Election 2012

Thinly Disguised Measure to Restrict Political Freedom Fails, Better Disguised Measure to Restrict Sexual Freedom Passes

Proposition 32 loses, Proposition 35 wins.



Amid the other good news on the ballot initiative front—victories for legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington state, for nullifying the insurance mandate in Montana and Alabama, for eminent domain reform in Virginia, for gay marriage in Maryland and Maine and Washington again—I'm happy to report that Proposition 32 went down in California. The measure would have prevented unions and businesses from donating to candidates, a sweeping restriction that raises significant First Amendment questions and was in itself enough to set me against the law. Nor do I share some libertarians' enthusiasm for the "paycheck protection" portion of the proposition, which would have barred unions—private-sector as well as public-sector—from spending a member's dues on politics without the worker's explicit permission. It should not be the government's role to manage how an independent organization directs its dues. (Yes, I know: Unions are not always independent of the state in practice. As with those corporations that are not independent of the state in practice, it is better to remove the laws that entangle them with the government than to add a new layer of regulation.)

On the other hand, I wasn't happy to see Proposition 35 pass in the same state. This was pitched as a "protection" too—specifically, as a way to protect people from coerced prostitution—but in fact it casts a much wider net. As Melissa Gira Grant writes, the law means that

anyone involved in the sex trade could potentially be viewed as being involved in trafficking, and could face all of the criminal penalties associated with this redefinition of who is involved in "trafficking," which include fines of between $500,000 and $1 million and prison sentences ranging from five years to life. This is in addition to having to register as a sex offender, and surrender to lifelong internet monitoring: that is, turning over all of one's "internet identifiers," which includes "any electronic mail address, user name, screen name, or similar identifier used for the purpose of Internet forum discussions, Internet chat room discussion, instant messaging, social networking, or similar Internet communication."…

If passed, Proposition 35 could also require anyone in California convicted of some prostitution-related offenses as far back as 1944 to also register as a sex offender and submit to lifelong internet monitoring. This is what drove Naomi Akers, the Executive Director of St. James Infirmary, an occupational health and safety clinic run by and for sex workers in San Francisco, to come out hard against the bill.

Next time you want to protect prostitutes, don't forget to protect them from the government.

NEXT: A. Barton Hinkle on Opponents of Virginia's Eminent Domain Initiative

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  1. Hey, it takes people to monitor sex offenders. So if you create more sex offenders you create more jobs.

    Why do you hate jobs, Walker.

    1. Give me an e-mail, yo!

      1. Don’t sweat it. Next time you’re eating out and there’s a waitress that seems sad, give her a $20 tip and say it’s from a Libertarian in West Africa.

        1. No, dammit, I was really looking forward to postmarking a letter to Liberia.

          1. The only way for me to get mail here is from a friend in the USMC via the US Embassy mail pouch. You’d just be postmarking it to Dulles where it’d get on the plane. You would get to use some spiffy embassy address language though if you REALLY want to.

  2. Two people who willingly engage in a trade are “offenders.” Makes perfect sense.

    1. Women would never willingly take money for sex. They’re too dumb to make their own decisions about what to do with their bodies.

      1. You don’t have to mansplain it to me!

        1. Ooops. Sorry, I’ll report for sensitivity training post-haste!

      2. Vote like someone else’s lady parts, freedom, and livelihood will be fucked over by it!

  3. It cast a wider net than that.
    “”” 236.1. (a) Any person who deprives or violates the personal liberty of another with the intent to effect or maintain a felony violation of Section 266, 266h, 266i, 267, 311.4, or 518, or to obtain forced labor or services, is guilty of human trafficking”””
    How about forcing people to take out the trash or do their homework? By taking away the car keys?

    1. Hmm. If it were worded like that it would make ObamaCare illegal.

  4. require anyone in California convicted of some prostitution-related offenses as far back as 1944 to also register as a sex offender and submit to lifelong internet monitoring

    Ex post facto? Hello?

    1. Why? There’s no punishment involved, they just need to be monitored and tracked.

      1. Having your freedoms restricted is not punishment?

        1. No, only fines and imprisonment are punishment.

          Well and the death penalty, but I don’t think they do that to sex offenders yet.

          1. Even a bright legal mind such as Antonin Scalia said that torture isn’t punishment, so you may be right.

  5. Question 2 in Mass got to suffer the assisted suicide it’s passage would have allowed others. Can’t have people making the decision to end their own lives, that would be just wrong.

  6. This Sex Trafficking shit is another Progressive thin-edge-of-the-wedge to regulate everything. And yes, Bush is to blame for this one too.

    1. Shouldn’t progressives be in favor of legalizing prostitution? WTF?

      1. What, and admit that people can make choices for themselves?

        1. Well, at least admit that activities between consenting adults in the bedroom are none of the governments business (which would be consistent with their stance on gay rights).

          Also that sex workers are entitled to the same legal protections as shoe salesmen.

          Sex workers are far less likely to be exploited if they can go to the police for protection.

