Friday morning, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft found himself caught up in a prostitution sting spearheaded by Florida’s Jupiter Police Department.
The details are still unfolding as to whether this was a consensual arrangement between two adults, or something more insidious involving sex trafficking. If it was the latter, one must wonder whether Kraft knew what he was getting into. But if this was run-of-the-mill prostitution, and he wanted to enter into relations with another consenting adult, and she with him, that should be none of our business.
One of the pillars of libertarianism is self-ownership––the idea that we have full autonomy over what we do with our bodies. Some gray area exists that divides the ideology on abortion, but sex is pretty standard: we are free to have sex with who we want, provided they are consenting and of reasonable age, and it should be none of the government’s business. So why would sex become the government’s business when money becomes a factor?
One argument is that prostitution exploits women and elevates sex traffickers, so we ban it to turn people off to the idea of prostitution by threatening consequences, using the following script: The public thinks X is scary, authorities ban X, supply goes down as there’s no legal way to obtain X.
But what is the natural response when you take something away from someone? Demand for X goes up, X increases in value, a black market forms, cartels rise to power, organized crime grows, and the frequency of crime increases. Plus, it’s not like harsh police tactics don’t harm the people who consensually trade sex.
Prostitution, like marijuana, is not absolved from the laws of the market because of its implied immorality. Besides, the solutions touted by the state of Florida are wholly absurd and won’t change demand in the slightest. USA Today reports that:
A first offense carries a jail sentence of up to 60 days, and a second offense carries a sentence of up to one year. Under Florida statutes, Kraft would also be required to perform 100 hours of community service and ‘pay for and attend an educational program about the negative effects of prostitution and human trafficking, such as a sexual violence prevention education program, including such programs offered by faith-based providers, if such programs exist in the judicial circuit in which the offender is sentenced.’
But what person who consensually exchanges money for sex would legitimately have his mind changed by state-mandated, moralistic programs like these? Just because the state wants people to behave in a certain way doesn’t mean they will. Wouldn’t it make more sense to attempt to get this industry out of the dark?
All of this said, is sex trafficking the same as prostitution? Absolutely not. Sex trafficking deprives a victim of her autonomy and makes her a slave to her keeper. It is the antithesis of a voluntary contract, and sex traffickers should feel the full extent of the law over forcing their victims into compromising situations.
What this all boils down to is whether criminalizing those involved in prostitution is constitutional. I don’t believe it is, based on my ideological principles, even though it is something I do not morally agree with and would never participate in.
Whether or not Kraft was a willing participant in voluntary prostitution or a knowing party in a sex trafficking ring is still unclear, but what is clear is that what consenting adults do with their bodies should not only be none of our business, and stand apart from the cancerous organized crime that is sex trafficking.