You Can’t Just Walk Around Masturbating in Public, Swedish People
Last week, the Swedish newspaper Mitt i Stockholm reported on a sexual assault case brought against a 65-year-old man who had been seen touching himself on a local beach. Weirdly, he’d been acquitted because “the masturbation wasn’t directed or aimed at any specific person.” No one seems to know what the man was looking at while he pumped away at his groin—the horizon? An empty boat? A gull—but nevertheless, over the weekend, the story started to ooze its way out to international media outlets.
When the English-language Swedish news website the Local picked up the story, however, something was lost in translation—they messed up one of the quotes given toMitt i Stockholm by the case’s wonderfully named public prosecutor, Olof Vrethammar.
The English translation of Olof’s quote, according to the Local: "The district court has made a judgement on this case. With that we can conclude that it is OK to masturbate on the beach. The act may be considered to be disorderly conduct."
The English translation of Olof’s quote, according to me, a Swedish person: “The district court has made a judgement on this particular case. Consequently, you CANNOT imply or draw a conclusion that it’s OK to masturbate on a beach. This deed could possibly be considered as offensive behavior.”
Meet the Lawyer Representing Osama bin Laden’s Son-in-Law
The term “polarizing figure” has become a lazy way to describe politicians, pundits, and media figures for essentially being very loud about mostly superficial things. But there are still a number of people around who fit the definition perfectly. Defense attorney Stanley Cohen is one of those people, capable of simultaneously evoking both absolute hatred and adoration from various parts of society. In fact, he’s the only lawyer I’ve ever come across who has a Haters section on his own website.
Stanley has accumulated a list of clients including Hamas, Hezbollah, the IRA, and al-Shabaab. Most recently, he’s added two new clients to his portfolio: Mercedes Haefer, who’s accused of taking part in cyberattacks against PayPal as part of the Anonymous collective, and Suleiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and a man accused of acts of terrorism against the United States.
Stanley has been referred to as “the terror lawyer” by conservative US pundit Sean Hannity, a “savage lawyer” by professional anti-Muslim subway activist Pamela Geller, and beat Noam Chomsky and Norman Finklestein to the coveted title of Worst of the Worst Self-Hating, Israel-Threatening Jews.” At the same time, Stanley has been hailed as something of a champion of free speech and antiestablishmentarianism by internet activists, and for defending the human rights of the disenfranchised.
Stanley was kind enough to let me interview him, and we spoke about his nemesis, his career, and getting hassled by the IDF.
Stanley with the American poet Peter Spagnuolo (left) and Yasser Arafat. Photo by Peter Spagnuolo via
VICE: Hi, Stanley. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview.
Stanley Cohen: Sure. So, it’s good to know that Eric Holder finally admitted that the US drone program killed four Americans.
Yeah. They already announced those missing four a while ago, so it’s like, “Gee, guys, did it take you two fucking years to figure this out?”
Eric Holder has become something of a nemesis to you, right?
Yeah—fuck Eric Holder. Eric Holder is no different from every other attorney general in recent history. We haven’t had an independent, dynamic, enlightened, historical US attorney general since Ramsey Clark. Basically every attorney general down the line has been swallowed up by the political agenda of whoever the president is, and it’s typically worse with the Democrats than even the Republicans. So yeah—Holder is a good team player, unlike, “I Have a Drone,”[Obama] who won’t admit it, but I’m sure goes to sleep at night believing he spoke to the creator during the day. Holder is just a petty hack.
In all your work in Israel or Palestine, have you ever actually had an encounter with the IDF?
Yeah, I’ve had encounters at crossings, I’ve had encounters at the Wailing Wall, I’ve had encounters where I was on an investigation and we were avoiding road blocks because I had to get into Tulkarem [the then-Hamas stronghold in the West Bank] at a time when it was basically locked down, so I got a local cab. It was kind of funny—the Palestinian didn’t know who I was, but when I said I needed to get to Tulkarem, he said I couldn’t get in. So I said, “Look, if you can get me there and get me out of there, there will be a big, healthy tip for you.”
How the Rob Ford Smoking Crack Scandal Is Just Like ‘The Wire’
The allegation that a crew of drug dealers had a video of mayor Rob Ford smoking crack has resulted in a prolonged and sad controversy in Toronto. Our city’s once triumphant king—who we have heralded for his ability to charmingly pose for terrible photographs, or conquer his rivals after getting fired—has become a political pariah while keeping both ass cheeks firmly on the throne. After the firings and resignations of several disloyal staff members and some accusations from the Globe and Mail that his brother Dougie used to sell hash, his other brother Randy kidnapped a dude who owed him money, and his sister Kathy (who was shot in the face by her boyfriend) hung out with Nazis, the once sparkling face of the Ford dynasty is now looking pimply and scabbed up.
