January 31, 2005

call of the wild

It is hard to imagine anything much more alien to this Curmudgeon than the thought of visiting a brothel. In fact, it probably shocks many who know me when they discover that I am a long time advocate of legalized prostitution. Some of you probably thought I did not even know how to spell “brothel”. Those of you who have hung out here for a while, however, may remember my posting on the hypocrisy of California regulating the porn industry a while back.

Upsetting though it may be to the hard core Christian Political Right, I think the day of widespread legalized prostitution is upon us. An interesting story in the Economist set me to thinking on this subject today. Apparently, some entrepreneurs are dreaming big and the fight for branding is already on.

I’m not a betting man, but I’d lay good money down on a wager that some form of BootyWorld Theme Park will open in the United States before a viable Space Station.

Whatever personal distaste I may have for the oldest profession, there is little doubt that in a free society such behavior should be permitted between consenting adults. Like cigarette smoking, over indulgence in French Fries and riding a motorcycle without a helmet, people should be free to engage in behavior that may not be in their best interests without regard to the peril to their mind, body or soul.

But even if you disagree with me that this is a desirable direction for our legal system, note its inevitability. Just like casino gambling and distilled beverages, it will be a part of our lives and sooner rather than later. If you doubt me, read the Economist article and pay close attention to the expected impact the sex industry can have on a rural county. Think about the promotional programs used to sell lottery legislation and you can see easily how the same ads work for advocating the legalization of any of a number of previously forbidden fruit.

One thing life has taught me is that if you want to predict what happens next in America, follow the money.


Blogger Common Good said...

I will see your "brothel" and raise you legalized drugs. I can see it now... taking a hit off of a Wal-Mart joint while getting serviced at BootyLand. That may just be good enough to win over Mr. Jihadist... 72 virgins is a lot of work... much better to go with the pros.


5:46 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

For the record: I am also in favor of drug legalization. Frankly, I'm surprised I haven't blogged on that yet.

5:59 PM  
Blogger stilldreamn said...

Oh shucks, sorry I deleted that post. Newbyitis. I saw the little icon, and wondered, gee, what is that? why it looks like a.....click.

What I had said:

No shock here--for a government that is hellbent on saving its citizens from the curse of religion, they sure can zero in on "sin" taxes (er, sorry, that would be "excise" taxes)

6:43 PM  
Blogger someone else said...

I see your brothel and legalized drugs and raise you abortions. oh wait--i'm getting ahead of myself--those are still legal for now.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

Tony and all, Hello first off. I agree with you tony, even though I am a christian, too. I have to agree for the reasons that everyone has constitutional rights one and second human rights which is why I am glad of the judge today about the detainees in Cuba. I believe and feel that every person should have a human right to face their accuser in court. The government attorneys was arguing that they didn't have a constitutional right to this, I ask though how about a human right? But tony you are right even if you are religious we must stand up for rights and these two items should be legalized, but the drugs (if they ever) should be under strict guidelines, they are just as bad as alcohol.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...


Exactly. It makes no sense to lock up people for possession of drugs and not also lock them up for possession of alcohol. The only logical difference between the two is that one is accepted by a majority of society, the other is not. But that is not the test for permissible intrusion on human rights by our government. The classic test is the old statement, “my right to swing my arm ends where your nose begins”.

We make a lot of noise about Freedom and Liberty in the country, but people scarcely stop to think and hang some substance on what those capitalized words mean. It really is quite simple.

As a note of explanation, I would add that in general I like to use the phrase “Human Rights”. This is for a couple of reasons. First, most people are really confused about the legal principals on which our system of laws is founded. By speaking of Human Rights, I make it clear that I speak of Rights that are external to government: the individual is sovereign. The other reason, which is somewhat a corollary, is that I think the phrases “civil rights” and “Constitutional rights” leave the false impression that somehow the rights are defined by our government or law. This erroneous thinking on the part of Americans has led to great trouble and as I survey the landscape of current events, I fear the evil that may yet be wrought from the lack of understanding of this central pillar of American law.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...


You really know how to kill a male fantasy... :)

10:56 AM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

Speaking of brothels, how 'bout those elections? This is a good time to be in a democracy is it not?

11:26 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...


First, I christen you the master of the segue. Smooth man, smoooooth.

Yes, Sunday was a great day for the people of Iraq. Finally, a ray of hope in the midst of all the anguish and war. It is my hope and prayer that everything comes out well for them.

