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.