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legalizing prostitution?
lessons learned from pornography... really
by jeffrey d. walker
4.15.02
general


The internet is home to probably a zillion pornography sites. Jay Leno even makes jokes regarding this fact, none of which I ever laugh at. (writer’s note to Leno: if you’re ever looking to get a little edgier with your monologue material, I work cheap). I would dare say that no internet search would generate a greater number of results than one using the terms, “porn”, “sex”, or other comparable terms I’d rather not utilize here.

Speaking frankly, I have no problem with pornography. In fact, when done with the full disclosure of the parties involved and assuming reasonable attractiveness of the models and a hint of artistic merit, I would call myself a fan.

And while we're at it, the prevalent and persistent reference to this cinema as “pornography” offends me. The definition of that term, courtesy of Random House, reads “obscene literature, art, or photography, esp. that having little or no artistic merit.” I get absolutely incensed when beautiful depictions of coitus are wantonly disregarded by the generally uptight via such a judgmental term. However, rather than argue semantics, I’ll continue to use this hackneyed phrase during this discourse in order to make my larger point.

The United States, champions of capitalism across the globe, can’t deny that the market for pornography exists. People will pay for seedy material, and they will pay big. And who’s surprised? We’re sex obsessed. Need I say, “Lewinsky?” Even the clergy, our “morally upstanding” citizens, currently are settling millions of dollars in lawsuits because they can’t keep their hands off of little boys. This has further sparked a debate on whether priests should be permitted to engage in intercourse or not.

But while these issues dominate our headlines, hundreds of online companies quietly open up shop daily throughout our nation offering sexually explicit pictures. The startup costs are minimal: a few pictures in digital format, (regular photos can be converted at many photo centers), and a little bit of web space which can be obtained at little or no cost.

Most of these sites are operating legally. The freedom of expression permits the distribution of explicit material, save a few exceptions. And despite extreme right-wing convictions, this will continue; the freedom of expression is a freedom available to all within the United States despite holier-than-thou attitudes. (And if that bothers you, thank your fellow holier-than-thou predecessors who repeatedly pushed people like Larry Flynt and others before him into court in an attempt to outlaw pornography.)

While The Supreme Court did not firmly state that pornography was protected by the constitution, the outcome nonetheless resulted in an industry that reportedly generated $10 billion last year in the United States alone.

One thing the freedom of expression does protect is the right to be photographed in a suggestive manner if the model is over the age of 18. However, it’s what happens to these photographs that is of particular concern. See, contract laws allow a person to legally sign away their rights to photos of themselves. This right extends to explicit photographs. The purchaser of the rights may choose how those pictures may be used in the future without regard to the wishes of the photographed. If this were not the case, you’d never be able to buy shoes with a silhouette of Michael Jordan. While that may not be of particular concern to you, if celebrities were no longer able to sell their likenesses for money, the monetary value of fame goes down for everyone, including the famous people you do like.

Still, the ability to sign away the rights to such depictions of one’s image carries with it ramifications not always readily discernable to young people. I mention young people for two reasons: first, 18-to-24s comprise the group most frequently offered contracts for money in exchange for sexual images for reasons I don’t think I need to explain; secondly, the young are less likely to appreciate the consequences such decisions may have on their future personal and professional relationships.

It is irresponsible to assume that either our education system, the family unit, or the church with its ass-grabbing priests will successfully teach every member of our nation’s youth the gravity of such matters by the time they reach the age of 18, when they may legally sign away their rights. The family cannot be policed, nor should someone be told how to be a parent. Moreover, as we can’t even reach a consensus on how to teach sex education in the U.S., the proposition of explaining the implications of sexual photographs are much less likely to be addressed in schools anytime soon.

On a global scale, the problem only gets murkier. The number of pornography sites originating from overseas swell by the hour. As developing nations explode into the age of information, the online pornography industry provides the opportunity to generate money quickly, using a few nude photographs and a slick marketing plan. The problem here is that many developing nations have educational systems far more lacking than our own. Worse still, the educational systems they do have are not necessarily accessible to everyone. For example, toward the end of March, in what was touted by a native teacher as a “day of joy for Afghan women,” 3,500 girls in Kabul swarmed to the school previously closed to them for the past 5 years. Under the Taliban, educating women was against the law. Overall, illiteracy in Afghanistan is 95%.

This presents two problems; first, with no education, what real chance does a woman in this situation have to improve her life? The second point, and more pertinent in this context: these women, kept illiterate under oppressive regimes, even in the off chance that laws exist in these countries by which these women have the legal right to protect their own images, and that they are, in fact, offered some form of a contract by which they are informed of these rights, they would be unable to read, understand, or even sign it. Additionally, women, both worldwide and domestically, tend to be exploited within the sex industry at a higher rate than men.

Without enumerating the possibilities, it isn’t hard to imagine the extent of damage that could befall someone who hastily trades their likeness for a few quick dollars. However, we cannot strip our citizens of the legal right to contract away their likeness. Doing so unjustly prevents someone clearly understanding the implications of selling their likeness from doing so. Many have profited highly from selling their images, and many entrepreneurs have profited likewise, not to mention the happy consumer. Isn’t that what the free market system is all about?

Still, while “net-nanny” and other such web access restriction software can attempt to keep pornography out of a single home or facility, an outright ban on internet pornography is a non-starter. Even if the United States could manage such legislation, attempting to end a particular type of occupation in a foreign land while simultaneously cramming the free-market system down their collective throats will, minimally, convey a mixed message. And even assuming you stop the supply, you won’t stop the demand. The ban on the distribution of sexual material would only cause the black market for such items to soar, thereby causing those wanting money in return for the act of selling one’s image to seek employment from even more unsavory characters who won’t pay taxes and won’t be located as easily as Hustler® headquarters was when a legal dispute arises.

My solution: legalized prostitution. Truthfully, what’s the difference between a person being paid for sex, and someone else paying that person to have sex on film? In both instances the individuals are having sex for profit. Yet only in the latter is it considered legal, are any taxes paid, or are affirmative steps taken to ensure the safety of the parties having sex. In fact, because the latter is legal, it's the only one by which the government can take steps to protect both the actors and the public at large from the evils of the industry. Only in the latter may the company engaging in these activities be easily discernible by a government agency via their business charter, bank accounts, tax filings, or place of operation so that protective health and legal measures may be instituted.

Yet only in the former could either of the partners forgo having to sign away the rights to their bodies being filmed, distributed, and watched by untold numbers. Only in the former do you have the choice of who sees you performing that way. And only in the former can there ever be an ending to your victimization, because in the latter, a permanent record would continually circulate throughout time and conceivably around the globe (and beyond), and you’d be powerless to end the victimization.

I propose legal, state-regulated brothels similar to those in Nevada. Those seeking sexual release may find it in a safe, regulated format. Those who seek to sell their sexuality for money can do so discretely, and make their decisions on a case-by-case basis. Those currently working as prostitutes illegally would then be able to avail themselves to labor laws to protect themselves from unfair employers (i.e. “bad pimps”). Current worldwide illegal prostitution rings that are breeding grounds for the mistreatment of women will lose favor when a safer, legal alternative exists. The tax revenues generated could be used to attack other problems within society. Given the large majority of the world’s youth who are currently being duped, if not forced, into the sexual industry, legalized regulated prostitution may be the fastest way to solve several issues at once.


ABOUT JEFFREY D. WALKER

A practicing attorney and semi-professional musician, Walker writes for his own amusement, for the sake of opinion, to garner a couple of laughs, and to perhaps provoke a question or two, but otherwise, he doesn't think it'll amount to much.

more about jeffrey d. walker

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COMMENTS

tim lockwood
4.15.02 @ 8:23a

Hmmm. This sounds very similar to the marijuana legalization argument. If you can't control it, and bad element-types are the only ones who make any profit from it, then legalize it so you can tax and regulate it and drive the bad elements out of the business.

In either case, I'm not sure the argument works for me, though (although I can see the argument for the medicinal use ONLY of marijuana). I tend to think the very immorality of the acts will continue to draw bad elements, regardless of regulation or taxation. In all fairness, Nevada has done as decent a job of it as you could expect, but I doubt that Nevada is fully representative of how legalized prostitution would play out in the rest of America.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 9:09a

"the very immorality of the acts" -- Tim, if you're saying getting paid to have sex is immoral, then why is it okay in film and in pictures, but not to do so without it? Clearly, the act isn't immoral, there's merely an odd distinction. In that way, it does not rival the marijuana argument at all, because federal goverment does not allow some financial alternative -- smoking on camera is just as illegal.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 10:19a

Is it necessary to try to define, in this discussion, what's "moral" and what isn't? Because that seems like a fairly subjective call. Part of it's religion, part of it's upbringing, and part is just common sense. I just get annoyed when people try to regulate others' vices, whether they're smoking, gambling, looking at naked people, or any other pasttime that closed-minded individuals can claim to be "wrong."

