Friday, October 10, 2008

On prostitution

Sparks has several questions posted in Filipino Voices re my previous defense of prostitution as a profession and I answered her queries briefly in the comments section of her FV post. But first, let me just point out where Im coming from:

As a Christian, I would rather that a man or woman not engage in prostitution as Christians believe that the human body is a temple to the holy spirit of God and since Jesus drove away the money-changers from the temple in Jerusalem, I take it he doesnt approve of using his temple as a venue for commerce. However Christians believe that all are sinners, so in the eyes of God, Im no better than the prostitute, and therefore I have no right to revel in my 'moral superiority'. (Ironically, sparks is an agnostic atheist. But I take it she also is a social democrat and I suppose is amenable to the State having more powers that Im prepared to give it, which I assume includes the power to declare transactions like the one that happens between the hooker and client illegal.)

As a member of society, I live and let live. I have no right to force my beliefs on others who may not share it. I assume that my fellow citizens are free to make their own decisions for themselves and I respect their right to hold views and opinions contrary to my own, and I respect their right to do whatever they please in their own private spaces as long as theyre not doing harm to anybody else. Corollary to this, I expect my rights are respected as well by both the State and my fellow citizens. The State has no right to come between the hooker and her client since no one's rights are being violated in a transaction they both freely agreed to. What is perhaps being violated is the moral sense of those not party to their transaction, and the State has backed these outside parties by making the transaction illegal. I consider that to be an overstepping by the State of the limits to its power in a free society.

I promised an in-depth reply to sparks's post but I think my answers over at FV, and the comments of several others, are enough to respond to the assumptions sparks has as to what prostitution qua prostitution is. I would just like to add that in my original post, I made the claim that 'it is only through some sort of superiority complex that members of society, including feminists ironically, assume that the prostitute is being exploited.' I have no idea whether or not sparks objects to prostitution qua prostitution out of a sense of superiority, and I am assuming she does not absent evidence to the contrary, but if we examine her post (as well as DJB's assumption that the scantily-clad dancers in Eat Bulaga and Wowowee are exploited), we get a sense of that. At best, it is a compassionate sort of superiority, but assumes that these women werent capable of correctly weighing the pros and cons before choosing to go into prostitution. Indeed sparks seems incredulous that any woman would willingly go into prostitution perhaps because she and those in her milieu would never dream of doing that themselves. I wouldnt dream of doing that myself. But that's just me, and I have no right to impose this on others who are capable of making their own judgements.

As a parting shot in my defense of prostitution, I would like to point out that as a general rule, all men in a relationship pay for sex. Maybe not in cash, but all men have to offer something of value to be able to engage in sexual congress. In the case of the professional and the client, the medium of exchange is often cash. In the case of married couples, or sexually active dating couples, the medium of exchange is different. All human relationships are some form of trade agreement. That includes employer-employee, contractor-contractee, teacher-student, husband-wife, boyfriend-girlfriend. Therefore trade is not per se bad. It is only when the trade is between professional hooker and client that the State frowns on the arrangement. Talk about your slippery slope, the slipping illogically stops at the prostitute's freedom to trade her services to a willing client. If trade for sexual favors among amateurs is legal, why is trade between pros and clients illegal? It doesnt make sense.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Dallying in FV

Since work has been pretty slow recently, Ive been spending some time over at Filipino Voices, and in this thread on the Catholic Magesterium's stand on contraception, as a response to Nash's comment that 'freedom of religion also implies that our laws must not be based on religious views,' [on October 6th, 2008 2:56 pm] I pointed out that our entire civilization of liberal democracy is based on religious views. Im continually amazed, if not perplexed, by efforts to airbrush this religious basis of our society from history, mostly overseas, but it's starting to make its way here via the internet and also via popular revisionist books on the subject.

Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm
basis, a conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties
are a gift from God?
” Thomas Jefferson

The idea of our exceptional place in the cosmos sprang from religious views, and without it, our civilization has no leg to stand on. True, we can invent substitutes for this but the substitutes are as non-rational as the thing they substitute. Ive touched on this very subject in a previous post wherein I wrote: "Without God there is no reason to believe we have these rights [life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, and all that]. Without God our rights are no different from the rights of a chicken...It is the only rational thing to believe in if one denies the existence of the source of our rights."

