A Fantasy of Practicality
Comments Joe Bernstein to a post on prostitution:
If everyone can just stop the morality arguments for two minutes, and think of the practical results,something should be apparent.
I like less wasteful government spending. I think most people on this blog would agree.
Incarcerating women who engage in off-street prostitution is very expensive.It takes prison space that could be better used for dangerous individuals.The state will,in many cases,be put on the hook financially to support the children of incarcerated women.
If you’re conservative,this doesn’t make a lot of sense for a “crime” that is non violent in nature, and please spare me the crap about spreading STD’s. STD’s are mainly spread by ordinary people being careless.Most prostitutes who aren’t servicing drive up traffic on the street take precautions.
This is very similar to the ridiculous mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses.The prison is jammed with long term inmates who don’t pose a great danger to the general public.Drug dealer one never made a living for a minute without hordes of willing customers.If anyone here could’ve spent the nine years in narcotics enforcement that I did,they’d likely reach the same conclusion.
Meanwhile,sexual predators including pedophiles,manage to get released in too little time.THOSE are the people I’m willing to see my tax dollars spent on to keep locked down until they’re too old to function.
I’m not here on earth to preach to anyone else about what sin they commit by engaging in a behavior that is looked down upon by a lot of people.I’m way too burdened by my own shortcomings for that.
My attitude is that the government should spend money and time on tracking down and neutralizing those people who commit violent offenses and serious property crime.
By the way,my previous comments on drug offenders related to people on the lower end of the spectrum.Major traffickers are indeed dangerous to society,prticularly when they resort to frequent violence to achieve their ends.
The first thing to note is that the post to which Joe appended his comment did not make a moral argument, but a practical one — namely, that Rhode Island’s approval of prostitution on practical grounds will not create a firewall at our border making the business fundamentally different here than it is everywhere else. There’s a tendency in modern discourse to disregard the practical points of those who also promote morality, as if the former must be post facto scampering to layer an illusion of a considered opinion. The paradoxical effect can be the assumption that the immoral must be practical.
Whatever the case, because he did not address it, my argument applies as well to Joe’s comment: Making prostitution explicitly legal in Rhode Island will not cleanse the sex industry of its objectionable — and publicly expensive — elements. Rather, it will make Rhode Island a hub, a home base, for an industry that is illicit everywhere else and therefore habitually corrupt. A business that is built on bribes and political corruption in every other state will not resemble a mom and pop grocer just because it exists five minutes from a border between legality and illegality.
Moreover, sexual license at this degree, and of this degree of uniqueness, tends to lump together. People with sexual dysfunctions — especially in the extreme, like sexual predators — will have a natural affinity for a state in which prostitution is legal. Especially when another of that state’s iniquitous “loopholes” allows them to remain anonymous for longer than they should be able. It’s no mere coincidence, I’d suggest, that Rhode Island happens to be home to both policies.
Perhaps we should coin the term “fallacy of practicality” — or perhaps “fantasy” would be better. The notion that the sorts of people who are willing to engage in child sexual slavery will find Rhode Island’s acceptance of prostitution to be a hindrance rather than a boon is ludicrous. Our state, for example, was not included in a federal sting that is rescuing children from such a condition because slavery is legal, here. If anything, plucking an illegal version of an activity from the midst of a legal industry will require more extensive investigation.
That’s not to mention the additional costs that our being a beacon for the nation’s seedier elements will entail. Some of the costs will be in direct public safety, some in social spending, and then there will be the intangible cost to families and their children. Frankly, for all families’ willingness to endure the slings and arrows of Rhode Island’s misfortunes, the sex industry’s setting up shop in Little Rhody could be the final message that our little coastal playground for the rich and the corrupt is not intended to be a family friendly location. As the economy improves everywhere else but here, the growth of the sex trade in the state will certainly be added to my “why we should leave” list.
Prostitution can be made illegal without requiring that all women caught selling their bodies be thrown in prison. Unfortunately, the people who might put pressure on forthcoming legislation to mitigate that aspect are so enamored of the idea that they could take a principled stand despite moral reservations that they’re requiring the decision to be legal versus illegal. Rhode Islanders who are practical, moral, or both should support the “illegal” option and then advocate for compassion and thrift in the application of the law.