Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Prostitution Ruling

The pundits are beginning to weigh in, and National Post's Barbara Kay sure doesn't like yesterday's ruling:
The danger to prostitutes will continue, because the kind of men who frequent prostitutes and the kind of men who control them don't have a lot of respect for them on the whole. Nor should they. Being a prostitute is a shameful, indecent activity, and any sex worker who demands respect as a matter of course is fooling herself. She is not respectable. Politically correct people will say she is, but she isn't. The danger will continue, the pimps will still control the desperate girls and society as a whole will think less of itself. And all because nobody really takes a good look at the word "harm" and asks themselves what a healthy society looks like, and what kind of newly designated "normal" behaviours, stamped kosher by the courts, bring harm to that healthy body.
(If only conservative commentators could get this worked up when our courts and leaders turn a blind eye to deeper human indignities, like state-sanctioned torture...)

A Globe and Mail editorial rails against an "activist" judge:
An Ontario judge had no business striking down three major anti-prostitution laws in the Criminal Code on Tuesday. “There has been a long-standing debate in this country and elsewhere about the subject of prostitution,” writes Madam Justice Susan Himel of the Ontario Superior Court, but it is, apparently, over. Who is she to weigh all the potential harms at stake and decide matters, on either side? Who says she can do a better job than Parliament?
Additional conservative responses are summarized here.

At the other end of the spectrum, lawyer Pei-Shing B. Wang:
Likely the saga isn’t over yet. The federal government has vowed to appeal. Many legal practitioners believe that this challenge will eventually be decided by the Supreme Court.

...Professor Alan Young of Osgoode Hall Law School has been working on the project for years, dating back to when I was in his Criminal Procedure class.

I am proud to say that I am a student of Professor Young’s. A big round of applause to his fine work.

Jody Paterson of the Victoria and Vancouver Island Times-Colonist strikes a human chord:
The moment Ontario Superior Court Judge Susan Himel handed down her decision yesterday, sex workers finally became people. They became flesh-and-blood women and men, out there working for a living like the rest of us.

...People struggle with the idea that sex work could ever be part of their community. But the truth is that it already is.

Thank you, Judge Himel, for seeing the people in the shadows.

Clearly, with appeals likely, this debate will not be ending any time soon.

Also see our earlier post on the decision: Canada's Prostitution Laws Struck by Ontario Superior Court Ruling
- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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