It might shock you to know that I truly want to be wrong about the administration’s botched foreign policy because being right means a lot of suffering for Iraqis and Americans alike. That said, a successful election is only one positive step and it is long way from vindicating the hubris which goes by the name the Bush Doctrine.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

I’ve heard a lot of coverage about the elections by various people and I agree with conservatives like Laura Ingraham that highlight the transformation by some media types in light of the elections. It’s not that they jumped sides, and indeed, they are very critical of the Bush Doctrine. Some of them, however, have been able to see it for what it is – the best part of Democracy.

You’ve written about the go-team mentality in our two-party system and you were very right about a large group of us (on both sides). After the elections, “that” side took the fifty-yard line and did their dance and waved their pom-poms of negativity in what should have been a celebration for the IRAQIs.

Fine examples.

Still, that doesn’t detract from this moment in history. How envious these other people living in oppressive regimes must feel. Oh, wait, could that be an upside? Nah, the Bush Doctrine has no upside.

I want to be right.

Go team!

12:46 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...


Calling the Bush Doctrine “the best part of Democracy” is a bit of an excessive rhetorical flourish for even a ideological extremist such as yourself.

Of course, I call it what it is: Imperial Hubris.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony, someone beat you to it. This book is on my "to do" list.

Imperial Hubris

1:03 PM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...


Clarity is power. "Some of them, however, have been able to see it for what it is – the best part of Democracy. " - The "it" being the elections, NOT that reporters like Christiana Imnotpoor and Robert Engle think that the Bush Doctrine is the 'best part of Democracy.'

Were you serious?

1:08 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...


Nah, I got your point. I’m just ornery some times.

You can certainly see in the reactions to the elections that the “left” is just as big of a problem in America as is the “right”. Anyone should be able to cast aside their partisanship and be happy for the Iraqi people.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...


Yes, Anonymous stole my book title. But I will be more careful going forward. For instance, I have the copyright on the word “blogslap”.

1:15 PM  
Blogger someone else said...

Sorry about killing your straight male fantasies, CG. On the upside, you can always go to Amsterdam and live them out:)

I assume, curm, that you weren't saying that it's a dichotomy between "casting aside our partisanship" and sharing in the joy of all those people that really did get to feel good, at least for a day. I take your point to mean that we shouldn't let political differences or opinions about what's happened so far get in the way of appreciating the fact that there was a lot of enthusiasm for the elections with high turnout and they went off fairly smoothly (if the U.S. media is to be believed on this, which I'm willing to grant).

On the other hand, who said that the elections are the arbiter of success for this policy/war/doctrine? The neocons did. This one, albeit significant, step is supposed to make up for the fact that the entire process up to now has been messed up and that the Bush Administration still hasn't demonstrated, in the US or in Iraq, that it knows nearly enough about how democratic societies are built or work.

Elections, as they say, are just a sign of democracy, not the substance of it. As Condoleeza Rice pointed out, you can have "a democratically elected leader who governs in an illiberal way." She should know:)

12:36 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...


Yes, your restatement of my position is accurate. I think it is unfair of the anti-war crowd to sneer at the election. It is a wonderful positive sign. It is also unfair of the pro-war crowd to claim victory (again) based on very narrow indicators.

Elections are an essential part of the democratic process, but as you said, just one part. We often forget that Hitler was Democratically elected. Not that I would take that analogy too far: indeed, the fascist era has more in common with what is happening today in America than it has relevance to the political situation in Iraq.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...


What are the common fascist era elements today? Fear? Civil liberty erosions? Ignorant public? Leader with secret motives? Give me your top 10 list. :)

9:42 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Fascist tendencies in the United States:

1) Close alliance of industry and government.
2) Nationalistic/Patriotic appeals as a primary focus.
3) Imperialistic expressions and actions.
4) Creation of an artificial enemy to focus attention and facilitate power consolidation.
5) Centralization of power.
6) Police state tactics to monitor and control citizens
7) Propaganda and exploitation of mass behavior.
8) Fear as a primary motivator in the population.

