“Organized religion” isn’t the problem, religion is

Many religious believers, and even some atheists, have occasionally claimed that religion itself is not inherently harmful. Instead, they contend that the problems caused by religion are actually the result of organized and institutional religious bodies. And while a significant portion of these issues may be due to the organized aspects of religion, organized religion is not the only source of harm. It is part of the problem, and it is a problem, but it is not the problem exclusively. While not all religious belief is necessarily harmful, the damage that does arise from religious belief would not be wholly eliminated with the end of organized religion.

It is, of course, unavoidable that religious organizations have many problems that are specific to their nature as institutions. If they have a leadership hierarchy, it’s possible for that leadership to become corrupted in various ways. For instance, a religious institution could potentially have a problem with rampant child abuse, and be directed by its leaders to avoid reporting this to law enforcement. Organized religions can also establish their own doctrines and dogma which their clergy and members are required to abide by. Depending on the content of their beliefs, this can be used for good or bad purposes, but it is nevertheless a blunt instrument. Simply being among a great number of people who appear to share your beliefs can discourage critical examination and doubt.

A religious body can be capable of exerting social pressure on individuals in a very focused way. A person’s social network, possibly including their own family, may be based largely in a certain religious community. This organization then has the power to influence that person and discourage any dissent by instructing their fellow adherents to shun and exclude them until they do what’s demanded of them. This can also be accomplished less explicitly by promoting the idea that a certain religious group is the only way to salvation, and the rest are terribly mistaken. This doesn’t leave much room for disagreement.

Religious organizations are especially well-positioned to mobilize their followers for political purposes, as demonstrated by the efforts of the Catholic Church to encourage parishioners to fight against gay marriage in California, Maine, Minnesota and Washington. While this could potentially be directed to more positive goals, it still presents one group’s religious beliefs as a basis for public policies that affect everyone.

All things considered, it isn’t looking very good for organized religion. But religion, whether it’s organized or not, comes with a variety of problems that its organizational aspects are not solely responsible for. For example, polls show that people who attend church more frequently are less likely to support gay marriage, and vice versa. This pattern has also emerged in polls of Catholics specifically, whose official religious doctrine opposes gay marriage. But what is the nature of the relationship between church attendance and personal religious fervor? Do people become more religious as a result of attending church? Or do they attend church because of the strength of their belief? Could both of these attributes be linked to an unidentified third factor? None of this is ruled out by the data, and neither is any of it singled out.

While it makes sense that exposure to organized religion in its various forms would have an influence on one’s religious views – especially among youth who didn’t get to choose whether to participate – it makes just as much sense that religiously inclined people would tend to gravitate toward religious bodies. Although it can be appealing to imagine that religious organizations originated as a conspiracy of social control – an impression that the actions of many religions have done nothing to dispel – it seems more likely that religious groups developed organically. Religious people, like anyone else with a certain interest, will try to seek out like-minded individuals. They find others who share their views, and they embark on a common enterprise.

It might be nice to think that ending religious organizations would suffice to end religion entirely, but many people have religious impulses that would persist in the absence of their favored religious group. Even if it were possible to “disorganize” organized religion and scatter it to the ends of the earth, religious people would once again discover that there are others like them, and they would regroup.

Without religious institutions to channel and coordinate believers, many of them would still be disposed to certain patterns of thought and behavior which can be hazardous. You don’t need to attend religious services to think that spirits are conversing with you and giving you their personal attention. You don’t need the affirmation of a religion to believe that deities are handing you the only correct answers and anyone else who says the same must be wrong. You don’t need hymns and homilies to attribute natural occurrences to divine intervention. You don’t need a pope or an imam to think it’s okay for you to believe something for no reason beyond simply wanting it to be true or feeling that it’s true. You don’t need official dogma to act like your ideas about God are a sufficient basis for depriving your fellow citizens of their equal rights – or killing them for insulting someone you call a prophet.

All this requires is an incomplete understanding of secularism, liberty, ethics, reason, and the natural world. Organized religion may facilitate such manifestations of ignorance, but make no mistake: they can and do flourish without it. People are born this ignorant. Religious belief provides a focal point for that, and organized religion offers an especially elaborate template for people to subscribe to wholesale. But this ignorance is the default state of the untrained human mind, and it’s a breeding ground for superstition.