The secularization trend that started in earnest in the 20th century has been a systematic movement in the West of removing God from the public sphere, and seeks to replace him with Science. Darwin's theory has been proposed as a substitute for God in answering the question, 'Where did we get our rights? Why is a human life valuable?' It says we evolved these traits of compassion and moral values and offers as proof the fact that certain animal species will sacrifice themselves for the good of their offspring. We humans, according to this theory, have extended our families to include the entire human society. It is a plausible story of course. It's reasonable, if one overlooks the fact that it's just a story not backed by actual evidence which Science demands. Indeed evidence between altruism in nature and the human moral sense is difficult if not impossible to come by. But as a worldview, one needs only to believe in the underlying philosophy of the worldview (we'll get back to this and the problems it entails in a bit). But be that as it may, it still doesnt erase the religious basis of our civilization. That's history, and it's verifiable. German philosopher Jurgen Habermas, who developed the concept of the Public Sphere, has this to say:
"Christianity, and nothing else is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of western civilization. To this day, we have no other options . We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter."
Everything else is postmodern chatter. Professor Habermas is an atheist. Another atheist philosopher, John Gray, had this to say, "In contrast, evangelical atheists have positioned themselves as defenders of liberal freedoms - rarely inquiring where these freedoms have come from, and never allowing that religion may have had a part in creating them."

It is a deliberate selective reading of history.

But what if they succeed in eliminating God from the public sphere? What then? Without an absolute source of morality, of right and wrong, this power to determine what our rights are is transferred to the most powerful institution that will fill the vacuum: the State. Our rights then become, not an inalienable gift from God, but subject to the generosity of the State. Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis, and substitute for it the whim of the State?

Cvj of Placeholder in the comments section had this to say:
I consider religion as scaffolding that can be removed once it has served its purpose… what is debatable is whether we’ve reached such a stage or whether we’re capable of doing so.
We are capable. As Ive said, the 20th century onwards has been an exercise in secularism. I replied that what really is debatable is whether or not it is wise to do so. What is scary about the present science-based secularism of the so-called New Atheists is their utopian vision. Utopia carried out by humans based on human standards dont exactly have an exemplary record. The consequences of having the State take over as ultimate authority has been amply shown in the Soviet Union, Red China, Cambodia under Pol Pot, and lest we forget, the Third Reich.


In another thread on the brouhaha over that British sitcom, Dean Jorge Bocobo of Philippine-American Commentary had this to say (regarding the scantily-clad dancers in Pinoy noontime shows):
No really, when the middle-aged DOM hosts of these noon day shows leer at the latest “dancer” with her wiggling pudenda [sic], I see sexploitation writ large in the light of day.
Not one to pass on the chance to defend scantily-clad women, I asked why is it sexploitation. Those dancers were not being coerced. They freely chose their profession and are being paid for it. And with that I think it is time to come to the defense of what is called the World's Oldest Profession, the prostitutes, those purveyors of venereal services that society has maligned; indeed our legal system considers their profession illegal. A prostitute is here defined as one who engages in sexual services for a fee.

The way I see it, if the prostitute is an adult who has freely chosen to engage in sexual services for a fee, she is not being exploited. Mind you this isnt condoning the practice of white slavery, wherein the women arent free. That is deplorable. Our prostitute is a businesswoman, rendering a service for which there is a demand and the State has no right to stop her from plying her trade.

It is only through some sort of superiority complex that members of society, including feminists ironically, assume that the prostitute is being exploited. They lament the plight of the poor hooker, forced by poverty into a demeaning existence. But the prostitute doesnt see her job as especially demeaning, at least those Ive spoken to. It's their profession. They have considered the pros and cons (short hours and high pay vs. harrassment by cops, the dangers of being in a vulnerable state with strangers, and the judgemental derision of society at large) and still choose to ply their trade. If the cons outweigh the pros, they are free to look for another profession.

Again I must reiterate that the prostitute Im defending is the one who freely chose her profession and isnt forced into it against her will. And to be clear, a poor girl who chooses to be a prostitute because of poverty isnt being forced into prostitution. She has other options (become a maid for instance), has weighed all options, and chose prostitution. We as a society have no right to look down on the hooker honestly plying her trade.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The head office is halfway towards a unified theory

At least that's what I suspect. Perhaps they have another room for electromagnetism and gravity and theyre working towards a theory that unifies all the forces of nature. Who needs the Large Hadron Collider?