Tuesday, December 19, 2006

No Easy Answers

Yesterday, James braved a topic I had considered blogging on, legalizing prostitution.

The main reason I didn’t blog on it is because I honestly don’t know what I think about that as a solution. We’ve had some innovative needle exchange programs here, bordering on legalizing drugs, actually did legalize some, and what can I tell you?

It hasn’t stopped the crime at all. It hasn’t meant all people have been helped either.

Now, James said in the comments, “But if we can stop thinking of these people as criminals, and start seeing them as victims, then perhaps we might try to help them a little more. But if we can stop thinking of these people as criminals, and start seeing them as victims, then perhaps we might try to help them a little more.”

I’m not referring to it to argue with him. I refer to the comment because it's what made me think, about why I don’t think this way. I don’t see all drug addicts and prostitutes as victims. In my own mind I’ve never classified them that way unilaterally. Nor do I think I should.

It all goes back to some of my experiences years ago. And something about personal responsibility. This is one of the things I don’t want to talk about at great length, but I knew a lot of people who became users, a lot of girls who weren’t too far removed from street workers and, well, when I was assaulted as a teenager and finally forced to switch schools for my own safety, it was a group of girls more on the streets than not that did that.

The problem is, knowing them means I know a fair number of things. I saw them make victims of a lot of people. Thinking of them as victims? They were as much a victim as any of us were. I’ve never pretended here I had a particularly happy home life. Some of those girls had it better, some of those girls had it worse. End of the day we all made choices about how we were going to live our lives. I retreated into books and church. They started carrying, whoring and using.

Maybe it’s completely unfair of me to see it that way. I don’t know. But I know other people who’ve faced worse things in life than all those girls put together who didn’t resort to becoming a drug addict. Victims, yes. And college graduates who are responsible taxpayers, raising families.

After four seasons of The Wire I’m not so sure I would be so quick to legalize drugs anymore. At least, if something like free zones were established they would have to be run differently. And here comes the problem: the police. Could I honestly blame any one of those officers assigned to watch that behaviour day in and day out for feeling sick? No.

The one thing you take with you watching The Wire is there are no easy answers. Not to the problems in our schools, in society, on the streets.

With the revelation that one of the arrested is a former special constable there will be new issues to be looked at, no doubt. Issues that eclipse the crimes and the victims in many respects.

It’s my opinion that people still look on prostitutes as trash and that they’re considered disposable. I’m not saying I agree with that. I don’t. So I’m not prepared to call them all victims right off the top – really, it’s a chicken-egg debate. Whatever put you on the street, sooner or later you’re a victim. But often you’re also a victimizer.

I don’t have a problem with the idea of legalizing prostitution. I do have concerns with the idea of legalizing drugs. Should we give drug addicts the fix they need in rehab as we wean them off? For sure. Absolutely. But make it all legal?

I lived in Vancouver for years and would move back in a heartbeat, but not to the building I used to live in. One of the things I hated most about it was the serious migraines I got from second-hand marijuana. Legalize it and make all the criminal activity that goes with it go away, problem solved, right? Nope. Some problems solved, some new ones take their place. I mean, do I want to walk down the street and see people shooting up? Take the kids to the park and Mr. Jones is snorting coke over on the park bench and the kids all wave and smile?

We all mean pseudo-legalize, don’t we? Minute that it become a normal acceptable activity we see out our front door we’re going to think again, right? That’s the whole reason it isn’t legalized, I’d venture to say. It's the 'not in my back yard' mentality.

And no matter what any of us think about this from the perspective of intellectual debate, there’s one critical thing we’re forgetting.

A lot of these girls who end up on the streets don’t want to be found. They’re running. A number are underage. Some are criminals before they get there. They don’t want to work someplace that they have to have a social insurance number and be registered as an employee at. That’s the whole idea – they want to disappear.

No matter how well intentioned, how do you legislate around that?

To me, the root of addressing the problem comes a lot sooner. It’s identifying what puts some of these kids on the street and stopping that from happening. There needs to be more intervention in our schools and through social services when people are being abused.

