Is prostitution wrong?

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I’ve recently had a debate on this blog post concerning the ethics of prostitution. Several people have a different opinion than I do  on the matter. Here is my unified theorem on why I believe prostitution is wrong.

First, let’s address sex itself with regards to men. The power of sex is at once vastly understated in our society while at the same time referred to all too often. Modern society believes that sex is a toy. In reality it has the power to make people  miserable both in its abundance and in its absence. Women especially, in modern society and in the age of sexual freedom are numb to the power that sex has over men. Oh, they know that men look at them for too long when they wear a low-cut blouse, but in no way is the power that sex has over men properly and formally explained to them. Mostly they gain their dim understanding of sexuality from pop culture. The women find that they enjoy the attention they get from men when they wear revealing clothing or are flirtatious, but this belies any wisdom about the matter. Some of these women paradoxically believe that sex is not important while believing that being in control of sex proves they are strong women.   Some women use sex to punish or control their husbands or boyfriends. If they do this, they clearly do not understand the power of sex, and are asking for a good bit of trouble for themselves. It’s difficult enough for men to go without sex, but if he feels that a woman is so cruel as to use his weakness to hurt him, he may look elsewhere.

As most readers will know, I am a Christian and thus take a Christian perspective. I am admittedly bias on the matter. But I must also add that I am human and subject to the same biological forces as non-Christian men. I sympathize with them in regards to their argument that they want sex and believe that prostitutes offer a reasonable outlet for sexuality.

Let’s consider the libido, as like a hunger for food. When we grow hungry, we eat,  and find satiety. Over time we grow hungry again. Suppose a person is very hungry. He or she has not eaten all day and has worked hard. Is it better that they grab a bag of chips, a soda, and a candy bar to assuage their hunger, or that they wait for a while until a proper meal can be prepared? They’re not in a situation where they are likely to starve to death. Most people would agree that a cooked meal at home is better than succumbing to the pull of junk food. I remember having a discussion with a friend of mine when we were in college. He said his professor told him that the urge for sex is greater than the urge for food. This is laughable and clearly shows the kind of people that in many cases are teaching the soft heads of college students. It reveals a society that has become soft, and thus thinks about sex, all the time, anytime. Anyone who’s been hungry, really hungry, knows the last thing on the mind is sex. We can go a day without sex. Try going without food for even 24 hours. Not only does the mind focus entirely on food in this case, but a person’s hormonal profile changes greatly. The procurement of food is far above sex on the hierarchy of needs. Join the military and find out.

I realize that I have not yet proven or even offered an argument that prostitution is sexual junk food;  I will, though I suspect that even the proponents of prostitution will agree that sex with a prostitute is not the heights of possible relationships. Just keep the idea in mind as you read my article.

The primary argument from people that support the legitimization of prostitution is that in its pure form, no one gets hurt. The john pays for a service which the prostitute willingly provides, and as with all things in a free market both parties gain. But there’s a tricky thing about sex, I think. It can harm us even when we don’t know it’s harming us. The pleasure it provides masks the power it has over our conscience and sub-conscience mind.  I refute the idea that no one is hurt. As a matter of observation, there are few people in America more emotionally damaged, generally speaking, than willing prostitutes. Marina Adshade writes:

Research suggests that promiscuity is not associated with increased happiness and, in fact, that the number of sexual partners needed to maximize happiness is exactly one…So if sex makes us happy then surely, if variety really is the spice of life, having more sexual partners must make us happier. Well it doesn’t. People with more sexual partners are less happy than those who have just one…Men who use prostitutes are also less happy. That is, promiscuous people are less happy.

There are several studies that show a relationship between promiscuity and depression, as well as other psychological problems. Promiscuity is not causative in these cases, but it certainly seems to be one ingredient in a stew of unhappiness. Now, take the unhappiness generated in a promiscuous life and turbo-charge it by making it one’s job to be promiscuous. The result? Women with the same psychological profile as soldiers suffering from shell shock: 

In a study to be presented today at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco, researchers interviewed almost 500 prostitutes from around the world and discovered that two-thirds suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. In contrast, the condition is found in less than 5 percent of the general population. Studies of veterans of combat in the Vietnam War have found that the disorder may be diagnosed in 20 percent to 30 percent, about half of whom have long-term psychiatric problems.

”Essentially, we need to view prostitution itself as a traumatic stressor,” said Dr. Melissa Farley, a psychologist and researcher at the Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco who directed the study with colleagues from Turkey and Africa.

