Date: Sunday, June 13, 1999


Re: The Province, Sunday June 13, 1999, p. A38: "You've got to chalk the walk if you want to mock the cop."

Dear Mr. Toner,

I wanted to write and congratulate you for your whiniest column to date! Both you and our legislators should heed more the truism, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me."

I have been an advocate for human rights for people working in the sex trade for more than a decade. While some people have proposed that hookers too should be added to the list of minorities who should be protected by "hate crime" legislation, I have never championed this point of view. It is certainly true with all the assaults and even heinous murders, that sex workers are targetted victims of violent crimes, obviously motivated by hate. Hate that seems to be socially sanctioned. But I have never believed in "hate crime" legislation.

To me, it is the severity of the act of the crime which should be judged, regardless of motives. It is no worse, in my mind, to beat a man because he is gay, or perhaps of a different ethnic background, than it is to assault an elderly lady while stealing her purse. Assault is assault, motive is irrelevant.

It should come as no surprise to you that impoverished people, targets of a class war -- with police the infantry on the front line -- when armed with a piece of chalk might write, "Fuck the pigs." I have watched the "community policing" efforts in the neighbourhood where I live -- Downtown South -- officers kicking at and squawking the horns in their ghost cars at 6:30 am to wake and move the dirty, homeless streetkids sleeping behind dumpsters in the alley behind my home. Just more evidence to me that Vancouver is the city with no heart.

It took me by surprise though, to read your attempt to characterize the police -- a workforce well paid ($55,000 for a first class constable) to carry guns and batons and chase hookers from stroll to stroll -- as "an identifiable minority" worthy of protection from hate crimes.

In 1992, a dear friend and colleague of mine was murdered, her body dismembered and thrown in garbage bags in a dumpster. Her body was never recovered. Her family and friends don't even have a grave at which to mourn their loss. And, I have personally taken reports from hookers like this one: a known working girl with blood pouring from her head caused by an attack with a hammer, when finally able to flag down a cruiser, was asked by the female officer, "What do you expect in your line of work?"

Mark Toner, I sincerely hope that you never have such an acute understanding hate. You should be so lucky.


Andy Sorfleet
Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver


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Created: October 3, 1997
Last modified: June 17, 1999
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