Organized religions are often subjected to criticism simply because they’re such a convenient target. They’re so visible, powerful and active that it’s very easy to point out when they do something wrong – especially when they do a lot of things wrong all the time. When individuals are singled out, it’s typically because they’re a representative of a given religious group, whereas it would seem unnecessary and petty to point out that John Q. Unaffiliated God-Believer is being epistemically irresponsible. But he is, and on a large enough scale, this snowballs into a significant issue. There’s a tendency to miss the trees for the forest and treat religion as a separate entity from the individuals it’s composed of. In truth, the problem of organized religion wouldn’t and couldn’t exist if it weren’t for religious people.

Nothing Personal, Santorum

We all know Rick Santorum, that laughable twit
The existence of gays gets him in such a snit
On marriage and sex and relationships queer,
He’s made himself famous for stirring up fear
If you aren’t straight, then his stance is quite clear:
You deserve but a sneer and a jeer and a smear.

For years up in Congress, this served him quite well
Back then, bashing gays was a guaranteed sell
To whip up your base in a grand frothy mix,
Despising the queers was the greatest of tricks
“They’re a threat to us all!” Nothing more need be said,
Before riding to victory on dark waves of dread.

So you’d think, indispensable as this trick was,
It consistently keeps all the voters abuzz
Yet this was not to be, to our shock and surprise
For it seems the electorate opened their eyes
No more can Santorum turn hate into clout
The wedge has been blunted – the froth has run out!

And now our friend Rick finds himself quite harassed,
For he’s dogged by his history, stuck in the past
As he strains to catch up, he may soon be outclassed
In a world where, for once, bigots might come in last.

He’s jumped into this year’s Republican mire
To be our dear leader, Santorum aspires
But the hateful cliches he once called solid ground
Will not be enough to make him the one crowned.

At campaign stops all over, poor Rick has been chased
By his own phobic stain that just won’t be erased
In South Carolina, it came down the wire,
A supporter had asked him a question most dire
This mother was cheering for Rick all the way –
But what would she say to her son who is gay?

Standing right at his side, his wife Karen piped in
To tell us how “vilified” Rick has now been
By dastardly activists gay as a blade,
Who are “bullying” him for his righteous crusade
He “doesn’t hate anyone,” Karen opined,
Then Rick himself gave us a piece of his mind:

It’s mere “policy difference,” and it’s not his fault
If we think that’s “personal” or an “assault”
He “loves everyone”, Rick Santorum insists,
It’s just that gay marriages shouldn’t exist
“Accept everybody,” that’s what he’s “called to”
So this hullabaloo is undue and untrue.

Such hate and revulsion, he’s clearly above,
But let’s see how Santorum has shown us his love…

Back in 2003, in an AP report,
His remarks were of such a remarkable sort
Addressing gay marriage, that bane of his life,
He insists matrimony must be man and wife
“It’s not man on child,” the senator said,
It’s not “man on dog” – no, not even purebred.

Presumably also it’s not man on frog,
It’s not man on building, it’s not man on bog,
It’s not man on tree, man on tripe, man on tram,
And it’s certainly not man on green eggs and ham
So whatever the case, mill or mare or Manx cat,
It can only be woman and man, and that’s that.

And further, he said with his mouth tinged in foam,
There’s no right to consensual sex in your home
Against sodomy laws, there can be no sound case
If you’re gay, don’t have sex! And remember your place,
Right next to the barnyard and NAMBLA’s home base.

So I guess that’s the “policy difference” of Rick
He says that’s not personal? I say: You dick!
Perhaps you forgot that we’re people with lives,
We’re partners, we’re families, we’re husbands, we’re wives
We even have children to raise in this land,
And so we will not stand to live under your hand!

But I’m sure we’re alright – no, we’re not in poor shape
If our whole country thinks we’re as bad as child rape
And I’m certain you really do like us, of course,
When you say that our love is like sex with a horse
If people should ever believe what you say,
What effect could that possibly have on my day?

And what would you think if I said, with a smile,
“I love you, you rapist! I love you, zoophile!”
Would that seem sincere and resoundingly true?
It doesn’t sound much better coming from you.

So let’s all take pity on poor bullied Rick,
Who thinks we’re no better than screwing a tick
Poor vilified homophobe, Christian and straight,
And legally married in all fifty states
He loves everyone! So call off the attack,
I’m sure you’re all making him feel quite blah.

