The new Cosanostra

Image of police and mobster Recently, I found myself reading Victim, Nuisance, Fallen Woman, Outlaw, Worker? Making the Identity 'Prostitute' In Canadian Criminal Law. I suspect a number of readers might think this academic work by Debbie Brock is a rather peculiar work to read, but such is a consequence of my ongoing edification pursuits. (As an aside, if I'm subjected to any more Jurgen Habermas, I may run a bath with a Wilkinson Sword.) Brock's underlying thesis speaks to the notion that identities are constructed and, in this instance, that the identity prostitute becomes forged by Canadian criminal law. Or, put another way, it is Canadian criminal law which creates identities.

As I considered the relationship between law and what are considered socially acceptable modes of conduct, I couldn't help but consider that, more often than not, there is also an inextricable link between law, the economic interests of the law-makers and, ironically, emerging modes of conduct deemed to have become socially acceptable or legitimate. Put a different way, there are a wide array of behaviours which, when prohibited by law, are deemed morally repugnant. Ironically, these morally repugnant acts magically become legitimate the instant they are decriminalized.

In 2017, if you're buying your dope from a guy named Stomper, Vinny, Blade or Torch down the street, you are, by default, a pothead, a stoner, a druggy or a dopehead. And the guy you're buying your shit from for $10 a gram is a trafficker, a dope peddler, a pusher, a dealer or the candy man. On July 1st, 2018, when the Canadian government legalizes the sale of recreational marijuana, informed consumers (today's stoners) will be able to purchase their head cabbage for the same $10 a gram from a government-run distribution network of retail outlets. Today's dealers are tomorrow's client service representatives who, instead of engaging in illicit criminal activity, will be holding down lucrative unionized positions with generous pensions, working in a prominent industry. The transformation from moral turpitude to a legitimate business venture is not merely a shift in what is defined by law as criminal. It is, quelle surprise, also accompanied by an economic transformation: one which shifts the economic proceeds out of the hands of iniquitous delinquents and into the coffers of the state. Tobacco, booze, gambling and drugs, once the domain of organized crime, is now heavily regulated by, and a major source of revenue for, the government. There is one area, however, that our legislators have yet to venture into.

Image of sex-trade protesters The laws governing the sex trade vary greatly as one travels around the globe. New Zealand, for instance, boasts licensed brothels which operate under its public health and employment laws. In Germany, there are proper state run brothels and sex trade workers are provided with health insurance, have to pay taxes and even receive social benefits like pensions. Regulated sex trade industries are also common in Greece, Switzerland, Turkey, Hungary and Latvia. Brothels and the sex industry are a major source of tourism for the Netherlands (or The Nether Lands if you prefer puns). While in Europe, if you breeze into Austria, not only would you find that brothels and work in the sex trade is legal, but that sex trade workers are also required to register and undergo periodic health examinations. Employment in the sex trade and brothels are also perfectly legal in Bangladesh and Ecuador. Belgium has implemented fingerprint technology in some of its state regulated brothels in an attempt to protect workers and if you're a disabled John (or Jane) in Denmark, the state will shell out some of the cost when you get laid. (After all, doesn't Valhalla promise an eternity of fighting, pilaging and plowing?)

Should Canada's legislators consider a similar shift? I have little doubt that legions of FemiNazis and gaggles of objectors from the moral right would be lined up with nooses screaming to lynch anyone advocating such a position. Notwithstanding the aforementioned, I can think of two good reasons why it may be appropriate for our legislators to legalize the sex trade. First, it would take the trade out of the hands of criminals and, arguably, place it in the hands of regulated practitioners. And second, and perhaps more important, it would provide for an additional revenue stream through taxation.

Our elected officials have a long standing history of introducing legislation that screws people over. It only seems appropriate that if the citizenry is going to get screwed, well, they may as well get screwed. With the government's hooks already deeply entrenched in gambling, booze and drugs, the sex trade seems the next logical step thus revealing the new Cosa Nostra.

Submitted by Vincent Pachinskie, 31 August 2017