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Chris Russell said on January 19th, 2010 at 11:38 am

If oral sex is a felony in New Orleans — in New Orleans — I know quite a few dangerous characters!

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Wow, that habitual offender law is unconstitutional as fuck. Additional punishment available only if you DON’T plead guilty, jesus christ.

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Well, Louisiana, if you didn’t think you had budget problems before, get ready to order a new bucket of red ink for all those prisons beds you’ll be needing to hold the legion of NO hookers.

And running the term “sex offender” down to the lowest common denominator is a great way to make the term mean absolutely jack diddly squat. I know I’ll feel safer referencing one of those sex offender websites and finding a map thick with dots.

Really, just a stellar way to pollute the police and judicial system with the wrecked lives of the underclass.

Of course, this was the same state that tried to make child molestation a capital crime.

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And running the term “sex offender” down to the lowest common denominator is a great way to make the term mean absolutely jack diddly squat. I know I’ll feel safer referencing one of those sex offender websites and finding a map thick with dots.

Ugh jesus christ this. There’s a certain sad, sickening inevitability to the dumbing down of “sex offender” to mean, basically, sex (See also: “sexting”, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/01/15/national/main4723161.shtml).

I dunno, maybe if we’d called it “RAPIST AND CHILD MOLESTATIONING OFFENDERS” the stupid set would have had a tougher time fucking it up but honestly I doubt they’d have let that stand in their way.

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Man. Somebody had a shitty MLK Day!

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Can we go back to the end of the US Civil War and say “OK, slavery’s done, we expect preferential trade deals from now until the end of time, and you’ll allow free emigration to the north and treat any minorities silly enough to stay behind well, or we’ll come back and kick your ass again. Now bugger off, we don’t want you.”

It would save us so much trouble….

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Is David Vitter going to be charged as a sex offender for patronizing prostitutes? I mean, fair’s fair…

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I love my state. I really, really do. There is no place on earth quite like Louisiana. But sometimes the stupid is just. Too. Much.

But lets break this down. The only thing more corrupt than the political system in New Orleans is the NOPD. And yeah, there are bad apples in every police force (and good guys too), but the amount of shit cops in NO get away with is rediculous. It’s not surprising that these two groups got together (probably with a little help from some right-wing group or another) to screw the sex workers, and not in that good way. In fact, I wonder what’s gonna happen when some cop or assistant DA finds out their favorite trick has gotten pegged as a sex offender? Hmmmm…

But beyond the cruelty of this whole thing, there’s another reason this is an incredibly dumb move: hookers in The City are a huge economic engine. This is especially true when the various business conventions are in town, which is more and more often now as New Orleans gets back on its feet. But, even more lucrative than convention season is when the Super Bowl comes to town (before Katrina, the big game was held in New Orleans one out of every four years, on average). I know Super Bowl locations are scheduled years in advance, but I’m sure NO is soon to be in line, if not already scheduled.

So, when the (already crowded) prisons start to fill up, and costs skyrocket, and populations shift due to the presence of “sex offenders”, and a huge load of cash is taken out of the local economy, and all the other fallout that could very well come from this… when all this comes down, what then? As usual, no one bothered to look at the long term effects of their decisions. And really, do you think anyone in this country would really bat an eyelash if prostitution were legalized within New Orleans city limits? Not a chance. They’d either say, “it’s about time” or “that place was a sinful hellhole already, what difference does it make?”

Like I said, I love my state, but Jesus-Fuck is this shortsighted. Well, at least I can comfort myself with the fact that I’m not in Mississippi.

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Zifnab’s right, I’ve seen this ratcheting down of what qualifies as a “sex offender” and the penalties and cost of monitoring skyrocket in my state for a number of years.

A zero tolerence policy for anyone designated as a sex offender and the political need for the state legislature to introduce new, tougher penalties every election cycle results in both irrational policy (we had a guy arrested because he went to church, because it has a child-care center on the grounds) and the need to construct new prisons every other budget cycle.

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Things to note about that law:

1) the additional penalty if you even contest the law in court and lose is obscenely unconstitutional. Challenging your arrest in court shouldn’t increase your punishment (violation of 8th amendment, people?), all it does is preemptively force people who are afraid of losing the case EVEN IF INNOCENT to accept punishment as I noted earlier EVEN IF INNOCENT.

2) I don’t see anything about this law being used to hunt down the Johns, who are the true offenders here. If there weren’t any Johns there won’t be a demand for sex workers.

3) Who’s next on the list, eh? Once all the prostitutes are serving life sentences in some state prison in Houma, will the cops go after pole dancers? Lingerie stores? Cheerleaders?

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@PaulW 100% agreement with your whole comment. #1 might even violate the 5th Amendment. #2 is how they do it in Sweden– it’s legal (or at least alegal) to be a prostitute, it’s illegal to patronize them. #3 I suspect it will be the shops that sell vibrators.

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@PaulW – As far as tracking down the Johns: if they did that, too many “important” people would face potential legal trouble, and we can’t have that, now can we?

@Alexa – And don’t worry about the vibrator merchants. Given the precedent set in Texas a few years back re: selling dildos, I think the local toy stores should be safe.

I still think the whole thing gets a good re-thinking when the economic impact is finally realized.

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I saw this just the other day and nearly through my lap top across the room it made me so mad. I am going to use this heavily in my Criminology class this semester.