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 10:41a

Given that many states have adultery laws on the books, how could you get legal prostitution to jibe with those laws? Licenses for single people? "I'm sorry, sir, we can't let you in without a note from your wife?" Sorry...but like Tim said, legalizing prostitution (no matter what the states or the women may gain) is as dicey as legalizing drugs and as family friendly as the casinos that are already leeching the community.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 11:00a

So the goal of the law is to protect the families of men who would otherwise be cheating on their wives?

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 12:01p

I think it certainly limits the potential for abuse. If a guy (or a woman) wants to cheat, he'll find a way, sure...but should the State happily provide him an easy, "legal" way to boink someone who's not his wife? Or would society, as it is wont to do, simply change its morals, so if a man sleeps with a whore (oh, pardon me, Sexual Gratification Associate) it's no longer cheating, because it's sanctioned by the government? Go back and read Brave New World. I don't care how "empowering to all women" your average professional sex provider may be; most women aren't going to look upon prostitutes as helping their husbands, or their marriages.

lee anne ramsey
4.15.02 @ 12:11p

I just started to wonder if Jeff is kidding with all this.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 12:25p

Russ -- nice way to call a woman who happens to be good at sex a "whore." Besides, if you're the type to subscribe to marriage, and still want sex outside of it, then I have a few choice words for that type of man. I suggest if this is your attitude towards women and sexuality, please get married and stay away from all other women as quickly as you can. Leave the rest of us alone -- we don't need your arrogance.

And lee Anne, it's no joke. you have two types of sex in exchange for money which exist, one that is accepted and one which is not. Can you explain why the example that could do MORE damage to society is allowed, while a private alternative is shunned?

[edited]

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 12:26p

I didn't say that, Russ. In fact, I don't think men should cheat on their wives. I view with disrespect those who do. That said, a) I still hold that someone else's morality should not be imposed upon me, especially in the case of a vice that doesn't infringe on anyone else's civil liberties, and b) you say "no matter what the states or the women may gain"; why ignore that? You'd prefer to punish those women whose lot in life has lead them to that point, rather than helping them? Making sure that they get health care, a decent place to sleep, protection from those who would seek to hurt or exploit them isn't as important as putting them in jail?

As an example, no matter your position on abortion, it would be tough to argue that legalizing it hasn't lead to significantly fewer deaths from back-alley procedures. I understand where the desire to inflict morality on those who "don't know any better" comes from, I really do. But I also think that "sanctioned cheating" is at one end of the "state-regulation" spectrum and fascism is at the other. The best solution has to lie somewhere in the middle.

[edited]

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 12:32p

Exactly my point, Adam. Stop assuming that "society can't handle this type of thing", and stop criminalizing people based on your morals. In the end, that attitude only pushes those in lesser positions farther down throughout life.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 12:34p

Especially when there are real world examples to back up your argument, Jeff. I'd like to enter exhibit A into the record and call it Holland.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 12:37p

I'd like to enter Holland, too. what are you doing later on, Adam?

jael mchenry
4.15.02 @ 12:40p

Jeff says: Russ -- nice way to call a woman who happens to be good at sex a "whore."

Actually, I think he was calling someone who has sex for money a whore, which is pretty much the definition.

And I'm having trouble with one of the tenets of this argument, which is that porn is "accepted." Legal, yes. Accepted? I wouldn't say so, not in the way clothed entertainment is accepted.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 12:46p

I've already subscribed to marriage, Jeff. I even got a free phone with it. And I'm perfectly content with how often I get it and the quality thereof.

My wife is very good at sex, but I wouldn't call her a whore. Would I call a woman (or a man) who diminishes the sex act to something as indiscriminate as breathing or as personal as a hernia exam a whore? Guess I did. Is there a price I could pay anyone here (I'm not honestly looking for a volunteer) to let me spit in your mouth? Oh, and there's a line of five guys after me who want to pay for the same privilege.

Rather than taking the easy way out and changing morality and the law to fit the behavior, why not try to improve the society around us that pushes those women and men to that point of desperation in the first place?

And finally, morality isn't inflicted. Pain may be inflicted. But morality is part of a social contract, an often nebulous set of agreed upon values that people agree to adhere to for the common good. Or as Webster's defines it as "the quality of being virtuous." Ultimately it's your choice to live within the rules of your community, state, nation, etc. It's up to you to be moral, immoral or amoral.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 12:47p

And yes, Jael, I pretty much was referring to those who perform sex for monetary reimbursement.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 12:50p

Jael - while the whore definition may be accurate, I don't think Russ was in any way trying to convey respect.

As for acceptance, I disagree - it's just more of a "cult" acceptance at this point. I mean, I don't have a scientific pole, but I'd say that Ron Jeremey and Jenna Jamison are both more recognizable than most of the cast of Gosford Park.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 12:55p

Moreover Russ, I don't think the continued criminalization of someone doing this helps the society, because people ARE victims.
Besides, if five guys wanted to pay to spit in my mouth, and I accepted the money, what is it to you? You're the one implying disrespect, and whatever rules you subscribe to, you can't define respect for me. But, if you'd rather have laws that certainly do disrespect people (while allowing the same behavior for profit as long as a camera is nearby), have fun in your world.

[edited]

matt morin
4.15.02 @ 1:20p

Adam, Jeff, you guys are trying to argue that the government shouldn't legislate morality - but that's what laws are in general. Who says it's moral or not moral to kill someone? Or to abuse a child? Society does. The same society that thinks prostitution is immoral.

We're a democracy. (And lets not argue the finer points of that.) We vote on things. Nevada voted to legalize it under a strict set of rules. There's nothing preventing any other state from voting on it and legalizing it, too. but the fact is, there is no desire by the vast majority of America to do so.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 1:21p

Morality is inflicted when you try to regulate what I'm doing when it isn't harming you and when it's based on a set of values that you and I don't share. (I'm using "you" and "I" loosely, here, by the way.) What gives you the right to tell me, as long as I'm not harming anyone, what I'm allowed to do or not do behind closed doors? And what's the basis for the social contract? In New York, you can buy beer whenever. In Boston you can't buy it on Sunday. In Salt Lake City, you can't buy anything on Sunday. Surely you can't claim that the "morality" imposed on me in each of these cities is part of some national social contract. Besides, if I, as a single man, were to visit a prostitute (something I've never done, by the way), what business is it of the State's? Am I shaking the foundations of American democracy by paying for sex? Are you any more likely, if you believe in it, to go to Hell because I gave some down-on-her-luck woman some money to sleep with me?

[edited]

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 1:28p

Which brings me to Matt's comment - killing someone or abusing a child is robbing that person of their Civil liberties (we'll go with Life, Libery, Pursuit of Happiness). Vices like gambling, drinking, visiting prostitutes, doing drugs, those things do not inherently harm other people. Most of the harms that come from them, in fact, could be reduced if the government were to step in and start regulating them, rather than simply punishing those who indulge in them. Laws, in general, are to protect one person from having harm done to him by another; the State, in my mind, oversteps it's bounds when it tells me that I'm not allowed to decide what harm I can and cannot inflict on myself.

[edited]

matt morin
4.15.02 @ 1:28p

I can't believe people are actually arguing that legalized prostitution "doesn't harm anyone."

Ask any prostitute whether or not she really wants to be doing her job. I bet every single one of the says no.

Friday there was an MSNBC special about prostitution and all of them said they'd rather be doing something else. Even the high priced escort said she's afraid that being in "the business" for even a few years as hurt her ability for any sort of future relationship.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 1:34p

If you're paying money to a woman just to get sex Adam, it appears that you are the one down on your luck.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 1:34p

Matt - the question isn't whether prostitutes like what they do. The question is whether they'd be better off than they are now if the government were to provide them with medical insuranceand a safe place of employment, and stopped throwing them in jail for selling sex.

And, Russ, which part of "something I've never done, by the way" do you need explained to you? I was also using "you" and "I" in a broad sense, not actually talking about you or me specifically.

[edited]

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 1:40p

I'm sure lots of people would love to know that their tax dollars are subsidizing prostitutes. What a community builder. I can see the county unemployment counselor telling a welfare mother, "Hey, you're not out of shape; why not get off the dole and turn a few tricks?"

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 1:42p

Look, all I'm saying is that when governments, be they local, state, or international, start telling me what, as a consenting adult, I can and can't do with or to my body (barring, of course, harm to others), then we're not all that far away from them telling me what I can and can't read and what I can and can't say. If the Board of Eduction in Kansas decides that evolution should no longer be taught in schools, does that make it right, just because the majority decides that Darwin is immoral? You tell me to read Brave New World; I tell you to read Farenheit 451.

And where did I say that the government had to start encouraging the profession of prostitution? The women who become hookers aren't doing it because they want to. But that's even less of a reason to punish them for just trying to get by. Better that than sitting on the street begging or stealing people's wallets. I never said that prostitution didn't hurt the prostitutes; but until you can figure out a way to stop men from desiring sex with no strings attached, there has to be a better way to treat our fellow human beings than tell them they're sinners and thowing them in jail.

