We’ve argued (for a while) for closing the loophole in Rhode Island law that enables indoor prostitution. It’s an issue upon which conservatives, independents and some progressives have found common ground. For instance, Democratic Rep. Joanne Giannini and URI Women’s Studies professor Donna Hughes are just two of several progressives who have kept the pressure on the General Assembly to close this loophole and get tougher on the related practice of human trafficking. Currently, the legislative effort is stalled in the Rhode Island Senate, though there are promises of movement.
Yet, not all progressives agree with closing the loophole. Some continue to oppose making indoor prostitution illegal, basically arguing that current efforts to close the loophole, if successful, will only further victimize those who have turned to prostitution. Though I don’t agree with him on the issue of legalizing prostitution, Brian Hull has probably set forth the most cogent argument and, like other progressives, seeks to delineate between sex-trafficking and prostitution. (I do agree with Hull on some things, particularly when it comes to rehabilitating prostitutes. For instance, there has to be a better way to reduce recidivism than the fine-them-back-the-streets approach).
More recently, Hull has defended the practice of indoor prostitution (“Criminalizing Prostitution Will Be Very Bad for RI“), stating that:
…by criminalizing prostitution, the state sacrifices people’s personal freedom to engage in consensual commercial sex work in order to ‘protect’ a small number of exploited sex workers who could and should be protected using other mechanisms, but aren’t.
This argument is akin to that used by pro-abortion advocates: let’s make
abortion prostitution, safe, legal and rare. But this only works if we accept the premise that prostitution should be legal because, we are to further assume, it’s a consensual commercial transaction between consenting adults and, for the most part, that will be the rule (not the exception) if it is legalized. The majority of Rhode Islanders–and the vast majority of people in the other 49 states–simply do not accept that premise. We can’t escape the inherent seediness of someone selling their body for money. So, though they have tried, Hull and other progressives simply haven’t been able to convince people that prostitution can be sanitized as something that can be made manageable and victimless.
But some pro-prostitution progressives will go much farther than advocating with the pen (or pixel). Over the last week, employees of the progressive organization ACORN in three offices (first Baltimore, then Washington, D.C. and New York) encouraged the setting up of bordello’s–“indoor prostitution” businesses–and even lent guidance on how to avoid paying taxes, etc. Worse yet, they offered advice on how to engage in the illegal sex-trafficking of minors from places like El Salvador to the United States. It seems that, at least to these ACORN offices, prostitution and sex-trafficking are linked. And are to be encouraged.