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The Other Prohibition

All of us are familiar with Prohibition, the attempt to ban the sale and manufacture of alcohol in this country. Very few would disagree that it was an unmitigated disaster. It created a spike in crime, empowered criminals and smugglers and did little to stop drinking (and I hope you celebrated Repeal Day last week).

This post is not about alcohol prohibition, but I raise it to point out some of the traits it shares with two other kinds of prohibition. It was pushed by religious figures, yes, but more so by a Progressive Movement that saw banning alcohol as being for Americans’ own good. They believed that they could create something like a perfect society, where everyone behaved … at least according to how they thought everyone should behave. They unabashedly claimed the moral high ground, casting their opponents as either drunks or profiteers on human misery. And the effect varied depending on class. The Volstead Act was an inconvenience, at worst, to the rich and powerful, who could acquire illicit booze when they wanted it. Meanwhile, entire swathes of the population were condemned to violence, extortion and murder. But it was OK because they were just bootleggers, drunks, smugglers and Italians. Al Capone pointed out, quite correctly, the classist nature of Prohibition — that what was called bootlegging when he did was called hospitality when rich people did.

There’s a second prohibition that we’ve discussed many times — the War on Drugs. I won’t rehash the many many horrors and inefficacies of this war — see the Alberto Willmore video below. But notice the traits it shares with alcohol Prohibition. It was supported by the Religious Right, yes, but also upheld by many “Progressives”. Our Vice President has long been one of the most vocal drug warriors out there and several Presidential campaigns in the 80′s and 90′s turned on who could be toughest on drugs. The Drug Warriors believe they can create a perfect drug-free society. They unabashedly claim the moral high ground, describing their opponents as either addicts or profiteers on human misery. And again, notice how the effect is varies depending on class. It’s not difficult for the elites to get drugs if they want them. If a Congressman’s son is busted with drugs, he goes into treatment. Meanwhile, the lower classes are condemned to the hell of gang wars, no-knock police raids and minimum sentencing guidelines. But it’s OK because they’re just drug dealers or drug addicts (or, it must be said, black).

There’s a third prohibition, however. In fact, it’s actually the first prohibition, the one whose “success” inspired the ones that followed. It is so insidious that many of us don’t even realize it is a prohibition. And since my friend Maggie McNeill has asked those of us who oppose this prohibition to write about it on Friday the 13th, I’m going to talk about the prohibition on sex work. Or, to be trite: the War on Whores.

Prostitution was not illegal for most of our history or most of human history. Because even those who regarded it as an evil saw it as a necessary one. As Maggie explains in the Cato Unbound debate between her, Ronald Weitzer and two well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) fools:

Indeed, up until the nineteenth century almost nobody imagined that prohibition could be done, let alone that it should. It was almost universally understood that many working-class women and a not-inconsiderable number of those in higher classes would accept money for sex, at least on occasion, and it was impossible to draw a bright, clear line between behaviors that constituted “prostitution” and those (such as concubinage, mistresshood, and political marriage) which did not despite their often-mercenary basis. The manifold laws regulating sex work were not intended to preclude pragmatic motivations for sexual behavior, but rather to keep up appearances, guard the purity of bloodlines, and maintain public order. But as the Victorian Era dawned, a new idea began to take hold of European minds: if science could perfect Man’s tools and techniques, why couldn’t the same process be applied to Mankind itself? The immediate result of turning (pseudo-)scientific inquiry upon sex was that taking money for it was no longer considered merely something that “unladylike” or “sinful” women did for a living or extra income; instead, the “prostitute” was defined into existence as a specific type of woman, separate and distinct from other women. For most of the century the prevailing view was that women who took money for sex were congenitally defective, but in the 1880s the idea arose that most or even all were forced into the profession by evil men. It was about this time that “avails” laws started to appear, under the rationale of “protecting” women from exploitation by such men.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, the “white slavery” hysteria was in full swing. Progressives were determined to “rescue” women from the clutches of the “pimps” who were abducting them by the thousands from homes, railway stations, and dance halls, and for the first time in history the act of taking money for sex was itself criminalized on a large scale. In the United States, it was illegal almost nowhere in 1909, but almost everywhere by the end of 1914.

