they’re not but a tiny fraction of the cause of child exploitation.

    As for the absurdity of a “government-organized charity?” What does that even mean? As Jessica and Scarlet Hawk note, there are many organizations already going full-bore at this issue, trying to help these kids and prosecute the pimps and the johns. Local law enforcement already works with these groups, and they are well aware that most of these cases aren’t happening at strip clubs. Smyrna Police made multiple arrests (and rescued a minor) at a hotel last week. Do we need to add hotels to this 1% tax?

    What’s more, I’d argue that reputable strip clubs (cannot believe I just wrote that phrase) like the Pink Pony are already under such onslaught from local authorities who want to see them closed that they probably go above and beyond to make sure their employees are completely above-board. (As it were.)

  5. Rick Day says:

    Like the anti-marriage law passed by the MORAL police (yes, Dr. I said MORAL), this will, if passed into law, will find its way through the courts (AGAIN) and the taxpayer (AGAIN) will have to foot the legal bills when it is overturned.

    I really REALLY want a rule passed that if you sponsored an obviously unconstitutional law motivated by pandering to a base, those sponsors should pay the legal fees of the state. That would cut out a lot of this ‘look what I did to get elected 6 years ago/oopsies ‘activist judges *shakes fist at sky*

  6. Dr. Monica Henson says:

    Rachel’s Act passing the state senate 52-3 and SR7 passing 53-3 is hardly “pandering to a base.”

    • Ellynn says:

      A Convicted trafficker pays a one time $2500 fine and a lawfully run strip club pays a annual $5,000 fee. The bill in effect makes known convicted monsters pay less then a legally run business.

      The base of the bill is very sound, and noteworthy. I agree with very few of Jessica’s POV. I just don’t feel the burden of funding the program should be placed on a business that is not breaking any laws. You don’t have to like what it does, but it is still a legal business. If your going to use that logic, why not have an annual $5,000 fee on truck stops? They have more actual sex trafficing going on then strip clubs. Or Hotels. Why not force a huge fine on a strip club if they are convictioned of trafficking. You don’t fine non-convinted traffickers, why hold a non-convected strip club respondsible? What about fees on internet servers for running trading sites. Can we do this for other issues? What’s next,the state requires an annual fee on legally owned gun shops to serve the needs of innocent gun shot victums?

      I can also name a few members of the Georgia Catholic Confrence and other church organizations who have voiced opinions to the affect if strip clubs don’t like the fee they can take their business to another state.

      I would support the law fully if the funding structure was placed on the actually convicted, instead of a legal business.

    • No – it was effective politics.

      Unterman combined a needed reform of how sex traffic victims are treated (victims vs. criminals), and combined it with a new taxation mechanism on an industry that does not have effective lobbying or a high moral ground.

      Then, she proceeded to directly correlate strip clubs to CSEC, which is inaccurate.

      The senators who voted against it saw it for what it was – a bill that should have been treated as two bills.

      The pandering to the base part is the “for the children” legislators, who needed a feel good vote for their laurels, combined with the “christian” folks who felt good about sticking it to strip clubs, and probably a threat of the Sam Moore treatment.

  7. charles.robertson says:

    It’s hard to adequately express just how absurd this legislation is…and I previously thought that floor was set this session by the push for “puppy personhood”. Big picture…we are proposing a new tax on one part of an industry which is barely related to the problem we are trying to address; a problem which is already being addressed by the private non profit and government sectors; all the while spending tax money to encourage industries which drive the demand (sports events and conventions) for the original problem Best I can tell, this is the economic equivalent of taxing Waffle House hash browns (but not Waffle King or Denny’s or French fries in general) to pay one department of government to reduce sugary drinks in school, while another arm of government is both encouraging and subsidizing the distribution of soda dispensers.

    However, I do admit that without this grand theater, I’d miss great thoughts such as “strip clubs destroy many household budgets and families”. I do understand that problem. I can barely walk my dog at night without tripping over strip clubs lurking in the suburban shadows…just waiting for the chance to destroy my family and my budget. Wonder if my dog needs body armor, or if it dies protecting me from an attacking strip club…whether the club would be charged with murder?

  8. charles.robertson says:

    I also understand that some sex traffickers drive BMWs. By taxing BMW’s $5000 a year, and giving that money to a government department charged with hiring people to figure out how to enforce and collect the funds to put together a different government department to address the problem (while, to Rick Day’s point the entire silliness gets tossed as a completely unauthorized and discretionary taking), we will undoubtedly show our incredible compassion and good faith to all the victims. Sounds both like a plan…and pandering.

  9. S_2 says:

    Considering that strip clubs and the sex industry are a primarily cash-based industry, how could such a tax ever be effectively enforced?

  10. DAinGA says:

    The problem with putting something in a bill just to have leverages is the chance that it doesn’t get taken out. Honestly, this is just another bad bill, which is nothing new with our legislature. Jessica brought up some good and valid points while at the same time not caring that some will, no doubt, brand her “pro-strip club” (or worse) for doing so. Yet another example of how people are all for smaller government except for when they aren’t. And this wasn’t pandering to a base…it was just plain pandering. Very few politicians will stand against a bill like this and take the chance of being labeled “anti children, pro-strip club”.

  11. Ghost of William F. Buckley says:

    The rumble you heard was me rolling over in my grave.

    1.) Crappy husbands are not a government problem,
    2.) Strip clubs are really not good, in any legitimate way, but they are legal,
    3.) Predatory sexual behavior is one of society’s ugliest, most disgusting ailments. If this Bill brings awareness to the issue, that in itself is good.
    4.) Leave Harry alone; the purpose of a forum is to hear all voices, views, regardless of how unpopular those views may be. In this case, Harry makes valid points. Strip bars are to a woman’s mental health and identity what ISIL is to Islam.

    5.) “A very large number of bible belt types who back some key people in the house and senate want them closed.”

    Resume cat-fighting, teeth gnashing, and Harrybaiting.

    • Lea Thrace says:

      Harry can spew whatever non-factual crap he wants. And others can call him out on the bs. If he cant take it, then he should really do some research before making really dumb claims.

    • benevolus says:

      “Cat-fighting” is not politically correct. 🙂 Nevertheless, there has been quite a bit of tag-team sniping and condescension in here!

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