Moreover, another study showed that prostitutes have a death rate far surpasses the norm. Indeed, female prostitutes die at a rate 5.9 times greater than the general population in the same age group. This rate is triple the rate for the most dangerous job (fisherman) listed by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The argument of course, is that the specific act of sex in exchange for money is not wrong, even of the surrounding facts show that prostitution in a dangerous trade. My retort is manifold: First, as I wrote prior, studies show, and my own anecdotal experience around women known to be promiscuous shows, that multiple sex partners damages us psychologically. Second, this argument is the result of a sickness in the thinking of the modern mind, a sickness that has infected even our sciences: It is the pathology of Cartesian reductionism. Reductionists believe that by breaking down complex systems into individual parts, they can understand the the system as a whole. This sounds good, but in practice, the more complex the system, the less rewarding is reductionism. The reductionist view assumes one knows about all the parts in the first place and fails to comprehend that individual parts are changed in nature by other individual parts.  Reductionists also tend to believe their theories, real-world experience be damned. Many reductionists refuse to acknowledge that their inputs are inadequate, thus their outputs are faulty. In truth, complex systems must often be viewed in a holistic manner, acknowledging emergence.

Peter Corning, a systems scientist explains:

Even in a chess game, you cannot use the rules to predict “history” — i.e., the course of any given game. Indeed, you cannot even reliably predict the next move in a chess game. Why? Because the “system” involves more than the rules of the game. It also includes the players and their unfolding, moment-by-moment decisions among a very large number of available options at each choice point. The game of chess is inescapably historical, even though it is also constrained and shaped by a set of rules, not to mention the laws of physics. Moreover, and this is a key point, the game of chess is also shaped by teleonomiccybernetic, feedback-driven influences. It is not simply a self-ordered process; it involves an organized, “purposeful” activity.[Corning, Peter, The Reemergence of Emergence, 2002]

To say that the compartmented act of sex for money causes no harm is not useful, because everywhere we look, we see that drug use, robbery, disease, and early death (among other things) are the lot of the prostitute. Separating the individual aspects of prostitution amounts to saying that being a soldier is easy, because marching is easy. There’s a quite a bit more to it, though. Human psychology and social systems are incredibly complex.

We can see that prostitution denies the prostitute as well as the john (unless the act is kept secret) access to the one institution that is perhaps more strongly associated with happiness than any other: Marriage. Despite our cynicism, the happiest people in the world are happily married people. Additionally, marriage has a strong impact on individuals’ economic status, and the well-being of children. In other words, the best way to be happy, keep your money, and ensure the success of your children is to get married and stay married. But who marries a prostitute, except maybe her pimp? The wife of a john is sure to be displeased and end the marriage if she finds out about his activities. Thus, prostitution prevents people from taking part in an important institution.

Charles Murray on the sexual revolution and marriage. 

The easy argument against prostitution is that it spreads STDs. But yet again, many take a reductionist view and say that, yes, prostitutes should use protection, but that doesn’t’ make the act itself wrong. And yet, in a world inundated with access to condoms and the talk of their use, STDs among prostitutes even in first world nations runs rampant. One report states that 57% of prostitutes in Newark New Jersey are HIV positive. At one point in the 19th century, 75% of men in New York City had an STD of some sort.  Is it difficult to imagine why historical societies frowned on prostitution, even if they tolerated it? Especially in the days before antibiotics. When promiscuity involves large populations being killed off, I’d say that’s a moral issue. In Thailand, a country well-known for its sex trade, the prevalence of HIV-positive people went from 100 infected persons in 1984, to 28% of all brothel-based prostitutes being HIV-positive. Even if 99% of all prostitutes used condoms every time, the disease would still spread fairly rapidly. One human vector is all that’s needed in a promiscuous population, and prostitution is promiscuity on steroids.

Prostitution is perceived as social chaos, even if only subliminally. Where there is open prostitution there will also be increased rates of theft, robbery, rape, and murder. Criminal minds sense the permissive environment in which prostitution thrives, and that disorder inevitably begets more disorder, as James Q Wilson explained in his Broken Window Theory. Most human beings know that paying for sex, and the subtle yet dangerous emanations that emit from prostitution is not the desired state of human existence. Even the paying johns view their act as a form of addiction, and a fatalistic surrender to the tides of blanched misery. this is true from Las Vegas, to Kiev to Bangkok. For no human, no matter the depths of his or her cynicism, can bury fully the knowledge that sex is important and should be treated as such.  After all, we all exist because of sex.

I have shown that promiscuity is associated with unhappiness and that marriage and stable relationships are associated with happiness. We know that children are much better off with both parents present, and it’s easy to believe that prostitution cheapens meaningful relationships such as marriage.  I have shown that prostitutes tend me be miserable and die a very high rate, that deadly STDs have been spread and are still spread through the practice. Also, that complex systems cannot always be understood by understanding their individual parts.