What with City Hall, the police, Toronto’s drug dealers, and the media playing a major role in events, there’s no real-life parallel to this evolving story—it’s more like a work of fiction, specifically David Simon’s much-lauded TV series The Wire, and even more specifically the really implausible plot points in season five. (You can imagine a writer pitching a hard drug–abusing mayor to Simon and Simon tossing that suggestion out for being unrealistic.) But if Toronto’s crackgate (or whatever we’re calling it now) is The Wire, who are the analogues to the major players in the scandal? Here are the answers I came up with.
The War on Weed: Racist, Expensive, and Failed
For years, anti-drug-war advocates have been saying, over and over again, that arresting people for possessing controlled substances overcrowds prisons, wastes resources, and destroys communities. Yet little has changed at the federal level. In fact, during Obama’s first three years as president, the arrest rate for marijuana possession was about 5 percent higher than the average rate under George W. Bush. At a certain point, you have to stop being subtle, which might be why the American Civil Liberties Union’s new study on the “war on marijuana” doesn’t fuck around: “Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests,” it announces in big, unambiguous letters right at the top.
The report—touted as the first comprehensive look at statistics on marijuana-related arrests in all 50 states—finds that enforcement of pot prohibition has been an even costlier and more racially charged nightmare than originally suspected. The data shows that over 8 million marijuana-related arrests were made between 2001 and 2010, costing taxpayers billions of dollars every year and branding many black youths as criminals, though they smoke pot at rates equal to their white peers. Indeed, the study finds that blacks are nearly four times as likely as whites to face arrest for pot-related offenses (and eight times as likely in some states, like Iowa).
'No Condom as Evidence' Legislation Up for Debate in Albany
It’s the first Thursday of the month, and as per tradition, a cadre of affable, semirowdy hos have filled every seat in the Lower East Side’s Happy Ending Lounge.
Shivering from the residual cold, the crowd—pretty, riot grrrl types in Daria bangs and Doc Martens—lets out a collective giggle as Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” floats through the loudspeakers. “Tonight, we’re playing ho anthems,” the host explains, drowning out Fiona’s molasses admission that she’s been a bad, baaad girl.
The evening’s theme is “Pretty Woman Redux,” part of a monthly storytelling series from the sex-workers’ rights group, the Red Umbrella Project. For two hours, a handful of New York’s most articulate “hos” (as they endearingly call themselves), share intimate, industry tales.
As in past sessions, donations from the event will benefit a cause vital to every sex worker in the city: banning the New York Police Department’s well-documented practice of using condom possession as evidence of prostitution.
It’s a battle health rights advocates have fought for years. In every legislative session since 1999, proponents of a “No Condoms as Evidence” bill have asked state lawmakers to squelch the practice, citing evidence that it’s forced sex workers to stop carrying and using condoms all together. In every session, the bill has died on the committee floor.
In recent months, however, efforts to engage lawmakers have accelerated, thanks to studies released in 2012 by the Pros Network and Human Rights Watch—two Manhattan-based organizations that say the policy has led to a serious public-health crisis.
In the Human Rights study, among a slew of other anecdotes, a sex worker named Anastasia L., claims she had unprotected sex “many times” to avoid the risk of arrest.
Prisons Punish Families Too
When I read articles like this one in the New York Times about how prison makes people poor and destroys families, I have mixed emotions. I think it’s admirable that this high-and-mighty mainstream paper is examining the effects of the nation’s prison population explosion over the past 40 years. The author, John Tierney, tells the story of Carl Harris, a guy from DC who used to sell crack until he beat up some of his customers who robbed him and got 20 years on a trumped-up charge because the cops thought he was some big-time drug dealer. Sounds like Carl is doing better now, and I’m real happy he’s gotten to the point where he can enjoy life. Sadly, I ain’t exactly there yet—the drug statutes of New York State are continuing to butt pump my unlucky rump, even though I’m out of prison.
I could repeatedly point out injustices I believe I’ve incurred over the past eight years, however, I’m trying to stop that train of thought and get back to basics. I’ve been beating off to my old Susan Powter videos like it’s ’94 again and thanking whatever there is to thank up there that I didn’t get 20 years for beating up crackheads. As that Times article demonstrates through Carl and his family’s story, some prison terms are WAY too long, and excessive sentences unnecessarily handicap communities already in dire straits. Basically, prison is responsible for more chaos than anything else. But if it took the Times writing about it for you to get that, you’re probably a simpleton who needs some help eating solid food.
I didn’t go to Harvard or Yale and by many peoples’ accounts I’m dumber than dookie-dipped dewdrops drying on a dildo, yet I know prisons better than the front of my dick. While the clink-clink blows balls on a number of levels, the one aspect of doing time that, at least in my experience, isn’t that bad is the one the media plays up the most, and that’s the actual physical doing-time part. Movies and shows depict prisons as full of bloody dicks and shivs, and no doubt, dirt gets done in prison. But actually, most motherfuzzies in jail deal with a lot iller shit in the streets. The prisons I’ve been to were all pretty much chillin’. It’s basically summer camp minus the baby beavers. Lots of us bitch and moan, but we play cards and sports, watch TV, eat free food, have people clean up after us, lift weights, listen to music all day, take profucive naps, read and write a lot, and get money (masturbate) till the cows come home. The best part is you taxpayers pay for it all!