The more you dig into the issue the more you see the parallels to the War on Drugs and alcohol Prohibition. Again, we see the hand of religion, but also the Progressives (and I would argue that they are worse on this issue than the religious, having now donned the cloak of pseudo-feminism). They believe they can create a perfect whore-free society. They unabashedly claim the moral high ground, describing their opponents as whores or pimps. And the effect once again depends on class. It’s not difficult for someone like Eliot Spitzer — who prosecuted sex workers and their clients — to get a high-priced call girl. But some more shmoe who just wants to get laid goes on John TV. Prostitutes can be raped with impunity, extorted by law enforcement and ultimately jailed. But it’s OK, because they’re just perverts and whores.

And look where this hysteria has led us. Just as the War on Drugs will get a high school girl busted for giving Midol to a friend, so will the sex prohibitionists engage in absurd excesses in the War on Whores. In Madison, a man has started a business where people can pay to snuggle and cuddle with other people. I thing it sounds stupid (about a decade ago, this sort of thing showed up on a Penn and Teller episode as a laugh). However, if paying $60 to hug some people is your thing, knock yourself out.

But ultra-liberal Madison is banning it.

Snugglers contend touching helps relieve stress. But Madison officials suspect the business is a front for prostitution and, if it’s not, fear snuggling could lead to sexual assault. Not buying the message that the business is all warm and fuzzy, police have talked openly about conducting a sting operation at the business, and city attorneys are drafting a new ordinance to regulate snuggling.

“There’s no way that (sexual assault) will not happen,” assistant city attorney Jennifer Zilavy said. “No offense to men, but I don’t know any man who wants to just snuggle.”

This is your brain on the War on Whores: a government official invoking sexual assault and the dreaded prostitution in a response to a hug house. God knows what they would have done if they’d found out about the back rubs on my freshman year college dorm.

This is where this ahistorical hysteria on sex work has led us. This is who we are now. People think that bans on prostitution and hysteria over sex work only affects dirty whores and their filthy clients. But when you open the door to government getting involved in consensual sex between adults, the entire damned law enforcement industry will stampede through it. And next thing you know, they’re calling you a rapist for wanting to hug someone.

No society has ever rid itself of alcohol — not even Islamic countries, where alcohol is illegal. No country has ever rid itself of drugs — not even China which once imposed the death penalty for opium use. They can reduce it, a bit. They can drive it underground. But they can not stop human beings from human beings.

And no society has ever rid itself of sex work. In fact, many of the greatest empires embraced it. Our experiment in banning sex work has now gone on for a century. As with alcohol and rugs, its adherents continually claim we are right on the verge of victory; we only need to ruin a few more lives. It’s time that the prostitution ban, like Prohibition and the War on Drugs, find its way into the list of history’s abandoned mistakes.

Don’t think that this is entirely about booze, drugs and hookers, either. All three of our nation’s great prohibitions have arisen from the Great Progressive Conceit: the idea that government can make people better (assuming you accept the Progressives’ definition of ‘better’). This is a conceit that plays out in a thousand ways in our politics, from the government telling you your insurance policy isn’t good enough to forbidding you from smoking in your own home to telling you not to drink so much soda.

The Great Progressive Conceit is tempting because government can create the circumstances for people to become better. Freedom of religion and speech, capitalism, rule of law, etc. all create opportunities for human beings to improve themselves and the society around them. And we absolutely need government to stop people from harming each other. But the minute the government turns its eye toward telling you that you must do this or you must not do that for your own good …

Just Say No.

33 comments

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  1. Section8 says:

    Very few would disagree that it was an unmitigated disaster.

    I disagree. We would have lost a whole subgenre of mob movies if it weren’t for prohibition.

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  2. salinger says:

    You’re just wrong on this one. Prostitution is very very rarely “consensual”.

    Some relevant quotes from the links below – I stopped at three articles, I could have listed hundreds:

    “Decriminalizing prostitution sounds good in theory to some people of good will. It appeals to certain libertarians who imagine that without legal prohibitions, women will make “free choices” to sell themselves or not, just as they please. But the experience of Rhode Island exposes this as a tragic fantasy”

    ———————————————————————–

    “Whose theory is it that prostitution is victimless? It’s the men who buy prostitutes who spew the myths that women choose prostitution, that they get rich, that it’s glamorous and that it turns women on.

