• Chase Bank Is Shutting Down Porn Actors' Bank Accounts
• Porn stars battle stigma with sex awareness amid bank account closures
• Amazon is deleting sex workers' wish lists without warning
• The Soapbox: How PayPal & WePay Discriminate Against The Adult Industry
Although Chase Bank is dominating the news in this area lately, it’s clear that other major brick-and-mortar banks, including City Bank and Wells Fargo, also discriminate against sex workers.
This is wrong and unfair to sex workers. But it should also terrify the rest of us, because major corporations in effect form a second government in the USA, a government that can lock people out of access to essential services without any appeal or accountability. It’s hard to live if no bank will do business with you or cash your checks. And if private banks have the right to act this way, why not other private corporations – utilities, say, or internet service providers? If sex workers, why not other unpopular groups – say, polyamorists, or trans people, or socialists?
The more free corporations are to arbitrarily make decisions that constrain our lives, the less free ordinary people become. Gigantic corporations that in effect rule major aspects of our society should not be legally allowed to engage in this sort of behavior. Viewpoint neutrality should be legally required of any bank or utility serving the general public.
PJ Rey writes:
Particularly, it’s interesting that this outright discrimination against legal sex work is coming from Wall Street and Silicon Valley—both recognized hubs of libertarian ideology. Typically, leaders from both sectors staunchly defend unfettered economic activity as fundamental to an open society. In fact, they often go so far as to equate economic activity with expressions of free speech, deserving of maximum protection and minimal interference.[…]
But what libertarians too often fail to acknowledge is that discrimination is frequently expressed through and encoded into markets themselves (housing being perhaps the most notoriously discriminatory market). When one’s commitment to markets takes precedence over one’s commitment to challenging discrimination, it’s almost inevitable that fair treatment for marginalized groups falls by the wayside. It seems that sex workers have found themselves victims of a contradiction within libertarian ideology: markets, though themselves supposedly conditional on freedom and fairness, create conditions of unfreedom and unfairness.
In PJ’s comments, Iamcuriousblue (who has occasionally commented on “Alas,” although not lately, alas) pushes back a little, writing:
I think you ignore the governmental role that factors into this as well. It’s been noted that Operation Choke Point, a behind-the-scene DOJ policing initiative toward the financial industry, has guidelines that specifically list things like “escort agencies” and “pornography” business activity on the part of account holders as things that should raise red flags. (I’ll note that Mother Jones is very dismissive of concerns about OCP – I’m not so convinced of its wholly benign nature.) Combine this with the recent history of overzealous “antitrafficking” initiatives coming straight from the federal government, and you’ve really got state/private sector partnership fueling this kind of discrimination. Which would hardly be the first time we’ve seen something like this – one need only look at unjust drug laws and drug testing in the workplace for a well established example.