The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

How to Distort the News:
Jailbait Hooker Victimhood Edition

Posted on | February 2, 2010 | 20 Comments

In Georgia, the state legislature is considering a law that would de-criminalize prostitution by minors. Hookers under age 16 would no longer be prosecuted, but would be treated as victims:

The bill introduced by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), would steer girls under the age of 16 into diversionary programs instead of arresting them as prostitutes.
“This bill makes sure people are aware that young girls are victims,” Unterman said. “A 12-year-old laying on her back don’t know what sex is.”
Unterman – who has championed the rights of young girls – said the bill has been around for at least two years. She said she revisited it because a plan is now in place to rehabilitate the young prostitutes. The age of consent in Georgia is 16.

This seems like a reform, if you assume that all 15-year-olds are incapable of making their own decisions and should not be held responsible for those decisions. But 15-year-olds make all kinds of bad decisions, and 15-year-olds can be prosecuted as adults for many sorts of crime.

What Unterman’s law proposes is to create a “teen hooker loophole,” making prostitution the only crime whose juvenile perpetrators are automatically classified as victims. The teen hooker’s brother who deals dope or steals cars doesn’t get a “diversionary program.”

OK, that was a devil’s advocate argument. I really don’t have any serious objection to Unterman’s law, but I wanted to demonstrate that there might be valid arguments to be made against this legislation. Indeed, the proposed law has opponents, and those opponents were demonized by Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Georgia’s Christian right comes out
against bills aimed at child prostitution

That headline spurred the kind of blog reaction you’d expect — from Little Green Footballs, among others — as if there could be no legitimate objection to Unterman’s law. And let us grant that the “Christian right” is easy to demonize, based on some of the remarks quoted by Galloway:

“Who will benefit from the passage of H.B. 582 or S.B. 304? I’ll tell you who – the very profitable and growing pedophile industry,” said former state Sen. Nancy Shafer. “It is imperative that these bills be defeated. . . .
“Decriminalizing that means the police would have absolutely no interest in it at all,” said Sue Ella Deadwyler, who writes a Christian conservative newsletter. “They wouldn’t arrest the girls, they wouldn’t pick the girls up, they wouldn’t protect them from influence on the street from the pimps and the johns. It would be an absolute cultural upheaval in our state. Never in the United States, as far as I know, has juvenile prostitution been legalized.”

Maybe that sounds like crazy-talk, but think about this question: If non-prosecution of teen hookers is such an obvious and logical reform, why is Georgia the first state to try it?

Are the other 49 states of the Union — which we presume will continue to treat underage prostitutes as criminals, or at least as juvenile delinquents — just backward and benighted? Could there be unintended consequences if Unterman’s bill becomes law?

Indeed, many other well-meaning “reforms” have had consequences unintended by the reformers, and skepticism is always in order when legal innovations are advocated. Yet Galloway seems to believe that no responsible citizen could object to Unterman’s legislation, and therefore depicts these “Christian right” opponents as fanatical kooks — which, I hasten to add, they may actually be. But Galloway’s treatment of them is prejudicial, amounting to an effort to short-circuit opposition to the proposed law.

Does this make Jim Galloway an agent of the “growing pedophile industry”? No, but neither is it fair to depict the bill’s opponents as “anti-reform,” merely for opposing this specific measure. Having seen that rhetorical game played with health-care reform and immigration reform, its employment in this instance ought to provoke automatic skepticism from conservatives, Christian and otherwise.

Exit question: If Unterman’s law passes, who should be appointed as Georgia’s Teenage Hooker Czar? (I nominate Charlie Sheen.)

Bookmark and Share

Comments

  • http://fishwrangler.blogspot.com/ snaggletoothie

    I would much rather see law enforcement resources used to catch and punish the adults that put these girls into this ‘business’ and who hire them. Any decriminalization of the girls’ behavior should matched by a drastic increase in the penalties for their pimps and customers.
    Arguing that it has not been tried before by any state is the fallacy of appeal to tradition. Why take Georgia seriously is poisoning the well.

  • http://fishwrangler.blogspot.com/ snaggletoothie

    I would much rather see law enforcement resources used to catch and punish the adults that put these girls into this ‘business’ and who hire them. Any decriminalization of the girls’ behavior should matched by a drastic increase in the penalties for their pimps and customers.
    Arguing that it has not been tried before by any state is the fallacy of appeal to tradition. Why take Georgia seriously is poisoning the well.

  • Pingback: Hey, Who’s This Andrzejewski Guy Everybody Is Talking About Today? : The Other McCain

  • AJBeck

    Well, among other things, it reminds me of why certain laws about violent crimes had to be changed. Gang members in the 19880’s or 1990’s used get younger kids to some of the killing because younger killers would not be prosecuted as adults if caught. In that environment, states lowered the age of prosecution to where they are now so they wouldn’t have a population of feral teenagers.