As such, prostitution should be discouraged by society, even if not criminalized. This is not an easy task in the post-sexual revolution period, in which sex was reduced to the mere mechanical interactions of body parts. The reductionists have had their day. But the damages wrought by the sexual revolution are beyond the scope of this article. Suffice to say we value marriage less, and the statistics and anecdote exists to support that children and thus society have suffered, and will suffer more. The acceptance of prostitution is viewed by the young as an argument from silence. It tells the next generation that the very kernal of human society–the family–is meaningless. And beyond a sufficient human society is Hobbes’ “state of nature”, the howling wildernesses that make up many of the countries of Africa and South America, where life is nasty, brutish and short.





Ungratefulness: The root of modern evil

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 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.~Hebrews 13:5-6

One issue I am striving to overcome since returning from Afghanistan, is my persistent displeasure with fellow Americans who don’t seem to realize how good they have it, with how much tough work went in to making this country, with the willing sacrifices that were made, and mostly just how outrageously easy the day to day life of an American really is. The thoughts of the cellulite-ridden mall shoppers standing in line complaining about this or that is a national embarrassment.

The ungrateful person is not concerned about others, he does not complain about injustice so much as their own momentary discomfort, without a second thought about their relative situation. The ungrateful person manifests many of the deadly sins, mostly sloth and gluttony and envy. Since the ungrateful person’s appetites can never be sated, work is seen as evil, since it gets the person no closer to satisfying his personal needs ( an impossibility), this results in sloth. The ungrateful person, paradoxically, never stops trying to satisfy himself, thus gluttony often results, and not only in the overeating of food, but in the hoarding of useless trinkets, clothes, etc, firmly entrenching in him severe materialism. Finally, despite his laziness and his hoarding, he always wishes to have what his neighbor has, and in fact he wishes that his neighbor would lose some of what he has.

Ultimately the ungrateful society is primarily comprised of people without any real skills. They expect all of their needs, including their personal safety, to come from outside sources. As such, they make increasingly poor decisions for themselves. Our state and society has become the great enabler of the ungrateful person, encouraging a plague of horrible personal decisions among its citizens.

An ungrateful society loses its sense of perspective, its ability to tell good from bad, evil from holy. Soon, the democratic state which supports an ungrateful people finds itself the victim of its own populism. It throws money about, just as did the Roman emperors who gained the throne via assassination; they baited Rome’s soldiers and citizenry with exorbitant amounts of money, merely to mollify them. The result backfired utterly, as a people so eligible for purchase will be the first to sink the dagger in the back of the next ruler. Discipline disintegrated. These emperors would have done better for themselves had they offered the money, then had crucified anyone who took it.

An ungrateful society finds itself unable to protect itself at a personal or national level.  The weight of self-defense is placed on emergency services. The same skills that are necessary for the individual farmers of history, be they from ancient Greece, Rome or even the original settles of America translate well to that of soldier. Thus, these people were extraordinary fighters, hardy, resilient, cunning, grateful with little. In those societies, before they began to crumble and while they still maintained the visage of nobility and strength, even the aristocrats were able to live ascetically when needed. Make no mistake, George Washington was an aristocrat. Yet he drove himself as he did his troops at Valley Forge. Eventually ungrateful people are overwhelmed by hardier peoples.

Now, I understand that “ungrateful” can be relative, that circumstances can always become so uncomfortable that anyone would complain. Still, when we look at our wealth and the trivial nature of our complaints, can anyone truly say that most are justified? Where are the days when a beer, a cup of coffee, a good book, the beach, were enough? It’s not to say that we should not strive to be better, but our gluttony is destroying us. Clearly, as a people, we have asked far more from our nation than we have put in to it. History’s largest debt supports my thesis. When I hear people complain about the weather, even though it is not hurting any plans, even though they don’t have a job that requires them to be out in the weather, when I hear people complain about perfectly good food, about how walking is hard, breathing is hard, thinking is hard….well I complain about their incessant complaining. Life just isn’t that difficult for me.

Ungrateful people are outraged by nature itself. Someone, the government most likely, should do something to make it all ok. The government should stop hurricanes, make it warmer, make it colder, stop hunger, stop war. The government. If the power goes out, it’s outrage against the government. We’ve become so weak that everything is an outrage. Am I hallucinating, or was it against the rules as a child to even complain about the food on the table in the 1970s? What were the options? Go hungry or eat. Are we doing our children, the world a favor by scrambling for a food that tastes better? As parents are we so stupid as to not know what is actually good for our 3 year old?

I stand by my words, that America past was better than America present. That our people were better.  That ungratefulness is the root of our problems, our debt, our gluttony, our lack of important skill, our welfare system, the root of feminism, socialism, liberalism.

In parting I’ll leave you with a tract from Livy’s, The Early History of Rome. Ask yourself, does it portend our ending?

