Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Prostitution in Canada: an interesting social experiment


"In a Dec. 20 ruling, the high court unanimously struck down laws against street soliciting, living on the avails of prostitution and keeping a brothel.
The Supreme Court deemed that the laws endangered sex workers and were violations of the constitutional guarantee to life, liberty and security of the person. It gave the government one year to come up with new legislation before the current Criminal Code provisions lapse."


            In an innovative move, the Federal Conservative government of Stephen Harper has decided to consult the Canadian public on its attitudes towards sex workers and the sex trade. 

Speak Up! Get your 2¢ in..

           The original reason for the supreme court's overturning the old codes on prostitution and sex trade work was a progressive desire  to protect sex workers from harm. The old, puritanically inspired laws, tried to sweep the problem under the rug: out of sight, out of mind.. But clandestinity also played against the sexworker, rendering them more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. The court tried to step in and provide them with a minimum of security and protection of civil rights.

            However, all acts have unexpected consequences ("blowback"). The supreme court's ruling has obliged the government to draft new laws and, in the process, provided the opportunity for this novel experiment in collective governance. Fortunately, the Harper government people had the wisdom the seize this opportunity to listen to the people. For this, at least, they deserve some credit.

The larger context: Will we have the wisdom to use the new electronic media to empower civil society? Or will we pervert it to dumb down the masses so they can be better controlled by a functionally demented economic elite ready to sacrifice the future of the planet on the altar of their moloch, Profit? Everything is up for grabs, today. Things can tip off in any one of a number of directions, some expected, some totally novel. We are living a time of Great Choosing. This social experiment by the Harper government is just one small symptom of these times and their character.

                  One suspects the Harper government was taken by surprise by the high court ruling. Several commentators have made the point that the government does not seem to be acting ideologically. Like myself, they appear to be genuinely confused by the the whole sextrade issue and are feeling their way along a dark wall looking for the light switch..

                For some short, thoughtful comments of the ethical reasoning behind the court ruling, see the following article by our favorite conservative journalist, Andrew Coyne:

Coyne: court rules to protect sex workers

                Boy! we don't often get the chance to give praise to the Harperites. We might as well take the opportunity to give them credit for something else they got right: eliminating the penny as legal tender. In our overpopulated world of rising expectations and depleting non-renewable resources we have much better things to do with a valuable metal like copper than to make trash-money out of it. Think: electrical conductors, motors, generators and all that other good stuff that keeps our modern civilization running.. 

Bye! Bye! Pretty Penny

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