SFDebate : Listen, Speak, Discuss, Understand


This House would Legalize Prostitution

Approved (Approx 10:6)
Write up by Dylan

The meeting started with two teams of three, each person was given 4 minutes to speak. Then the debate was opened to the floor.

Beau started by emphasizing the issue that making prostitution illegal is to take a basic freedom away from the people. In addition to this they made the argument that prostitution is protected under our right to privacy in the 14th amendment. Also, a benefit of making prostitution legal is that society could use the tax revenue being lost to the black market.

Deborah emphasized the human cost of prostitution, what alternative careers might these people have gotten into, and what happens to them if they contract an STD. In addition, by making prostitution legal, would brothels become as common as Starbucks, and would that devalue the female brand?

Malcolm argued that if prostitution were legal, the prostitutes could unionize, and union dues could cover healthcare. Also, re-emphasizing the freedom issue, they made the argument that in a free society, freedom of contract should be the default, and the against side had the burden of proof.

Narcisse made the point that governments role is remind people of correct choices. Also, looking at Thailand, would we want prostitution that prevalent in our society? Also, if legal, government resources devoted to prostitutes (eg Social Security) might outweigh any tax revenue from it.

Maya reminded us that we were talking about the worlds oldest profession, and there is no getting rid of it. Since we are stuck with it, she argued, we have an obligation to improve their lives. She brought up statistics that a study of Nevada brothels found that prostitutes were healthy and none had contracted HIV. Also, by legalizing prostitution, more power would shift to the prostitutes, which would decrease the amount of violence. Also the point was made that police are busy harassing prostitutes to no real effect, while worse crimes are being committed.

Tom was concerned that only the young and disadvantaged were drawn to this profession, and if legal all the money would flow into the hands of businessmen, not improving the lives of the prostitutes. Also, there is currently immigration from developing economies where women are tricked and taken advantage of, and he was concerned this would get worse if prostitution became legal. Reminding how close to home this hits, he reminded us that this is happening in SF currently.

Selected topics of the floor discussion:

Phillip reminded us the this was another attempt of government trying to legislate morality, which is a war that will never be won.

Wassib made a comparison to tobacco, it has harmful effects, but currently taxes go to schools and hospitals to offset this.

Cary started off a long discussion if we could draw a parallel between the pornography industry and prostitution. If we legalize prostitution, should we also legalize drugs from the same arguments? If we keep illegal, should we make alcohol illegal for the same reasons? Dan took the side that because pornography is legal, we have been able to effectively ban exploitation in it. Narcisse averred that pornography and prostitution are too far apart to make good parallels.

James made the controversial assertion that prostitution is a decent and profitable career some, including an acquaintance he has made. Linda disagreed, saying that okaying prostitution is equivalent to okaying rape. Dan made the point that not only prostitutes hate their job, so do others. Narcisse made the point that even though many people hate their job, prostitutes hate their jobs in a different, worse way.

Pleaase feel free to add your thoughts below....

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