[edited]

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 1:42p

I can use "you" just as broadly, there, Adam. You were the one who proposed the hypothetical situation, using yourself as the hypothetical john. I was just making a hypothetical rejoinder.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 1:45p

If you were using "you" in the broad sense, you should probably have left my name out of the sentence.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 1:48p

If any man is having to pay a woman for sex, he's down on his luck.

Better?

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 1:48p

Of course a person doing something illegal WANTS a valid profession. It is this "morality" that prevents them from being able to do just that. It is those who disparage that lifestyle who create an oppresive environment which hinders professional and personal growth. What about "Happy Hookers" like Xavier Hollander? Russ and Matt's overall position will never allow that to occur.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 1:51p

Russ - I'd say any man who has the cash to pay for sex is clearly UP on his luck.

Tell me -- what do you propose for those too busy, or who never find a perfect mate? Are they doomed to be sexless because you can't handle a concept? Would you rather have marriages for sex, which end in divorces and can ruin the personal lives of both partners and any kids?

matt morin
4.15.02 @ 1:53p

Speed limits.
Term limits.
Taxes.
Building codes.

There are a million laws that legislate against things which don't "harm" anyone. But "harm" is just as subjective as "moral." Ask the parents, or the children or hookers what "harm" is done to them. Or ask the families that have been torn apart because of infidelity how much "harm" they've encountered.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 1:53p

Well, Jeff, I do have to argue that prostitutes who enjoy their jobs are definitely the minority. You're unlikely to convince me that making a living by having sex with strangers is an optimal situation that doesn't totally fuck with your sense of self-worth and just seriously screw up your head, in most cases.

However, I think that these women also have the right to choose that path, should they so desire. I mentioned it earlier - things seem to be going pretty well in Amsterdam, and they have legalized prostitution and marijuana. And most of them speak four languages.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 1:56p

Oh, don't give me disparagement and oppression, brother. That's right, it's been 8,000 years of subjective moralism keeping the Prostitute Nation down. Fight the power, all you hookers and gigolos, rise up and claim your rightful place with the fireman and the kindergarten teacher and take pride in your profession. Unshackled by prudence you will bring forth a sexual renaissance of cultural triumphs the likes of which the world has never seen.

Professional and personal growth, my ass. The professional ceiling isn't an oppressive environment, the professional ceiling is the sweaty, middle-aged businessman huffing and puffing on top of you.

matt morin
4.15.02 @ 1:57p

Jeff, so you're saying that if prostitution is sudden made legal, then all the current prostitutes who want a new occupation will suddenly change their minds? That's ignorant.

The reason women want out of prostitution isn't (entirely) because it's illegal. It's because it's degrading to be repeatedly be used by men as nothing but a hole for them to get off with.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 1:57p

Speak four languages -- can we get our public schools to manage that? Perhaps relaxing on the ills of society actually make for a better social and moral fabric. Hmmmm.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 1:58p

Okay, that's it. Matt's not allowed to have any more alcohol because it destroys families and because drunk drivers kill people.

I'm aware that the repercussions of "immoral" acts can be harmful. But even the laws that Matt just mentioned were put in place so one person would avoid harming another - Speed limits? Are you kidding me? Of course the point of speed limits is to protect people from each other. Same with building codes. In some ways, same with term limits. Taxes, I'll grant you, but only because they're technically unconstitutional. And the money to run the government has to come from somewhere.

Something I thought of before, by the way - where does it say in the constitution that we're not allowed to challenge the status quo? Where does it say that the collective morality of the country (if, in fact, there is such a thing) can't change? Have you watched television recently? How many harmless sex jokes on Friends would have gotten through network censors 30 years ago? If it weren't for changing social mores, women would still be wearing corsets and a glimpse of ankle would be masturbation material for a week, except that we wouldn't be allowed to masturbate, would we?

[edited]

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 2:00p

Matt - I don't think its ignorant to assume a new occupation is possible if prostitution were legal. Now, even if you were the best business sensed hooker, you can't even bring it up in seeking new employment. If you get sick there's no insurance, and no police to help you if you are in danger on the job. If legality can allow access to resources so they may attempt to make a better life for themselves, isn't that better than what we have now?

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 2:01p

Actually, the only thing they can say in four languages in Amsterdam is "Me love you long time," and "Cash on the table, please."

jael mchenry
4.15.02 @ 2:01p

I agree, it's not that people doing illegal things want legal jobs. People make a lot of money selling drugs and breaking into houses and, yes, selling their bodies for cash. If nobody paid for sex, nobody would charge for it, and hookers everywhere would be out of a job. Same with drugs, etc. It's not the legality. It's the demand.

Also I'd like to gently suggest that everybody relax. But of course I wouldn't insist upon, legislate, or inflict said relaxation.



russ carr
4.15.02 @ 2:03p

Adam: If we get rid of those unconstitutional taxes, though, however would we subsidize the poor hookers?

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 2:03p

Actually, I don't think this is too heated. Russ and I seem to have stopped the quasi-personal attacks.

And I should have qualified one of my last comments. The Dutch speak four languages. I have no idea how many languages the prostitutes speak.

[edited]

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 2:05p

And Jael, you can inflict relaxation on me any time.

jael mchenry
4.15.02 @ 2:06p

Also I'd like to point out that this country has sufficient social services to give financial assistance (both cash and food stamps), training & education, child care, transportation assistance, and job placement services to women who are desperate, helpless, and down on their luck. Prostitution isn't exactly the only refuge for the poor, but legalizing it would put it on a list as just another profession, which it's not.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 2:07p

At no point in time, by the way, did I suggest that the government subsidize prostitution. I argued that they should decriminalize it. Big, big difference.

matt morin
4.15.02 @ 2:07p

Jeff, I was saying that it's igrnorant to assume the only reason hookers want to get out of the business is because it's illegal.

I'm not arguing that legalizing it could add a few benefits. But just because you improve from an F to a D- doesn't mean you pass.

There's nothing stopping a prostitute from getting her own health insurance, or starting a 401K or getting rid of her pimp and working for herself. We shouldn't legalize it just for those reasons.

Adam, drinking and driving does hurt other people. That's why it's illegal. And speed limits aren't like laws prohibiting murder. Murder directly affects someone else. Speeding does not. Prostitution is the same way, it may not directly affect someone else, but it certainly has the propensity to.

jael mchenry
4.15.02 @ 2:08p

Russ, I'm trying to inflict it from here right now, but my Telekinetic Magic Fingers seem to be broken.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 2:08p

It was never meant as a personal attack, Adam. That's what the pigfighting rooms...er...boards are for.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 2:13p

Matt
Anything has the propensity to hurt. Why not stop selling vitamens because too many will poison you?
And there are very many restrictions to what a hooker can buy. you think an insurance agent, tax collector, or anyone else will not inquire as to profession? They will be shut out from the beginning.

[edited]

matt morin
4.15.02 @ 2:14p

I would hardly say vitaimins have the propensity to harm you.

"Propensity" and "possibility" are two very different things.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 2:15p

Matt - drinking also has the propensity to make a violent man beat his family. It has the propensity to make a college freshman go back to the dorm room of a guy she doesn't know to have unprotected sex with him, possibly without her real consent. I love alcohol, but you'll never convince me that it isn't as, if not more, harmful than a lot of illegal drugs. And if you want a perfect, pefect example as to why morality shouldn't be legislated, just take a good look at that wonderful chapter in American history called Prohibition. Yes, taking a vice and making it illegal is always the correct response. Obviously the only Constitutional amendment ever to be repealed shows us that.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 2:15p

(sorry - i added to the above quote while you were replying)

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 2:17p

By the way, guys. The word is "vitamins."

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 2:19p

Unless it's "Vitameatavegemins."

And legal prostitution has the propensity to make a man turn his back on his wife because she won't do what he can pay Trixie to do.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 2:21p

So does illegal prostitution.

Also, for that matter, I don't know that there's any proof that sleeping with a prostitute necessarily ruins a marriage. More to the point, if a man loves his wife, but he can get Trixie to do things that his wife won't, does that necessarily mean that he loves his wife less? Maybe he won't resent her as much. I mean, I think we all agree that sex without emotion is "just" sex. So why, then, if it's only reduced to the physical act, should it still mean so much? I mean, if my wife was a good cook, but her baking was terrible, is there some sort of moral obligation I have to not go to a bakery if I want a cookie? I know it's a silly analogy, but not inaccurate.

[edited]

matt morin
4.15.02 @ 2:22p

But Adam, your example above is too specific. A match in the hand of a pyromaniac has the propensity to do damage, too. Should we outlaw those?

