I caught Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz on CNN last night standing in staunch defense of Eliot Spitzer. He named men such as Jefferson, Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Clinton who were great presidents despite their extramarital affairs. He went on to express his hope that Spitzer will not resign because a sexual misdemeanor does not affect the work of the politician--it just gives the public something to boo about.
'Tis true, however, that Spitzer is in hot water for more than just having an affair but also for soliciting a prostitute. One of Dershowitz's final comments was, "These laws are never forced against ordinary people." An excellent point! Now, if the public isn't held accountable for a law on a regular basis then should it still be a law? Not only that, but is an act that involves consensual adults really a crime? Bear with me, I'm not asking why prostitution is wrong--that I don't dispute--I'm asking why it's illegal.
Your reaction probably goes something like this, "It should remain illegal!"
"Why?" asks the universe.
"I don't know it just should!" you respond adamantly.
If we're so interested in waving a moral wand over other people's sexual transgressions, then why is adultery legal? As it stands now adultery is, as it should be, grounds for divorce but it is not considered criminal. You cannot call the police and report your spouse for being unfaithful, unless, of course, your spouse is being unfaithful with a prostitute.
In Jesus' time adultery was the worse crime. If you'll recall, Jesus had the easy task of stopping the Pharisees from verbally ostracizing a prostitute whereas he has to stop the crowd from actually killing an adulteress. They were heated and ready to hurl their rocks in her humiliated direction when he called them out on their hypocrisy, "Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone." Many people feel strongly that adultery is wrong, but that doesn't mean we want the law involved. Prostitution, too, is a private matter and should move its way into being a strictly moral issue rather than a legal one.
One knee-jerk response to the legalization of prostitution is "Well, if it's legal then they'll be more prostitutes." As a member of a group of young professional women I can assure you that we have never once sat around the cocktail table with our frustrated fists raised in the air, angry over our would-be careers as prostitutes If only it were legal!
Consider, for a moment, legality. Prostitution is now legal, and therefore can be regulated. Prostitutes can be required to take systematic STD tests, which will aide in abating the spread. Prostitutes can also seek legal recourse in the event that they suffer abuse at the hand of their employers or clients. There can be a legal age implemented--making it easier to spot minor prostitutes and, more importantly, the people who force them into such work. Finally, prostitutes will be tax-paying citizens, and the service itself can be taxed.
A friend of a friend of mine who had an encounter with a prostitute in Amsterdam, where it is legal, believes regulating prostitution is they key to ending it. His experience was not only passionless but downright clinical. Condoms, rubber gloves as well as an egg timer were used during his session. The liaison doesn't end when the body says so but rather when the timer goes off--putting a trip to the prostitute on par with a trip to the dentist.
Prostitution is not referred to as the world's oldest profession for nothing. We can deny it happens all we want, but that won't make it go away. Both you and I interact on a regular basis with people who've been with prostitutes, and we'll never know because these people are nice. They're hardworking. They're successful and interesting--just like Eliot Spitzer. They shouldn't be stripped of their professional merit for their sexual indiscretions. What they do, and maybe even what we do, behind closed doors should stay there. It's time to consider prostitution as a waste of law enforcement, and certainly media, time and energy.
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