Taking Down Another Failed Prohibition

A focal point of cable news coverage over the course of this past summer and early autumn centered around porn star Stormy Daniels and her claims of an affair with President Donald Trump, and all the coverage was focused on the tabloid news fodder of Trump and Daniels meeting up and breaking the sanctity of his marriage. A much more interesting, though risky, angle to cover with this story would be through the lens of criminal justice reform in the United States.

For starters, the profession that Ms. Daniels has chosen is that of porn star, an occupation in which one is compensated for performing sexual acts on camera. This is a completely legitimate business, one that is a multi-billion-dollar behemoth and is estimated to be up to 30% of all data on the internet, hardly a niche product in American culture even if many find it vulgar, tasteless, and degrading.

Where an issue arises is in the hypocrisy of our views and laws, wherein porn is considered a legal, regulated business that pays individuals to engage in lewd sexual acts, but prostitution is a crime that punishes individuals for exchanging goods and participating in consensual sex. They are the same thing, yet one offers an income and the other offers penalties and jail time.

Fortunately, the Libertarian Party, just this year, became the first major political party in the United States to stand and support sex -worker rights, and dedicated a plank of the party platform to championing “the decriminalization of prostitution.”

“We assert the right of consenting adults to provide sexual services to clients for compensation, and the right of clients to purchase sexual services from consenting sex workers,” is the exact phrasing from the party’s platform.

It should be noted that this is by no means an endorsement of nor turning a blind eye to the very real issue of human trafficking that is taking place all over the world, and it is also not an invitation for libertine debauchery to take place in the streets of communities from Maine to California. Rather, the idea of bringing this business into the open would make it much easier to eradicate the unsavory aspects of its existence.

The biggest benefit that would come from the decriminalization of prostitution, much like the tide of marijuana legalization slowly creeping through the country, is to bring a maligned and shunned sector of society into the light and to offer people a chance to live their lives as they see fit without having the black cloud of fines, jail time, and a blemished record hanging over their head for making a personal decision. Just as the prohibition of drugs offers an opening for violent gang activity and physical harm for people consuming possibly tainted substances, the prohibition of prostitution has left sex-workers vulnerable with no real protections. The criminalization of consensual sex chased the market into the shadows of society with the lowest common denominator of people, and the cycle of relegating it to that world and then pointing to those dark aspects as the reason it shouldn’t be decriminalized is intellectually dishonest and hypocritical from a population that allows for the booming business of pornography.