Friday, May 2, 2008

Odd priorities

Megan is upset that the DC madam took her own life.
Scratch that, she's blaming the government for it. The post is titled "The state has its head".

This actually makes me feel physically sick. The DC Madam has killed herself.

Now onto the fact that this woman was hounded into prison, broken, and driven to take her own life by a state intent upon ruining this woman for . . . arranging a sexual transaction between two consenting adults.

For this, we have law enforcement? Are there no more rapists roaming our streets? Have murders ceased to be a problem in this fair land, this shining city on a hill? Did all the burglars join Criminals Anonymous? Have the drunk drivers decided to binge only in the comfort of their own living room? Has embezzling stopped? Are the human filth who mug old ladies all safely behind bars? Do no boiler room scams still lurk in thenation's seedier industrial parks? Because, you know, even if I thought prostitution should be illegal . . . well, chaps, I'd put it on the goddamn back burner until all the crimes involving thugs attacking, defrauding, or stealing from innocent, non-consenting citizens had been solved.
... chaps? Megan, even when you worked for The Economist, you lived in NYC.
Anywho, you might think Megan is at least arguing on principle here, but you'd be wrong. This is about her.
To be fair, no one's tried to mug me for several months. But I hear that there are still a few small matters right here in our nation's capital that should be cleared up before we can, in good conscience, turn to the important task of preventing women from demanding cash for something other women only do for fun.
Whoop, there it is. Megan's real problem with the criminalization of prositution? It interferes with the free market. Pimps, and madams, are mere facilitators, and make it a point of pride not to mistreat or keep money from their whores. The madam was in no way profiting off the abuse and exploitation of women, which is why her suicide should bring out the feminists in a show of sisterly solidarity. A madam does have a vagina, after all.
But Megan's not done yet.
Was "saving" women from prostitution so important that we needed to make a woman's life no longer worth living? Do we really need to kill the women in order to save them? Because last time I heard, we thought it was kind of awful when the Taliban did those things.
Megan? This is really fucking stupid. Would you defend Eichmann from execution as a mere soldier following orders? (Not to say being a madam is a capital offense.) You're not talking about an independent contractor out on the streets keeping the money her efforts earn her. You're talking about the head of a large criminal enterprise based on the exploitation of young, mostly dumb women. There's a high degree of possibility this madam had engaged in acts of violence, or had paid thugs do so, against some of her employees. Maybe this madam had some Russian whores in the mix, women who are brought into the US illegally and are effectively sex slaves. At the very least her entire career was based on selling the bodies of other women to men. Prostitution should be legal, for the safety of sex workers. But madams who are caught are not the victims here, and the idea there's something wrong with it being shameful to be a female pimp, which is what madams are, is incredibly fucking stupid.

So, of course, Megan made a second post on the topic, to try to show how she isn't a fucking moron for being so upset about the suicide of a female pimp. Unfortunately, she doesn't get it.
A number of people have argued that since prostitution was illegal, and Palfrey knew she was risking jail, I have no right to be indignant that she got caught, and sentenced to jail, and then killed herself rather than take her sentence like a man. Or rather, like a man would take it if men got sentenced to jail for their involvement with the prostitution industry.
Like a pimp? But yeah, nice try at inserting gender here, Megan. It'd probably work better if you had any concern for the interests of your gender, like not being exploited as sexual objects by others.
I just can't accept that. Would I apply the same logic to economic crimes in the Soviet Union, ca. 1925? Would I say of a shop owner who killed himself rather than face the gulag, "Well, you can't blame the state--he knew the risks when he started buying and selling for profit."