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Wow! I think this finally tops the law in Florida that requires women who do not know the paternity of their child (but who want a new husband-or some such-to adopt said child) to advertise in regional papers and such so that he can have the opportunity to sue for joint custody or to relinquish custody. The real problem here comes in cases of rape (especially stranger rape) and should she happened to become pregnant as a result. Under this law, if her attacker was never caught, he could still legally sue you for custody (even sole custody) under this new law, even if he could no longer be arrested or prosecuted for the rape.

When I heard about it, I wanted to punch Jeb Bush in the neck!!

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Think about it though: having to go to every house in the neighborhood and tell them you were a prostitute? Great way to build a clientele!

You know, I notice that, for all the talk about making this kind of sex and that kind of marriage illegal in the South, there’s not a word about any law against adultery. Could it be because the place is lousy with heterosexual, tradition-values church-goers who want to be able to fuck around without accountability? Oh sure, it’s just between two consenting adults and none of the state’s business, unless one of them is financially desperate or gay.

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I’d like to remind people who are aghast at how much this is going to cost that the prison system in the USA has been mostly privatized by companies like, oh, Halliburton. The insane money sink that this is going to become is a feature, not a bug.

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By which I mean that the plan is to take the taxpayers money and put it into the pockets of Halliburton’s shareholders (amongst other corporations).

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Louisiana’s judicial system, in addition to being corrupt, awful, and a human rights nightmare, is a bit different than that in the rest of the country.

I don’t know the details, but they have something to do with it having been formerly French.

Louisiana makes the Texas judicial system look good.

They have some insane number of people sentenced to life without parole for essentially minor crimes. In a -shocking- indeed -shocking- turn of events that group is disproportionally black.

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the additional penalty if you even contest the law in court and lose is obscenely unconstitutional.

Has the Supreme Court ever ruled that? Is there anything similar that they’ve ruled upon?

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“I understand police wanting to cut down on prostitution; in a system where it’s not legal, it’s generally unsafe, and you want to disincentivize unsafe behaviour.”

I’ve read the blog of at least one actual prostitute who insists that prostitution is no more dangerous to women than any other profession, and that this is an urban legend created to discourage women from entering the field.

Just saying. :)

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John, maybe she’s just saying that to lure idiot wannabes in to the field so the predators will eat them instead. Or maybe, you know, it’s not an actual prostitute’s blog. (I hate to break it to you, but also MGK may not actually be a legal luchadore.)

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I’ve read the blog of at least one actual prostitute who insists that prostitution is no more dangerous to women than any other profession, and that this is an urban legend created to discourage women from entering the field.

And I know gun owners that claim their firearms are perfectly safe and would never be used against them or anyone else that isn’t trespassing or furry critter.

I also heard the CEO of Whole Foods say we don’t need a minimum wage. :-p

The spread of STDs and other forms of disease is a real risk among prostitutes. I don’t know any other profession where the risk is nearly as high. Maybe fast food.

But is it a more serious health risk than – say – liquor joints or cigar shops or casinos? Hell, what about skydiving? We’re not a risk-averse society. And, ultimately, if an individual recognizes the risks as too high, he typically just chooses not to engage in the dangerous activity.

Prostitution prohibition isn’t so much a “bad” policy as an archaic one.

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But STD is a preventable risk, and so is violence against prostitutes. I’ll let her speak for herself, by including the link to her blog and letting you read her archives and decide for yourself how much actual knowledge of the sex industry she has:

http://mistressmatisse.blogspot.com/

But basically, she says that just because some prostitutes make bad decisions that put them into dangerous situations, doesn’t mean prostitution is a dangerous profession. A careless carpenter can saw off his own thumb, but we don’t tell people, “Don’t go into carpentry! It’s dangerous!”

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I’m not sure how completely preventable violence is against ANYBODY. I’m basically an academic secretary, but I would never say violence against secretaries is a preventable risk, because pretty much anybody can be a stomach-stabbing whackjob. Hell, I get violent people up in my shit all the time, just because it is my job to say no, and lots of people have never been exposed to the concept of no. The only way you could not risk violence is by never ever exposing yourself to other human beings, ever. And you would be a really crummy broke-ass prostitute if you did that.

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What about webcams?

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Mary Warner said on January 22nd, 2010 at 3:46 am

Every time I think Oklahoma has the worst legal system in the country I hear something about Louisiana that makes me feel a tiny bit less ashamed.
How long has that law about appeals been in force? I don’t see how it could possibly stand up in court, but I guess the nature of the law may prevent anyone from ever challenging it, huh?

Laws against prostitution have always turned my stomach. The way hookers are treated, even in places where it’s legal, is just unjustifiably cruel. (Except maybe in New Zealand. That’s the only place I know of where the laws are even remotely reasonable.) I consider prostitution law, along with drug laws and immigration restrictions and the ‘War on Terror’ to be crimes against humanity with which to charge US politicians if we could ever drag them to court in the Hague. (Of course, every other country would also be in trouble, but I have no problem with that.)

By the way, do you know who is opposed to sick laws like this? Libertarians.

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@Mary Warner:

Possibly because Libertarians are against any law that infringes on any kind of personal freedom or action?

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Mary, also opposed to sick laws like this? Everyone in this thread.

I think a lot of folks on the progressive/liberal side would agree with you on the legalization of prostitution and at least the decriminalization of some drugs. Hell, there are even some working models in states for both of those ideas.

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Mary Warner said on January 23rd, 2010 at 3:03 am

You didn’t think I’d be opposed to this?

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The registration of sex offenders itself is an inhuman, unjust farce to begin with. It effectively makes their sentences infinite in length and takes away any chance or motivation to redeem themselves.

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