There are a myriad of laws on the books; federal laws, state laws, local ordinances. There are so many laws that sometimes I wonder that we aren’t all incarcerated or paying fines for some violation or other everyday.
I believe that we do no need a specific law where a broader law will suffice. We do not need a law against texting while driving, where the broader inattentive driving law would suffice. We do not need a specific child restraint law, where the broader child endangerment law would suffice.
I believe that we do not need laws tailored to corporate interests. As an example, we may need a regulation that says “Scotch” must come from Scotland, a law like 27 USC S205 & 27 CFR S5.22(k)(4) that makes it a federal crime to use “Scotch” for liquor not wholly produced in Scotland seems overkill, even more so when the law also includes the words “Scots” “Highland” “Highlands” and “other similar words commonly associated with Scotland.
I believe that we should be careful in how we apply morality to legislation. Laws against homosexual behavior, transgender dressing and gay marriage are examples of laws based on moral principles where the behavior being legislated did no harm. There are many examples of the religious or moral beliefs of one group of people coming into conflict with the behaviors of other groups of people. Behaviors as everyday as eating meat, drinking sugary beverages and eating fatty foods are prime examples. While consumer information and the protection of minors are important caveats, on the whole I believe that if no one else is being harmed, informed adults have the right to choose to behave as they wish. We don’t need laws to modify the behavior of informed and consenting adults.
“‘prostitutes’ are either consenting adults or they are victims of a crime. In both cases, they should not be viewed as breaking the law, and should not be arrested or prosecuted.”
A woman called the Shamokin Police Department recently to report a terrifying situation. She needed police protection, she explained, because she was “being forced to have sex with a man for money.” At this point, any of us would assume the authorities would react quickly, offering her protection, taking action to verify her claim and acting appropriately to end any criminal activity.
Instead of protecting the woman, she was arrested and charged with felonies including Prostitution and Criminal Use of a Communication Facility. Far from protecting her, she is now charged as a criminal, with her full name and hometown published in the media. All this from a plea for help. A woman who says she was forced into prostitution was arrested, along with her accused persecutors.
At the center of this horrific story is a simple problem with a simple solution. In a free society sex between consenting adults should be legal. It does not matter if money is involved, a new sports jacket, or a fancy dinner. What we call ‘prostitutes’ are either consenting adults or they are victims of a crime. In both cases, they should not be viewed as breaking the law, and should not be arrested or prosecuted.
Sex trafficking of any kind is abhorrent and should be stopped and the perpetrators dealt with appropriately. But by making sex for payment (prostitution) illegal, we make it harder for victims of trafficking and forced prostitution to come forward and seek protection. Like the woman in Shamokin, they risk arrest and incarceration for the crime of being abused by others. Criminalizing prostitution makes it easier for predators to take advantage of vulnerable people.
We need to change our laws to decriminalize victimless crimes and instead focus on protecting real victims and prosecuting real criminals. We can protect both our rights and protect the innocent by doing the right thing. We need to strike consensual adult prostitution from our books now.