Arlington police recently put up a billboard on I-30 near Cooper Street that features the mug shots of men arrested during local prostitution stings. My first thought was: It’s a slight improvement on Puritan-style stocks, but no more effective. And it comes from the same red-blooded American urge to judge your neighbors’ sexual habits.
I’m pretty much a libertarian on this issue – if one consenting adult wants to pay another consenting adult for sex, then I don’t see why the state should get involved. At any time, but especially in this era of severe budget shortfalls, it seems a spectacular waste of police and court resources to bother with this. If the city of Arlington wants to improve the lives of sex workers, how about putting some harsh anti-pimping laws on the books and then aggressively enforcing those laws?
In recent years the horrors of human trafficking have received a lot of attention, and rightly so. But even state attorney general Greg Abbott has acknowledged the difference between sex slavery networks – including those that exploit children — and uncoerced transactions between adults. Many people try to blur those important distinctions in a campaign of moral hysteria. If you want an informed voice that’s critical of Arlington’s actions, read this in-depth essay by a “retired call girl” blogger whose web name is The Honest Courtesan.
Ultimately the I-30 billboard is about publicity for the upcoming Super Bowl – Arlington wants to make a great show of civic morality by appearing to crack down on the oldest profession in the world. The irony, of course, is that a whole lotta football fans will pay top dollar to get screwed by Jerry Jones on February 6, 2011.