No, because I don't recognize the state's right to criminalize trade--more deeply, I don't recognize the right of the state to interfere in voluntary transactions between consenting adults that do not directly and concretely harm a third party.
Jebusfuck. A madam is, by definition, a third party to the transaction, you fucking idiot. You're not talking about a whore, Megan, but a madam. Do you even understand the difference?
When an unjust law makes someone's life so unendurable that they end it, I lay much of the responsibility at the foot of the law, the system that contributed. Yes, clinical depression is complicated. But suicide very often has a traumatic trigger, and it's pretty clear that the trigger here was the unnecessary prosecution of a woman who wasn't doing anything the government had any business interfering with.
Like profiting off the exploitation of her fellow women.
And I really can't accept the notion that I'm not entitled to be enraged at a law that a majority support. First of all, I reserve the right to be enraged when the paper boy drops my newspaper on the steps instead of the vestibule and passersby steal it. And second of all, I think that there are a lot of sorts of laws that don't become more just because a majority likes them. Slavery was not okay because a majority of southerners supported it. Imprisoning small traders was not okay because a majority of Soviet Russians hated them. Etc. I don't think that anti-prostitution laws are on the same level of injustice as slavery--but I do think that they are among the things the state has no business interfering in. Especially when it is discreet and out of the public eye, as this woman's business was. Her employees were not exploited streetwalkers, and she was not a pimp beating them up for their cash. Nor were they bothering anyone who didn't want to employ a prostitute.
How does Megan know all this? Errrrrrrr........ She just does, k? A woman is automatically nice to other women, don't be a cynic.
I'd mock Megan's closing rant about married johns, but first I'd have to understand what she's trying to say with it.


Just to be clear, of course it's sad the madam killed herself. But she did so because she'd been to prison before, for her first conviction for being a madam, and had a horrible time of it. Megan doesn't blame the madam for choosing to put herself right back in a position to go back to jail or the prison system for being so cruel someone would choose death over a 4-6 year sentence in it, she blames the state for interfering with commerce and makes an innocent victim out of a madam for a service which, if Vitter is any example, was open to clients with... non-traditional appetites. DC elites with non-traditional appetites means the eventual dead hooker, let's face it. I suspect most madams are guilty of worse crimes than simple pimping, if only by keeping their mouths shut afterwards. Her death is sad, but no cause for rage.


Clever Pseudonym said...

The next time I get pulled over for a traffic offense, I'm going to argue with the officer because he shouldn't be giving me a fix-it ticket when there are people being robbed all over the city. I mean, since we all get to pick and choose which laws we want to obey, by Megan's reasoning.

I think prostitution should be legal as well, but that doesn't mean that the entirity of her arguments weren't totally stupid.

M. Bouffant said...

Mlle. McA.'s interest in the "free market" is more about parasitic middle-people (pimps & madams) sticking themselves into a business transaction & leeching as much as possible out of it, while doing as little work as possible. You know, like capitalism itself.

Susan of Texas said...

Don't you see, a madam is management. That makes it okay.

Clever Pseudonym said...

That's hilarious.

McMegan's going to be on the radio talking about Northern Ireland tomorrow. I'm tempted to listen, since I lived between Belfast and Dublin for a few years and am pretty well versed in the history and politics of the place. Every time she tries to write about that subject, the level of ignorant cluelessness she demonstrates is breath-taking. And she told her British readers that she's going to be on "the BBC." That's like an American person saying "I'm going to be on a talk show tomorrow! Tune in!"

I don't think I can stomach it myself.

Margalis said...

Did you guys catch this post?

"If you are ever tempted to make the silly argument that something obviously works or a company wouldn't have done it . . . well, just focus on this."

That "silly argument" was her argument with Glenn Greenwald, that the media offers vapid stories because it is what the public wants by definition.

spencer said...

Ugh! Comment spam!

John O said...

Finally, I think you're crazy!

It's been a long time coming. And I think Megan is just about everything you consistently mock her for.

But prostitution laws, particularly at this level of sin, are just plain stupid. These people knew what they were doing, and I've yet to see any evidence otherwise. Perhaps you could provide some.

Legalized prostitution would cut out the middleperson. Unless they wanted to organize, which isn't an automatically bad thing.

Love your work. Just not this one.

John O said...

Just for the record, I worked in the mortality business when HIV came upon the scene.

Which state had the lowest prostitution HIV-rates?

Nevada. Wonder how that happened?

brad said...

John, I made a point of saying I think prostitution should be legal. The issue here is Megan trying to make a tragedy out of the suicide of someone who exploited women.

spencer said...

Apparently, a noticeable percentage of the commentariat over at Feministe is pretty sure that this was no suicide.

Not sure what to think about that, honestly.