Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ron Paul and Prostitution

Prostitution is evil. It is a system predicated on debasing the human person, it is born of abuse and makes that abuse a way of life. Where it flourishes, drug abuse, crime, suicide, disease and human misery grow.

Like all evils, it hurts those engaged with it the most, but the injury doesn't end with those who engage with it but casts a larger shadow that touches everyone in the community whether it is legal or not.

Over the last several years HBO has been advancing a campaign to "normalize" prostitution through its "reality" TV show The Cathouse - a state regulated legal brothel in Nevada. The reality of Nevada's legalized prostitution and of the effects of legalized prostitution in general are well documented.

Now the owner of the Cathouse has publicly endorsed Ron Paul and is encouraging "johns" to make a donation every time they pay for sex acts. This endorsement was arranged and created by a member of the MSM, Tucker Carlson - he called up the pimp and manufactured the news story.

In the Main Stream Media's general blackout of the Ron Paul campaign, this particular story has been picked up all over the place (Google news has 99 news hits for this story).

The story is an attempt to smear Ron Paul and his supporters.

But the fact is that Ron Paul supports the decriminalization of prostitution at the Federal level. His We the People Act would remove this issue from Federal and Supreme Court jurisdiction along with a host of other socially difficult issues in accord with the 10th Amendment - The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. His legislation would make it solely a States issue an issue for the people to decide.

As Catholics, we recognize that the civil law has its foundation in morality. There is no law that does not have a moral dimension because it governs human action which is inherently laden with moral weight - the only question is whether the law is moral or immoral. This is why the Catholic Church has been an advocate for the abolition of chattel slavery for hundreds of years, it is why Holy Mother Church speaks out for the defense and respect for human life.

As such to legalize prostitution is to legalize the violation of basic human dignity.

But does Ron Paul want to legalize prostitution?


He wants the States to deal with this question not the Federal Government. He is not advocating the national legalization of prostitution (something that CFRP could not support), but rather the removal of this subject matter from the Federal Court system to empower the States to deal with it.

Is this something that Catholics can support?

Yes, based on the principle of subsidiarity and prudential judgement we know that any social ill is best addressed at the most local level. We also know that when an issue is absorbed by a higher level of authority, the local level tends to become apathetic and passive because "it is no longer my problem." Compassionate liberals who vote for big government programs to solve social problems don't volunteer or give nearly as much money to charitable organizations as small government conservatives. This is because subsidiarity matters.

We also know that when the government funds a program to solve a social problem (be that in law enforcement or social welfare), that problem grows and expands and so too does the program's budget. This is because the incentives are in the wrong place. The incentive for government is to expand its power, its budget and its program, so the incentive is to expand the social problem it is addressing, not eliminate it. Compare that to the kind of local private charities who actually make a difference and have an incentive to end a difficult social problem.

For example, Emmaus Ministries walks the streets of Chicago and Houston every night to help males prostitutes get off the streets. I would rather they have my money rather than the Federal Government to help solve the problem of male prostitution. But they are struggling to keep their doors open because their donations are down due to the state of the economy. Send them a donation to keep their doors open.

At the state level prostitution should be illegal. I think that Dr. Paul might disagree stating that the government can't make you a moral person. I would agree with that idea, but remind him that Law has a major impact on forming culture because of its foundation in morality. Any law that violates the natural law is not a law at all - Martin Luther King knew this and so too did our Founding Fathers.

Ron Paul doesn't condone prostitution, he knows its effects on people and communities, but he doesn't think the Federal Government should be the one to address it, and he may even think that the States should decriminalize it too.

This is where libertarians part ways with Catholics and traditional conservatives. We recognize that the law has an intrinsic foundation in morality and the state has a duty to promote the common good, libertarians have a more reductive understanding of the law as there to preserve liberty.

What it comes down to is two different conceptions of the idea of liberty. But that is for another post.

Suffice to say that Ron Paul is running for President, and his policy on this matter is focused at the federal level. It is a matter of debate and prudential policy as to whether the federal government or local government and local voluntary associations should address this issue.

But know that as a Christian Ron Paul does not condone prostitution, he would rather have families, churches, and voluntary associations deal with this issue rather than the government.