Tag: victimless crimes

The NYT’s Awful Op-Ed on Prostitution

The New York Times op-ed page has become all too often a haven for the worst writing and opinions America has to offer.  Naturally, with prostitution in the news, they found a horrible opinion piece to publish.

The article begins with a deliberate misinterpretation of a simple notion, that of a victimless crime.  A victimless crime is simply put, a “crime” where each party to the crime is engaging in the crime consensually, as opposed to the standard crime victim, who is involuntarily subjected to the crime in question.  To say, for example, that the drug trade is a victimless crime means nothing more than that both parties in a drug deal engage in it voluntarily.  That hardly means that no one suffers due to the drug trade.  However, the op-ed tries to use this term to pretend that victimless means that everyone involved is in no way suffering, a ludicrous claim.

The op-ed then goes into unsubstantiated and pointless digression:  

But most women in prostitution, including those working for escort services, have been sexually abused as children, studies show. Incest sets young women up for prostitution – by letting them know what they’re worth and what’s expected of them. Other forces that channel women into escort prostitution are economic hardship and racism.

Is anyone suggesting that incest in victimless?  Or for its legalization?

The paragraph coming shortly afterwards, however, is stunningly laughable:

Telephone operators at the Emperor’s Club criticized one of the women for cutting sessions with buyers short so that she could pick up her children at school. “As a general rule,” one said, “girls with children tend to have a little more baggage going on.”

Have the authors ever met anyone with a job before?  Few employers are enthusiastic about workers who cut out early to pick up their children.  And generally speaking, employer bias against parents is well-documented.  But the authors actually try to convey the attitude that employer dislike of employees cutting work short to pick up children is a shocking act, which is evidence of the victimization of sex workers.

Those of us who have campaigned for the legalization of sex work, along with other “victimless crimes”, are not doing so because we consider these activities beneficial or beatific.  We do so because we believe, as the evidence clearly shows, that forcing certain trades into the black market does nothing to prevent the activity and does considerable harm to both the workers in such industries and to society at large.  This idiotic and offensive op-ed does our cause harm, both by pretending that it is answering any of the arguments for the legalization of sex work and by sloppy and unsubstantiated claims which do not address any meaningful issue.

The Times should know better than to publish such garbage.  But I hope at least that I can help readers here not be taken in.