Monday Highlights

Good morning.

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  1. Demand.

    Or, instead of engaging in the conservative War on Human Nature, we could legalize and regulate prostitution so that the demand which is not going anywhere could be met by “suppliers” who are neither children nor coerced nor mistreated. Seriously, how many thousands of years are we going to fight prostitution by driving it underground until we realize criminalization causes more problems than it solves.

    The current system encourages child trafficking as well as adult slavery. It also encourages STD transmission, violence, and drug use. If prostitution were legalized and regulated, there would still be some demand for child prostitution and unregulated (and illegal) adult prostitution, but it would be drastically reduced by safe and legal adult prostitution.

  2. Sorry about the runaway bold.

  3. Mark says:

    Fixed. And besides you point about legalizing (and regulating) prostitution, … uhm, do you agree or disagree with the point of the linked post, that punishing the prostitutes makes less sense than going after the johns … if you’re going after anyone.

  4. uhm, do you agree or disagree with the point of the linked post,

    I don’t know. That seems like an easy question to find empirical data for, though, given the variety of law enforcement techniques. It doesn’t strike me as ridiculous to go after the supply rather than the demand, though — the demand may very well be intractable, as I argued above. We punish drug dealers more harshly than drug users as well.

    So it depends how you’re looking at it. If your goal is to reduce prostitution — and you insist on keeping it illegal — punishing the prostitutes is probably more efficient than punishing the johns. There is some possibility of reducing demand by deterrent — say by instituting a death penalty for johns, but again, that’s an empirical question.

    Morally, of course, I don’t see why prostitutes are worse than johns, unless you count frequency of acts.

  5. Anne says:

    If drug enforcement targets dealers, then prostitution enforcement would target pimps, “follow the money”. As you (JA) point out, too many of the prostitues / low-level suppliers are children or coerced or mistreated. They’re victims of the profiteers, and the ones profiteering off of human misery should be the ones most targeted by the cops. I mean, if you bust a street-level drug dealer he’ll be replaced tomorrow; if you bust the ringleader (pimp) you might make a dent for more than a day.

    Though as long as people see using each other for money as morally acceptable, prostitution will be a problem. I don’t think mainstreaming it via legalization would be a step forward …

    Take care & God bless
    Anne / WF

  6. Boonton says:

    As a practical matter, though, it is easier to arrest prostitutes just as it is easier to arrest street level dealers. If your assertion is correct, this may not be a bad thing. How would cops liberate children or coerced prostitutes if they aren’t allowed to arrest them when they find them?

    Also I think the prostitute as victim of street pimp meme is over played. A lot of prostitutes are doing what they are doing because it is the most efficient way to feed a drug habit or aquire immediate cash….just as many men do B&E’s for the same reason, not because some ringleader is coercing them to do so. Even with legal prostitution, which I’d go along with on some levels, you’d still have to keep street level prostitution illegal and arresting prostitutes is going to be part of that. Arrest doesn’t mean being beaten by the cops with sticks, it often means little more than taking someone off the street for a few days and maybe sticking them with some probation and fines. We aren’t talking about anyone getting 5 years here!

    Another practical matter, most of the time there isn’t a lot of people on the supply side but there is on the demand side. On the street level, I’d imagine that 50 working prostitutes would be more than enough to make a major ‘red light’ area. The police could easily clean up the neighborhood by making 25-35 arrests. On the other hand arresting 50 Johns may only make a minor dent in the local market for prostitution. I suspect many local police arrest Johns as a way to generate revenue for the town and arrest prostitutes when they actually want the town to clean itself up.