Wednesday 2 February 2005

Scepticism in a world of stupidity.

Perhaps, once upon a time, being sceptical was easy. Perhaps things that sounded obviously untrue stood out. But, when it is true that Dutch banks are legally obliged to pay for their robbers' guns, it is true that the Soviets successfully banned surnames in Mongolia, it is true that people in a democratic country have just gone on a march to protest another country's transition to democracy, it is true that the word "brainstorm" is being replaced in some quarters with the phrase "thought shower" so as not offend epileptics, who claim that they were never offended anyway, and it is true that Saudi Arabia is facing a sand shortage, how are we supposed to spot hoaxes?

All of which is a preamble to my pointing out that Kate has pointed out that the article in The Telegraph upon which I based my post about state-enforced prostitution in Germany may not be completely true.

Well, that's one way of reading it. The article which supposedly debunks the Telegraph piece really does no such thing.

A spokesman for the Federal Labor Office said that if job seekers said they were prepared to work as, for example, dancers in strip bars, advisers could put them in touch with any suitable employers, but vacancies would not be displayed in job centers.

He also stressed job centers would not look for prostitutes on behalf of brothels, nor offer sex industry jobs to people who hadn't specifically mentioned it as an area of interest.

What the spokesman doesn't mention is the twenty-five-year-old woman The Telegraph were writing about, whose job centre told her to contact an employer who was interested in hiring her but didn't tell her that that employer was a brothel, who then tried to sue her job centre only to find that the law was on their side. Until I see a denial of that, I'll work under the assumption that it did happen — but it looks like it was the result of a job centre employee being either stupid or nasty, not the result of them following the letter of the law. We can, no doubt, expect to see more such fuck-ups, but not as part of a widespread state-imposed program.

Meanwhile, I love this quote from "celebrated Berlin prostitute" Molly Luft:

"One can't expect everyone to be prepared to work in the sex industry," Luft said. "Plus if people aren't very attractive they aren't going to make much money," she added.

She's never been to Glasgow, then.

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