But even then, no easy answers. Maybe I'm too harsh in my opinions. I don't know. It's definitely something I'll wonder about today.

Okay, heavy serious topic that I have no conclusions on. Time to suggest a bit of holiday reading, filled with warm and good cheer. Bryon’s flashing and it’s a genius idea. The story, not the flashing.


Anonymous said...

The fact is, the so-called War on Drugs has been lost for a long time, and the people paying the price are not those using drugs but those stuck with the bill for paying for the war, which is most all of us.

The Morality War Against Sex has been losing for thousands of years too. The cost there is more subtle but more pernicious.

Legalizing drugs is not the same as legalizing people shooting up in your front yard. Alcohol, therapeutically more dangerous by any number of measures than marijuana, is legal for adults in the West, but we nonetheless have laws against public intoxication, driving under the influence, and disturbing the peace which cover the problems of having to confront it in places where we don't want to.

Prostitution is illegal because, for the most part, legislating scolds don't like the idea that anyone might be having sex. That's not stopping us.

Is teenage, pimp-battered prostitution a problem? Certainly, but that's a different problem from the question of whether consensual adults should be restricted from paying for sex from other consensual adults.

In the end, it's simply idiotic to legislate the ways people want to alter their moods or achieve sexual gratification.

What we can do is reasonably legislate where it happens. Right now, we are wasting billions of dollars in resources fighting battles that can't be won, and then we wonder why we can help a teen runaway who gets roped in by a violent pimp.

I advocate making most illicit drugs legal, controlled by the same laws that control alcohol use. Some drugs, I admit I would keep criminal, mostly drugs that tend to produce violent behaviors like PCP and methamphetamine. But pot? Give me a break. I'd rather run into a guy stoned on pot than a raging drunk any day of the week.

And the sex thing. Well, guess what? We all do it, and most of us like it. Many of us started young and will keep doing it as long as we can. The current approach to sexual legislation doesn't stop the sex, but it certainly has helped increase sexually-transmitted disease among our youth. The places in the United States where sexual legislation is the most draconian also shows the highest rates of teen pregnancy and STD. Duh.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I agree Bill - we are paying. We pay one way or the other.

My hesitation about saying it should be legalized - nice in theory - is not knowing if things will be any better on the other side of that, or if we'll just compound problems. In the scenario where girl runs away from abusive situation and doesn't want to be found, if she can't get work in a legalized brothel (because she's underage, can be tracked) then what does she do? Does she turn to robbery to stay alive? Or still end up working streets in a far more sinister fashion?

Legalize prostitution, but how far does it go? Will we turn a blind eye if the girl is 16? 15? 13? And what if what the customer wants is extreme? Will we open the doors to beastiality?

I think, ultimately, that's why this never becomes more than talk. Lines still have to be drawn. We aren't talking about erasing them. We're talking about moving them. And that raises all sorts of new questions about how far we move them and why we leave some things on the other side of the law and allow others.

It may be true that potheads are easier to deal with than a lot of drunks, but I still don't want to ingest the second-hand smoke, so how do you deal with that?

See, no matter how good the idea intellectually, there are always complications.

JamesO said...

When we were in New Zealand last year, going to the pub was a particularly pleasant experience because the Kiwis in their enlightened way had banned smoking in the workplace. Since the pub is someone's workplace, that meant no smoking. Similar, if rather muddled, legislation is now being introduced in England and Wales. Scotland already has it.

This doesn't stop people smoking in their houses, on the street, and in the communal areas of tenement buildings - which I guess is where your secondhand pot smoke beef comes from. But as Bill says, it's perfectly possible to limit the scope of legalisation - keeping drug use off the streets and prostitution to brothels. No, neither of these things will make all the world's ills go away. Yes the police will still have to deal with shit on a regular basis. But my main point, and the one I still come back to, is that at the moment banning the things society disapproves of costs a lot of money and does not have the desired effect. Legalising, taxing and controlling at least allows some revenue to be raised to try and educate people to change their habits.

There will always be people who don't want to be helped, who are running from something, who are too scared or too mentally instable to integrate normally with society. Legalising drugs and prostitution probably won't help them a great deal, but I doubt it will make things worse. And it could make things a great deal better for the majority of people.

