Monday, March 10, 2008

Spitzer and Sex

The news of the day is that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has been caught by a federal wiretap soliciting a high-priced prostitute.

Leaving aside all the other admittedly interesting details, I hope we limited-government types—including William F. Buckley and National Review—are in agreement that prostitution is a private, not a governmental, matter.

Here's Reason's Cathy Young: "As with other victimless crimes, the criminalization of prostitution creates a vast breeding ground for corruption, hypocrisy, and morally dubious law enforcement tactics. Thus, open advertisement of escort services is widely tolerated under the flimsy pretext that clients are paying for companionship, 'modeling,' 'role play' and other non-sexual activities, and that when sex occurs it's by mutual choice unrelated to any fees. Selective enforcement is the norm, as is entrapment. Anti-prostitution campaigns are also frequently accompanied by the Big Brother-ish practice of state-sponsored public shaming. Not to mention how black market constitution makes it more difficult to police the sex slave trade, where the prostitutes really are victims."

Here's Deroy Murdock
: "As in so many places where police and prosecutors poke their noses, this is something else that should be none of government's damn business ... [W]hy ... does trading cash for intimacy merit handcuffs and indictments? If coercion or minors are involved, please call 911. Otherwise, police, prosecutors, judges, and juries have more urgent concerns than oppressing those who profit by comforting the lonely."

And here's Steve Chapman: "Legalizing prostitution would not be a moral endorsement of paid sex, any more than the First Amendment is a moral endorsement of supermarket tabloids. It would just be a recognition of the right of adults to make their own choices about sins of the flesh—and of the eternal futility of trying to stop them."

Related: Radley Balko, "But Whatever You Do, Don’t Legalize It."


Leslie said:

Great post, Jonathan. Needed to be said amidst the witch hunt du jour. Reason's Cathy Young is once again spot on, as are your sensibilitie here on the issue of prostitution.

Anonymous said:

Thanks Leslie! This old essay of mine, "Black Markets vs. Free Markets," might also interest you.