“I hate religion,” says man praying to God

So here we have a guy who says religion is a crock
It’s hateful and belligerent – but Jesus is his rock!
Now what’s the difference, you might ask, that sets apart his creed?
Religion’s just hypocrisy, self-righteousness and greed
To follow Jesus means you simply give yourself to God,
Who died for all our sins and stuff – now doesn’t this sound odd?

He loves his Bible, church, and Lord, he still believes in sin
But nope, that’s not religion, for the difference lies within
He doesn’t think he’s perfect – oh yes, what a humble soul
He’s not a fan of rules, just believing is his role
So don’t be sanctimonious, admit that you’re a sinner,
Believe that Jesus died for you, and God says you’re a winner!

I’ve never heard of that before, dear Jefferson Bethke
But it sure sounds familiar – oh! It’s Christianity!
Now who on earth would fall for this cute definition trick?
If you don’t think about it, then it does seem rather slick.

Religion’s often seen as being hate-filled and judgmental
To have that name hitched to your faith would be so detrimental
So let’s just find another word – let’s call the whole thing “Jesus”
And maybe it might actually change how the world sees us.

Yes, I see what you did there, Jeff, but nobody’s impressed
When one religious movement claims that only they are blessed
It’s nothing new when churches paint all others as a blight,
As sheer demonic heresy – for they alone are right
From doctrine, dogma, sin and Hell, you give us no relief
It’s just a crafty strategy to market your belief.

So who is Mr. Bethke, and from what was he inspired?
He says it’s just a home-made film. Is that how this transpired?
We know that he’s a member of a church that’s called Mars Hill
Where thousands gather every week to hear the holy spiel.

Mark Driscoll is their pastor, a self-styled rebel cleric
Whose stances, theologically, are really quite generic
This macho, hardcore preacher never hesitates to tell:
If you haven’t heard of Jesus, then prepare to burn in Hell!
To him there’s no salvation in benevolent behavior
Being nice won’t help you – you need Jesus as your savior.

And no doubt Pastor Driscoll thinks himself rather volcanic,
When he tells his parishioners that yoga is Satanic
On women in the clergy, we’re assured that he’s no advocate
If they can’t bring in manly men, that means they’re inadequate.

Instructing people on how they should live their married life,
He tells a tale of how he wished to leave his pregnant wife
What would prompt a Godly man to make this declaration?
He found out that in high school, she had sexual relations
And when he goes on Facebook to mock “effeminate” preachers,
There’s little to distinguish him from other Christian teachers.

While Bethke aims to make his faith seem so much more dimensional,
We all know that it’s nothing but religion most conventional
And I don’t think you need so many platitudes to say,
“Religion’s old and stuffy – now let’s go to church and pray!”


Let’s stop appropriating Jesus

Whenever a self-proclaimed Christian says or does something that’s particularly ignorant, hateful or inhumane, it can be pretty tempting to reply: “So that’s what Jesus would do?” I know I’ve done it before. It’s quite a satisfying thing to say, isn’t it? In just a few simple words, you can shock them with the revelation that they themselves have failed to act in accordance with the will of their own divine leader. It really should be rather crushing.

Yet for all of its succinct elegance, this particular point usually seems to fail at actually changing anyone’s mind. Why? I suspect it’s because this just isn’t a very good argument after all. As is often the case, my mistake became obvious to me once I saw someone else committing the same error. In an open letter to the family who disowned them, a certain blogger asked why they would accept a savior who spent his time in the company of tax collectors, prostitutes, outcasts and sinners, while rejecting their own child for being transgender, homeless, a sex worker, and addicted to drugs.

While their family’s decision to abandon them is appalling, this question immediately shifted my perspective on this sort of argument, and made the situation quite a bit clearer. As a desperate plea for humanity to people who lack all semblance of it, it’s certainly understandable in its motivations, but nevertheless unlikely to be effective. Here’s why: Both right-wing Christians and more liberal individuals who make this argument are referring to Jesus by name, but the characters they envision are so dissimilar, they can scarcely be said to be talking about the same person.

