Archive for December 7th, 2011

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.  –  Saul Bellow

Anyone who has ever attempted to tell the truth about prostitution on websites or in person has encountered people who, while clearly not indoctrinated prohibitionists, are completely unwilling to challenge the status quo.  They won’t read articles written by prostitutes and ignore statistics which contradict prohibitionist dogma, yet swallow whole any ridiculous claim or exaggerated statistic put forth by prohibitionists and “authorities”.  A few years ago I went back-and-forth with a guy whose idea of justifying the persecution of prostitutes was to keep repeating “it’s illegal”; he fully admitted that laws can be wrong and that people had the right to fight bad ones, yet rejected every link I gave him as “pro-prostitution”.  The issue was obviously too complicated for him to think about, so he was content to let “authorities” deal with it and didn’t want to be exposed to any information that might cause him to call their decisions into question.  Depressingly, a new study described in Science Daily on November 21st  demonstrates that people like him are in the majority:

The less people know about important complex issues such as the economy, energy consumption and the environment, the more they want to avoid becoming well-informed…and the more urgent the issue, the more people want to remain unaware, according to a paper published online in APA’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  “These studies were designed to help understand the so-called ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach to social issues,” said author Steven Shepherd…”The findings can assist educators in addressing significant barriers to getting people involved and engaged in social issues.”

Through a series of five studies conducted in 2010 and 2011 with 511 adults in the United States and Canada, the researchers described “a chain reaction from ignorance about a subject to dependence on and trust in the government to deal with the issue.”  In one study, participants who felt most affected by the economic recession avoided information challenging the government’s ability to manage the economy…[but] did not avoid positive information…researchers provided either a complex or simple description of the economy to a group of 58 Canadians…[those] who received the complex description indicated higher levels of perceived helplessness in getting through the economic downturn, more dependence on and trust in the government to manage the economy, and less desire to learn more about the issue.  “This is despite the fact that, all else equal, one should have less trust in someone to effectively manage something that is more complex,” said co-author Aaron C. Kay…”Instead, people tend to respond by psychologically ‘outsourcing’ the issue to the government, which in turn causes them to trust and feel more dependent on the government.  Ultimately, they avoid learning about the issue because that could shatter their faith in the government.”

…[In another study] 163 Americans…provided their opinion about the complexity of natural resource management and then read a statement declaring the United States has less than 40 years’ worth of oil supplies.  Afterward, they answered questions to assess their reluctance to learn more…Another two studies [of 93 Canadian university students] found that participants who received complex information about energy sources trusted the government more than those who received simple information…The authors recommended further research to determine how people would react when faced with other important issues such as food safety, national security, health, social inequality, poverty and moral and ethical conflict, as well as under what conditions people tend to respond with increased rather than decreased engagement…

Simply put, the more complex the issue and the more helpless people feel about it, the less they want to know about it.  The chief argument for decriminalization is based upon two very simple principles:  that everyone, male or female, has the right to do as he wishes with his or her own body; and that people have the legal and moral right to make mutually-beneficial agreements for goods or services which are not themselves illegal (in other words, anything which is legal to do for free should be legal to do for pay).  So I wonder if this isn’t the real reason academic prohibitionists such as Farley, Jeffreys et al try to complicate the issue by throwing in sophistry about “power imbalances”, “patriarchal systems” and PTSD; perhaps they consciously or unconsciously realize that if they can turn a simple issue of individual rights into a complicated, scary one (made even more scary by the addition of “pimp” bogeymen), most people will simply stick their heads into the sand and trust the government to deal with it.

One Year Ago Today

O, Canada” discusses the claims of Canadian politicians that anti-prostitution laws are designed to protect whores from crime…except, of course, crimes committed against us by the police.

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