Like every emotionally healthy 30-something my age I check Facebook about forty times a day. Among various websites I subscribe to I also follow the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office. On one of my sessions of browsing I saw a link the GCSO posted of a recent arrest, a 26 year old girl from Wewa had been arrested for prostitution. Like a cat I was stricken with immediate curiosity, who was this girl?
Full discourse: Anytime I see an arrest for a charge involving drugs, or even prostitution, I am curious to see if it is someone from my days in the underground. To see if one of my running mates finally ran afoul of law enforcement; officially wrapped in the increasingly disastrous cycle that is the war on drugs.
After reading the press release on this young girl I went back to the comments section on Facebook and was slightly taken aback by some people’s comments. The thread was loaded with ‘lol’ ‘haha-wow’ and various comments about her “getting what she deserved”. I had to stop and ask myself, what is the purpose of this? What was to be gained by trotting this young girl out on to Facebook, which is the equivalent of a modern day town square to be mocked and laughed at, to have virtual tomatoes walloped in her direction?
I found myself becoming very uncomfortable at the whole situation. So, being the loud-mouth that I am I spoke up. Granted I took some liberty with my first comment and in bad form made assumptions about the individuals posting snarky comments. I said something along the lines of, “I guarantee that those laughing and poking fun of her will be the first to post some silly image of Jesus later and be sitting in church on Sunday; Oh, The hypocrisy of small town Christians.” I will admit, that comment wasn’t fair, the GCSO moderator agreed and it was quickly deleted. While the ‘lol’s stayed comfortably in place.
It was soon after a dialogue was created, the laughter stopped and people began to ask the same question I was, “Why is everyone laughing?” Better yet, why was this even posted? Now I understand the purpose of the GCSO Facebook page, from the GCSO moderator themselves “The purpose of the Gulf County Sheriff's Office Facebook Page is to share information on specific GCSO topics of interest.” I understand why it would be necessary to post press releases of dangerous criminals, sexual offenders; in other words individuals that the community should be aware of. What harm did this girls crime do to our community? What was the purpose other than to shame this young girl into changing her ways?
Now I will not use this piece to argue the legality of prostitution but I think it would come as no surprise to anyone who has read my past articles that I am proponent for the legalization of prostitution. I believe Europe has shown that when regulated sex for money can not only be lucrative but safe. The point I would like to make here, that I also tried to make in the comments thread, is: Prostitution is arguably a victimless crime and we needn’t be concerned with the “poor decisions” this girl has made. What she was engaged in, albeit illegal, was taking place between two consenting adults. She wasn’t physically harming another person, she wasn’t stealing or robbing, she wasn’t hurting children. An ad was placed on an adult website by another adult, to be answered by other adults. No matter how immoral someone make think her actions are, it shouldn’t be up to us to decide what is right for someone else’s life.
When I brought up the point that prostitution is essentially a victimless crime that the only “victim” would be the young girl it created a bit of an uproar amongst the commenters. “What about her children!” they passionately screamed. “Someone has to raise them now!” they argued. To which I would respond, well if it wasn’t illegal in the first place her children would be just fine. It is us, as a society, who has deemed this act immoral and stuck this girl in a concrete cell for selling what is HER body while her kids sit on the side lines motherless as we stand in judgment over the choices this girl has made. So I ask, What about her children? I think it’s only fair we take a little responsibility for this as well.
Before anyone gets all up-in-arms like Glenn Beck watching ‘Noah’ let me be clear, I’m not blasting the Sheriff’s office by any means, nor am I absolving this girl of any wrongdoing. At the end of the day prostitution is illegal and the fine men in uniform were only doing their job when they arrested this girl. She broke the law, and whether or not I think the law is unjust is a moot point. My qualm was, and is, with the Scarlett Letter-esque posting of such arrests on the Facebook page.
It’s such a perverse thing we do as a community. To gawk at the souls who have, for one reason or another, have chosen to make a poor decision that will undoubtedly affect them for a good portion of their lives; We feed into this disgusting trap, we buy those trashy Bay County Mugshot magazines and visit the mug shot page on the GCSO page with a twisted desire to feel better about ourselves. If this truly is a nation founded on Christian principles then I ask, where is the compassion? Where is the forgiveness? Or would it be more appropriate to line the criminals up and just metaphorically stone them with shame?
Loren Siprell is a resident of Port St. Joe