No, I’m not claiming we are a fascist state. What I am saying is the pieces are in place and the trend is clear. I’d be happy to elaborate on any of those items.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I would say 1,3 and 7 are contenders for the top spot.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

I'm not sure about that...without #8, Shrub would not have been re-elected.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

I would add one to your list. Party line votes on legal matters like impeachment (Clinton vote in the House) and AG confirmation ( Gonzales vote in Judiciary Committee )

Party line votes on things like Social Security private accounts are understandable, but a strict party line vote on legal matters and legal judgement can't be explained away. Both the Clinton impeachment vote, and confirming the AG (particularly post-Abu Ghraib) were votes about our core laws. Core laws are not political by nature... we share them. It makes absolutely no sense that these two votes happened on party lines. To me, it's easy to see how and why folks would vote differently.... just not differently on party lines.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...


Well, that is part of what I meant in listing Centralization of Power. The power is now in the hands of too few people. Even in Congress, a few people in leadership make all the decisions. The financial bonds insure that if a CongressCritter wants re-elected, he will be on board with the party agenda.

What I see us drifting toward isn’t classic fascism. It does have a leadership cult-it is just vested in the two parties. They may compete for power internally, but from a common citizen perspective, they move in concert to protect each other against outsiders.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Mr. Plank,

“Whatever personal distaste I may have for the oldest profession, there is little doubt that in a free society such behavior should not be legally sanctioned.”

I don’t know if I’m going dyslexic, but it looks like you are saying here that “in a free society such behavior should not be legally sanctioned,” which, of course, disagrees with your statement above that “I am a long time advocate of legalized prostitution.” I think I know what you meant.

“...People should be free to engage in behavior that may not be in their best interests without regard to the peril to their mind, body or soul.”

I guess you mean, free from punishment, restrictions, regulations, etc. Would this apply to suicide, mutilation, and euthanasia? Are you then implying that we no longer have a social obligation to help those less fortunate? Or are we (society/government) to pick up the tab as people injure & destroy themselves, either financially or bodily, thus destroying a natural consequence that restrains such actions? A final digression: Would this freedom to engage in behavior "without regard to their peril" apply to stupid, foolish, and unsafe acts that are the basis of 95% of lawsuits today, thus heaping mountains of personal responsibility on individuals, while protecting businesses in a way the President’s litigation reform bill could only dream of, and consequently, destroying the attorney’s goose that laid the golden egg?

“But even if you disagree with me that this is a desirable direction for our legal system, note its inevitability.”

Oh, now that’s a reason to cave.
Dear Jesus,
I know that I’m a sinful man and that I will sin again.
Since it is inevitable direction for me, please help me
to find the best and most enjoyable sins that I can
partake in with the least consequences.

Your wayward, fun-loving, sin bound, boy wonder.
I know you don’t believe that just because its inevitable we need to jump on board. So what is the real reason you’re interested in prostitution being legal?

Prof. Ricardo

3:56 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...


Thank you mightily for the correction. I have made changes to the text of the original post. What was I thinking?

You bring up a number of things that are quite distinct from the behavior I was discussing. Yes, suicide should be permitted. So too should mutilation as long as we are speaking of self-mutilation. Euthanasia is a different matter altogether and as long as a person isn’t capable of taking their own life, I would not permit it under law.

You know, I believe in personal responsibility. But the reality is that society has to pick up the tab for all kinds of stupid behavior that is presently unregulated. For instance, we all pay the price for people voting for Democrats and Republicans. Though that behavior is stupid and extremely damaging to society, I would never suggest taking away that right. It is just the way it works in a free society. You just can not regulate people into smartness.

And no, I am the last person to suggest giving in because it is inevitable. I’m saying that it is not only inevitable, it is also correct.

I didn’t mean to “hide” my reason for supporting legalization of prostitution. The reason simply is that I truly believe in Liberty. I follow that ideal to its logical conclusion. I truly believe it is not my right to dictate moral choice to other people. I do not confuse legality with morality. I understand that the consequences of sin are God’s to administer and my myself.

And from a religious standpoint, I believe that it helps my witness to stand for Liberty. By being consistent, people tend to listen a little more closely when I talk about Liberty because they know I mean it. And by being consistent, they also tend to listen a bit more intently when I describe what it means to be Liberated in Christ Jesus.

4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In keeping with the theme of this post, here's a quickie...

I greatly respect the Curmudgeon's propensity for separating his public and personal stances on issues such as legalized prostitution, but it's a respect that I think is borne of the scarcity of that trait in the people I know. It seems such a rarity that one can decide something couldn't be more wrong for oneself, and concurrently accept that it may be right for someone else. Or, as the Curmudgeon might have it, insist that it may be right for someone else. As principles needed to guide a free and open society go, I can't think of one that is more essential and absent around these parts.

