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Is this a good use of police and prosecutors? I think not.
February 28, 2007 | Permalink
And why not? Should we sniggeringly speculate about whether you were a customer?
The state has clear public health interests in regulating prostitution, as any epidemiologist could tell you.
We don't need to go beyond that to morals, values, value development, equality, social justice, or any of that stuff which is anathema for libertarian ideologues.
Considering how much prostitution is suppressed by these infrequent cases, it's probably quite efficient.
Mike Huben |
March 01, 2007 at 04:51 AM
If prostitution were legal and operated above board, why wouldn't prostitutes require that customers be tested or use condoms, and why wouldn't customers only frequent prostitutes if they are tested or use condoms? Both sides have an incentive to protect themselves.
Some libertarians would surely accept even government licensing and regulation of prostitution, which is impossible while it is illegal.
Even apart from this, why is prostitution somehow more dangerous than mere promiscuity? STDs don't travel by money... Or would you suggest that we outlaw premarital sex?
March 01, 2007 at 11:29 AM
Why don't you read something about the dynamics of that industry, instead of asking silly questions. Start with pimps, customer violence, low-end services, etc.
Prostitution doesn't need to be more dangerous to add to the transmission of STDs. Presumably, many of the customers are unable to achieve promiscuity without paying for it. Maybe you should read a little about the importance of highly connected disease vectors (such as prostitutes) in the epidemiology of STDs.
Mike Huben |
March 02, 2007 at 04:24 PM
The existence of customer violence is almost entirely a result of the prohibition itself (look at evidence from Nevada: http://jiv.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/20/3/270).
I agree that "highly connected disease vectors" play an important role in the transmission of STDs. However, the government cannot mandate the use of protection if prostitution is illegal. Whether legalizing prostitution should be accompanied with regulation is a question libertarians would debate about, but I don't see why you would be against legalizing prostitution so that it can be regulated. This would almost certainly reduce violence and the transmission of disease.
Finally, your point that those who frequent prostitutes are unlikely to be generally promiscuous is well taken. That means that even if a prostitute didn't use protection (very unlikely) the customers are both less likely to have STDs to give and less likely to spread them if contracting them. An especially promiscuous individual would be more likely to have more promiscuous partners, and would cause much more harm by spreading STDs.
March 02, 2007 at 08:51 PM
You are misinterpreting the journal article: the customer violence would persist if prostitution were merely legalized. The restraint of the violence is due to "public scrutiny, official regulation, and bureaucratization", the article claims. Those are hardly consistent with the libertarian notion of laissez faire legalization.
You also misunderstand my other points. Government can increase use of protection without legalization, as it has with needle exchange programs. Mandates are not the only form of government action.
As I mentioned at first, there are loads of other reasons why we may want to keep prostitution illegal: "morals, values, value development, equality, social justice, or any of that stuff which is anathema for libertarian ideologues."
And finally, your last paragraph misses the point that the prostitutes are the highly connected disease vectors, and without heavy government regulation they would be likely to spread aids to the "unlikely to be promiscuous". You need only look at the spread of AIDS in Africa to see how serious this problem is. There, prostitution is either legal or effectively legal because of lack of enforcement.
Mike Huben |
March 04, 2007 at 04:16 PM
I still don't understand why prostitutes are more dangerous than mere promiscuous men or women. If you want to ban prostitution because of the risk of disease, you should be in favor of banning having sex with equal frequency to a prostitute.
The fact that these men and women are ones who would not, without the existence of prostitution, have sex is irrelevant. Should online dating services be banned because without their existence, many people wouldn't have sex that could lead to STDs?
Also, though I disagree with some libertarians about this, I believe that having sex with someone without informing them of STDs you have could be considered fraud or even assault. The extent to which one has to ensure that one is disease-free is debatable. Anyway, the transfer of money from one party to another is morally insignificant.
In addition, the violence that would be prevented by legalization is not a result of regulation but a result of prostitutes being allowed to enforce their contracts through the public system. Police protection of prostitutes is currently inconsistent and unreliable.
Anyway, your real concern, clearly, is with your moral beliefs about prostitution, and there we simply disagree. I would ask, however, why paying for sex is a moral crime, and why it should be punished by government and not, let's say, by God. The fact that you cannot escape from is that paying a healthy, disease-free person for sex, without any violence or coercion, is in every sense a victimless crime. Everything else that you protest against are contingent effects of prostitution that can easily be addressed on their own.
March 05, 2007 at 12:04 AM
Mike, I have several points of disagreement with your view. As a result of prostitution being illegal, information becomes vastly vastly more A symetric. When the provider operates in the dark of the night or in the case of prostitution, in secrecy, then the customers ability to have good information becomes severly reduced. Just because prostitution is illegal does not mean that demand is neccesarily reduced. The dynamics of the market merely change as is easily observable with drugs. You simply cant believe that buying sex on the black market is safer for the customer or provider as opposed to a brick and morter operation.
Also, what is ethical about improsining people based upon voluntary exchange. That is absolute facism and tyranny of the worst form. One group of human beings passing a SUBJECTIVE judgement on the lifestyle choices of others is one thing, pining for legislation in order to prevent volitional exchange is disgusting and you should be ashamed of yourself for being a promoter of such facism.
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This is always going to be one of those sticky situations, similar to that of marijuana. On one hand, it is something the govt could tax, but is it morally right?
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