  • AJBeck

    Well, among other things, it reminds me of why certain laws about violent crimes had to be changed. Gang members in the 19880’s or 1990’s used get younger kids to some of the killing because younger killers would not be prosecuted as adults if caught. In that environment, states lowered the age of prosecution to where they are now so they wouldn’t have a population of feral teenagers.

  • Chuck Cross

    Where are the parents????

  • Chuck Cross

    Where are the parents????

  • Huey

    The continuing effort by some to treat biological adults as infants has the predictable result of raising infantile adults.

  • Huey

    The continuing effort by some to treat biological adults as infants has the predictable result of raising infantile adults.

  • http://www.haemet.blogivists.com Roxeanne de Luca

    From a pragmatic standpoint, I doubt that very many girls are really prosecuted for prostitution. Any sensible prosecutor would waive the charges or try her as a minor, provided she were to cooperate with the investigation. So this tends to be the sort of thing that is more for form than anything else. (It’s a lot like the rape kit issue in Alaska; they couldn’t find a single instance of a victim who was charged for the costs of collecting physical evidence, but made a bit fuss over it anyway.)

    Even if you could get a prosecutor dumb enough to bring the case against a 12-year-old girl for prostitution, no jury would convict her.

    Also, as a legal matter, this will lead to the fundamentally stupid situation in which a 15-year-old girl can sell her body for sex, but cannot do so a few month’s hence. Obviously, this will erode the ability to prosecute adults (like legal, biological adults who are clearly making their own decisions to do this) for prostitution and will also erode any chances that these girls have of fighting off people who want to force them into this. The Georgia legislature may have unwittingly provided a perfect excuse to those who would engage in child sex trafficking: “Don’t worry, sweetie, the police won’t do a thing to you.”

  • http://www.haemet.blogivists.com Roxeanne de Luca

    From a pragmatic standpoint, I doubt that very many girls are really prosecuted for prostitution. Any sensible prosecutor would waive the charges or try her as a minor, provided she were to cooperate with the investigation. So this tends to be the sort of thing that is more for form than anything else. (It’s a lot like the rape kit issue in Alaska; they couldn’t find a single instance of a victim who was charged for the costs of collecting physical evidence, but made a bit fuss over it anyway.)

    Even if you could get a prosecutor dumb enough to bring the case against a 12-year-old girl for prostitution, no jury would convict her.

    Also, as a legal matter, this will lead to the fundamentally stupid situation in which a 15-year-old girl can sell her body for sex, but cannot do so a few month’s hence. Obviously, this will erode the ability to prosecute adults (like legal, biological adults who are clearly making their own decisions to do this) for prostitution and will also erode any chances that these girls have of fighting off people who want to force them into this. The Georgia legislature may have unwittingly provided a perfect excuse to those who would engage in child sex trafficking: “Don’t worry, sweetie, the police won’t do a thing to you.”

  • http://worththefighting.blogspot.com Philip P

    This land will not be free until I can snort coke off the knockers of a 16-year-old hooker at the after-party of a gay wedding.

  • http://worththefighting.blogspot.com Philip P

    This land will not be free until I can snort coke off the knockers of a 16-year-old hooker at the after-party of a gay wedding.

  • http://worththefighting.blogspot.com Philip P

    The gay wedding of two military dudes!

  • http://worththefighting.blogspot.com Philip P

    The gay wedding of two military dudes!

  • LS

    “If Unterman’s law passes, who should be appointed as Georgia’s Teenage Hooker Czar? (I nominate Charlie Sheen.”

    How about Rob Lowe? Wasn’t his sex scandal in Atlanta during the DNC?

  • LS

    “If Unterman’s law passes, who should be appointed as Georgia’s Teenage Hooker Czar? (I nominate Charlie Sheen.”

    How about Rob Lowe? Wasn’t his sex scandal in Atlanta during the DNC?

  • Miss Sharon

    Passing this law will only increase the incidence of underage prostitution due to the lack of penalty. Some of these girls are making a choice for themselves. Others enticed into it for money by perverted “adults” who will abuse the loophole even more. It seems that the pimps would use even younger girls for more shelf life. This is a bad proposition.

  • Miss Sharon

    Passing this law will only increase the incidence of underage prostitution due to the lack of penalty. Some of these girls are making a choice for themselves. Others enticed into it for money by perverted “adults” who will abuse the loophole even more. It seems that the pimps would use even younger girls for more shelf life. This is a bad proposition.

  • Pingback: uberVU - social comments