You have to look at it on a whole. 58.7% of America drinks on a regular basis. That's about 161 million of us. The percentage of us who can't responsibily handle alcohol is pretty small.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 2:26p

True...but I suppose my point in using "legal" in this sense is that the man would feel little or no stigma or shame in using the services of a legal brothel, whereas the spectre of getting caught or negative public perception (associated with illegal prostitution) might be enough to make some men think twice before dallying.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 2:29p

Matt - I think you're fooling yourself. Define "responsibly handle." I think there's a lot more people out there who drink too much and have just been lucky, so far, myself included. I'm not stupid enough to drink and drive, but I've gotten into cars with people who only later did I realize shouldn't have been driving.

And, yes, I'm pretty sure that if someone's a convicted (or diagnosed) pyromaniac, we try to avoid putting matches in their hands.

jael mchenry
4.15.02 @ 2:30p

Adam says (with sarcasm): Yes, taking a vice and making it illegal is always the correct response.

I don't see anyone here arguing that vices are the only things that should be illegal, or that criminalizing something makes it no longer a societal problem. No government is perfect (hence the well-intentioned failure, Prohibition.) There are things that can reasonably be policed (drunk driving, speed limits) and things that can't (people sipping sherry at their kitchen tables.) What I think we're looking at here is whether decriminalization tends to allay problems associated with criminal activities. The evidence points in both directions -- for every failure, like Prohibition, you have a life-saving success, like speed limits or red light photo enforcement.

mike julianelle
4.15.02 @ 2:32p

I don't necessarrily think that whether something is legal or not determines the amount of shame or stigma attached to it. Legality and social mores don't always correspond, and I'd say laws usually lag behind.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 2:33p

Russ, in the beginning you indicated that a person wanting to cheat will do so, which reduced the effectiveness of your whole "legal vs. illegal" stigma arguement above.

And let me get to the bigger question I posed. How can you justify paying someone to have sex on a media, while outlawing the same thing in private?

[edited]

matt morin
4.15.02 @ 2:33p

Red light photo enforcement? Jael, don't be talking work now...

And with that, coincidentally enough, I am off to jury duty.

jael mchenry
4.15.02 @ 2:33p

Adam also says: More to the point, if a man loves his wife, but he can get Trixie to do things that his wife won't, does that necessarily mean that he loves his wife less?

Yes.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 2:34p

Russ - I can think of a lot of legal activities that still carry a stigma. As a married man, would you want your wife to catch you masturbating? How about visiting a porn theater, or entering the adult section of your video store? Those are both legal, but the majority of the public isn't exactly announcing it to their parents when they order Pay-Per-View in a hotel. Hell, wouldn't the worry of getting caught by your wife be a pretty big non-incentive?

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 2:34p

If more desperate people would handle themselves responsibly, we wouldn't need prostitutes.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 2:36p

Nice "moral" arguement, russ. Clearly, you just think that someone who would use a prostitute has no sense of responsibilty. that's rich.

matt morin
4.15.02 @ 2:36p

Because the purpose of porn is for distribution - which makes it speech, and thereby protected.

Prostitution is not for mass distribution or entertainment value, and thereby not protected.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 2:38p

Jael - I think that's simplistic. I'm sorry, but I don't think you can quantify love by actions. If that were the case, then you could love someone more by telling them "I love you," all the time. It's got nothing to do with what you do, but with how you feel. For a man to go to a prostitute, he'd have to have been feeling that way about his wife, whether or not there was a hooker who would read him Dr. Seuss naked while she stuck a riding crop in his ear. It's not the action that diminishes the emotion, but rather, the diminished emotion that effects the act.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 2:41p

Jeff: I'm not paying anyone to have sex, whether it's with me, or with someone else for reproduction via some medium.

I don't think my "person wanting to cheat" point weakens the frustrated husband argument one iota, either. An affair is an affair. Jumping in bed with a hooker with the nonchalance of going to the movies is another thing.

Adam: Let's leave my sex life out of this.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 2:41p

"Prostitution is not for mass distribution or entertainment value, and thereby not protected."

Prostitution isn't for entertainment? What's it for - education? Spiritual enlightenment? A year's supply of Turtle wax?

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 2:41p

No, Matt. porn is not protected for "free speech." The Supreme Court refused to OUTLAW porn, but did not explicitly protect it. It lives because of the free market -- MONEY. therefore, why not prostitution for the advancement of the free market, too?

jael mchenry
4.15.02 @ 2:41p

Adam: whatever the cause and whichever the effect, a man who does not love his wife enough to control a cheating impulse does not love his wife as much as a man who does. Failing to tell someone "I love you" daily is not offensive, neglectful, cruel, dangerous, dishonest, disrespectful, and in some cases (as I believe Russ pointed out earlier) illegal. Infidelity is.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 2:43p

And Russ, maybe you aren't paying for it. But,if you subscribe to the morals of this society, how can you accept one form of paid sex and not another? If you do not like my contention so much, why so silent about the other?

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 2:45p

Sorry, Russ. Again, not intentionally aiming it at you, specifically (though you did mention your sex life earlier). Just trying to argue that the legalization of something and the socital acceptance of it are two very different things.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 2:45p

Jeff: That was an entendre regarding masturbation which apparently sailed right over your head.

Regarding Matt's comments on distribution vs. prostitution, read this at Plastic.

jael mchenry
4.15.02 @ 2:46p

Oh, and I don't mean to single you out, Adam, but you seem to be saying the most things that I disagree with: I mean, I think we all agree that sex without emotion is "just" sex.

When did I sign up to agree with that? No, no, no.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 2:48p

Even if it did go over my head, russ, are you going to answer my question, or just be glib?

jael mchenry
4.15.02 @ 2:49p

Just so I can disagree with someone else for a change... Jeff says: But, if you subscribe to the morals of this society, how can you accept one form of paid sex and not another?

Which is a better argument for criminalizing porn than for decriminalizing prostitution, in my book.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 2:49p

Why are you reducing this to an ad hominem attack on me, Jeff? As an individual, I no more represent society than you do.

Adam: None taken. There are no more video stores with adult sections, or porn theaters here in St. Louis. As for my wife catching me...she usually joins in. The perks of marriage, buddy.

jael mchenry
4.15.02 @ 2:50p

"Handle" themselves. Ohhhhh, now I get it.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 2:50p

The glib thing's working pretty well.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 2:51p

I don't disagree with you, Jael. I said it above that men shouldn't cheat on their wives. But I don't think the act itself is where the line is drawn. Not cheating on your wife doesn't mean you love her more. You could hate her, but have a personal moral code that prohibits you.

I just think that the bottom line is that I don't want someone telling me what that I can't do something (even cheat on my wife) that has nothing to do with them. I don't agree with infidelity, but that doesn't mean I think it should be illegal. I don't agree with hate speech, but that doesn't mean I think it should be illegal. If someone wants to screw up his life, I say who the hell do you think you are to tell him he can't? It's a lot easier to tell a prostitute that she's wrong and throw her in a cell than it is to invest in her well-being and maybe help her change her life.

[edited]

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 2:52p

No honestly, to Jael also -- I say, to fix the paradox, just make both equally fair. If those so opposed to my proposal really find my idea that wrong, why aren't you actively taking steps to end the one that is legal? Or why no significant legal movement to stop it?

jael mchenry
4.15.02 @ 2:58p

To some, not participating in something is as far as they get in trying to change it. Social apathy doesn't translate into approval. We take democracy for granted a lot, and despite the fact that the power really is in the hands of the people, we just don't use it.


matt morin
4.15.02 @ 3:00p

I'm throwing this out and then I really have to go to jury duty. I can't wait to see the discussion when I get back:

If we legalize prostitution, where do we stop? Why not legalize adultery? Why not legalize all drugs? Why not legalize being nude at work? Why not legalize automatic weapons?

These are all things that don't harm anyone directly. (Buying a gun doesn't mean it will be used to harm someone else.) Or are already done for money. (Our government buys and sells automatic weapons all over the place.)

When you take the logic you use to legalize prostitution and apply it to everything, it doesn't work.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 3:00p

Well, in that case, that apathy equals injustice.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 3:01p

by the way, I love automatic weapons!

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 3:05p

Adam: It's fine that you don't want anyone telling you what you can or can't do, harmest thou none. But once you bring the prostitute into the room, it's more than just you. And you are paying her to be subject to your desires. And while I'm sure a conscientious client such as yourself (or someone like you since you wouldn't do such a thing, we know) would be very gracious and not take up more than, oh, ten minutes of her time, you are still in a position of expecting subjugation for renumeration. And as the payee, you have responsibility for her that extends beyond mere responsibility for you.

tracey kelley
4.15.02 @ 3:11p

I have no problem legalizing prostitution, if only to see the circus it would become. Would a dominitrix receive more vacation time because of her acquired "skills" than a common streetwalker? If you don't kiss a client, but then kiss him 'cause he'll pay extra for it, do you keep some of that bonus? Would there be internal performance marketing efforts among prositutes and their middle managers to "get the John to bring a friend, receive a new toaster! Upgrade to a Kitchenaid mixer after your fourth three-way!"

Corporations could have a fun time with this. It would be interesting.

