quick news round-up

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I was reading an editorial against the legalization of prostitution. (Right now there is a court case in Canada that might repeal our prostitution laws.) The editorial focused mainly on the idea that prostitution is not just another rather unpleasant job like working in a coal mine or being a maid. In the comments section what stood out to me was some comments about how yes, in an ideal world all people would have dignified jobs but right now we have sex workers and let’s let them be safe. And what hits me about that is it makes it sound like the prostitution is what happens because women don’t have better jobs. Prostitutes are not reason prostitution exists. Prostitution exists because JOHNS want to buy sex. In an ideal world, guys would accept that if they can’t form a relationship (however fleeting) they don’t get sex. They would accept that sex is not something they are entitled to, or have to ever have. Prostitution exists because Johns want to buy sex, not because there are unemployed or underemployed poor women out there. Don’t blame the victims here. There might be a small number of “happy hookers’ out there who want the job, but there’s a LOT Of human trafficking going on. There’s a lot of violence and a lot of criminal activity.  This article explains more about the idea that prostitution is dangerous for women, it isn’t just “another job we can make safer.”
Next story. There’s that university of Alberta dean who plagiarized someone’s speech. He’s stepping down as dean but remaining a professor, it sounds like. I have some sympathy for this guy. I mean, after all, he’s hopefully worked very hard to get where he is in life and it isn’t easy getting there. He was probably busy, stressed and he wanted to give the students a memorable send-off. On the other hand, this wasn’t an accident. He choose to do it and copying someone else’s work is one of those major sins in academia, right up there with faking your research. I’ve thought it unfortunate that more universities aren’t taking stricter punishments against students that cheat on papers and exams, so why should they let a professor off easy?

Are there unforgivable sins? Should people’s careers be destroyed over things like copying a speech or perhaps like sending an inappropriate photo online? Does it make a difference if the crime/sin/mistake was something related to one’s job (like copying a speech) or unrelated (like a sexual thing)? There was a journalist recently fired because she made up details in reporting on a concert she left early from. Her child had been ill and I’ve read some comments online from people who sympathize with the difficulty of being a parent but more comments from people saying she lied, she should be fired. It strikes me as strange that I’ve read more sympathetic comments towards the Dean who plagiarized than towards the journalist. The comments I’ve read make me wonder if people are more sympathetic towards the dean because he’s seen as being higher up the social ladder and having further to fall, and because people seem to imagine he’s under more stress and facing a harder job than the journalist, but I don’t know on that. Reading news articles and comment sections can give me some ideas on what types of ideas people are thinking, but I can’t really tell which ideas are more popular or not.

I guess what I’m wondering is, are our standards for honesty and responsibility fair expectations and those who break them should pay the price? I find myself thinking about stories like Pride and Prejudice, or the book Far from the Maddening Crowd, where they talk about how a woman’s mistake can cost her reputation. In Pride and Prejudice they don’t condemn society for being awful to Lydia – how dare they judge her for running away unmarried?! She has every right to do that, if she wants to. The general attitude is that the expectations that Lydia has broken are fair and good. She failed and the family failed. It wasn’t a “well, that rule shouldn’t have been there anyway.”  Yet in the online comments sections for articles about any of the stories mentioned above, there seems to be a large number of people defending the idea that people make mistakes, they’re only human, you don’t want to ruin them, after all… and I don’t know what to think of that. Is it good we’re more forgiving? More loving? More accepting of mistakes? Or are we really more accepting of mistakes? There’s also lots of really harsh criticisms, so maybe not.

But if it is okay to have standards, and okay to say, hey, you’ve broken the standards you have to step down from your job whether it is journalist, professor or politician, then why, oh why, can’t the public take a bigger stand against prostitution? Why can’t we say, look, it is wrong to go to a prostitute? I’ve heard the argument that we need prostitution to be legal so that more good people use them and then prostitutes will have the freedom to turn down the bad and creepy customers and thus be safer that way, like the problem is that they don’t have enough business. Forget that. Let’s encourage all good and decent men to avoid prostitutes like the plague and then let’s shame horribly the men who do go. If someone is caught being a john let’s have him pay a fine based on his level of income, and let’s make it enough to keep people away. And let’s do everything we can to rescue women from pimps, drug addictions and poverty. Let’s have lots of services available for prostitutes who want to leave the job. Let’s give them complete and total protection from their pimps and the organized crime that gets them into their job. If a woman is trafficked into Canada to be a prostitute let’s promise not to deport her. Let’s give her every bit of protection and security we can so that she can testify against her traffickers without fear that when the trial is over she’ll be deported, picked up at the airport by her traffickers associates and killed.

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