Response To Anchor Rising

UPDATE: Justin was correct, in that I didn’t do a good job of explaining what surprised me about his post.  It was the notion that it would somehow be simple to make the sort of changes that Rep Ajello and I, and others (and seemingly some folks over at AR?) support.

ORIGINAL: I’m a sometimes-peruser of Anchor Rising. Needless to say, I’m in disagreement with most of what they write, but I do find their work to be generally sophisticated. That’s why I’m surprised at Justin’s take on the prostitution issue, which was recently brought to my attention.

The (sic) Segal and Ajello may not realize that they’ve done so, but they concede that prostitution is typically a profession of the downtrodden:

Where does this leave the remaining women, likely the large majority of prostitutes, who engage in sex work by choice, whether out of [1] economic hardship or because of [2] substance-abuse problems?

The Projo edited this from “Where does this leave the remaining women — likely the large majority of prostitutes — who engage in sex work by choice, out of economic necessity, or because of substance abuse problems?” But, yes, sex work is obviously frequently a profession of the downtrodden — and I generally don’t like to throw the downtrodden behind bars.

But the bigger point – In response to concerns that the prostitution bill will land a lot of said downtrodden women in prison, or in deportation proceedings, Justin writes:

If this were the true foundation of the objection to stronger prostitution laws, a straightforward compromise would tilt the law even more to the benefit of victimized women.

The changes are indeed straightforward — but the proponents of the bill don’t appear willing to accommodate them. Rep Giannini’s op-ed in the Projo today ( appears to be down) makes it clear that the point of the law is to coerce prostitutes into testifying against their captors, under threat of prison time or fines, or, in practice, deportation. (Which contradicts Prof Hughes’ expressed desires of as recently as 8 or 9 months ago, when she argued against criminalizing prostitutes, on the grounds that it was unfair to punish victims.)

An amendment designed to address the worries that Rep. Ajello and I discussed — forbidding state and local police from contacting ICE upon arrest of suspected trafficking victims, and eliminating penalties against prostitutes (or reducing them, and providing diversion to counseling, by right, for the first several offenses) — will not be accepted by the advocates for H5044. I’d be happy to learn otherwise.

3 thoughts on “Response To Anchor Rising”

  1. matthew lawrence

    Uggh. I almost sent you an angry e-mail about that sentence. Figures it was a ProJo edit.

  2. I’ve suggested said changes literally a dozen times or more, in person and in writing, to Reps, anti-trafficking advocates — their absence is the reason for most of the split among those advocates — and others, to no avail. And they are the basis for much of the tension between the House and those horrible Senators. The op-ed was a public assertion of those concerns, with what I thought was the obvious implication that the bill, in theory, could be changed to address them. In practice, that appears unlikely.

  3. I’m not sure what it is in what I’ve written that surprises you. Your Projo op-ed didn’t mention the compromises that you now call straightforward. Both the argument and political utility of that piece would have been stronger if you’d mentioned the changes that you now insinuate were presented but declined by the opposition. Sounds like nobody suggested the compromises, and you’re rebounding from Giannini’s piece to presume their impossibility without actually having to consider them.

    Be that as it may, there should be no surprise that I’m not an operative working behind the scenes with politicians and other advocates, but just a guy whose opinions offer differ in particulars from those expressed by other folks with whom I might share some general goals and philosophies.

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