Anonymous said...

Bestiality is really a non-issue though. People still have consent. If I was a prostitute (lotsa laffs there) and someone wanted to do something I didn't want to do, it would be up to me to say it was off the menu. If they forced me, well, guess what? Rape is still rape. Where's the problem?

As for smoke, well, I don't like cigarette smoke, and nice for me I don't have to deal with it in restaurants anymore. But smoking remains legal (as it should be), and if I live somewhere where I can smell someone else's smoke from their home, in all honesty it's my problem. There's a point where we're just butting into other people's business. Maybe we don't approve, but too bad. We may be up to any number of things they don't approve of.

Girls who are underage (and boys too, which I see plenty of in the streets of Portland) are a problem now. They won't be less of a problem if adult prostitution is legal, but what we may have if we stop wasting resources legislating the so-called morality of consenting adults are resources to put into dealing with these other problems.

Sure it's complicated. But what we're doing now is complicated AND ALSO a resounding failure. Feeling uncomfortable about other people's sex lives is not a rational basis for public policy, nor is pretending alcohol and drugs are somehow fundamentally different. (You can go to jail for growing pot but Captain Morgan is advertised on television? Drug policy is spelled h-y-p-o-c-r-i-s-y.)

The reason this doesn't get discussed seriously is because scolds don't like people having sex or getting a buzz. Period. The lines aren't that hard to draw, but until people get over their sexual hang-ups and desperate need to interfere into other people's private lives, we'll continue to waste money and resources on non-existent problems as we wring our hands over our failure to protect the children.

(Can you tell I feel a bit of passion about this?)

John McFetridge said...

It's interesting you use the word, "solution." I was thinking about your blog yesterday and the idea of stories having "endings" and sequels, or series, or just characters that continue.

It's this idea of something being finished, over and done with, let's move on, that trips us up.

Bill's right, alcohol is legal and we have to deal with the consequences of that. In some parts of the world most drugs are legal and there are ongoing consequences. Same with prostitition. And, even where these things are legal and regulated and policed, there are still plenty of black market activities.

Laws might help in how we deal with the consequences, they might even have a small effect on the numbers, but you know, we have laws against murder, not really stopping it.

Usually someone has a six step idea and we install the first two steps, decide the next ones are too expensive and don't bother. Then it doesn't work and we say, oh look, that didn't work.

But whatever, the 'ending' is always tough.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Nothing wrong with a bit of passion Bill. This is one of those things that I'm remarkably able to sit on the fence and mull over.

I just can't shake the idea of little Kevin running out into the yard and asking, "Mommy, what's he doing?" as the next door neighbour injects himself. And I don't care if I sound a bit morally reserved saying that - I grew up seeing a lot of things young kids don't often see and I didn't like it. I don't frequent bars or drink to excess precisely because I had enough of it as a kid. Solve some problems, yes. Open a new can of worms? Definitely. I mean, if it's legal to shoot up at home kids can't be removed from parents who are addicts, can they? You have to go on the slippery slope of proving negligence or outright abuse, and that...that's a bit of a pipe dream. Of course, the current system sucks and isn't addressing all the problems - I know people who were sexually abused who were returned to that environment by social services.

I just shudder to think that there are repercussions nobody's able to see on this side of the equation. But if you legalize it where does it go from there? If you realize the problems that come as a result are worse, can you go back?

That's why it doesn't change.

John, funny, I was just thinking about that case in Toronto where a woman from the US alleged she saw a man sexually abusing a child on a feed over the internet and he was arrested and charged. Of course, here we've been watching arrest after arrest for possession of child pornography. This is where I could get real nitpicky and go back to what Bill said in his first comment - In the end, it's simply idiotic to legislate the ways people want to alter their moods or achieve sexual gratification. and say, "Is it really idiotic?" Because there's a trade in underage girls, there's a trade in children.

Since you did so much internet porn research for Dirty Sweet John, maybe you can blog about your thoughts on the business?

Anonymous said...

