The Saga of Eliot Spitzer Part III: Prostitution

What You Need To Know: A Summary For You Lazy Asses

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Why should prostitution be illegal?  I just don’t get it.
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Morality? 
Bullshit.
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Disease? 
Bullshit.
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Abuse/exploitation/poverty?  Bullshit.
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Someone give me a good reason!
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Prostitution should be legal, PERIOD – this includes
simple private impromptu prostitution and streetwalking as well as
brothels.  It should be regulated for
brothels but not for non-brothel, “freelance” prostitutes.

In the previous two installments of “The Saga of Eliot
Spitzer” I talked specifically about former Governor Eliot Spitzer’s affair
with a prostitute and his downfall. 
Prostitution is illegal (though I wonder why the prostitute herself seems
to be immune from any charges?) and implicit in all this is that prostitution
is bad and somehow worth resigning over, except for special circumstances like
the incident having happened a sufficiently long enough time ago, or being from
a state with a governor of the opposite political party.  At any rate, the big question I want to know
the answer to is: why is prostitution illegal?*

I haven’t heard a convincing explanation yet as to why
consensual sex for free is okay but if there’s money involved that somehow
makes it an unthinkable evil.  Forget
bullshit moral reasons or “oh it cheapens sex” or whatever.  Such subjective reasoning based on arbitrary
moral parameters hardly constitutes sufficient justification for this kind of
government intrusion on people’s sex lives. 
Besides which, it can easily be argued that based on contemporary social
mores it’s more sexually moral to have sex with your spouse for money than to
have an extramarital sexual affair for free. 
And yet the marital sex would be punished whereas for the vast majority
of jurisdictions extramarital sex, as far as I know, is perfectly legal.

Disease?  We don’t
prosecute those who have sex while knowingly infected with STDs.  If the goal of making prostitution illegal
is to crack down on STDs then I’m afraid that it’s quite futile, as STDs are
still very much alive and well
, thank you.  Moreover, trying to stamp out STDs by
cracking down on prostitution is a bit like trying to stamp out workplace
absenteeism by cracking down on late-night partying – sure it’ll get you some
results, but it doesn’t begin to tackle the real problem.

I’ve heard arguments about how prostitutes are exploited by
others, or by their own impoverished conditions.  Certainly if there’s abuse or forced prostitution going on that
should be prosecuted.  Just like if
someone forces me to work at McDonald’s against my will, s/he should be charged
with crime.  No difference.  As for poverty, why not focus government
efforts on an <AHEM> anti-poverty program, that actually helps all
people in poverty, not just would-be prostitutes?  What, so if we ban prostitution, poor prostitutes are gonna
magically be able to find a great job and get rich?  Or is the argument that prostitutes stay in prostitution to avoid
poverty?  Well, if that’s the case,
that’s their choice.  If they want to
change careers because they hate being a prostitute so much, they can make that
choice as well, and the government should step in by offering a generous spate
of well-funded job/career programs, not by shutting out the choice of being a
prostitute.

And no, I don’t care if no one out there doesn’t really want
to be a prostitute, the point is that for government to ban prostitution is to
not only intrude on people’s professional lives, but their personal lives as
well.  To me a ban on prostitution is
just as bit as intrusive as a ban on a certain sexual position, because in the
end it’s still Big Brother Government watching you having (consensual) sex, taking
notes, and saying “nah ah ah” if you do something “wrong”.

I believe prostitution should be legal, period.  And no, not just the brothel kind as is
currently the case in most of Nevada.  Brothels
should most certainly be taxed and regulated as they currently are in Nevada,
but non-brothel prostitution should be legal as well.
  If you take a girl home from the bar or club
looking for a tryst and she happens to demand money for it, then she should
either get the money or not get the sex, but there’s no reason she should have
to go to jail.  And streetwalking should
be allowed too.  I don’t get why the
idea of streetwalking is so terrible. 
Of course they shouldn’t be allowed to harass people, but why make it
totally illegal?  You know what you do
if a streetwalker asks you for sex and you don’t want it?  JUST SAY NO.  It’s not that hard – there’s a reason why people made it
monosyllabic and easy to pronounce.

And no, I don’t think non-brothel prostitutes should be
required to be tested for STDs the way brothel ones are, because that’s an
invasion of a person’s right to have sex without being tested for STDs, a right
all Americans currently enjoy if the sex is free.  If a prostitute is working for a brothel then s/he should have to
be tested because s/he is a product whose services are being offered by a
company, the same way that meat and produce has to be tested for disease (I
mean no derogatory comparisons in saying this).  It’s a distinction I have to make because brothels are formal
establishments offering services as opposed to a private individual offering
services.  Yes, private non-brothel
prostitutes may carry disease.  And
prospective customers should know that. 
If they want a clean prostitute, go to a brothel.  If they want to run the risk with a
non-brothel prostitute, that’s their choice and they accept the risk.

If anyone has any good compelling reason why prostitution
should be illegal I’m all ears.  But
really I haven’t heard much beyond the usual asinine remarks about morality,
disease, or abuse – all arguments that don’t apply just to prostitution but are
used against sex in general.  Believe in
those arguments if you want, but don’t use those arguments as justification
to impose on others, and get the government out of people’s pants so it can
start doing something that’s actually useful.
 

* I’m well aware of the fact that in the United States
prostitution (or a regulated form thereof) is legal in Nevada (outside
of Washoe and Clark Counties) and in Rhode Island.  For the purposes of this column I’m discussing the legal status
of prostitution in the United States as a whole.