BY CHARLES MEMMINGER — I got a kick out of the report on this very website that Honolulu police are expecting an influx of prostitutes looking to provide comfort and recreation to international visitors coming to Hawaii for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in November. Ironically, instead of embracing practitioners of the world’s oldest and – based on longevity – most successful commercial enterprise, law enforcement is planning to crack down on these entrepreneurs. Organizers of the conference actually should host a panel of these professional paramours on their program. Those finance ministers could learn a thing or two about “economic cooperation” from those gals, if you catch my drift.
In olden days, legions of prostitutes (aka Bimbos Without Borders) would follow the great armies of Napoleon and Genghis Khan as they marched across Europe and Asia, providing much needed succor and amusement to the troops. It says something about the global economy that hordes of whores apparently now follow dignitaries around the world to international economic summits. Can’t you imagine French President Nicolas Sarkozy looking down from his Waikiki hotel lanai at a cluster of itinerant hookers and telling his aide, “Ooh la la! Third floozy from left … have her cleaned and brought to suite rapidement, s’il vous plait!” Considering what happened to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, that impatient, sex-starved former head of the International Monetary Fund who allegedly sexually attacked a chamber maid, having professional harlots on hand at economic meetings would save wear and tear on the hotel staff. I’m surprised the IMF doesn’t have hookers on the payroll just to keep the lecherous money managers from pawing at the help.
In most places around the world, prostitution is against the law. As a libertarian, I think it’s silly to make it illegal for one consenting adult to give another consenting adult money for sex. Why is that the government’s business? Besides, men have been paying women for sex forever. There’s a special word for it: Marriage. Do you think Donald Trump didn’t pay big bucks to enjoy the temporary company and sexual favors of the various beautiful blondes he married and then dumped? Trump’s exes did exceedingly okay in the money department. When it comes to financial success, Ivana Trump makes Heidi Fleiss look like a piker.
Nevertheless, in most places providing sex for money is a crime. But law enforcement has been spectacularly unsuccessful at stopping prostitution over millennia. Why? Because society really doesn’t want to get rid of prostitution. The penalties for harlotry – affordable fines and a few days in the slammer – are just lax enough to keep prostitution a thriving underground enterprise. (Do you know what hardworking ladies of the evening call a few days in the slammer? A break.) If society REALLY wanted to get rid of prostitution it would make it a capital offense, punishable by death. I’m not suggesting that. I’m just saying that you can gauge how seriously society considers an offence by how serious the punishment is. Murder: Death penalty or life in prison. Child rape: Life in prison. Robbery: Long stretch in the joint. Burglary: A few years behind bars. Shoplifting: Slap on the hand. Prostitution: Take a break, sister.
So I don’t think you can complain about the prevalence of an illegal enterprise when you don’t do anything seriously to make it stop. If a prostitute knew she could go to the electric chair for a fifty-dollar “half and half” with a stranger, she’d probably try to get a job at McDonald’s.
But society keeps trying to stop prostitution by stupid laws. The Hawaii state Legislature recently passed two ridiculous bills to “fight” prostitution. One would try to keep commercial sex away from schools. It would make it illegal to “offer or agree to pay a fee to another person for the purpose of sexual conduct within 750 feet of a school or public park.” Curiously, or insanely, the new law would make such an act a misdemeanor. Disorderly conduct and vandalism are misdemeanors. Look how swell those laws are working.
The second bill authorizes the state attorney general to give prostitution cases “greatest priority.” Huh? The attorney general, as chief law enforcement officer, can already decide which crime he wants to give the greatest priority. And it’s not prostitution. And it won’t be, no matter how many silly bills the legislature passes.
In a fit of unintended hilarity, the Democratic majority in the state House actually released a statement saying that if both bills become law in time for the APEC conference “security will be heightened.” I doubt that any of the Sisters of the Traveling Hotpants will be plying their trade around schools or even at Kapiolani Park. They’ll be on Kalakaua Avenue or inside hotel bars making goo-goo eyes at inebriated Asian and Pacific conferees. Which is fine with me. If shelling out cash for a little hoochi-koo will help conference attendees relax and figure out how to solve the global economic mess we’re in, it’s money well spent.