    But most women in prostitution, including those working for escort services, have been sexually abused as children, studies show. Incest sets young women up for prostitution — by letting them know what they’re worth and what’s expected of them.”

    ——————————————————————————

    “Prostitution is all about desperation and abuse and is most often a form of slavery”

    ——————————————————————————–

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/12/opinion/12farley.html?_r=0

    http://www.calgarysun.com/2013/07/19/prostitution-is-not-a-victimless-crime-using-the-services-of-happy-little-sex-fairies

    http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/228038/not-victimless-crime-d-hughes

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  3. Section8 says:

    Salinger, you’re basically offering opinions of people who clearly oppose the legalization. Interestingly enough those opinions lists the manipulation, pain and fear caused by prostitution as their basis to why it should be illegal, yet this comes about precisely because this is illegal. When these women are engaged in something deemed illegal they have no recourse. Now prostitution is not some glamorous fantasy world, and I’m not sure who actually believes it is regardless of what some of the writers feel the populous assumes, but making the situation magnitudes more difficult for these women by making them criminals as well is not a solution.

    As for what is basically kidnapping of young girls like the case in Minnesota, where do these girls go for help? They’ve done drugs, and are prostitutes, both of which are illegal. They can’t just go to the cops and say they are forced into sex. Who is going to pay attention in law enforcement? The response is going to be well you’re doing illegal drugs, you’re performing an illegal act, and then they become the criminal. The pimps know the system is set up where they can’t go to law enforcement due to the very laws you want to keep in place.

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  4. salinger says:

    yet this comes about precisely because this is illegal

    .

    did you miss my pull quote?:

    But most women in prostitution, including those working for escort services, have been sexually abused as children, studies show. Incest sets young women up for prostitution — by letting them know what they’re worth and what’s expected of them.”

    Even so – even girls from a relatively good home but run away for whatever reason can wind up addicted turning tricks and eventually dead. This is a fact. The girls at the bunny ranch are in no better shape psychologically than the ones turning tricks on the street corner.

    As for what is basically kidnapping of young girls like the case in Minnesota, where do these girls go for help?

    http://www.childrenofthenight.org/

    http://www.womenslaw.org/gethelp_national_type.php?type_id=1063

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/25/us-usa-newyork-prostitution-idUSBRE98O0WC20130925

    There are a lot of options – the girls need to be made aware of them.

    I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time on this other than to say Pretty Woman along with all the Hollywood and Damon Runyonesque romanticizing is false. If you think prostitution is a victimless crime you’re wrong. I sincerely hope you never lose a sister or daughter to the life.

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  5. pekka says:

    [quote]Prostitution is all about desperation and abuse[/quote]

    So are many, many other lines of work.

    And even if you’re right and all sex workers are victims – how is being thrown in jail going to help that one bit? You’ll notice (and that is Hal’s main point) that prostiution is [i]still taking place every day.[/i]

    If prostitution were legalized, it would be much easier to fight that kind of prostitution where it’s an actual act of physical slavery. Imagine a society where johns can safely report when they see something that looks fishy without fear for repercussions. The same goes for counseling, an actual support infrastructure, building interest groups – hell, even unions if necessary.

    The mental slavery (which I agree with you exists) is not something prohibition can actually fight.

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  6. pekka says:

    I still can’t seem to figure out how to quote and italicize stuff. Sorry. Could somebody enlighten me again?

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  7. Hal_10000 says:

    Salinger, you should ready Maggie’s response in the Cato Unbound debate (http://www.cato-unbound.org/2013/12/11/maggie-mcneill/responses-weitzer-post-wagner-dont-be-swayed-exaggerated-claims). Those studies that claim that most prostitutes are abused come from very poorly done studies of street prostitutes (who are about 15% of all prostitutes) who have been arrested. These are not a representative sample. It’s like forming your opinions on drinking based only on people who’ve been arrested for DUI.

