Monday, October 4, 2010

The argument for legalizing prostitution

Occasionally I air my libertarian views on controversial subjects on Tech-media-tainment. I did so recently when I wrote about efforts to legalize marijuana.
I come down on the side of personal choice and freedom on many issues. And just as freedom of speech means having to allow speech you disagree with, personal freedom means accepting other lifestyle choices.
Debates about legalizing prostitution, a.k.a. the world’s oldest profession, have been going on for ages. Politicians rarely touch the issue because they worry about offending voters, especially religious constituents.
But the topic of legalizing prostitution seems to be coming up more and more online these days.
Last week, an Ontario court struck down key provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws in a case that could set a precedent for the country, according to the Associated Press.
“Prostitution itself is not illegal in Canada, but the court struck down three provisions that criminalized most aspects of it,” the AP stated. “Communicating for the purposes of prostitution, pimping and operating a brothel were decriminalized under the court’s ruling.”
Internet classifieds service Craigslist shut down its adult services section last month under pressure from several vocal politicians. A number of columnists and pundits have used the episode to point out that criminalizing prostitution is not something the government should be involved in.
“Consensual sex between adults, whether or not money changes hands, is beyond the proper scope of government,” an editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times said.
Legalizing prostitution would make it safer for the women who choose such a professional, a column on Bnet.com argued. As a legal business, it could be taxed and monitored for abuses (such as human trafficking and child exploitation).
Some have noted that prostitution is on the rise because of the poor economy and high unemployment.
Last spring, a registered nurse and divorced mother of four from Chappaqua, N.Y., was arrested and charged with prostitution after an undercover police officer saw a Craigslist ad she allegedly posted offering sex for money, according to NBC New York.
This isn’t the sort of thing I believe police and courts should be spending taxpayer money on.

Other interesting articles:

Prostitution can have a place in society (Las Vegas Sun; Oct. 4, 2010)

Five myths about prostitution (Washington Post; Sept. 12, 2010)

The Stats Behind Prostitution (Visual Academy, 2010)

Thoughts From a Former Craigslist Sex Worker (Huffington Post; Sept. 7, 2010)

The Family Prostitute (LA Weekly; Sept. 2, 2010)

Photos: Posters of movies that depict prostitution – “Belle de Jour” (1967) and “The Girlfriend Experience” (2009).

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