Monday Links

“Charlie bit me!”


  • To Whom It May Concern: How to Write a Business Letter That Gets Results
  • The second Jerusalem temple: Cool video of a recreation of the site.
  • The environmentalists clever plan to make earth human-free: Famine watch
  • … and if that doesn’t work, population control will: The Demographic Winter and the Barren Left
  • But at least the sexual revolution is going well: At Least 1 in 4 Teenage Girls Has an STD
  • Kunta Kinte, I found you!: Women who support legalizing prostitution are like moderate Muslims — everybody talks about ’em, but nobody seems to be able to identify one. But, Lo! I’ve found one! Megan McArdle, it turns out, won’t turn tricks herself (“It’s not my bag, baby!”) … but thinks it’s fine if others do: What’s sauce for the goose.

This last demonstrates well the thin gruel which so often constitutes libertarian thinking on this topic — Megan’s one bright cookie, and very level-headed on many subjects (see this discussion of gay marriage, although she flinches in the end and stays neutral). She points out, on legalizing prostitution, the problem of the widespread social stigma against it:

… can we all concede that at least part of the reason that women do not want to be prostitutes is that there is a severe social stigma attached to women who are promiscuous, and particularly to women who rent their promiscuity to men — a stigma far, far greater than that which attaches to their clients? … If I’d grown up in a culture that thought of “prostitute” as a job like “CPA” (another job I’d hate), I probably still wouldn’t want to be one. But the fact that I am repulsed by the idea of turning tricks, having grown up in a society that thinks there’s something deeply wrong with turning tricks, is not actually proof that there is something deeply wrong with turning tricks. … Your gut is not a good replacement for reasoning from first principles.

So I need a better reason than “it’s icky” or “there’s something wrong with a woman who would do that” to justify either a moral or a cultural ban on the practice. … I’d take some pretty strong convincing that prostitution is so inherently damaging to society that we should declare war on it. I start with the principles that sex has equal moral significance when performed by a man or a woman; that it isn’t anyone’s business how many or what kind of partners you choose; and that government intrusion on private, voluntary exchange should be sharply limited to a) practices which produce demonstrable harm to third parties, and b) you can reasonably expect to control. This quickly leads me to “don’t you have something better to do than poke your nose into someone else’s hotel room?”

I’ve covered this topic at greater length here and here, and a full response would require more time than I have at the moment. But one can make a very robust case that taking the most intimate relationship between man and woman, the means by which we both bond parents together as one and engender our very future, and turn it into a crass, exploitive, often abusive business transaction, is well worthy of its “severe social stigma” (yes, even more so than being a CPA) and illegal status.

And there’s lot’s of times when you want the government in your bedroom or hotel room — say, when someone’s there to rape or attack you, or bags of money are being exchanged to bribe politicians, to name just a few. The integrity of our private lives is an extremely valuable part of freedom, but it is not absolute. Undermining our foundational dependence as a society on the integrity of marriage and the raising of children — although perhaps more subtle than others — is one reason to intrude, in the very specific instance of prostitution, into this realm.

‘Nuf said — take care, and God bless.

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