    The first article you cite is from Melissa Farley, a known radical feminist who has been called out for ethical violations in her research. Much of her research can not be reproduced or its unclear where she got it from. And she is know to flat out lie. For example, she claimed that Maori prostitutes were sexualized at age nine because a study showed a couple of girls had their first sexual contact of any kind — including consensual kissing — at age 9.

    One of things that drew me to Maggie’s blog and to this issue was precisely the stuff you cite — the unchallenged mountain of bullshit that prohibitionist have been throwing up for years and have persuaded goo-hearted people like yourself to believe. I believe a lot of that stuff until I started looking into and found out that it’s a bunch of garbage.

    One of the people I follow on Twitter is Kevin Wilson, a sociologist who has started doing research into sex work because he was appalled at the state of research in the field. Every Friday, he tweets a study. When you look at Farley-type studies — studies that can not be replicated and are of a hundred arrested women, you get those results. When you look at real studies — he’s cited ones that have thousands or even tens of thousands of women — you get very different results. You find that legalization and harm reduction are gigantic massive improvements over criminalization, cutting down on trafficking, drug use, rape, physical abuse, STD transmission … everything.

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  8. salinger says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  9. Hal_10000 says:

    Hal – I hope you never lose a sister or a daughter to the life.

    Me either. But if I were to happen, I would want them to have legal protections, not become the plaything of the legal system and law enforcement. You don’t have to like prostitution to think it should be decriminalized.

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  10. salinger says:

    I would want them to have legal protections

    Okay – one last comment in response.

    You want legal protections? – lock the fucking Johns up – put their pictures in the paper – as far as I am concerned any guy who uses a prostitute is just rationalizing rape with cash.

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  11. Hal_10000 says:

    We’re just going to have to fundamentally disagree on this one because I don’t see the johns that way. What about those who are disabled? Or disfigured? Or widowers? Or just lonely? I’m sorry, I just have read too much written by actual sex workers (as opposed to radical feminists like Farley) to believe this image of the industry.

    And criminalization creates far greater problems for rationalized rape. Almost every prostitute has had an experience with vice cops extorting or attempting to extort sex in exchange for not busting them (and often unprotected sex, according to Freakonomics). In a criminal system, johns who refuse to pay (rape by fraud) are unpunished. In a legal system, they are.

    Sorry to unload on you here. But I’ve been thinking about this issue for a very long time and have moved from not opposing decriminalization to strongly supporting it. The essay above could have been three times that length.

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  12. Section8 says:

    I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time on this other than to say Pretty Woman along with all the Hollywood and Damon Runyonesque romanticizing is false

    Agreed, and as far as Hollywood, this being a right wing blog, I doubt you’ll have to twist many arms to convince people here that Hollywood is full of self-absorbed delusional dimwits. But they aren’t representative of the rest of the world.

    As for

    I sincerely hope you never lose a sister or daughter to the life.

    I’m not advocating people become prostitutes, I am of the believe it should not be a crime.

    I also hope I don’t lose anyone to

    drugs
    bad eating habits
    ill effects of losing all of one’s money to gambling
    and a host of other bad decisions

    bad decisions regarding one’s welfare do not equal criminal, and should not equal criminal.

    As for people forcing someone into sex, it should be a crime, but the key word is force.

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  13. Section8 says:

    I still can’t seem to figure out how to quote and italicize stuff. Sorry. Could somebody enlighten me again?

    You almost had it. just use the greater and less than to enclose your tag instead of the brackets.

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  14. Poosh says:

    Gonna send some props to salinger here.

    But again, legalising it can afford victims protection that would not occur if it was illegal (as Hal points out).

    The problem is in the demand and no, it’s not human nature at all. It’s entirely an ethical issue. The problem with legalisation is the moral message it sends out: it’s ok to be a prostitute / it’s ok to pay for sex = because it’s legal! This is a massively corrosive and dangerous message for a population to absorb. That being said, there are no good choices here, and I think civilised people generally know when something is wrong irrespective of what is legal or not. Lot of issues to think about.

    But there is no reason prostitution can’t be legal *and* heavily regulated to minimise the possibility of it being socially acceptable. But as usual it’s the male sex and the moral degeneracy of part of some number of them, I should say, that causes the demand for this abomination.

