A Man with a Flashlight

Drugs and Prostitution: Colbert King on the D.C. Madam
May 5, 2007, 6:26 pm
Filed under: Crime and Punishment, Drug Prohibition, Politics

How could you tell if drug prohibition were a terrible policy? This Washington, D.C. “victory” would be one bad sign:

For example, there’s the case of the 27-year-old quadriplegic who used a chin-operated wheelchair and who, in 2004, as a first-time offender, was sentenced to 10 days in jail for marijuana possession. He died on the fifth day of his incarceration because of a lack of appropriate medical treatment.

Colbert King assembles the evidence, but I’m not sure how I feel about where he goes with it.

King goes on to describe how Washington, D.C. prosecutes johns paying prostitutes for sex. The point of all this? King wants the “government officials and military officers” who may have bought sex from prostitutes employed by “D.C. Madam” Jeane Palfrey’s escort service to be prosecuted with equal vigor.

I don’t know where to stand on this. I don’t think government should be using our tax dollars to prosecute victimless crimes or protect people from themselves. Then again, if government is going to do this, I guess it should go after the rich and powerful as well as the poor and voiceless.

I don’t really share King’s disdain for men who sleep with prostitutes. He quotes “one expert” who says that men who buy sex acts “don’t respect women, nor do they want to respect women.” This may be true, or it may not, and I’m sure King’s “expert” has no idea either way. Was a survey of johns performed? Were they asked if they respected women? And if they wanted to respect women? No – and had it been, even that would be pretty unreliable. If there’s any common trait that prostitutes’ customers share, it’s probably that they are having trouble getting laid.

Isn’t it crazy to ban a commercial transaction which meets a demand that can’t be eradicated? When the offenders are harming no-one and are otherwise law-abiding? And when it means making criminals out of young women, making them even more vulnerable and hard to help?


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As for that “one expert,” I googled the quote and came up with only your blog and King’s story. I’ve written to King twice, and also to Deborah Howell, the WaPo ombudsman. Love to know who that “one expert” is and why King didn’t name the person. Sloppy? Or reason to obfuscate. I encourage you to write as well, and see if you get any response. Please let me know if you do.

And, by the way, I share your views — and I actually know somebody who sees escorts, and he loves and respects women: he just has a hard time finding a girlfriend and doesn’t want to fool women into thinking he wants a relationship when he only wants sex. Ethical and respectful, if you ask me. Also, if men visiting prostitutes “don’t respect women,” what of gay men who pay for sex? What would that have to do with anything more than a desire to get off?

I’ve blogged about this here (feel free to erase the link — just thought you might be interested in my post on the King column):


Comment by Amy Alkonq

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