ATLANTA, Georgia, January 24, 2008
Amber Rhea, co-founder of Georgia Podcast Network, and organizer of the upcoming Sex 2.0 conference, takes issue with alt-weekly Creative Loafing's January 16, 2008 article on a anti-sexworker vigilante, who has taken it upon himself to videotape individuals that he believes are "working the night" and posting the footage on YouTube.
Rhea sums up her problems with the article, in a letter to the editor not published at this time:
The first, and most obvious, is that Gower and Denby are dangerous vigilantes. [...]
It should go without saying that posting videos of sex workers on YouTube is a horrible idea. What is the goal? Sex workers – especially street prostitutes – are disproportionately the targets of violent crime. Violent criminals target sex workers because they know they can get away with it. [...]
[Author] Nouraee fails as an investigative reporter with this piece, especially as one for a paper that claims to be alternative. Terms like “transvestitute” and “real female” go unchallenged and uncorrected. Nouraee does not probe Gower about why Gower is so fixated on harassing prostitutes. He does not examine how the criminalization of prostitution perpetuates the violence that many people associate with street prostitution. He does not discuss the societal and economic conditions that lead to many transpeople working on the streets.
Gower is the Vice President of the Midtown Ponce Security Alliance, which describes itself on its website as a "small group of residents and business owners [...] with an intensive focus on public safety and security issues in the Midtown community." Radical George Moderate Rusty Tanton published some interesting background information on Gowers.
[Disclosure: I worked for Creative Loafing from 2004-2006; Amber's boyfriend and GPN cofounder Tanton interviewed me for a podcast several years ago. Rhea and I are Internet contacts who exchange occasional emails.]