Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Why is Prostitution Illegal?

With Senator Vitter back in the news today, I though this would be a good time to say what must be said about prostitution: it should be legal.

The United States has some of the strictest anti-prostitution regulation/enforcement anywhere in the world outside of the Middle East. Why? Moralistic impulse. I have never understood why one individual cannot pay another for sexual acts. While it may give us a nice little 'holier than thou' buzz to condemn it, condemnation accomplishes nothing.

Actually, I would argue the opposite. Because prostitutes must deal in the black market, they are a diffuse shadowy bunch. Why is that important? It is important because it attracts a criminal element. The lowly ranks are populated by the drug and disease infested dregs of society. If it were legal it could be regulated and contained.

Opponents of prostitution normally cite the spread of diseases as one of the reasons for making it illegal, but legalization would lessen the threat. Having a license regime could force prostitutes to be tested for STD's and AIDS. No paying customer in their right mind would contract a partner without this license because their risk of disease would be multiplied dramatically. Bordellos would be placed in designated areas (similar to strip clubs in red light districts) removing the need for 'street walkers' and 'pimps'.

It may be tough to look at the issue systematically because of Americans immediate impulse to take a moralistic stance, but the logic is undeniable. 'Prostitution is bad, therefore it must be illegal' is a horrible argument but it works on election day.


BillT said...

"If selling stuff is legal, and havin' sex is legal, how come selling havin' sex ain't legal?" - George Carlin

I've also heard public health argued as a reason to ban prostitution. The logic of the argument escapes me.

I think prostitution should be legal because there is no argument other than a personal religious belief system against it. I respect people's rights to belief systems, but I don't agree that we should legislate every belief. In fact, I'd argue that we shouldn't legislate many beliefs at all.

Matt said...

You sound like a Libertarian to me. Just give in and support Ron Paul.