    How horrific it is that we live in nations that are so woefully able to fully enable the provision of a multitude of jobs that can sustain individuals, that prostitution , sadly, is a viable option i.e allowing women to be completely reduced to sexual pleasure objects.

    Then again some women, probably a minority, are fully aware of what they are doing and are every bit the businesswoman as the next. They may even be seen as taken advantage of weak men and their desires. Why are they less noble than *those kind of girls* we’re all aware of, who are far less noble < think we all know them.

    Lotta thoughts swimming around, sorry!

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  15. Seattle Outcast says:

    The subset of this little battle is the “war on porn”, where the war has been lost many times over at nearly every battle.

    Ironically, those places that are the most “moral” generally have the highest consumption of porn.

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  16. Argive says:

    It was pushed by religious figures, yes, but more so by a Progressive Movement that saw banning alcohol as being for Americans’ own good. They believed that they could create something like a perfect society, where everyone behaved … at least according to how they thought everyone should behave.

    Well, a lot of Progressives were extremely religious. Many, especially in the Anti-Saloon League and Women’s Christian Temperance Union, were evangelical Protestants who thought alcohol consumption was not only symptomatic of urban and societal decay, but was un-American. Banning alcohol wasn’t just a moral crusade or a public health drive. It was a way to strike at people the Progressives didn’t like, such as Catholic and Jewish immigrants, most of whom drank.

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  17. salinger says:

    Well, a lot of Progressives were extremely religious.

    What are you labeling these folks progressives? Seems to me the religious/christian motivated fall more into the conservative camp. Legislating morality seems to be more in the current conservative mindset than progressive – anti-abortion – anti gay rights – anti equal pay for women etc. etc.

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  18. Argive says:

    Seems to me the religious/christian motivated fall more into the conservative camp. Legislating morality seems to be more in the current conservative mindset than progressive – anti-abortion – anti gay rights – anti equal pay for women etc. etc.

    This is why fitting political and societal movements of the early 20th century into today’s right/left dichotomy doesn’t really work. To be sure, exactly what constituted a “Progressive” is still up for debate, but most historians agree that the majority of people in the Progressive movement were upwardly mobile WASPs, many of whom were quite religious. A lot of Progressives who favored the prohibition of alcohol were also in favor of the income tax, women’s suffrage, and beefed-up labor laws (especially prohibiting child labor). The Anti-Saloon League was a big supporter of the income tax, since they wanted to lessen the federal government’s reliance on collecting tax from breweries and distilleries.

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  19. salinger says:

    This is why fitting political and societal movements of the early 20th century into today’s right/left dichotomy doesn’t really work.

    Gotchya

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  20. Argive says:

    Here are some examples of people who favored prohibiting alcohol:

    William Jennings Bryan, generally considered a populist champion of the working class during his political career. Along with prohibiting alcohol, also favored dramatic restrictions on corporate power and the free, unlimited coinage of silver, which was meant to lessen economic pain on many working folks after the Panic of 1893.

    Frances Willard, who also supported public education, the eight hour work day, collective bargaining for workers, protections against child abuse, and women’s suffrage. She was the head of the WCTU until her death.

    Gifford Pinchot, who created the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board during his time as Governor of PA (after the 18th Amendment was repealed). He stated that his goal in doing so was to make alcohol difficult to obtain. He was also strongly in favor of protecting the environment and providing public relief to the poor.

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  21. AlexInCT says:

    Seems to me the religious/christian motivated fall more into the conservative camp. Legislating morality seems to be more in the current conservative mindset than progressive – anti-abortion – anti gay rights – anti equal pay for women etc. etc.

    As was already pointed, out, this is a fundamental problem with the way the left has managed to paint the two camps today. People may not remember, or care to remember, but with the exception of the early marxists, most people in America were (or at least pretended real hard) to be religious. Abortion was disliked by all. Same thing about gay rights. Women got the right to vote just some 100 years ago, and for a long time there many women that thought that was a terrible thing.

