One reader's rave

"Thanks for the newspaper with your book review. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this terrific piece of writing. It is beautiful, complex, scholarly. Only sorry Mr. Freire cannot read it!" -- Ailene

Help the Honey Badgers in their fight for freedom of speech and thought!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tell the Times: You Don't Prevent Coercion by Practicing It

The Woodhull Freedom Foundation's newslist has forwarded an editorial from the New York Times which makes the Orwellian argument that in order to stop sexual slavery, we should criminalize consensual employment of prostitutes by "traffickers." Here's the letter I just sent them:

Your editorial "Taking On the Traffickers" is represented as being about concern for women and children "smuggled" into the country as "sex slaves." That is, it appeals to our revulsion at coercion. Yet, later you call for coercion to be removed from the definition of trafficking for purposes of the law. What sense does this make? Clearly if the government prosecutes people for a consensual activity, then it is the government itself that is practicing coercion, not preventing it.

As for some traffickers' taking advantage of prostitutes' fear of police, the solution is plain even though you don't mention it: take away the reasons for that fear by abolishing legal restrictions both on prostitution and on immigration.

Eric Hamell

Philadelphia, PA

You can write the Times at


...says a license plate I saw today. And I think it was very punny, because the car was apparently driving out of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, right across the street from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. I didn't get to ask the driver, but I'd be willing to bet she's a neurologist. "Actin." "UP." Get it?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Now you see me.

I just renewed my state ID and decided, while getting a better picture of myself taken, that I should put it up here. You can view it to your right.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Support Release of Records in the Death of Deborah Jeane Palfrey

Citizens for Legitimate Government has reported that the attorney for the late "DC madam," Deborah Jeane Palfrey, is requesting the release of records relating to her death, which was described as an apparent suicide. Her attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, says Palfrey specifically asked that he do so in the event that she were to die of an apparent suicide.

The request is addressed to the police department of Tarpon Springs, Florida. Obtaining fulfillment of this request may be non-trivial because Palfrey's mother has sued to have the records withheld.

In addition to other reasons for supporting this, whoever killed her may have believed they could get away with it because the public would not care about a sex worker's death, or be concerned about respecting her posthumous wishes. A public demonstration of support would prove otherwise and thereby set a beneficial precedent.

The Tarpon Springs police chief is named Mark LeCouris. The address is:

City of Tarpon Springs Police Department
444 S. Huey Ave
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689

The non-emergency number is (727) 938-2849 and the email address is (Note: "Under Florida law, e-mail addresses are public records. If you do not want your e-mail address released in response to a public-records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead contact this office by phone or in writing.")

Eric Hamell

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Pelosi tries not to see protesters

A few dozen people showed up to protest Nancy Pelosi's reluctance to impeach Cheney and Bush for their crimes, but it appears security did their best to keep her from having to see us as she left the library. Here's a video:

My sign and I appear most clearly at 7 minutes, 34 seconds.

Monday, August 04, 2008

"Off the Table" Pelosi Is Hawking Books in Philly

I just learned the other day that Nancy Pelosi, who only recently started to balk at Bush's war spending requests under enormous public pressure, but has balked at impeachment proceedings "from day one" (to borrow a phrase), will be speaking at Philadelphia's central library tomorrow. I spent some time yesterday making a placard to bring there: "NO $$$ for WAR -- US troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq" on one side; "CINDY SHEEHAN for CONGRESS -- Those who don't impeach, don't impress" on the other. If you're in my area, I hope to find you there.

BTW, it seemed remarkable how easy it was to eyeball the spacing of those slogans correctly; I didn't use to be able to do that. I guess it's just a mark of my increased self-confidence.

Eric Hamell

A Studio Is Not a Prison

I sent a letter today to The Sun magazine, responding to an article in last November's issue which I received as part of a trial sub (I'd subsequently decided money was too tight to continue it, and only recently had gotten around to reading the issues they sent me). Here's what I wrote:

Dear editor,

While I agree with Derrick Jensen's main point, I think he makes an inapt analogy in comparing zoos with pornography. He writes, "If I have a photograph, I have it forever, even if subsequently the woman withdraws her permission." This is different from a Wyeth painting or a Springsteen CD -- how?

When I've made artworks for my mother or my friend Khristina, I didn't say they couldn't give them to someone else, and so there's no way I could be assured of being able to retrieve them. And when I sing at an open mike or in the subway, I don't tell anyone that they can't record me.

In the same way, when I've offered to model for pornography, I haven't asked for any right to take back my image -- nor would I want to. Whether I'm giving someone my art, or singing to them, or modeling for them, I'm making a statement: This is who I am. If I kept a purchase on that piece of myself, so that I could take it back, I would be qualifying that statement -- making it with less confidence. It would, in fact, no longer be the statement I wanted to make.

So far from the irretrievability of pornography, like any willfully public expression, making it less authentic -- as Jensen would have us believe -- for us who choose to do it, this makes it more authentic.

Eric Hamell
Philadelphia, PA