[edited]

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 3:12p

Good question - why not legalize adultery? Do you really think there are men out there who haven't cheated on their wives solely because they're afraid the cops might catch them? "Excuse me, sir, are you married to this woman? No? You're coming with us."

I really don't feel like touching the gun issue except to say that a gun is a weapon. Period. It has no other use.

I'm just saying you have to decide what is a harm and what isn't. I think that decriminalizing prostitution wouldn't get me to visit a prostitute any more than decriminalizing heroin would get me to shoot up. But it might help the prostitutes. It might rid us of the "pimp" element. And some of the drug element.

And speaking of my "responsibility" to the hooker, don't you think society has a responsibility to her, as well? This woman is going to be a hooker whether I pay her or someone else does. The least we can do is make sure it doesn't kill her.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 3:13p

Sorry Russ. we're talking about regulated prostitution. In Nevada, what can be purchased is essentially like a "menu." What happens is controlled, and the girls know what is requested of them each time, know what they'll get paid, have protection, and there are health precautions taken. If anyone is subject to anything, it is the client getting what is offered from a knowing seller.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 3:14p

To say nothing of trade schools. I think enrollment at DeVry and ITT Tech would skyrocket.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 3:14p

Corporate hookers --- "time warner hookers"
interesting

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 3:14p

And why do people keep forgetting that, as an experiment, legalized prostitution in Amsterdam is actually working out well? Beats our system of throw 'em in jail or let them get beaten.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 3:17p

Society has as much responsibility to her as it does a right to inflict morality. How 'bout that?

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 3:18p

kudos to Kraemer. In Nevada AND Amsterdam. Is the rest of America so afraid the rest "can't handle it?" Or is it merely a mass insecurity?

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 3:19p

Sorry again, Russ. Seperation of Church and State in the U.S. -- take your imposed morality right out of here.

tracey kelley
4.15.02 @ 3:24p

But let's not forget the power of choice. On both sides. As an over-18 individual, you can choose to partake or dispense of illegal items - or not. You can spend your family's grocery money at the track - or not. You can choose to fondle a child who has looked to you for theological guidence - or not. You can choose to smoke cigarettes even though you've been warned they can damage your health - or not.

A society without limitations is chaos. A society, by most rights, can not truly dictate the moral decisions made by individuals. Yet a structure of rules was established to benchmark elements of conduct. These rules provide limitations that, for some, are enough to help them make decisions that do not harm anyone, and sometimes, not even themselves.

I really don't have a problem with prostitution. Again - choice. I don't believe all prostitutes want to be in that profession, but because of the money involved or lack of self-esteem (female empowerment my ASS) there they are. I don't believe ever person who visits a prostitute is a degenerate. But I do believe limits are necessary for the protection of the naive, innocent or just plain stupid.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 3:25p

The church doesn't pass laws, Jeff. The state does.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 3:27p

Yes, but morality IS the church's job, and when it mixes in with our laws, there is a problem.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 3:29p

Tracey's point is right, to a degree. Only, protection of the stupid is still trampling on a capable person's right to act.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 3:29p

Russ, that was Jeff's point. Religion-based "morality" should have no bearing on the laws of the State.

I'd also hate to think that our country's laws are all based on the lowest common denominator.

[edited]

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 3:32p

You're right. I suppose, in that case, there is a larger issue with having a Constitution seperating church and state, yet allowing one to have a large say in one (religion in politics), while the other is "morally speaking", not to be meddled with. sort of an unfair advantage.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 3:33p

Morality is not the church's job. That's a label you want to slap on for convenience's sake. If you want to take potshots at the church (which church? all of them?) write a different column.

Morality is the individual's perception, which taken as a majority determine's society's mores. The only entity making laws against prostitution is the government, whether you're in the U.S., Israel or India. The government tells us what (legally) is right and wrong.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 3:36p

There's another issue that hasn't really been raised, and that is paying for sex with something other than money. Is there that huge a line between two people meeting in a hotel bar and his giving her cash for a hummer, and two people meeting in a hotel bar and his buying her a few drinks and dinner for a hummer? I really, really, really don't mean to imply that all women are prostitutes. I'm just trying to show that there's some grey area there between what can and can't be exchanged for sex. If a woman sleeps with a married man, is it better or worse if she gets paid for it?

[edited]

tracey kelley
4.15.02 @ 3:37p

protection of the stupid is still trampling on a capable person's right to act.

Okay, I recant and say "the uneducated", "stupid" optional. If an Afghan woman truly knows nothing but the corrupt world she's been shown, is she merely acting within her environment and without choice or truly inept? I'm thinking the former.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 3:40p

And, for that matter, Russ, is prostitution "immoral" in Nevada or Amsterdam, where it's legal?

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 3:42p

In my mind? Yes, it is. To me, personally, just me, it is immoral, no matter where it's practiced, legally or illegally.

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 3:46p

Are you ignoring the influence the church has on lawmaking? What is the GOP's platform, anyway? The fact is, the church (religious right, if you prefer) do influence the law making, while simultaniouly must remain silent in regards to religion. Believe me, the church is the group pushing morality.

tracey kelley
4.15.02 @ 3:50p

Okay, curious as to who is "immoral" by participating in prostitution, and why is that immoral, but looking at porn - in any form - is not?

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 3:52p

that's for russ to answer, I guess. I'm cool with both in the aggregate sense.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 3:53p

And as this devolves into another diatribe against "the church," the GOP, and the vast conspiracy of the religious right, who are all apparently to blame for this phage on society known as "morality," I resign from this discussion.

tracey kelley
4.15.02 @ 3:56p

Hey, as a non-labeling, fully spiritual and non-affiliated political person who still votes, I was asking a legitimate question there!

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 4:01p

Russ - you're claiming that the Conservatives don't try to legislate morality? Or at least limit our personal freedoms in the name of what's "virtuous"? Or are you just tired of being the only one supporting that position?

Oh, and what's a phage? I really don't know and I'm too lazy to find a dictionary.

[edited]

jael mchenry
4.15.02 @ 5:05p

Adam writes: And speaking of my "responsibility" to the hooker, don't you think society has a responsibility to her, as well? This woman is going to be a hooker whether I pay her or someone else does. The least we can do is make sure it doesn't kill her.

Society's responsibility includes, as I mentioned before, giving women safe and reasonable alternatives, like getting a real job. It's not like poor women have absolutely no alternative to hooksmanship. Choice within limited means/opportunities is still choice.

And I believe some of Russ' objection is that saying the "church" does things is like saying the "government" does things. What church? Which government? While there are places where a certain religion's morality and the government's laws coincide (adultery, murder) there are of course places where they diverge (kosher food, stoning as punishment for adultery.)

Tracey, who says porn's not immoral?

jeffrey walker
4.15.02 @ 5:08p

Jael I think is right on the coincide / divergent point. However, in the paragraph before, "who" is defining prostitution as not a real job? And why would you assume only the poorest would choose that career? Why limit anyone's option in how they choose to do something? (and I say porn's not immoral, nor much else)

[edited]

jael mchenry
4.15.02 @ 5:30p

I'm just responding to some earlier characterization as prostitutes really having no choice but to be prostitutes, so we should at least make it safer for them to be prostitutes. They don't have to be prostitutes. They can be receptionists or fry cooks or telemarketers or inventory clerks or whatever. Rather than "real job" I should've said "legal job." Limiting options in some cases is better than allowing unlimiting options: drug dealers and hit men are also making the choice to operate outside the law for cash, and they are also in constant danger, but I wouldn't suggest drug dealers have a union or health insurance or a safe house to operate from instead of their corner.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 5:33p

Sure, Jael, but you can't deny that the lawmakers in this country aren't at least a little influenced by their religious beliefs, and that the majority of them are Christian. That's not to say that their hearts aren't in the right place, but as I've said before, I draw the line at other people telling me that my personal decisions are "immoral." What if they pass a law making pre-marital sex illegal? It is, by some counts, immoral, after all.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 5:39p

A union for hit men. What a novel idea. Can you tell there's a Cusack thread open somewhere?

Adam: There are quite a few Jewish lawmakers out there, too. One of the most strident crusaders for "family values" and such of late was Sen. Lieberman. Singling out Christian lawmakers smacks of religious prejudice and convenient generalization.

jael mchenry
4.15.02 @ 5:42p

Yes, I do think they're influenced by their religious beliefs, but I don't think it's possible to tar it all with the same brush. The immorality of murder is a religious belief. The immortality of adultery is a religious belief. As far as I know, the Bible does not say "Thou shalt not give it up for cold cash money." So don't blame that one on religion.