While people who ask these Christians why they’re not acting more like Jesus may see him as preaching a message of universal love, radical inclusion, social justice, economic equality and non-aggression, the Christians they’re addressing are more likely to view Jesus as judgmental, intolerant, narrowly dogmatic, homophobic, obsessed with chastity, and only merciful and loving in a way that can somehow be expressed by eternal torture. If we hadn’t been explicitly told that the individuals described here are actually supposed to be the same person, we probably wouldn’t come to that conclusion on our own. In this area of dispute, people are using the name “Jesus” to express two distinctly different notions. That’s why challenging intolerant Christians with the idea of an all-loving Jesus doesn’t get you very far – they simply don’t subscribe to that concept. It fails to reveal any kind of hypocrisy on their part, because they aren’t actually being hypocritical.

Subsequently, this often tends to become an argument about what kind of person the historical Jesus really was, and whose characterization of Jesus is more accurate. Taking the discussion in this direction would be a serious mistake, because it only serves to validate the assumption that this should matter. If we did try to tackle this on a theological level, simple claims like “Jesus loved everyone” and “Jesus hung out with sinners” would likely be met with a plethora of detailed rebuttals. Misguided as they may be, Christian apologists have had plenty of time to practice and refine their tactics. But no matter who’s correct about what Jesus really meant to say – assuming this can even be decisively resolved – it still doesn’t mean that his message possesses any exceptional force to determine what’s right and wrong.

On a secular level, the teachings of Jesus have no unique bearing on ethics beyond those of others, and in many respects, they stand out as especially bizarre and disturbing. Regardless of your own moral stance, attempting to show that Jesus was more in line with your values means trying to take ownership of someone who, according to the Bible, said you should sell your clothes so you can buy a sword. This is someone who said that anyone who doesn’t follow him will burn in Hell. This is someone who called a woman a “dog” because she was of a different race. This is someone who said that his religion would turn families against each other and tear them apart. This is someone who said you have to hate your parents, your children, your partner, and even your own life in order to follow him – and even under a less literal interpretation of the word “hate”, this still suggests that we should value this man above anything else in our lives.

Here, C. S. Lewis may have actually had a point: Unless Jesus was of a divine nature such that his proclamations can define morality, he wasn’t exactly a “great moral teacher” as a human being.

So how did people who would likely disavow these hateful and intolerant doctrines find themselves in the position of fighting to have Jesus on their side? Yet again, while the argument may be faulty, the motives are understandable. Given that the character of Jesus is so deeply admired in our culture, people have every reason to try and harness that respect to support their own preferred values. As long as Jesus is considered the purest embodiment of virtue, there’s bound to be conflict over whose virtues he embodies.

Is this really something we want to encourage? Arguing that Jesus would endorse our ethics over those of others only reinforces the assumption that his alleged moral outlook is important to us and worth fighting about. It shouldn’t be, and trying to gather support for your own values by redefining the idea of Jesus that people have chosen to believe in is a kind of intellectual dishonesty and rhetorical deception that should be beneath all of us. We can do better than this.

So: what would Jesus do? Who cares?

Overstating the case for full decriminalization of prostitution

Perhaps the most controversial portion of the previous guest video was the assertion that sex work is often dangerous and harmful to women, in contrast to certain testimonials that suggest it is a relatively mundane profession. The backlash to this claim has been swift, fierce, and thoroughly informative. Along with assorted criticism of the idea that prostitution is itself a problem, the most common response was that the decriminalization of buying and selling sex would reduce the harms associated with prostitution. All of these views are certainly worth examining.

One of the first objections to arise was the suggestion that you shouldn’t talk about sex workers at all if you aren’t a sex worker yourself or if you haven’t spoken to sex workers. First of all, people often discuss topics that they may not be personally involved in, and while firsthand experience can provide unique and valuable insight, it does not necessarily make you any more correct on a given point. Furthermore, to assume that someone’s position on sex work must mean that they’ve never spoken with any sex workers implies that doing so will reliably alter someone’s views and induce them to adopt a particular stance on the subject. It suggests that it would be outright impossible for them to maintain their present position after, or even because of, speaking to sex workers. For anyone to insinuate that the experiences of sex workers will invariably support their own stance seems very overreaching.

Others pointed out that sex worker rights advocates are often also involving in fighting for causes such as immigration reform and transgender rights. This is indeed a praiseworthy endeavor, but the validity of these causes does not make the remainder of their positions correct by contagion. Conversely, many noted that prostitution is also seen as harmful by fundamentalist Christians and certain severely transphobic feminists, as if to say that anyone who shares this view is just as bad as these groups. But the wisdom or idiocy of someone who holds a certain stance does not change the validity, truth value, or factual support of the position itself. The Catholic Church may oppose the death penalty as a matter of official policy, but this obviously doesn’t mean that this view is inherently linked to them or forever contaminated by its association with them.

