What is the difference between a prostitute and a pornographic movie star? One gets paid for sexual services while the other gets paid for sexual services that third parties get to watch. One constitutes illegal prostitution and the other is considered entertainment.
What is the difference between a “john” who solicits a prostitute and someone who promotes and sells porn videos? One sells physical sexual stimulation of the body and the other sells sexual stimulation of the mind, usually to enhance the effectiveness of his own sexual activity. What really is the difference and why is one illegal, but not the other?
If prostitutes were smart, they would all move into the entertainment business by offering acting services for people who want to star in their own porn video. As long as their business is oriented towards the production of resale-quality porn, or even just audition-quality porn, which is a legitimate business activity, it should be completely legal. Not only would this keep the “performers” out of jail, it would certainly increase their income due to the added value of the services provided, the elimination of all fear of prosecution, and the ability to maintain a safe place of business. They would no longer need abusive pimps to protect them, and could rely upon video surveillance and hired security guards to do the job. As a business, they could be sued if they passed on sexually transmitted diseases to their customers, thus increasing the incentive to engage in safe sex.
Of course, all this is just an artificial way of getting around a law that makes no sense, since all that it does is to restrict business activity between consenting adults. This activity has always existed and will always exist as long as there is an imbalance between the supply and demand for sex. In the case of heterosexual sex, there will always be a shortage of females willing to engage in sex and there will always be a high demand on the part of males to buy what they cannot get in sufficient quantity or quality elsewhere. What makes sex for money wrong?
What is the difference between drinking alcohol and taking drugs? One is a liquid substance made from natural products that impairs one’s mental faculties, while the other can be a liquid, solid or gaseous substance made from natural products that impairs one’s mental faculties. What really is the difference? The nation gladly reversed the prohibition of alcohol once it became evident that most people opposed it and that it spawned criminal activities that required a costly war to suppress. So, it isn’t a matter of whether or not alcohol is bad for you. It is simply a matter of social choice to live with the benefits as well as the costs of alcoholism and drunken behavior. Obviously, the many benefits of alcohol (Girls Gone Wild Videos is at the top of the list) outweigh the many costs (such as waking up next to a very disappointing stranger).
Why then do we persist in the war on drugs without making a similar assessment of the risks versus benefit of alcohol prohibition? Certainly, not all drugs have the same risks and some are more beneficial or damaging than others. Besides, where would we get some of our most innovative and popular artists if it were not for drugs? Regardless, why do we think it is the responsibility of the government to protect people from their own conscious behavior? If it is the job of the government to do so, then when will we start to make the factors leading to obesity, heart disease, and cancer a crime, such as eating too much junk food and smoking?
I’d love to see an episode of Miami Vice where some donut-eating fat boy cops pose as johns (junk food solicitors) in order to roll up an imported junk food smuggling ring. Or maybe an episode of Crime Scene Investigation where they determine that the victim was overdosed over a period of 35 years with Twinkies and candy bars that originated from an illicit processed sugar factory in Iowa.
Wouldn’t it be great if legalized drugs could actually be used to combat obesity? Since the war on drugs hasn’t slowed demand, it isn’t as if there would be more addicts running around anyway. However, we would now be able to use some drugs to slow the country’s increasing addiction to sugar and fat. A little speed and the pounds will start to go away, along with the diabetes, hip and knee problems, and other ailments typical of fatties. A little pot, with plenty of munchies on hand, and those anorexics will start putting on weight until they are back to normal. Imagine what a few weeks or months on heroin could do to those morbidly obese whales who can’t leave their houses due to excessive fatness. The pounds would start falling off. Then, they could be put into detox programs until they stabilize. Hey, it might sound drastic, but it’s better than letting them eat themselves to death or use up expensive medical resources trying to treat their many medical problems.
Drugs do not have to be illegal to be controlled. Prescription drugs are controlled now, even though it is ridiculously easy to obtain them anyway. Why is it illegal for sick people to obtain and use medical drugs not approved by the FDA but available overseas? Just because the FDA hasn’t approved a medication, doesn’t mean that it isn’t safe and effective (and from past experience, the opposite is also true). Should we prosecute people for saving or greatly improving the quality of their own lives by using unapproved medications? If I was in great pain or in imminent danger of death and needed something illegal to make it better, you can be sure I’d say to hell with the FDA, give me the drugs.
If alcoholism and drug addiction are real diseases that only affect certain people, then why isn’t someone working on a vaccine of some sort to prevent or reduce their effects when ingested? The answer, of course, is because people like to get drunk and stoned! That’s the whole point. It is a personal choice. But some choices are arbitrarily declared to be illegal because they are a supposed threat to society. If that is so, then it only makes sense to do a real evaluation of the risks to society and rank order them by danger that they pose to others, but only ban those behaviors that threaten the rest of us. A scientific study from the UK does just this and suggests that alcohol is more harmful to society than heroin or crack.
I’ve got a better proposition. Let’s think of addiction in a different way. The problem is only triggered when the substance is available. So, it really isn’t a medical issue at all. It is a willpower and access issue. You wouldn’t see any addicts on a deserted island. Sure, maybe on Lost, but what is the chance that anyone would really be lost on an island that just happened to have a plane full of cocaine and an enormous supply of junk food?
Anyway, with today’s technology, it is possible to monitor and control access to substances to a certain extent. Why not create a national database where we could list the names of addicts, such as the Voluntary Exclusion Program for gambling addicts? Potential addicts could put their name in voluntarily or, if convicted of a crime such as drunk driving or morbid obesity, could be put on it involuntarily. Sellers would have to check their identity against the database before providing access to the controlled substances. I know, it sounds like another step towards big brother, but it is better than punishing the many for the problems caused by the few. Of course, we would have to get much better at verification of identity through the use of biometrics such as fingerprint or iris scanners tied to a live database.
Here’s how it would work. Let’s say you are addicted to drugs or alcohol or cigarettes or sugar and fat and, in a brief moment of strength, you decide you want to quit. You have your fingerprint and iris scanned and put into the database and select from the list of substances from which you want to be denied access and the period of time. Maybe you just want to try it for a month or maybe you have to comply with a court order banning you for life. Then, when you go to a bar, the bartender scans your finger and finds out he can’t sell you anything but a Shirley Temple. When you go to the grocery store and scan your finger along with the items you are buying, the computer checks the database and alerts the clerk to pull out everything that is listed as high in saturated fat or sugar. With improved, barcoded nutrition labels, this information will be easy to track.
So, we just solved much of our substance abuse problems by using technology to supplement the feeble willpower of most addicts. How much would this system cost? I suspect it wouldn’t be that much compared to the savings in medical costs and reduction in losses to crimes normally perpetrated by addicts. We could probably even pay for it by defrauding Medicare like everybody else. We’ll just bill them for each database check by calling it a medical consultation. So, your health insurance costs should go down, although I’m sure your politicians will never let the taxes go down.
There will still be a black market to deal with, but it won’t be that big since most people would be able to get all their stuff legally. If prices rise too high and the black market gets out of hand, the government can just take it over and use the windfall profits to subsidize the increased medical and legal costs. So what if we sell them substances that are supposed to be illegal? Just think of it as a tax on bad behavior, just like today’s high cigarette taxes. On the other hand, we could just forget about this whole scheme and simply legalize everything. Then, if people commit crimes related to substance abuse, we can put a tracking device on them and confine them to their home, where they could telecommute, work for a call center, or process rebate checks.