From working with the Rape Crisis Center for years, I can tell you rape is Not still rape when it comes to prostitutes in the eyes of our legal system. Many believe prostitutes Can't be raped, which shows you how little people think of women in that line of work. I think legalizing prostitution would just perpetuate the already rampant view of women as nothing but sex objects for men to use as they want and would actually Increase violence against women, let alone the message it'd send to young women in our country. Despite the fact that there are some men in prostitution, there's honestly not many compared to the amount of women in it and so I still see it as crime against women by taking advantage of women in trouble and struggling by sexually using them. It'd be a sad day indeed if our government reinforced this age old sexism.

Anonymous said...

I think you're unreasonably and unfairly conflating consensual sexual behavior between adults and child sexual predation. Decriminalizing prostitution among adults is not the same as okaying pedophilia. I've never utilized a prostitute myself, but I have friends who have, both legally in places like Germany and Nevada, and illegally. None of them are pedophiles, and none of them are interested in the "child trade."

And legalizing heroin (for example) and allowing it in public are two different things. Most municipalities now have laws against public drinking, even though alcohol is legal. Legalizing drugs doesn't automatically mean we have to allow heroin users to camp on our doorsteps, just as we don't allow drunks to do the same.

In practical terms, I wouldn't argue for a blanket shift from "everything that makes people feel good is illegal to everything that makes people feel good is legal" anyway. Phased decriminalization of morality crimes over time, with resources diverted from law enforcement to regulation, then shifted to more pressing problems. How much money would we have to, for instance, combat child pornography and "the child trade" if we stopped wasting it on adult prostitution law enforcement and "abstinence" programs?

Sandra Ruttan said...

Hmmm. Although Mai Wen has raised some interesting, thought-provoking points. And it wasn't so long ago that people still thought a wife couldn't be raped.

Has anyone published studies on Amsterdam and assessed whether their 'solution' works?

Oh, and John, part of what I meant about 'solution' was the idea that legalizing prostitution would protect them from killers like this guy in the UK (hence referring to the arrest later). I didn't do a good job of explaining that in my post, although it made more sense if people read James' post.

But my mind was elsewhere this morning, and still is, I'm afraid.

So... now I have more in the mix to think about. Yes, the fence hurts a bit. Interesting discussion, though.

angie said...

Legalizing prostitution (and drugs) is not that same as legalizing rape, bestiality, public intoxication, drunk driving, robbery, assault, etc. Frankly, I'm much less concerned with the alcohol abuse/addiction than I am with the crime of driving intoxicated & killing someone. I'm really annoyed when intoxication is seen as an aggravating factor - does it make it worse that the wife beater is drunk, or is it an excuse? I would think the crime is what's important.

My biggest beef is the whole "prostitutes are victims" thing. That's just insulting to the women who are sex workers - and an extreme oversimplification of the wide variety of reasons that women become prostitutes. It also suggests that prostitutes are incapable of having control of their lives or choices. Um, sorry. Not buying it.

Is it a dangerous way to make a living? Yes. Is it a job that usually results in less protection in term of the law? Yes. Does that mean all prostitutes are victims? No.

Underage hookers and runaways are an issue only tangentially related to the concept of legalizing prostitution. Linking the two is a great way to muddy the water. Kids who do not want to go home - for whatever reason - will find a way to survive within or without the confines of the law. I don't see how legalization of prostitution will overtly help or harm this already untenable situation.

JamesO said...

"I think legalizing prostitution would just perpetuate the already rampant view of women as nothing but sex objects for men to use as they want and would actually Increase violence against women, let alone the message it'd send to young women in our country."

In many ways, it is the view that is the problem here, mai wen, not the fact that prostitution is illegal or legal.

Perhaps I am naive in hoping that a legalised sex-trade would go some way towards changing this misogynist viewpoint. A prostitute should have as much right to say no to a punter as a girl in a nightclub has to a bloke trying to hit on her. They should be equal in the eyes of the law with the church-going mother of three who is attacked and raped in the park, which is to say in all these cases if the man forces himself on the woman without her consent, then he is guilty of rape.

Of course, all three cases are treated differently today, and that is a completely different problem to the one of legalisation of the sex trade. At least if prostitution took place in well-regulated brothels and to well-understood rules, then it would be harder for a man to argue that what he did was or wasn't rape.

