There’s a ballot measure that people will vote on Tuesday in San Francisco that would decriminalize prostituion, did you know that? What do you think of that?
Evelyn Nieves of the Associated Press wrote a story about this a week or so ago, and I must admit, I hadn’t heard about this initiative until them. Her lead paragraph in that story says…
SAN FRANCISCO (Oct. 21) – In this live-and-let-live town, where medical marijuana clubs do business next to grocery stores and an annual fair celebrates sadomasochism, prostitutes could soon walk the streets without fear of arrest. San Francisco would become the first major U.S. city to decriminalize prostitution if voters next month approve Proposition K — a measure that forbids local authorities from investigating, arresting or prosecuting anyone for selling sex.
The ballot question technically would not legalize prostitution since state law still prohibits it, Nieves explains in her story, but the measure would eliminate the power of local law enforcement officials to go after prostitutes. “Proponents say the measure will free up $11 million the police spend each year arresting prostitutes,” she reports.
The measure is opposed by nearly everyone in the city’s political establishment, Ms. Nieves says. But it does bring up an interesting question. Should government regulate human sexual behavior (other than obvious laws against child abuse or rape)?
A person can already buy sex without fear of arrest in two states. Brothels exist everywhere in rural counties in Nevada. And — did you know this? — Rhode Island permits the sale of sex behind closed doors between consulting adults, but it prohibits street prostitution and brothels, the AP story says.
And it’s not as if prostitution is new to San Francisco. You can find “ladies of the night” on many streets in that city at any given time. The Mission District is rife with them — one recent check by Nieves found six woman plying their trade on one block.
I haven’t seen a great deal of evidence that this kind of tolerance has created crime problems in Amsterdam (I have been to that city often in the past 13 years and know people who live there). On the contrary, it has reduced street crime tremendously. Do you think the same thing would happen in San Francisco? Is it time for us to stop legislating morality? Or is there a good reason for society to make prostitution illegal — a reason not seen or grasped by the good citizens of Holland?
What do you think?