It’s not a problem of a few bad apples, as some people suggest, but instead a matter of irresponsible leadership, a pathological law enforcement culture, and a public ready and willing to sacrifice notions of justice, fairness and humanity for … what exactly?
Are Canadians About to Be Prosecuted for File Sharing?
As of late, a company named Canipre has been drumming up a lot of shadily defined fear mongering against“one million Canadians” who they insist are illegally downloading copyrighted material. If you have never heard of Canipre, they’re a new company that’s looking for record label and film studio clients they can work with to suck the cash out of Canadian citizens. Canipre has teamed up with two god-awful movie studios to begin their noble journey. The first is Voltage Pictures, who has released a ton of movies that are barely bargain bin worthy, plus a film you may know called The Hurt Locker. Canipre’s other companion in this shakedown mission is NGN Productions, who has released such gems as Paparazzi Princess: The Paris Hilton Story, a made-for-TV program, and Recoil, an action movie with Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Not only is it bullshit that Stone Cold Steve Austin has been dragged into this mess, the tactics behind Canipre’s lawsuits seem to be bullshit as well. On Canipre’s website, they proudly advertise to potential clients that “when asked, 95%” of accused file-sharers “stop” downloading entirely. Evidently, they like to brag about their bullying tactics. Their front page also has a randomly generating slogan that spouts out wisdom like, “it’s an arms race, and your bottom line is the target,” “your audience isn’t rational,” and “if they keep thinking it’s free, when do you go out of business?”
A screenshot from Canipre’s friendly website.
As for Canada’s copyright laws, a close reading of the penalties detailed in our new amendment to the copyright act, C-11, leads to some uncertainties. For example, if you are found guilty of “circumventing” a “technological protection measure” you can be fined up to $25,000 or sentenced to a maximum of sixth months in jail. Would that include breaking the iTunes DRM off an album that someone purchased, then sending that newly “unprotected” digital copy to a friend?
A Complete Dipshit’s Guide to the Roger Clemens Verdict
Roger “Rocket” Clemens, maybe the greatest right-handed pitcher in baseball history, is a little fat in the face and also a free man, having been declared innocent/not guilty of six counts of obstructing Congress, committing perjury, and making false statements. (The statements were about whether he used steroids to ostensibly become better at baseball, which is pretty much why we care in the first place.) The trial may be the biggest waste of baseball-related tax dollars since a couple of brain surgeons posing as lawyers in California found Barry Bonds guilty of a teeny weeny count of obstructing justice, which carried a sentence of 30 days house arrest in a palatial abode that is bigger than the grocery store I go to.
We realize this whole thing is all still a bit confusing, so we’re here to answer all of your idiotic questions about what exactly went down.
Dipshit: So, I remember you telling me that the CFL guy Pinhead Clemons is still wanted for murder and Rockin’ Roget Clemens, the pitcher, is on trial, right?
VICE: Right. Well, was on trial.
Oh. So was he found innocent or was he found not guilty?
Well if you’re innocent you don’t have to pay in the civil suit, but if you’re not guilty it’s just a technicality. That’s what I read in a pamphlet.
No, that’s absolutely not correct. They are exactly the same thing.
So he got off?
Yeah, all counts.
How about his lawyer?
Rusty Hardin? What about him?
No, I’m saying, “how about his lawyer.” He’s real cool. He made some good arguments, huh?
You know, he didn’t do a bad job. He helped establish that Clemens was a super workout fiend and his former personal trainer was a sicko.
The USA Can Kill Whoever it Wants (According to the USA)
The War on Terror has always been antagonistic to law. There was no time to build or follow a coherent legal framework when everybody could die at any moment all the time. Hell, securing a warrant can take upwards often minutes. In ten minutes, everybody could be dead, everywhere, perhaps forever. So we invaded countries on fabricated evidence and we tried suspects in kangaroo courts on evidence elicited by torture. We had to because we were afraid.
History is full of overreactions and bad judgments that are corrected with time, or at least condemned in hindsight. But the US government doubled down on the secrecy and the extra-judicial violence. And now the Obama administration wants to legalize murder.
Let’s back up. On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a speech at Northwestern Law School to formally defend the War on Terror, arguing that we can, should, and will follow these practices in the future. Of course, Holder is silent on the issue of torture. Apparently, that page has turned.
Instead, Holder focused first on the recent killing of the American citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, by CIA-operated drones in Yemen. Holder offered these killings as a model for future US policy. His justification is simple: We are at war with al Qaeda and those we deem members of al Qaeda are soldiers. And we fight these soldiers on a global battlefield, so we have the right to kill them anywhere. Holder assured his audience that this policy follows the letter of international law—a claim that’s arguable at best.