John McFetridge said...

yeah, Amsterdam. Right now they have the same problem as many other cities - women brought in from eastern Europe to work illegally as prostitutes. They undercut the price of the legal prostitutes in Amsterdam.

Any change is going to be hard. Laws usually follow years behind social morals, which are changing. It's usually two steps forward, one step back.

But people do get passionate about it and that's good. More talk, more stuff out in the open, more information, it all helps.

And as for my research on internet porn, well, that's for another day.

Anonymous said...

Hoo! Talk about a can of worms!

Excellent post title, Sandra. You're right. There are no easy answers. So here's me tossing my own grenade into the fray. ;-)

As George Carlin said, "Selling is legal. Fucking is legal. Why isn't selling fucking legal?"

Legalizing drugs or prostitution won't solve the problems, but I do think it will help.

Legalization does not mean unregulated. Just because it's legal doesn't mean that the crack-head shooting up in your backyard is in the right. It's like cars. Driving is legal. Driving on the sidewalk is not.

One of the reasons, and I admit only one as this is a hugely complex issue with lots of opinions on all sides, that drugs and prostitution are so lucrative comes down to a simple equation of supply and demand.

Product X is illegal and therefore difficult to come by. Product X, however, also has high demand. People want it because they like it, and, in a little twist of psychology, it is now verboten, and we all know the allure of forbidden fruit.

That equation makes product X expensive. Really expensive. High risk for the manufacturers, the transporters, the sellers. The costs go down and down the line because everyone wants a cut and the market will bear the exorbitant prices. And because there is so much money to be had, untaxable, untraceable money, a lot of people are vying for control of the same markets. A lot of people with guns. Because, you know, those are illegal, too, and if you're heading down one road of laceny, what's the problem with adding another?

If you look at the heads of the Mexican Cartels you'll find men who could easily be running Fortune 500 companies. In essence, they are. They just don't have the SEC and Sarbanes-Oxley to contend with. In order to make the profits they're making they need their product to be in high demand and low supply. Hence, they need it to be illegal. Legalizing it, regulating it, taxing it would undercut their business model.

Once the profits start to dry up people will move onto other, more lucrative venues. Some legit, some not. The same thing happened when prohibition was repealed. A lot of people made a lot of money in a few years and then it all disappeared. They moved to other venues. Like politics.

Legalization and regulation is really no different than what is being done today. It's just a shift. Reduce the sentences for certain things and increase the sentences for others. The crack-head in the backyard's going to get a pretty stiff penalty. But if it's a guy smoking weed in his basement, what's the problem?

It won't get rid of the problem, but it will move a lot of them problem people out of the market. It's not a black or white issue. Not everything should be made legal. Some things are simply too dangerous to a lot of people. If you've got a substance that causes a high rate of psychotic episodes, you're probably not going to want to relax the regulations for it.

There are ways to make it work. Relax some of the sentences and fines for some drugs. Make them more available. Tax them. Use that money to pay for programs to ensure that people can control it. A habit is one thing, an addiction is something else. Instead of focusing on a punishment to control it, focus on things that keep people from making it a problem in their life in the first place.

Prostitution, though, is a different matter.

Prostitution as it exists today in most of the U.S. is a sticky issue (heh). But it's less the source of problems, and more of a symptom.

A professional sex worker who has chosen the job and is confident that he or she will be protected in that line of work is a very different person than the homeless woman giving $5.00 blowjobs in an Andy Gump on Skid Row.

Let's start with that second woman.

The problem isn't the blowjobs. The problem is that she's homeless. Maybe she's insane. Maybe she's selling herself to buy crack that's been cut with rat poison because it's cheaper and she can get more of it. She can't get a place to stay. When she goes to the hospital they won't hold her on a 5150 because the line's out the door and there are screaming GSW's in the hallways. Easier just to pack her up and have the County Sheriff drop her over on 5th and San Pedro with all the rest of the outcasts. If she's lucky the Midnight Mission might have a bunk for the night. If she's luckier she'll wake up the next day. Maybe.