    The equal pay thing is something contrived by marxists to attack and undermine the system, and nothing more than that. It’s been proven, repeatedly, that given the choice men, in general tend to focus a lot more on career, while women, again in general, will focus on a balance, or even family first. If you are going to put more time into your career, you are bound to advance faster as well as get paid more, because companies will see you as both more reliable and productive (in the sense that they have more of your time available to them). It’s not by accident that when you look solely at women that focus exclusively on careers that they have no pay gap. Just like it is now starting to happen that many men that are not solely career oriented are seeing a drop in their earnings compared to the others. In fact, the argument can be made men are being hosed

    BTW, there are a lot of these contrived “problems”, one of my favorites being the idea of a minimum or living wage, for example, that the left uses to divide and conquer by. In the end progressives remind me of a lot of the religious dogmas people have bought in. Jews are Kosher because when wandering in the desert, eating pork, shellfish, and many other such things was a serious and life threatening risk. Catholics eat fish on Fridays around easter, because some pope’s brother owned the biggest fishing fleet in the area. Priests were not allowed to marry because that guaranteed their possessions passed on to the church when they died. Similarly, the left peddles lots of nonsense as being for a good reason when there really is a reason that is base and crass. The whole minimum wage thing was because union pay was tied to minimum wages, and raising those was one heck of an easy way to get your union people a nice raise (and thus paying more dues that democrats could then count on for their campaign chests).

    BTW, many European countries, whom are as progressive as they come, have legalized prostitution under the guise that it is liberating to allow women to earn a real good living and be their own boss. It’s sold as another big step forward in solving women’s suffrage. And it is the progressives doing that….

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  22. Mook says:

    Seems to me the religious/christian motivated fall more into the conservative camp. Legislating morality seems to be more in the current conservative mindset than progressive – anti-abortion – anti gay rights – anti equal pay for women etc. etc.

    Single women in the workforce, on average, earn more than single men of the same age and education. As Alex pointed out, the “equal pay for women” argument is lying marxist propaganda.

    As for abortion, that is a classic example of leftists imposing THEIR morality on the unborn baby in the form of dismemberment via scalpel or vacuum. The left also imposes their morality with PC speech codes as leftists are unquestionably the leaders in censorship.

    Also, it’s leftists like Bloomberg and his liberal cheering squad trying to control what people can and cannot eat.

    Gay rights opposed solely/mainly by conservatives? The Prop 8 vote in CA puts that lie to bed. Arguably the most leftwing blue state in the country voted against “gay rights” by a significant percentage, but it’s the fault of conservatives, right Salinger? More BS on top of BS.

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  23. Argive says:

    Gay rights opposed solely/mainly by conservatives? The Prop 8 vote in CA puts that lie to bed. Arguably the most leftwing blue state in the country voted against “gay rights” by a significant percentage, but it’s the fault of conservatives, right Salinger? More BS on top of BS.

    Bit more complicated than that. The Mormon Church, not exactly a bastion of liberalism, spearheaded the movement to support Prop 8. And they tried very hard to do so in a way that did not make themselves appear anti-gay, since they knew that would cost them support:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/15/us/politics/15marriage.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    Here’s an illustrative quote:

    “It is not our goal in this campaign to attack the homosexual lifestyle or to convince gays and lesbians that their behavior is wrong — the less we refer to homosexuality, the better,” one of the ward training documents said. “We are pro-marriage, not anti-gay.”

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  24. Xetrov says:

    I heard they used the Illuminati to force people to vote for it too.

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  25. Mook says:

    The Mormon Church, not exactly a bastion of liberalism, spearheaded the movement to support Prop 8

    Given that the Mormon’s influence in CA is about the equivalent a few drops of water in a swimming pool, you and the NY Times are dishonestly making the Mormons a scapegoat boogeyman, just like the left routinely does when they inflate the influence of the eevil Koch Brother masterminds. In point of fact, opposition spending against Prop. 8 was $44 million vs. $39 million spent by those in favor, with, according the NY Times, amounted to $1 million from the Mormons. So opposition spending to Prop 8 was significantly greater, yet you and the NY Times focuses on the relatively tiny amount from Mormons. Like I said, BS on top of BS

    Truth is, non-conservative Democrat voting blocks including blacks, Hispanics and union members oppose “gay rights” and proved it in the voting booth. It’s a liberal lie trying to lay that vote on the shoulders of conservatives, Mormons and other scapegoats when leftist Democrats themselves are responsible for it.