Further, some drew attention to the fact that various so-called “rescue” groups seeking to help sex workers leave prostitution are often run by evangelical Christians who frequently engage in religious indoctrination, and are otherwise insensitive to the actual needs of sex workers. This is clearly a problem, as is the invasion of religion into a multitude of charity and assistance roles in society. But just as with feeding the hungry, it does not mean that the very idea of helping sex workers who want to leave the trade is irredeemably flawed – only that its execution has often been compromised by ignorance and blind dogma, and this needs to change.

It’s also been mentioned that studies by anti-prostitution researchers such as Melissa Farley and Janice Raymond often contain methodological flaws which severely undermine their validity. But regardless of the nature of these errors, the flaws in studies purportedly showing that prostitution is dangerous do not mean that it must therefore be safe, just as flaws in a study showing it to be safe would not mean it was harmful. Instead, it indicates that the study in question simply does not tell us anything useful about the facts of prostitution.

Many people also seemed to suggest that claiming prostitution is harmful must mean passing some kind of moral judgment upon sex workers themselves for their activities. Finding this unacceptable, they concluded that it must therefore be wrong to say that prostitution is harmful. But regarding prostitution as harmful does not necessitate condemning sex workers. After all, many people have cited the dangerous working conditions for sex workers as a reason why criminalization is an inadequate and harmful policy. Passing judgment on workers would require some kind of ethical theory beyond the factual question of whether prostitution is dangerous, and I personally do not see the condemnation of sex workers as warranted or appropriate in any way.

On a related note, some people seemed imply that to criticize testimonial ads such as those from Turn Off The Blue Light in Ireland is tantamount to supporting social stigma against sex workers. Apparently, since these ads aim to diminish the stigma against sex workers, then taking issue with these ads must mean endorsing that stigma. But this doesn’t follow, and holding to such logic only serves as a way of using one’s well-intentioned motives to preclude any criticism of the actual results.

While it may not have been their goal, these posters neglect to mention the very real dangers faced by many sex workers as part of their job. In doing so, they give the impression that it’s not much different from any other profession – that it’s a safe, uneventful, and thoroughly ordinary way to make a living, chosen freely and on its own merits rather than due to a lack of alternatives. But for many sex workers, it is not a job that suits their needs, in terms of workplace safety, a living wage, freedom from exploitation, and, yes, not wanting to have to sleep with paying customers just to survive. Instead, these posters depict sex work as a satisfying, voluntary and harmless job like any other. That may be the case for some sex workers, but certainly not for many others. And unless misleadingly portraying such circumstances as typical of sex work is actually the only way to reduce stigma, no one is opposing such efforts by simply objecting to this approach.

Many people did say that prostitution shouldn’t be seen as different from any other job, in that many people are forced to hold unpleasant jobs because there are no better alternatives and they need money. But prostitution is different: it frequently comes with an inordinate risk of assault, robbery, sexual harassment, rape, and murder, unlike that of practically any other job. Workplace safety is often lacking, if not absent entirely. For this, workers receive no hazard pay whatsoever. Given the conditions under which many of them work, it’s plainly inaccurate to say that there’s no more coercion in choosing prostitution than there is in any other undesirable job. Such circumstances do not tend to attract willing employees.

Sex workers themselves have attested to this. In a commonly cited study by the Pivot Legal Society in Vancouver, many workers said that prostitution should not be a job that anyone could be required to take as part of a search for work in order to receive income assistance:

“Well I should say sex work, being in the sex trade is not an option; it’s just like a survival thing. I mean… it’s usually… not by choice…. If someone were forcing you to go back, …that’s like a pimp, that’s kind of saying, oh you have to go risk your life.”

“I don’t think they should be forced into the trade [by an income assistance worker] because of things that could happen in the industry as being a sex worker – harmful to the mind like bad dates and drug use…”

“Because not everybody has the emotional control to be a sex worker, or detachment. Detachment to be a sex worker.”

“I believe that it is a very hard job to do, you are basically a sexual surrogate… and I agree that it takes a certain… personality type to do that kind of job. It’s a very, very specialized occupation.”