Until such time as we vote out all the Christians, however, these are the people in power and they will make the decision they will make. Vote for someone else, or agitate.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 5:44p

And if you draw the line at other people telling you that your personal decisions are "immoral," how close is that line to where other people are telling you that your personal decisions are "illegal"? If something you would care to do is both immoral and illegal, would you feel free to do it, if you didn't believe it was immoral? Would the law be enough of a hindrance, or would you determine that because the law was made by people with a different moral perspective, you aren't subject to that law?

tracey kelley
4.15.02 @ 6:01p

Morality is not just a religious issue. Right from wrong, in the traditional sense, was established in religion - from what we are told, but is faith the only compass to morality? What about those who call themselves atheists but yet don't murder, don't steal, don't covet thy neighbor's cow, pig or spouse, and don't turn tricks? Are they still immoral because they don't believe in God?

While I do think porn is not the most pristine form of entertainment, my point in asking that question is more, what classifies something as pornographic - and is it always illegal and vice (heh) versa? It may be, by someone else's moral vision, immoral of me to use the f-word when I stub my toe. But I'd have to say that I don't judge someone watching "Real Sex" on HBO as immoral as someone selling pictures of naked children on the Internet.

Or for that matter, a fondling priest. Talk about immoral.

[edited]

tracey kelley
4.15.02 @ 6:07p

Someone may also find my use of "but" and "yet" next to one another immoral. Eeek.

adam kraemer
4.15.02 @ 6:10p

Would the law be enough of a hindrance, or would you determine that because the law was made by people with a different moral perspective, you aren't subject to that law?

You mean like underage drinking when I was in college?

Well, I think that in some cases the law is a hinderance to my activities, and in some cases it isn't. For me, I'm much more of a believer in consequences than any inherent morality in people's actions (with the exception, as I stated before, of those actions which infringe on someone else's liberties). I don't define the laws that I follow based on whether I agree with them, but the penalties associated with getting caught breaking them. I also have my own moral code (murder is bad, etc.). But in either case, as long as I live in this country, I will abide by its laws and accept the penalties for breaking those laws, whether it be (hypothetically) for computer hacking or driving above the speed limit, and whether I agree with the law or its intent.

russ carr
4.15.02 @ 6:37p

Thanks on the HBO bit Tracey. Love ya, babe.

tracey kelley
4.15.02 @ 6:55p

Oh.

Heh heh.

I didn't mean you. But now that you mention it... :>

michelle von euw
4.15.02 @ 9:57p

When it comes to prostitution, I can't get past the gender issue. It's always men paying for sex, and almost always women who are providing it. I kind of think that it's just another way to keep women down, to pigeon-hole us into neat little categories (madonna or whore), just another way a man has to control a woman.

Because the example was raised: from what I hear, Amsterdam is a fun city for horny college boys to visit, but not the kind of place most Americans would actually want to live, never mind raise families in.

sloan bayles
4.15.02 @ 11:59p

A truly lively discussion here. I've wondered for years though, why is it illegal to sell it, but okay (legally speaking) to give it away? One person's morals can be another person's fodder for banter. I truly believe each of us are born with instictive morals. Don't murder, don't steal, try not to lie (let's be honest here, we all do to an extent), etc. The phrase "basic human decency" can't simply be some socialistic ideal made up by those who fantasize of a Utopia. I don't think we need the church, the government, or any individual or organization dictating what is moral, and what isn't. One's religion of choice should, I think, reinforce to a degree basic morals, and perhaps we need the government to "reinforce" morality to an extent because sadly there are people who are true sociopaths. Wow, does this discussion drag you in to a diatribe of "right v. wrong" or what?!......

tim lockwood
4.16.02 @ 12:30a

Adam wrote: It's got nothing to do with what you do, but with how you feel.

Actually, it's got everything to do with what you do. Love is an action verb, not a passive noun. Example, if I tell my wife every day that I love her (which I do) but neglect her needs to go visit a prostitute (which I do NOT), which message is she going to believe?

Bottom line, if a man has sex with a prostitute, then he loves his wife less. He is putting his own selfish satisfaction ahead of the promises he made to his wife and the God he worships on his wedding day. Therefore, prostitution degrades two women - the woman who married the bum, and the woman who will trade her physical subjection for a small sum of cash.

russ carr
4.16.02 @ 12:30a

As long as we're dispensing with morality, I've decided to take my vacation this summer in Mexico. Age of consent is 12. And if it's not illegal or immoral in the fine Catholic nation of Mexico, who am I to argue? Of course I wouldn't pay for such pleasures. I'd hate to be hypocritical. But hey, maybe after the U.S. legalizes prostitution they can take a look at those outdated statutory rape laws...and maybe the bigamy laws, too. Right now I'm just psyched to see my 16 year old first cousin tomorrow. She's really cute. And now all the docs say there's virtually no chance of having a flipper baby, so go right ahead. YEEEEEEEHAW!

tim lockwood
4.16.02 @ 12:35a

Jeff asked me: Tim, if you're saying getting paid to have sex is immoral, then why is it okay in film and in pictures, but not to do so without it? Clearly, the act isn't immoral, there's merely an odd distinction.

I never said it was okay to get paid for having sex on film, nor would I. If anything, it is worse, because it cheapens the sexual act for not just the people directly involved, but for everyone who watches it.

As to the immorality of prostitution, it has little to do with its being against the law. Non-Judeo-Christian societies have laws against it as well, because it destroys the family unit which is a building block of society, and because to do otherwise would be a wink and nod by the state to the degradation of a class of people.

[edited]

jeffrey walker
4.16.02 @ 3:57a

Although it took a while to get it, thanks for your answer, Tim. Of course, you'll notice I've never revealed my stance on my thoughts on how laws have occured over time, (and won't, either), but well put regardless of my opinion.

Michelle: how less equal is a woman being paid under contract laws for a service by a man they have no other legal obligation to vs. freedoms a woman must lose when entering a family law area in order to only get it from a single source, and for free besides?

And Sloan, in what you said about this conversation dragging you between two points, you said a mouthful.

(and, YES, I am awake at 4 in the morning)

[edited]

michelle von euw
4.16.02 @ 9:44a

Jeff: your response to me sounds like that women should look at their bodies and sexuality as commodities. Since I am operating under the assumption that most men in our society marry for reasons other than full and free access to sex, comparing legal prostitution to marriage is like dancing about architecture. It also skirts my issue, which is, I am uncomfortable with the legalization of prostitution, because it furthers a stereotypical pigeon-hole of woman as sex provider that we frankly don't need.

[edited]

adam kraemer
4.16.02 @ 10:05a

Michelle - first of all, there are such things as male escorts and gigolos. They're not as common, but I'd argue that's mainly because women are a lot less likely to pay for sex as men are.

Second, where does it say that most of the men who visit prostitutes are cheating on their wives? I'd like to see some numbers on that before I accept that argument.

Third, women should look at their bodies and sexuality as commodities. Athletes do it. Models do it.

adam kraemer
4.16.02 @ 10:10a

And last, Tim wrote: Love is an action verb, not a passive noun. Example, if I tell my wife every day that I love her (which I do) but neglect her needs to go visit a prostitute (which I do NOT), which message is she going to believe?

That wasn't my point. My point is just that the lack of love has to be in place before the act is committed. Just as the act of saying, "I love you," doesn't mean anything if the love really isn't there (news flash: people lie all the time), so, too, in the case of visiting a prosititute, does the emotion (or lack thereof) beget the action, not vice versa. The act demonstrates the lack of love; it doesn't create it.

michelle von euw
4.16.02 @ 10:44a

Adam wrote: Michelle - first of all, there are such things as male escorts and gigolos. They're not as common, but I'd argue that's mainly because women are a lot less likely to pay for sex as men are.

Which was kind of exactly my point.

Second, where does it say that most of the men who visit prostitutes are cheating on their wives?

Huh? When did I say this? Or did you mean to address this to someone other than me?

adam kraemer
4.16.02 @ 11:00a

A lot of people here have been claiming that one of the big problems with prostitution is that it leads to the destruction of families. I'd like to get numbers on that. The percentage of marriages that end because the husband visited a hooker.

Regarding my first statement, no, Michelle, you wrote: It's always men paying for sex, and almost always women who are providing it. I kind of think that it's just another way to keep women down, to pigeon-hole us into neat little categories (madonna or whore), just another way a man has to control a woman.

My argument is that it has nothing to do with "keeping women down." Like there's some male conspiracy that only women can turn tricks? I'm sure a lot of men out there would love to get paid to have sex. But it doesn't work that way. I don't think it's a societal thing; a large majority of women just wouldn't pay for it.

Also, a lot of people in this discussion seem to be equating decriminalization and acceptance. They're not the same thing. It's not illegal for me to buy Nazi paraphenalia, but it's definitely not an accepted practice, neither in my family, nor in my community. Decriminalizing it just means that the first response to prostitution won't be an arrest.

jael mchenry
4.16.02 @ 11:00a

I doubt athletes would consider themselves prostitutes, Adam. I would bet they consider their talent, not their bodies, the commodity up for sale. And there's a difference between getting $151 million to play shortstop and getting $5 for a handjob in the back of a Tercel.