          1. Progressives’ opposition to sex work is one of the first things that was a wedge between me and the Ds. Because it just never. made. any. fucking. sense.

        2. You can fuck anything you want. But when money changes hands it becomes coercion. And the bedroom becomes an office. And Commerce Clause.


          1. Women should have the right to fuck as many men as they want and have as many free abortions they need without being slut shamed…wait, they are making money off of it? Throw the disgusting whore in jail!

          2. How come it’s not regarded as coercing the male?

            If I have sex with you for free, that’s a personal choice, but if I get something in exchange, you are coercing me?

            Maybe I’m coercing YOU by refusing to have sex with you UNLESS you give me something.
            How come nobody thinks it’s the Johns who are being exploited?
            Rationally, they are the ones who are materially worse off after the transaction.

      2. Shouldn’t progressives be in favor of legalizing prostitution? WTF?

        No, Hazel, they aren’t. Because sex workers are practically slaves to bad economic choices and it would only promote sex trafficking.

        Here’s a good snapshot.

        The original Progressive argument is still strong today: “Progressive vice reformers in America saw prostitution as the result of two things: “low wages, harsh working conditions, squalid housing, [a] lack of wholesome recreational facilities, and antiquated court and correctional procedures?” that conspired to force women into lives of prostitution and “sinister ‘interests’ who manipulated [women] as a tool for their own profits.”1 These sinister interests had created a “commercialized system, organized and managed by men who worked incessantly to augment both the demand for prostitutes and the supply.”

        1. Prostitutes are slaves to bad economic choices, but their customers aren’t slaves to bad sexual choices?

          The Johns are the ones who are paying here.

          It seems to be that this premise that women who are sex workers are being exploited is grounded in backwards moral assumptions about sex which progressives usually reject. (i.e. sex is dirty, or degrading, or must be reserved for marriage). If we lived in a sex-positive society where women were perfectly free to have sex with whoever they wanted without social shaming, there shouldn’t be any problem with the woman having somehow “lost status” by engaging in sex work.

          So rather than outlawing prostition as exploitation, progressives ought to be trying to promote “sex-poisitive attitudes that would remove the social stigma from sex work. At that point, there’s no “exploitation”, because there is no “loss of dignity” or whatever for the woman. Just a positive financial transaction.

      3. Only if the prostitutes are unionized.

  7. And, let’s not forget Measure B in Los Angeles County, requiring porn stars to wear condoms. That passed. Which police hard-on will rule? The sexual favors they’ll be getting or the raids they’ll be executing?

    1. I don’t know, porn seems like a pretty mobile industry to me, and Nevada is pretty close by.

      1. They can just go to Anaheim or Thousand Oaks.

  8. While I understand your concerns with 32 and echoed much the same sentiment myself on here a few days ago, I voted for it anyways. Where it concerns the union dues being used for political purposes, it is worth noting that it wouldn’t ban that, it would only require written consent from each member. Given that union membership is mandatory in most of these cases, it strikes me as more limiting of someone’s freedom to force them to actively contribute to causes and candidates that they may not support. As for the lobbying money provision, I was similarly skeptical of it, but I voted for it anyways because this state is going down the shitter if these fucking unions don’t get their power emaciated.

    Well, at least California will be getting bailed out from the rest of you guys now that Obama is re-elected.

    1. 32 seemed like a sensible compromise to me, too.

    2. Yeah, this is one of those purist vs. pragmatist things. Like right-to-work laws, the law against suing gun manufacturers for gun violence, etc, that would be unlibertarian if they were considered in isolation, but given the essentially unchangeable stuff in the background (NLRA, anti-gun lawsuit harassment) actually increase liberty.

    3. it is worth noting that it wouldn’t ban that, it would only require written consent from each member

      Yes, I left an important clause out of the description. I just fixed that.

      As for the rest: I just can’t get behind this kind of interference in an organization’s internal activities, despite the context. (Especially given the fact that you needed to add the phrase “in most of these cases” after “is mandatory.”) I’d also hate to see the precedent applied to other institutions.

      1. There was a time when corporations were not allowed to donate to charity or anything else without a vote of the shareholders, on the theory that the corporation had a duty to its shareholders to maximize their return, and donations were contrary to that duty.

        I happen to think that was correct, and would love to see this doctrine revived across the board (unions, etc.). The union, like the corporation, has a purpose, and a duty to expend its funds only on that purpose. That doesn’t strike me as “interfering” in the relationship, it strikes me as protecting against abuse of the relationship.

      2. Except that unions aren’t just “organizations”: most are government-sanctioned monopolies. Can you even get hired as a policeman or fireman or other government worker in CA without being forced to join a union? And if you can, I suspect that your fellow unionized workers are not going to look kindly on you. Thus the political “donations” are coercive.

  9. This is murky to me. Is there someplace I can go, without a lot of legal research, to get an analysis of this legal change that doesn’t make me feel like believing it requires me to trust someone with an ax to grind — even if it’s the same type of ax I’d want to sharpen?

    1. Have you thought about reading the text? It’s not that long. http://vig.cdn.sos.ca.gov/2012…..est=prop35

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