Joshua Merritt said he had no reason to be suspicious when one of his friends texted him, asking him to hang out with two other teenagers they both knew.
But after Merritt, 17, arrived at the home of one of the boys in Chicago’s East Beverly neighborhood Dec. 23, 2011, he realized the boys weren’t simply looking to have a good time.
The three teens, who are white, allegedly put a noose around the neck of Merritt, who is black, and hurled racist epithets at him before one of the boys held a knife to his throat and threatened to kill him, police and Merritt said Thursday.
The teens were apparently upset about Merritt’s relationship with one of the boys’ female cousins, police said.
“I feel they were being serious, and that if I didn’t get out of the house when I did, I might not even be here,” Merritt said Thursday, sitting on a couch in his family’s living room in the city’s Morgan Park neighborhood. “I might be dead.”
Two of the alleged attackers, ages 17 and 18, were charged Jan. 10 with committing a hate crime, unlawful restraint and battery, police said.
One of those teens, Matthew Herrmann, 18, of the 4200 block of West 126th Street in Alsip, was charged as an adult, police said. He is free on bond, according to court records. The 17-year-old was charged as a juvenile.
The third alleged attacker, 16, was charged as a juvenile with committing a hate crime, unlawful restraint, aggravated battery and aggravated assault for allegedly pulling a knife in the incident, police said.
Merritt said he and the 16-year-old’s cousin were friends but were not dating. He went to the 16-year-old boy’s house after Herrmann invited him over by text, prosecutors said.
Merritt, a senior at Brother Rice High School, said everything seemed normal when he first arrived. He said he and the others were talking about music before the others started using racist terms, including the N-word, against him. Then one of the teens approached from behind and slipped a rope fashioned into a noose around his neck, he said.
After getting out of the noose, Merritt and police said he tried to escape, but the others blocked the doors.
“I couldn’t believe that they were doing this,” said Merritt, wearing a maroon Brother Rice jacket over his white shirt and black tie. “I just (felt) trapped inside there.”
The situation seemed to calm down a bit, Merritt said. But Merritt said one of the teens soon made another racist comment, prompting him to say, “Guys, stop. Please. This isn’t funny.”
That’s when one of the teens put the noose around his neck a second time, he said.
The attack stopped when one of the teens got a phone call, giving Merritt a chance to leave, he said. But after he got to the street, Merritt said, the 16-year-old allegedly held a knife to his throat and threatened to kill him if he spoke to the boy’s cousin again.
There’s nothing “morally controversial” about sex work or any variation of the phrase.
What’s morally controversial is the way women are treated in comparison to men. And the way race and class only heighten these differences leaving poor women with few options. (And on that note, talk about how white feminists are morally controversial because we’re quick to ignore race issues and present this image that woc receive the same pay as white women. And then look at those sex positive feminists who are pro sex work but assume that sex work is a way to get out of poverty when really it’s only a way to survive but still remain in poverty) What’s morally wrong is leaving people with no other choice. Sex work shouldn’t be a topic of moral debate when you have to choose between staying alive and fucking some guy for money.
What’s morally wrong is how trans* people are forced into sex work because there’s not a place for them to have the resources they need. When LGBTQ people are kicked out of their families and homes because they’re not accepted (let’s talk morals with the cis white gay men who think marriage equality will solve this problem) It’s wrong to make a queer person choose between living in a household that’s dangerous and doing sex work or making someone decide whether it’s worth it to be a sex worker in order to pay for a place to stay, hormones, or surgery. Because for a lot of people, you transitioning is necessary for survival.
How about people struggling with addiction but can’t get the help they need and are trapped in a destructive cycle because anyone with a problem is treated as if they brought it on themselves. When they’re struggling with addiction and use sex work to pay with it but can’t get treatment? That is what’s morally controversial.
If you want to talk morals, you need to talk about how capitalism breeds the perfect environment for sex work because it keeps people poor and transient. No one notices if a sex worker goes missing. But luckily, there will always be someone to take their place. Our education system feeds into this by forcing (incorrect) facts down our throats without preparing us with information that we really need to know so that we are doomed to fail (and then turn around and blame it on us). Or pushes people into college and then makes it so they can’t afford college. And then sex work becomes a way to take care of the debt that was piled up.
Talk about the way a person’s body is so policed that it’s not even their body anymore.
These are the things that are morally controversial and this is what needs to be discussed when you’re talking about sex work because sex work is not the problem. It has never been the problem and it will never be the problem.
When feminists from Britian in 1860 understood caste in the formation of sex-work, lal bazaars* and how prostitution in cantonments created a particular kind of hierarchy among women — both colonial and native — but contemporary “human rights feminists” constantly talk of sex work and prostitution and escorts in one breath, without even looking at how different castes and communities of people people this hierarchy, you know your world is fucked up.
And that wine doesn’t right it. Le sigh.
P.S. Can someone just politely ask Antoinette Burton to *NEVER* talk of India ever again? Meeting her at a conference next week, hopefully I’ll pretend she doesn’t exist and she’ll evaporate.
*Lal bazaars =areas cordoned off as red light areas to contain diseases and infections.