Or, you know, maybe I just hang around numbskulls. ;)


4:53 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...


Thanks for the kind remarks. But I do want to clarify things a bit.

I do NOT accept that various immoral activities are “right” for someone else. I believe in an objective reality and objective moral system which was created by God. If something is wrong, it is wrong. But, I am a true believer in the inherent right of men to make the moral choices for themselves as long as those choices do not impact the rights of others. After considerable study and reflection, it is my understanding that the only way to have Liberty is to be principled about it and not compromise.

I think most people have trouble truly believing in Liberty. Once they feel like they have a solid idea of what is right and wrong, they want to impose that right and wrong on some level. This is a natural thing and my remarks are not a criticism of moral actors but rather a criticism of the human condition.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In retrospect, "right" was the wrong word. I fully blame my personal ethos for coloring that phrasing thusly.

- Being certain that someting is morally wrong
- Insisting that others abide by your ethics

I was attempting to address and laud you for recognizing the clear line differentiating those concepts. I'm evidently a bit more liberal than you in that regard, as I don't feel I have the "right" (there it is again) to declare that something isn't "right" for another person, so long as it has no direct effect on me.

In further retrospect, I do know a few folks that have some degree of objectivity regarding Liberty, but they're a small minority. I didn't mean to insult everyone I know there... but of the people I encounter in daily life, it's disturbingly rare.


11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


BootyWorld Recon Mission?-Gene

11:48 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

So let's see... both Tony and Gene are for "live and let live", but Tony will judge you while doing it, and Gene will not. :)

I guess it is possible to make Mickey Mouse Land exciting... who knew? :)

12:06 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

HAHAHAHA. BootyWorld recon. Looks plausible to me.

You think season tickets to Disney World are high, wait till you hear what BootyWorld will run.

Actually CG, I do not possess the authority to judge others. That is clear in Christ’s teaching. Sadly, many people miss what Christ was saying about the Pharisees. This a classic foible of mankind. I’ve even heard liberals who feel convicted as to the substance of truth who have castigate conservatives for having a fundamentally immoral outlook. Hard to believe, I know.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Actually CG, I do not possess the authority to judge others.Doesn't stop us does it? :) Individual judging doesn't amount to much, but an aggregate measurement of the society one lives in seems appropriate. :)

I’ve even heard liberals who feel convicted as to the substance of truth who have castigate conservatives for having a fundamentally immoral outlook.I don't know what that sentence means but I think it was aimed at me. :)

4:37 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...


While I certainly had you in mind, it was broadly aimed. The point is that there is no behavior that is more quintessentially human than to be critical of others who are different in some fashion. If one has certainty that they have obtained truth then it is most natural to treat those without truth poorly in some fashion or at least to treat them so until they acknowledge your apprehended truth.

It is against this natural tendency we must strive. It is not an easy battle and all of us lose the battle to one degree or another. In my mind, the first step to recovery is recognizing that the battle even exists. It is in that recognition that we find common cause.

To state it plainly from my Christian perspective, it is the difference between stating, “This is the Truth” and “This is as close to the Truth as I can get”.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Here is an excerpt from the “Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis that I think pretty much explains a lot of what I have been saying about the political religious right. If you are unfamiliar with it, Screwtape is a demon writing to his nephew who is actively assigned to a particular new Christian convert.

“Any small coterie, bound together by some interest which other men dislike or ignore, tends to develop inside itself a hothouse mutual admiration, and towards the outer world, a great deal of pride and hatred which is entertained without shame because the ‘Cause’ is its sponsor and it is thought to be impersonal. Even when the little group exists originally for the Enemy’s own purposes, this remains true. We want the Church to be small not only that fewer men may know the Enemy but also that those who do may acquire the uneasy intensity and the defensive self-righteousness of a secret society or a clique. The Church herself is, of course, heavily defended and we have never yet quite succeeded in giving her all the characteristics of a faction; but subordinate factions within her have often produced admirable results...”

Lewis continues about a page later, “...quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the ‘cause’, in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce...The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material of obedience. Once you have made the World and end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours—and the more ‘religious’ (on those terms) the more securely ours.”

10:22 AM  

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