Michelle's point about the inherent gender bias in prostitution is also valid. Sure, there are a few men out there selling their bodies for sex. Similarly, there are a few men receiving welfare benefits as single parents. However, given that 95% of those on welfare are single mothers, most welfare programs see fit to focus on women's issues, not men's. They do diverge on occasion.

adam kraemer
4.16.02 @ 11:06a

In regard to you second point, see above.

In regard to your first, it's just a matter of degree. Just because professional athletes don't consider themselves prostitutes, that doesn't mean they're not. They're prostituting their talent and their bodies. Some even sell, as Jeff mentioned, their likenesses for profit. Telling a company they can use your face to sell soda might be better than allowing a man to have sex with you for $100, but the spirit really isn't much different. Beyond that, who are you to tell someone else what they can and can't do with their own bodies? You advocate throwing a woman in jail and taking away her children because she's getting paid to have sex?

And there's a difference between getting $151 million to play shortstop and getting $5 for a handjob in the back of a Tercel. Unless you're just saying that the more money you make, the more legitimate the career.

jael mchenry
4.16.02 @ 11:06a

Adam wrote: Also, a lot of people in this discussion seem to be equating decriminalization and acceptance. They're not the same thing.

Which is an argument I made at 12:40 yesterday. If you're basing the argument that prostitution should be okay because porn is okay, I'd suggest that porn isn't entirely okay.

michelle von euw
4.16.02 @ 11:10a

Adam, you wrote, a large majority of women just wouldn't pay for it.

Again, exactly my point. I am not comfortable with legalizing something that has such a huge gender discrepancy. I see it as a control issue: when men pay women for sex, they call the shots, they make the demands.

As for the other points, ditto Jael's post.

jael mchenry
4.16.02 @ 11:12a

The difference between $151 million and $5 has nothing to do with legitimacy. It has to do with the quality of life, and pretending that professional athletes suffer anything even remotely similar to the problems inherent in prostitution is beyond naive.

And at least 25% of government consists of telling people what they can or can't do with their own bodies. We regulate food and drugs (prescription and otherwise) and the speed with which the body goes forward in a car, the way (or whether) we're born, whether or not we can decide how we'll die. Accepting limits is part of being governed.

tim lockwood
4.16.02 @ 11:16a

Adam responded: Just as the act of saying, "I love you," doesn't mean anything if the love really isn't there (news flash: people lie all the time), so, too, in the case of visiting a prosititute, does the emotion (or lack thereof) beget the action, not vice versa. The act demonstrates the lack of love; it doesn't create it.

I don't entirely disagree with your point that feelings beget action. But - action and feeling are two way streets. Just as feeling begets action, so action begets feeling. I might not always "feel" like I'm in love with my wife, but when I act in a way that demonstrates that I love her, the feeling returns.

I can't explain it, but it does work that way, and I know I am not the only one to notice it. It is the very reason that you hear of the old "arranged" marriages that lasted 50-60+ years. They acted like they loved each other until they really did.

[edited]

adam kraemer
4.16.02 @ 11:23a

Michelle wrote: when men pay women for sex, they call the shots, they make the demands.

In what world? Would it be less offensive if men made women pay them for sex? I think that it's actually the woman who's got the control, in a lot of these cases. If the men were in control, they wouldn't be visiting a hooker in the first place.

No one seems to have successfully answered Sloan's question of why it's legal for a woman to give away sex, but not to get paid for it.

Michelle also wrote: I am not comfortable with legalizing something that has such a huge gender discrepancy. So paid maternity leave is out, then? How about the Massachusetts date rape laws regarding alcohol consumption?

tim lockwood
4.16.02 @ 11:25a

Adam also writes: A lot of people here have been claiming that one of the big problems with prostitution is that it leads to the destruction of families. I'd like to get numbers on that. The percentage of marriages that end because the husband visited a hooker.

Statistics I don't have. It doesn't matter though, because 83.7% of all statistics are made up anyway. But I would submit that whether or not a marriage ends in a legal divorce because of a visit to a prostitute, the marriage/family unit has been broken pretty badly. There is a lack of trust that permeates the whole marriage, which would be very difficult to repair.

adam kraemer
4.16.02 @ 11:26a

Tim - I'm not gonna argue with that. You have a point. I was just saying that the act of visiting a prostitute is a symptom of a larger problem and not generally the genesis of the problem itself.

Jael wrote: The difference between $151 million and $5 has nothing to do with legitimacy. It has to do with the quality of life, and pretending that professional athletes suffer anything even remotely similar to the problems inherent in prostitution is beyond naive. That's my point. So why do we compound the problems inherent in prostitution by punishing those who don't see any other option?

adam kraemer
4.16.02 @ 11:29a

Tim - I didn't say that a visit to a prostitute wouldn't damage a marriage. I just want to know how big a problem it actually is. How many married men cheat on their wives, and how many do it with hookers? People in this discussion are acting like it's a huge problem. I don't think I know of one married man who's ever gone to a whore. Does anyone know someone whose marriage ended because of infidelity with a sex professional?

tim lockwood
4.16.02 @ 11:41a

Adam said: I was just saying that the act of visiting a prostitute is a symptom of a larger problem and not generally the genesis of the problem itself.

I will go along with that. The genesis of the problem lies in men and women who know how to get married, but not how to be married. The state will license a couple to get married, but they are much more concerned with your blood compatibility than your emotional or spiritual compatibility.

Some states/localities now require pre-divorce counseling for couples with children, which is good; but I believe they still have the cart before the horse to some degree. If they would require the counseling prior to marriage, there might be fewer divorces necessary.

And yes, I know I'm straying away from the tour group on the whole prostitution question.

adam kraemer
4.16.02 @ 11:44a

Well, I think pre-marriage counseling is a good idea. I know a number of couples who had to meet with their priest or rabbi a number of times prior to their weddings. It just makes sense.

tracey kelley
4.16.02 @ 11:51a

I guess I don't make a generalization of prostitution as demoralizing to woman or breaking up families because I honestly don't believe that to be true. Nor do I see it as a symptom of a larger problem.

The Hyperthalamus... Hypothalamus...the Four Fs theory, established that humans have a basic brain function under which mating falls. Whether determined by God or an ingrained survival instinct, the drive to mate is there. Prostitution is the world's oldest profession, and it's not surprising that it's a form of commerce. While the fringes of this industry are more than corrupt, the general base service truly hurts no one. It is an agreement between the seller and the buyer, and few go into that agreement unaware.

For that matter, neither do the women who choose to be mistresses for the swank condo and life of leisure, or the Monica Lewinskys, or Chandra Levys. When it's your body, your life, it's your choice. If you are fortunate enough to have the sense of a goose, then you choose to demoralize yourself when you use your body in exchange for anything.


[edited]

tracey kelley
4.16.02 @ 12:03p

For that matter, when prostitutes talk about tricking to survive, they surpress two other primal responses - fighting and fleeing. I've known women who had no self-esteem, no support structure, very little education - and somehow, they managed to "survive" without becoming a prostitute. Or a mistress. The road may be harder, but it's paved by them and them alone.

For those who choose an illegal form of survival, I nor anyone else am contributing to their demoralization. As Jael mentioned earlier, drug dealers don't have to choose that profession. Does demand drive supply? Certainly. But is demand there because the supply is available, or is the supply available because of the demand? The human condition is what it is.

But it's not mine. So my concern is more for those forced into prostitution, rather than those who choose it.



jael mchenry
4.16.02 @ 12:07p

Adam says:So why do we compound the problems inherent in prostitution by punishing those who don't see any other option?

Deterrent effect? Because apparently no other method is effective in getting them to pursue some other option? Why don't we decriminalize crack to make drug dealers' lives less dangerous? I keep insisting this is a choice. I keep hearing back that prostitutes have to be prostitutes, and that's why we owe them a 401K.

On the prostitution/marriage argument, yes, it's not entirely relevant. Single men, I'm sure, go to hookers. And married men can cheat on their wives for free, I'd wager.

Also: I think that it's actually the woman who's got the control, in a lot of these cases. If the men were in control, they wouldn't be visiting a hooker in the first place. And that's why they visit the hooker, because that's the only way they can get control. If you think that someone saying "Get on the bed. Lie there. Hold still. Now move" isn't control, I don't know what is. When you pay for something you control the service. I don't boss my boss, my boss bosses me. That's why he's called my boss.



tracey kelley
4.16.02 @ 12:08p

Tim, Adam, I agree with pre-marital counseling. My husband and I had six weeks of it before we married, and I can't tell you how many times we refer to issues discussed 'way back then. But we both considered it to be a major step, and just like you'd prepare for a variety of other things, we knew we needed to understand what we were getting into.

We now return to our previously scheduled topic.



adam kraemer
4.16.02 @ 12:20p

Why don't we decriminalize crack to make drug dealers' lives less dangerous?
Because prostitution doesn't inherently kill people. Because while being a prostitute is a choice, she could be begging on the street or she could be breaking into your house to steal your stereo or she could be selling crack. Because if you're a young woman with a small child and life has handed you shit and you can make $400 a night lying on your back, it might seem like a better deal than, oh, I don't know, starving to death.

