Thursday, March 13, 2008

A truly awesome post by Glenn Greenwald

Glenn has done it again with his post on Misadventures in logical reasoning -- and lessons learned from the Spitzer scandal.

What is also particularly interesting is the comments - if you can get through them all. There is a lot of the sort of thing I see on certain feminist blogs there that generally annoy me and Glenn deals with that rather well.

One highlight:

Tina Schrier says:

If you are truly interested in knowing how feminists view prostitution--I don't think you are, but well--the Feministing blog has been running a great thread on this very topic, also in relation to Spitzer. You can go read it to get a leg up on your feminist theory regarding prostitution.

Glenn responds:

I completely reject the notion that there is such a thing as a monolithic feminist view on prostitution and that you have the right to designate it. I already pointed to Jane Hamsher's views on prostitution which are the same as mine. I spent all week emailing with Digby on this issue, whose views are very much aligned with mine. I consider them feminists in every sense of the word. Why are their views not the "feminist" view on prostitution but yours and those at Feministing are?


As for the women saying they like to prostitute themselves, slaves in the American south could always be found saying they were happy with their lot (like Jupiter Hammond), Iraqis can be found who will say the Americans should stay forever, and about 20% of people will say George Bush is a great President.
Do we believe them? Are they right?


I don't trust your ability, or mine, to override the judgment of other adults about their own lives. I prefer to leave it to adults to make judgments about their own lives, even when they're wrong. The right to be wrong - without having know-it-all busybodies override your decision-making - is an important part of being a free adult.


As for bodily freedom--I'm all for it. But . . ..


Whenever someone says "I'm for freedom X, but . . . ," that's always a good sign that they're not -- as in "I'm for free speech, but . . ."
We enact legislation to protect people from their own stupidity and shortsightedness every day (helmet laws anyone?) For that matter suicide is against the law; you don't have the right to kill yourself. Part of the reason drug laws stay on the books, whether or not you support them, is the demonstrable harm drugs do to the users (it's only partly a plot by big pharma). Prostitution is a huge risk for the hooker and a public health risk as well.
So yes, when people are being patently stupid, we pass laws to protect them from themselves and others they may hurt in the process of being stupid. Why should prostitution be different?
I don't believe in any of the laws to which you're equating prostitution laws, so I'm not treating prostitution differently. I'm treating it exactly the same.


Why exactly? And why so touchy on this issue?


I love how people think this tactic -- "Hey, why so touchy about this issue" -- is going to work to deter others from advocating their views. It's an incredibly dishonest tactic, though one I'm quite used to.
"Hey -- why are you defending the First Amendment rights of white supremacists? Must mean you're a racist."
"Hey -- why are you defending the right of people to use drugs? Must mean you're a cokehead."
"Hey - why are you defending the right of people to hire prostitutes? Must mean you hire prostitutes."
Do you know people who are actually affected by tactics that low and absurd?
I'm "touchy" on this issue because I really can't stand busybodies who can't mind their own business and who convince themselves that they are so wise that they have the right to regulate the lives of other adults and even turn them into criminals. People like that are incredibly destructive and self-loving. It's the Jerry Falwell Syndrome, though it's found in many places other than right-wing evangelical pews.

Another great comment by Glenn that sums the scandal all up rather succinctly:

"I am really astonished -- though I know I shouldn't be -- by how much people enjoy expressing moral outrage over the sexual lives of other people."

That needs to be put in gold leaf and framed.


tinwoman said...

Hey DDB--Tina here. Your outrage would carry a little more weight if prostitution were about sex--but it's not. It's an issue of abuse and exploitation of women; this cannot be ignored by any wishful thinking on the part of people like yourself.

Oh, and GG's answers were a combination of lame dodges and fallacious reasoning, and as plenty of other people pointed out, he was being a real jerk that day. BTW it's not up to him to choose who gets to be a feminist and who not. Feminists aren't defined by whether or not they agree with Glenn.

Cheers from a fellow Michigander :)

DBB said...

Prostitution, first and foremost, is about sex.

Making it illegal is what probably causes most of the abuse and exploitation - just like there is a ton of abuse and exploitation of individuals involved in the drug trade - and a lot of violence - because there is no legal recourse.

And just because some people are forced into the job doesn't mean that it is inherently about that. Many people are forced to work in factories making sweaters, basically as slaves, and most of them are women. Does that mean that we should outlaw sweaters? Or that making sweaters is inherently about abusing and exploiting women? Or is the problem slavery - forced labor, independent of what that labor is used for?

I'm totally for getting rid of all forced sex workers - as I am equally for getting rid of all slave work entirely. Part of the process of doing so is legalizing prostitution.

But don't take my word for it. Talk to actual sex workers who voluntarily chose to do sex work. Their voices matter much more than mine on this. I defer to them. Note that this isn't about being happy slaves, I'm not talking about anyone who was forced into it (and no, ecnomic necessity to work doesn't count as "forced" or else everyone who isn't independently wealthy is just a slave).

As to what counts as feminism, don't ask me. One would think simply being for full equality between men and women would be enough, but apparently (as I have been told repeatedly by self-identified feminists), it is not.

Oh, and I'm a "proud" Michigander - I'll probably never leave the mitten...