I invite the reader’s attention to the much more serious consideration of the kind of lives our ancestors lived, of who were the men, and what the means both in politics and war by which Rome’s power was first acquired and subsequently expanded; I would then have him trace the process of our moral decline, to watch, first, the sinking of the foundations of morality as the old teaching was allowed to lapse, the the rapidly increasing disintegration, then the final collapse of the whole edifice, and the dark dawning of our modern day when we can neither endure our vices nor face the remedies needed to cure them. …no country has ever been greater or purer than ours or richer in good citizens and noble deeds; none has been free for so many generations from the vices of avarice and luxury; nowhere have thrift and plain living been for so long held in such esteem. Indeed, poverty, with us, went hand in hand with contentment. Of late years wealth has made us greedy, and self-indulgence has brought us, though every sensual excess, to be, if I may so put it, in love with death both individual and collective.

Morality and the Laws of War

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 It seems now, that warfare has been reduced to a pile of legal minutiae to been chewed over by pundits and haters.

America is the most powerful, and yet, the most moral army that’s ever existed. Power and morality are not thought to go hand in hand. As the saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

That is exactly why we should be so amazed by our military’s restraint and respect for human life. The media and protestors want to split hairs, when all the US needs to do in order to be moral, win virtually any war, and far outstrip its enemies in terms of compassion, is to  follow the Laws of War.

The Hague Rules and Geneva Convention present three major dictates: Destruction and violence must have military necessity, the actors must avoid imputing unnecessary suffering, and actions must be proportional to the military advantage gained.

The terrorists routinely violate all three of these dictates. And yet the ACLU goes into rabid convulsions over the possibility of trying terrorists in military courts.

Adhering to the Laws of War is both moral and practical. Atrocities make the enemy fight harder. But, violence in any form will be repulsive to the average person. To win, we must apply more pressure to the enemy than he applies to us–or we must endure more pressure than he can. That’s how war is won; there’s no easy way. We should also rigidly hold the enemy to the same account we hold ourselves, otherwise these laws become a joke. The enemy fights without markings identifying him as a fighter, therefore he has legally discarded his right to Enemy Prisoner of War status. He routinely makes civilians his target in order to cause political chaos. And yet the Left quibbles about the location of prisons and trials.

The United States even goes beyond the Laws of War. General McChrystal recently limited night raids, which have upset Afghan citizens.

We’re doing fine. We should obey the Law of the Land (like we do). The minutiae will not win or lose this war, nor will it topple America from its moral high ground.  The problem is not in the argument that we should fight moral wars, but in the insinuation that we in fact don’t.

The moral argument rarely persuades

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My old blog was called: The Political Realist: Post-Modern Hobbesian Views.

While writing blog entries for The Political Realist, I attempted to argue what would happen, not what should happen.

I firmly believe in what Blaise Pascal had to say about the moral argument: “Without force, the Law is impotent.”

In his  recent speech overseas, President Obama has made clear that he chooses the moral argument as his weapon primus. Islam should cooperate with America, after all, we all just want to live peaceful lives, right?

If only it were that simple. People shouldn’t fight. Nations shouldn’t go to war. Everyone should have health care. But we need to consider that one important military term. The word that decides if any operation has even the possibility of success: Logistics.

We can say anything. We can write what our minds can imagine. But we cannot make others do what is right. And we cannot always summon the needed materials, money and will to accomplish any mission.

Woodrow Wilson lived by the moral argument, and saw what amounted to one of the most senseless wars in history kill millions and forever change Europe. He appologized for his forfather’s aggressions, hoping that other countries would all feel the love. But it didn’t happen. Instead, one of the bloodiest centuries in history ensued.

I will admit that human beings should be significantly moved by moral arguments. But they rarely are. And they almost never are if adhering to moral values means sacrifice. Humans will not starve to death in order to obey the moral law of not stealing. Humans will kill if they feel significantly threatened, or if they think they can improve their position in the world by doing so, even while avoiding retribution.

In the end, the moral argument is the brood of convenience or utter desperation. It is easy to conceive that a person facing imminent death in a dark alley at the hands of a mugger may utter: “I have a wife and kids at home. Please don’t kill me.” Now, the mugger may find himself lowering his pistol, and warning the person not to call the cops. But what if he believes the victim will be able to pick his face out of a lineup? What about testimony in court? The survival instinct is likely to overcome the moral argument that he should spare this person’s life so that the his wife isn’t left a widow and the children fatherless.

It is admirable and even desireable to start negotiations with the moral argument. Hamas should stop throwing rockets onto areas populated by defenseless civilians for the purpose of making a political statement. Israel asked nicely for many years. But then of course, it was the Palestinians who after finding themselves at the mercy of the IDF, could only resort to the moral argument. Look: Israel is killing women and children by invading and fighting with Hamas militants. As I said above, the moral argument comes from a weak proponent or a proponent so insulated from the actual problem, that the moral argument now becomes the argument of luxery.

So, let me end this by quoting Patrick Swayze in the movie, Roadhouse. “Be nice until it’s time not to be nice.”