Is it wrong to pay for sex?

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wallet with a condom

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Got your attention? This title came up while I was searching for interesting podcasts using my Listen app on my Android phone. It definitively sparked my curiosity, and turned out to be a great find, so I want to share it with the millions of people that read my blog.

The NPR podcast was for a 3 vs. 3 Oxford-style debate sponsored by Intelligence Squared on April 21, 2009 in New York.  They use an electronic voting system to poll the audience before and after the debate to determine the winner by comparing the results.

They have other debates, more than fifty at the time I write this article. Not all subjects interest me, but it sure is nice to have a site with such relevant content.

I like to think people can use the Internet for other than porn, and the Annoying Orange. God forbid, we may actually learn something or at least understand a different perspective while being entertained!

IT’S WRONG TO PAY FOR SEX from Intelligence Squared U.S. on Vimeo.

I found the debate very interesting at many levels, and enjoyed the skills of the participants, as well as the intellectual stimulation of analysing their arguments from both points of view.

In my opinion the team in favor of the motion (those that say it is wrong to pay for sex) distorted the debate, with great skill I must admit, their strategy polarized the audience and won them the debate.

The team against the motion (those that say it is okay to pay for sex) attempted to maintain a more moderate and balanced perspective on the subject, but failed to persuade the audience to consider their premises, and were thwarted by the opposing team tactics to impose the debate premises. They changed the debate towards prostitution, child abuse, rape, and human trafficking. Lionel Tiger, the anthropologist, quickly exposes his opponents’ strategy, and masterfully labels it as “methodologically improper”.

Consider these examples:

1. I pay an agent to have a pianist play for me.

2. I pay an agent to have a pianist play for me. The pianist never wanted to be a pianist, and as a child was subjected to physical and psychological abuse by his parents and teachers, forced to become a pianist against his will. Later was sold as a slave to a wealthy drug lord that holds him captive, and threatens to kill him if he escapes or doesn’t play when and where he pleases, and unilaterally keeps an arbitrary amount of the profit from his artistic performances as his agent.

Are these two situations the same?

To me these are two separate issues altogether! In one I’m a music lover. In the other I’m a ruthless human trafficker and child abuse supporter.

When I say I’ll pay an agent to have a pianist play for me, I’m acting in good faith, all parties should have legal capacity and act in a voluntary manner. I can cancel the performance, the pianist may never show up. I could lose my deposit, or they will have to refund my money, respectively. I’m not committing a crime, nor being an accomplice to any crime.

I don’t think it’s fair or accurate to say we should outlaw the hiring of musicians, because the demand of music lovers drives parents to abuse and force their kids to be musicians, and also drives the human trafficking trade of musicians. Which may in fact be true, but another issue altogether.

I agree with the team against the motion, however, they firmly selected their premises to include women, rape, abuse, poverty, gender inequality, slavery, human trafficking, and other human rights violations, while deliberately excluding men, legal capacity and free will. Bold move.

Free will in particular is one tough cookie. I wonder what God was thinking when he created free will! It makes everything much more complicated.

I was impressed at how the winning team achieved the advantage by ignoring or ridiculing the other team’s attempts to introduce premises that would have broadened the scope and moderated the tone of the debate. I think Sun Tzu would agree with me when I say that the winning team placed themselves in a position where losing was impossible, therefore winning was inevitable.

Let’s remember what the moderator states at the beginning of the debate. The object of the exercise is to win the debate.

I guess winning a debate, like winning an election, isn’t about making the best analysis, having the best arguments, stating fair premises, or proposing the best solutions. It’s a matter of obtaining the majority of the votes by driving the majority to vote for you because they feel your are right (or they want you to be right) based on simple, selective, and sympathetic premises.

In my case they were unable to change my opinion. I still think there is nothing wrong in paying for sex, when exercising legal capacity and free will. Abuse, rape, sex with minors, and human trafficking of males and females is absolutely wrong. Paying for sex within that context is wrong, simply because anything within that context is wrong.

What do you think?

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