Single men, I'm sure, go to hookers. And married men can cheat on their wives for free, I'd wager.
That's my point. There's nothing inherent in prostitution that makes men cheat on their wives. If you're basing your argument on the "fact" that prostitution threatens the sanctity of marriage, then we should also apparently make it a fellony for any woman to sleep with a married man, regardless of whether money is exchanged.

And that's why they visit the hooker, because that's the only way they can get control. That's not why they visit the hooker. They visit the hooker because she doesn't care about their personality or their job or their friends or their height or the size of their package. They go to the hooker because it only takes money to have sex with a woman. You don't have to impress the hooker first. If they wanted to feel power, they'd be rapists,

[edited]

michelle von euw
4.16.02 @ 12:30p

Actually, Adam, there's such a thing as paid leave for all parents, not just birth mothers, and rape laws actually have been used to prosecute men-on-men rape. But that is getting waaay off topic and so far away from my point, which is that I see legalized prostitution as damaging to women.

And, again, thanks to Jael for answering your rebuttals to my statements with far more coherence than I am currently capable of.

jael mchenry
4.16.02 @ 12:38p

Because prostitution doesn't inherently kill people. Neither do drugs. The only thing that inherently kills people is murder.

Because if you're a young woman with a small child and life has handed you shit and you can make $400 a night lying on your back, it might seem like a better deal than, oh, I don't know, starving to death. There is middle ground.

That's my point. Yes, I was agreeing with you for once.

If they wanted to feel power, they'd be rapists, Not true, and the two groups aren't mutually exclusive, and control is not the same thing as power, and maybe, just maybe, the legal penalties for rape have a deterrent effect.



tracey kelley
4.16.02 @ 12:42p

Because while being a prostitute is a choice, she could be begging on the street or she could be breaking into your house to steal your stereo or she could be selling crack.

Oh, so the majority of prositutes have a degenerate nature? She's so down on her luck that she has no other choice but to commit some form of crime? Any crime? Nonsense.

This is one of the primary reasons why this topic can't be generalized. It's like baklava, it's so layered.

jael mchenry
4.16.02 @ 12:47p

Baklava. Hee hee. Not something generally brought up, I'd wager, on this topic.

And I forgot to thank Michelle for thanking me.

michelle von euw
4.16.02 @ 12:53p

Ok, double-post. So, um, I'm glad we all support pre-marriage counseling. Horray to that!

[edited]

michelle von euw
4.16.02 @ 12:54p

[homer simpson] Ummmmmmmm, bakalava [/homer simpson]



adam kraemer
4.16.02 @ 1:05p

Tracey, I wasn't saying that hookers are morally degenerate. I was saying that being a prostitute is a much better decision than a lot of other choices of what she could be doing.

Jael: Neither do drugs. The only thing that inherently kills people is murder.
So you're equating selling sex with selling crack? There's no difference? No grey area - if it's illegal, it must be bad? There's no room for the question of degree?

the two groups aren't mutually exclusive Perhaps while you're sitting up on high, passing judgement on everyone, you can tell me, from the point of view of an attractive girl in a good relationship, how you have such good insight into the mind of a man and why he might feel the need to pay for sex.

jael mchenry
4.16.02 @ 1:15p

And one more round...

I'm not saying sex and crack are exactly equivalent. I'm saying they're both in the category of not inherently fatal items. I don't argue absolutes. You're the one who said a woman's only options are to prostitute herself or starve.

Unless you have statistics to prove that no rapist has ever visited a prostitute, I feel confident making the statement that there is some overlap. Prove me wrong and I will apologize.

Keep in mind, again, that I am not generalizing. I am not trying to say that there's no difference between men who pay for sex and men who force women to have sex. Everyone has a complex blend of motivations for what they do, and I can imagine that some men pay for sex because what they really want is approval, some men pay for sex because they don't have the patience to go through the dating game, some men pay for sex because they regard it as a physical act devoid of emotion and have physical needs they're satisfying. Women might pay for sex for all these reasons too. I'm speaking in mights and coulds, not shoulds and dos.

adam kraemer
4.16.02 @ 1:32p

You're the one who said a woman's only options are to prostitute herself or starve.
I never said that. I said that for some, they don't see another option.

Unless you have statistics to prove that no rapist has ever visited a prostitute, I feel confident making the statement that there is some overlap.
I'm sure there are rapists who have visited 7-11, as well. Your point?

All I'm saying is that I'm not a big fan of having the government punish vice when there might be better alternatives. Especially since this is (obviously) such a grey area. And, as regards to morality, sure, I'll obey the laws of wherever I'm living, and pay the penalties if I decide not to. But that doesn't mean that I have to agree with the status quo or with those that I feel are too closed-minded and reactionary to seek out alternatives to "punishing the wicked." Sure, there are some people who deserve punishment - those who choose to pursue their own personal gain to the detrement of others. But I don't see prostitution like that. Two consenting adults who decide to have sex (please don't start mentioning weird exceptions; you know what I mean) should be allowed to do so, no matter what the catylist for that congress is.

jael mchenry
4.16.02 @ 1:43p

Gee, now I'm trying to think of weird exceptions... but no, I'll stop.

And all I will add is in some cases, the government tries to shape our behavior in the interest of protection, not punishment, and removing that protection should not automatically be considered an improvement.


adam kraemer
4.16.02 @ 1:51p

I agree. But I don't think that in this case, protection is warranted. I think the negatives created by criminalizing prostitution outweigh those associated with regulating it instead.

jael mchenry
4.16.02 @ 1:54p

Duly noted.

Okay, I'm spent. Anybody else?

adam kraemer
4.16.02 @ 1:56p

Yeah. Wow. I concur. I'm done.

jael mchenry
4.16.02 @ 2:01p

Cigarette?

Ha! Sorry. Had to.

adam kraemer
4.16.02 @ 2:02p

Wow. How did you know that I always end sex by saying, "I'm done"?

jeffrey walker
4.16.02 @ 2:14p

AUTHOR'S NOTE: in an unrelated event, the U.S. Supreme Court just relaxed the ban on "virtual child porn"; that is, if it looks like kiddy porn, but really isn't, it's a-okay.
I'd say, things are coming around!

[edited]

adam kraemer
4.16.02 @ 2:19p

Well, that sort of makes sense. Just because a 19 year old looks 14, that doesn't mean she isn't entitled to make a buck getting naked.

michelle von euw
4.16.02 @ 2:22p

OK, so does that mean that law enforcement officers can no longer target potential child molesters by pretending to be a 13-year-old girl in an internet chat room?

jeffrey walker
4.16.02 @ 2:25p

Adam: actually, she is entitled to make a buck at it. Why is that wrong?

Michelle: They can target all they want, but they can't arrest him for pretending to be someone else -- if being dishonest were a crime, we'd all be guilty. It's only when he goes too far that the law may step in.

[edited]

adam kraemer
4.16.02 @ 2:28p

Jeff - that's what I said. Look for the double negative.

And, Michelle, it also means that they're not overstepping their bounds by pretending to be 13.

jeffrey walker
4.16.02 @ 2:30p

Sorry Adam -- trying to do four things at once, and getting confused.

drew wright
4.16.02 @ 3:15p

I think George Carlin puts it best when he says "Sellings Legal, Fucking is legal. So why isn't selling fucking legal" or "Why is it illegal to sell something that it is perfectly legal to give away."

I've seen the shows and seen the documentary's, there are plenty of women who love having sex for money. We may not understand why but not all prostitutes are Julia Roberts in "Pretty Women".

michelle von euw
4.16.02 @ 3:33p

OK, that's cool. Because my husband's friend's brother served jail time because he met someone who claimed to be a thirteen year old girl in an internet chat room, who asked him to meet her at a mall in D.C. He was greeted by an FBI officer who arrested him for crossing state lines to have sex with a minor.

While in no way did I condone this guy's action, I always wondered why it wasn't entrapment, since there was never an actual 13 year old girl. (Plus, setting up the meeting place in DC -- he lived in Maryland -- struck me as rather tricky, since apparently the "crossing state lines" is a greater offense.)

jeffrey walker
4.16.02 @ 3:34p

So it seems, those mostly opposed to legal prostitution would opt not to participate in it regardless of its legality. In that case, what is the major opposition? Safety of people from making particular decisions? why, in America, where we are promised freedom and "the pursuit of happiness," are a certain group of individuals, whom likely would not engage in a particular behavior anyway, allowed to tell others what they cannot do when it has NO BEARING on thier own constitutional rights?

and michelle, even 1 month from getting a law degree, I can't say why that isn't a form of entrapment, either. Seems like a bit of a set up.

[edited]

russ carr
4.21.02 @ 7:24p

Since I contributed so much to the opposition in this argument, the Taoist in me feels obligated to assist the other side.



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