Individual liberty means freedom to buy, sell sexuality

I have never been a fan of Rhode Island. It's the runt of our country and last of the original colonies to accept the Constitution. Plus, I was rejected by Brown. Communists. Yet Rhode Island has one redeeming quality: legal private prostitution. The Supreme Court of Rhode Island decided that prostitution can be legal in the privacy of a home.

However, due to increased pressure, the state legislature this summer passed legislation to ban all forms of prostitution. Other state and local governments are taking even further steps. Kansas City is proposing legislation that will ban convicted prostitutes from being on certain streets. Some may view this as an affirmation of sound values, but this action is yet another example of America going in the wrong direction concerning individual rights.

Originally, our nation's leaders were not opponents of this practice. I'm fairly certain the industry flourished from Benjamin Franklin's business alone. It was not until the moral movement of the early 20th century that prostitution was made illegal. Just like prohibition, the banning of this service developed from one group forcing their morality upon every citizen. This is the opposite of the role our government was intended to have. The government was made to be a liberator, not a tool to force one set of virtues upon the rest.

Now, I've never hired a prostitute. I've never even thought of ... well, I've never hired a prostitute. But I firmly believe that, given proper regulation, there is no reason for this ban. The act of prostitution does not harm anyone. No physical harm is done, no property is stolen, and no rights are violated. It is giving money for a service. It is capitalism, and capitalism is just as American as warm apple pie. There are also benefits for the country when we decriminalize prostitution. This would create a new service that can be taxed and would certainly be popular.

Think of how successful the pornographic industry is in America, and, with prostitution, you don't have to use a computer mouse. After all, wouldn't it be nice to see Americans funding our public schools, national security and health insurance with smiles on their faces?

In response to these points, opponents argue that prostitution is not as innocent as supporters claim. They demonstrate abuse in the practice, women who are forced into prostitution against their will. It is true that this is a problem. Yet, it is a problem that exists because prostitution is criminal in most areas. Like so many times before, government criminalization has only driven the practice underground where such abuses are much more easily made. With decriminalization, there would be much less human trafficking and far fewer fuzzy, purple suit-wearing men. Once prostitution is decriminalized, it becomes much easier to regulate. See prohibition for details.

But regulation also increases safety in another way: cleanliness. A significant problem with prostitution is the spread of sexually transmitted infections. The government could require these professions to adhere to a health standard for both the businesses and workers. I'm already looking forward to the public service announcements with, say, Meryl Streep and Joe Biden telling us how to be safe.

In the end, there are no practical reasons that stand against the decriminalization, especially with the financial benefits. All opponents can do, and most of what they are doing, is point fingers and say that the people involved are sinful and their lifestyles are wrong. The problem with using this argument is that, eventually, someone's finger is pointing at you. The best path for America is to let people live their lives. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, those willing to give up some essential cash for some temporary pleasure, deserve to do so.

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