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  26. Argive says:

    In point of fact, opposition spending against Prop. 8 was $44 million vs. $39 million spent by those in favor, with, according the NY Times, amounted to $1 million from the Mormons. So opposition spending to Prop 8 was significantly greater, yet you and the NY Times focuses on the relatively tiny amount from Mormons.

    The article states that $1 million came from a single donor. It also states that:

    In the end, Protect Marriage estimates, as much as half of the nearly $40 million raised on behalf of the measure was contributed by Mormons.

    All that being said, I certainly agree that some Democratic voting blocs oppose same sex marriage.

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  27. AlexInCT says:

    The thing is that despite their often left leaning ways or outright ownership by the democratic party, Hispanics and African Americans are mostly not very pro-gay, and they are well represented in CA and why the vote went the way it did. Sure the Mormons poured a ton of cash into Prop 8, but the thing was the votes were all there: they just needed to be brought to the polls. The democratic party loves to pretend that its membership is uniformly pro the things they champion, but that’s only good marketing and propagandizing.

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  28. Mook says:

    In the end, Protect Marriage estimates, as much as half of the nearly $40 million raised on behalf of the measure was contributed by Mormons.

    Where is the basis for that “estimate” from the NY Times? Here is the funding breakdown http://projects.latimes.com/prop8/

    The #1 contributor to pro-Prop 8 campaign was the Catholic men’s group, the Knights of Columbus (based in CT), followed by (Christian but non-Mormon) Fieldstead & Co. The $1 million Mormon contributor stands out, and I stand corrected that $1 million was the total Mormon contribution, but OTOH I don’t see any justification to claim or suggest that Mormon money changed the outcome, especially given that they were outspent..

    Opposition spending to Prop. 8 exceeded the funding of the supporters, yet you and the NY Times chose focus on the Mormons. If the anti-Prop 8 forces outspent the pro-Prop 8, what’s your point? More here /a> You were trying to suggest that the election was “bought” by Mormon influence yet the numbers show that the pro-Prop 8 forces were outspent, and certainly out-endorsed by celebrities whose free endorsements don’t count in the totals spent.

    Prop 8 passed for one reason – left leaning Democrats voted for it in large numbers, and it was wrong to place “blame” on conservatives when Democrats were as “guilty” if not more so.

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  29. hist_ed says:

    There really was no single “progressive” movement in the late 19th and early 20th century. All of the movements shared the idea that people and society could be changed for the better-almost all thought that the government was the means to do so. The creation of national parks and the FDA were part of this. The second coming of the KKK was a progressive movement (interestingly not that concerned with blacks-Jim Crow was pretty solid in the teens and twenties-more concerned with Catholics, Irish, Eastern Europeans and Jews), as were anti-miscegenation leagues. There was a lot of good and lot of bad and a lot of crazy. What wasn’t progressive was the idea that the government was bad at solving problems and that there shouldn’t be increases in government power.

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  30. Seattle Outcast says:

    That whole “Christian Socialist Party” thing I keep bringing up repeatedly is part of the early 20th century political scene. It’s a classic consolidation of things that don’t appear to go together, but really do once you understand each group. Bush II was a perfect example of it – and there is a large contingent of the GOP that thinks this way, when previous to 1980 they weren’t welcome in the party.

    The democrats hated them for their tendency to wrap everything up in the cloth of religion, and spent decades ousting them, succeeding only after Carter went down in flames.

    Hell, the politics of just 50 years ago seems weird in light on what goes on today. I’m sure that none of us would recognize what it would look like in another 50 years time from today’s perspective.

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  31. salinger says:

    Just something I saw on Reddit that is somewhat germane.

    http://imgur.com/a/gv7JJ

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  32. balthazar says:

    How are a few sob stories from people with mental issues living on the streets germain to the discussion of legalising prostituton? These people would STILL be doing wht they are doing if protitution was legal.

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  33. salinger says:

    These people would STILL be doing wht they are doing if protitution was legal.

    Bingo

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