You don't solve that by making prostitution legal or illegal. It's outside that and irrelevant. You solve that by helping people and instituting programs to get people to turn their lives around, or get the psychiatric care they need or the boost to get out of a bad situation.

But what about the professional who chooses the job because it's what he or she wants to do?

All moral and religious arguments aside, all questions on an individual's psychology and exploitation left alone, there is only one logical problem with unregulated prostitution. Disease.

The adult film industry out here in Los Angeles had an AIDS scare a couple of years ago. Some of the actors tested positive. The industry did what it could, halting productions across the southland and forcing everyone to come back in three months with a negative result. Well, the more visible ones did, at any rate. The thing is the industry did it itself, as there is no regulating body that oversees it.

Part of their solution was PR spin of course, but it heightened awareness in certain circles that this was a real problem. Not that it wasn't already known. Long before that some production companies, and even actors, were enforcing the use of condoms in their films.

Some good things have ultimately come out of this, though. Like SXCheck a program put together by the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation, which has partnered with a health lab to allow inexpensive STD exams. It's not a solution, but it's all they've got.

Nevada has had a lot of success with legalized prostitution. Any county that wants to allow legal prostitution can do so. Many of them do. Sex workers are required to get regular medical exams and the places of businesses are overseen by the state. Granted, how effectively is something else entirely. It's still a government agency with its own problems.

The point is, though, that they regulate it. Workers are protected like any other worker. The incidents of rape and violence are reduced substantially. Sorry, I don't have numbers to back that up. Still looking.

Like drugs, legalizing prostitution isn't about giving free rein. It's about doing it intelligently and about regulating it such that the people who engage in it are protected. There are still lines that need to be drawn, but I think those lines are too rigidly defined right now to be effective in protecting the people they are ostensibly designed to protect.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Stephen, why didn't you email me that? You could have guest blogged for tomorrow!

Definitely with you on the issue of disease. Sounds like there are some models in place with prostitution that make it look like a positive to legalize it.

You make good points about the homelessness and other aspects that go with prostitution and drug use. One of the things that happened in the GVA (greater Vancouver area) when they closed one of the mental hospitals was that those people had nobody regulating their meds anymore and they were fine on meds, but off they weren't able to function. So they ended up on the street, addicts, homeless, robbing and doing whatever to keep going. Looking at prostitution or drug use in isolation won't lead to answers, because some people lump all the street violence/crime into those categories and tend to think that if you legalize the biggies all the other issues go away.

And the issues of homelessness and the insane won't go away if you legalize the drugs and prostitution. So, going back to the seed that started it all on James' blog (the recent murders in the UK) legalizing prostitution might get those ladies off the street, but it doesn't get all women off the street. As others have said, legalizing prostitution doesn't eliminate the blackmarket. Interesting about Amsterdam - I guess the brothel overhead is enough to make a lot of people go for the back alley discount, and what that means is that you're left with some of the same problems you started with.

It's enough to give a person a headache.

Anonymous said...

"So, going back to the seed that started it all on James' blog (the recent murders in the UK) legalizing prostitution might get those ladies off the street, but it doesn't get all women off the street. As others have said, legalizing prostitution doesn't eliminate the blackmarket."

True. There will always be people who fall through the cracks. The trick is to make the cracks actual cracks, not gaping chasms. You can't save everybody. Hell, you can't save anybody, but we might as well try to help them save themselves.

We have an enormous problem here in Los Angeles with homelesness and poverty with people being dumped in Skid Row because no one wants to deal with them. There was a proposition passed (63? I don't remember) to give more money to the city for mental health facilities. That's all well and good, but it only solves a small part of the problem. And that's only if it's used effectively.

Poverty and drug use are the bigger issues. Then throw in the gangs dealing the drugs and exploiting people already too far gone to protect themselves. They;re selling heroin outside of methadone clinics. And the scary thing is that the place has improved since the LAPD increased their presence.

Evil Kev said...

if I live somewhere where I can smell someone else's smoke from their home, in all honesty it's my problem. There's a point where we're just butting into other people's business.

