At a recent 'Stop-the-Brothel' meeting for example (described here by Julian Pistorius), Maxim's Scott McMurray "implied that Doubtless Bay will turn into the sex-capital of Northland ... [and] tried to prove that prostitution was always harmful, and that this harm should be 'prevented' by stopping prostitution altogether." But as Julian points out, "laws are not there to protect people from their own bad choices, but only to protect the individual's rights from being violated by others."
The puritan, of course, ignores that point. The puritan has a view of what people should be doing, and insists on imposing that view on others. The puritan, said HL Mencken, is one who lives in constant fear that someone, somewhere, is having a good time ... and they just want to put a stop to it. Puritans appear when you least expect them -- perhaps we all have our inner prude? -- but the responsible puritan knows when prudery is appropriate, and when to tuck it up safely at home.
You might point out to the puritan that prostitution is simply about sex and about money, and ask them which it is they object to, and what gives them the right to interfere in other people's business? Or you might point out that it is their interference in other people's business that it is the real problem here.
Sadly, there are too many people about who will always wish to make your business their business. Not content merely with their own prudery, they wish to impose their straight-laced wowserism on those it repels, and to legislate moral standards for those who already have their own -- never mind whose business it is; never mind the wrong of letting the government intrude into our bedrooms; and never mind that any such intrusion never stops the behaviour they say they are trying to stop -- it simply drives it underground, removing the law's protection from practitioners.
Point out to the puritan the problems attendant on their rampant prudery and their attempted imposition of it upon sundry others, and they stamp their feet, hold their breath and count from zero to infinity until they're apoplectic. They refuse to listen, but the error of their position doesn't disappear so convieniently. Perhaps these puritans could take a leaf from Ayn Rand's book, specifically the recently released 'Best of her Q & A'). Asked whether society's so-called vices such as "dope peddling, bootlegging gambling and prostitution" should be forbidden by law:
In answer to your ... question: No, [such vices] should not be forbidden. Some of these practices are improper. Prostitution is evil by almost any standard of morality. So long as it itsn't forced on anyone however -- so long as a woman chooses to engage in that kind of activity (one shouldn't call it a profession) and some men take advantage of it -- that is between them and not the business of society. It is their moral degradation; but it should not be a legal crime -- society has no right to forbid it. The same applies to selling drugs.'But,' cry some prudes in an attempt to disguise their busybody motives, 'the issue of prostitution isn't one of legislating morals. It's one of "safety." It's one of "harm reduction".' Well, all I can say in reply to such claims is: "Nonsense." "Safety" here is a proxy argument for puritanism. "Harm reduction" is a smokescreen for poking their nose into other people's business.
These people don't really give a shit about the women they claim to want to protect from harm. The "harm reduction" they call for would create serious and very real harms for the very women they claim criminalisation would somehow protect, just as it did before prostitution was successfully legalised -- harm to the women (and men) employed in the industry, who are put beyond the law's protection by being put outside the law by puritanism and ignorance.
If the puritans are successful once again in from criminalising the practice of prostitution, they will cause harm both to those employed in the activity and also to those from whom the choice is removed. Here's why: Women who choose to be gainfully employed in prostitution have made a choice. They make the choice because to them -- to them -- however unattractive the work, the choice to do it is better than all the other alternatives they might have.
What gives the puritan the authority to deny the right of these women to choose for themselves a better life in their eyes?
Indeed, if the puritans are right in what they say -- if prostitution is really and truly as bad as all their charts, stats and Powerpoint shows say it is -- then the alternatives open to the women who choose it are clearly few and far between, and worse even than what they do choose. If the puritans are right about how bad it is, then just how bad are the other choices open to the women who choose it for themselves, and how bad would it be to remove that choice? The puritan wishes to deny them the right to make what (to them) is a better choice than anything else they can be doing.
How much worse does the puritan make it for those women who do still choose to undertake that path for themselves? If the puritans really had their way and they do manage to recriminalise prostitution (because as I'm sure you know, making it illegal won't make it stop), they are quite prepared to see people either forced into those other, less preferable alternatives (to them), or foreced out beyond protection of the law.
The puritan seeks to ensure that no one, anywhere, is having more fun than they are, or is having their fun in a way that offends them. They should learn to keep their nose out of other people's busines, and perhaps to get on with sorting out their own sorry lives.
LINKS: Dr Neil Benson's Brothel - Julian Pistorius
Summary position on the Prostitution Reform Bill - Maxim Institute
Ayn Rand answers: The best of her Q & A' - Robert Mayhew