“There’s a difference between selling your ass and selling a hamburger. The hamburger’s not personal.”

If listening to sex workers is key, then it would seem that even sex workers consider prostitution to be different in kind from other types of employment.

People have often claimed that the hazards of prostitution arise from the criminalization of selling or buying sexual services, operating brothels, procuring and soliciting, and that many of these risks would be ameliorated if all of this were decriminalized and treated like any other fully legal profession. And there is quite a lot to be said for this position. When prostitution is against the law, this discourages workers from reporting any crimes against them for fear of prosecution, leaving them extremely vulnerable to abuse. It also leaves their jobs completely outside the realm of any kind of workplace safety regulations, and their employers aren’t required to operate within the applicable labor laws, creating an environment where exploitation flourishes.

In theory, decriminalization would remedy most if not all of these issues, and prostitution finally would become a job chosen because it suits people’s needs, with no more coercion than any other. But has this actually happened? New Zealand is often upheld as a model for full decriminalization, yet in a five-year review (PDF) of the 2003 Prostitution Reform Act, many workers reported having experienced assault, violent threats, being held against their will, theft, refusal to pay, and even rape. Few of them reported this to the police, and most who were surveyed felt that the Reform Act “could do little about the violence that occurred.” “…less than a quarter – felt there had been an improvement.” While there seem to be very few studies comparing the general well-being and safety of sex workers before and after this kind of reform, decriminalization does not appear to have been enough to prevent workers in New Zealand from continuing to experience violent abuse and mistreatment, especially those working at street level.

If prostitution should be treated like any other job, then it’s worth considering that we wouldn’t accept such unsafe conditions in any other job. Most people don’t have a problem with recognizing that some working conditions are simply too dangerous to be allowed, and such businesses are regulated or prohibited accordingly. Yet many advocates for decriminalization claim that too much legal regulation would only drive the sex trade underground once more and leave workers unprotected again. Clearly, determining the proper stringency of regulation is a challenging and delicate task, and the actual impact of a policy on workers should be the bottom line. But to suggest that anything which could conceivably impede the transaction must be done away with for fear of fueling the black market is simply negligent. Having the law look the other way on this does not make sex workers any more safe.

If decriminalization does actually improve the safety and welfare of sex workers, then this is a great start. If it doesn’t, and their working conditions remain just as dangerous, then other options are worth considering. Many advocates for decriminalization approach this issue with a goal of harm reduction, and so do I. And if these unacceptable dangers are simply inherent to prostitution (or a certain variety of it) and cannot be minimized while leaving the profession itself intact, then reducing the harm of prostitution requires reducing prostitution itself.

We can agree that certain legal regimes have been shown to be unsuccessful at accomplishing this, and even harmful to sex workers without addressing their needs, but it does not mean that this can’t be a valid goal. It shouldn’t be outside the bounds of acceptable discourse to believe that nobody should be exposed to such hazards in the course of employment. This does not have to imply an unbending adherence to any particular policy, whether it’s full criminalization, criminalization of clients, full decriminalization, or legal regulation. Many people contend that all efforts at reducing prostitution have failed, but just as with any other problem we’re faced with, past failures are no reason to stop developing new strategies.

Finally, some people pointed out that because prostitution is often the only option for sex workers, then working to eliminate prostitution would be taking their only option away from them. That may be the case, but there are a plethora of circumstances where people are deprived of income because something is too dangerous or inhumane to be legally allowed, such as child labor and sweatshops. Even if someone claimed that they had a wonderful experience working at an unsafe coal mine, and wanted no legal interference in this arrangement, such conditions would still not be permitted. The answer is not to remove the laws which prohibit these kinds of employment, but to remedy the lack of options which is forcing people into unsafe jobs such as prostitution. Sex workers have often attested to the inadequate social support they receive, which leaves them with nowhere else to turn. If nobody ever had to enter sex work, then it seems likely that fewer people would.

The question of which legal framework is most effective for dealing with prostitution is far from resolved, but full decriminalization appears to fall short of being the panacea that many have presented it as. The presumptuousness of people who expect and then demand complete support for this policy position is vastly out of proportion to the actual evidence of its efficacy. Contrary to prevailing opinion, it has not been established as a proven fact that would be as foolish to question as evolution. There is room for disagreement here, and recognizing that prostitution remains a dangerous field does not constitute a blemish upon one’s rationality.