I am afraid I must disagree with Bill here. The cardinal rule of all civilized societies is "Do what you want as long as no one else is hurt"

So if you want to smoke pot, you are free to smoke it in your home. Millions of people are more than likely doing it already. But if you open a window and your smoke drifts into my house, then you have broken the sacred rule.

Whenever someone claims that they have the right to engage in a behavior in public, such as drug use, what is actually being inferred is their rights are superior to mine.

There is a non-smoking bylaw being enacted in Calgary that prohibits smoking in any public place. Is that unfair to smokers? Yes. But do they have the right to smoke wherever they want? No. Second-hand smoke causes negative health effects on others. I mean, can it be rationally argued that my right to engage in a behavior is more important than the fact I am shorten someone else's life when I do it?

We have the right to have privacy and to do pretty much whatever turns our crank in our own home, but that is where it ends.

As for prostitution, until the day that all men and women involved in it can say they are in it because it was a career choice and not homelessness or drug addition that is driving it, we need to chart a careful course. I have know men in the past who sought out prostitutes from high class escort agencies. Should they be arrested? I don't think so. But when the same man travels three blocks over and picks up a crack addicted prostitute, he knows that she is not a career woman but an outcast of society. The reality is that if there was no demand for street prostitution, it would disappear. The sad reality is that if it was legalized, the street prostitution would more than likely go underground and attract a certain kind of man who would want 'special things' that are best not described here.

And if you are drug addicted or homeless, you might find it very hard to say no.

Anonymous said...

evil kev, perhaps I can elaborate on my smoking point, and then either we'll continue to disagree or I will have explained myself better.

First off, I don't like smoke either. I completely support the no smoking in public places legislation that has been enacted and continues to gain ground is many locales for the very reasons you cite.

Regarding the smelling "someone else's smoke from their home," well, we've reached a point where my desires in the public space have collided with someone else's desires in their private space. Right now, in the summer, when my neighbor smokes on his back porch I can smell it while I'm out in the yard. I don't like it, but it's his home. Smoke that might drift my way when the breeze is out of the southwest, but not when its out of the east might bother me, but I have to, I believe, respect his right to smoke on his own property. What if he's a vegetarian and doesn't like the smell of me barbecuing on those days when the breeze is out of the east. It's smoke too, with its share of carcinogens.

Perhaps you would argue there should be no smoking at all. I don't know. And there might be a reasonable case made that the social costs of smoking would merit such a ban. I certainly wouldn't miss the secondhand smoke, but I think such a decision would be draconian and and unreasonable interference into an individual's right to make personal decisions within his or her domain.

For me, I have choices. If the smoke bothers me enough, I can ask him to smoke elsewhere. In fact we've discussed that, and while he's a nice guy who wants to be accomodating, he happens to enjoy a smoke on his back porch. Further, I could forgo the backyard in the warmer months, or move.

But I think, honestly, I would be out of line to interfere with his desire to smoke in his own home, whatever I think about it. He's already restricted just about anywhere in public. His home, no matter how I feel about the blowback, should remain, at least, his sanctuary from restrictions.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Oooh, I saw prostitution! :-) Let's legalize it. Hell, let's legalize everything! The system is fucked anyway! Woo!

-S.W., who is running on far too little sleep these days. Hey, Sandra, I'm OK now -- wanna send me some stuff? *G*

Trace said...

It is about personal choice. I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, to put it lightly. Many of the kids I grew up with spent time in prison. Not just jail. Prison. I'm lucky I'm not one of them. I'm lucky I had a brother who encouraged my writing at an early age, and who told me that I had a choice about who I wanted to be.

JamesO said...

And of course if you ban smoking totally, Bill, the smokers don't go away. They are forced underground where their addiction is fed by the same people hawking heroin outside methadone clinics. And you create another class of criminal at the same time.

'Care in the community' they so cleverly called it over here when they closed all the asylums and forced the mentally ill onto the streets in a bid to save money. Legalising prostitution and drugs is not going to do anything for these people, but how we deal with them humanely and safely is a whole other can of worms. Perhaps a rant for another day.

Anonymous said...

Here, here, evil kev! Very well said, I totally agree with you!