Reason Roundup

Harris Clarifies That She Does Not Support Prostitution Decriminalization, Would Use Executive Power To Toughen Gun Laws

Plus: Ohio moves to ban kids in drag shows while Washington wants to keep kids in car seats through middle school.


Kamala Harris answered questions on CNN last night. One important thing the senator and 2020 presidential candidate cleared up is any notion that she actually supports decriminalization of prostitution. Harris still thinks paying for sex should be a crime, she just wants to classify all female sex workers as victims so as to avoid arresting them.

In response to a question about decriminalization, Harris said "what I don't support is criminalizing these women." (Are there no male or non-binary sex workers in Harris' world? Or is it just that only women get to exchange their agency for their freedom?) Harris said she would, however, still target the "johns"an old-timey word for anyone who pays for sex.

This method of sex policing is called the "End Demand" or Nordic/Swedish model. It's roundly panned by human rights agencies (Amnesty International and the World Health Organization, for example), migrant groups, doctors, criminal justice researchers, and sex workers themselves worldwide, for creating the same harms of full criminalization while letting police and politicians pretend to be taking a liberal and feminist tack.

"The Nordic Model is a legislative wolf in sheep's clothing," as Zoë Bulls and Victoria Watson of the Center for Health and Gender Equity put it. "Instead of protecting the health and rights of sex workers, it embodies an elementary, paternalistic understanding" and undermines "the agency and bodily autonomy of sex workers with a victimization framework."

It's also not working out so well in countries that have adopted it.

But this sort of progressive authoritarianism seems to be in keeping with the overall Harris 2020 agenda. She also told the CNN Town Hall last night that she would give Congress 100 days to pass "reasonable gun safety laws" and "if they fail to do it, then I will take executive action."

Harris said her executive order would expand the list of people not allowed to legally purchase guns, require anyone who sells more than five guns a year to conduct background checks on customers, and that any gun seller who violates any gun regulation would automatically have their license pulled by the feds.

In keeping with her all-things-to-all-people strategy, Harris also remained vague about some issues (including impeaching Trump and voting rights for the incarcerated), suggesting that we really need to "look into" or "have a conversation" about them.


Child in drag prompts legislative overkill in Ohio. In response to one example of parents letting their child perform in a charity drag show, Ohio is seeking to create a new law criminalizing the appearance of children in any show that "appeals to prurient interest," an incredibly vague category. There are already laws criminalizing actual abuse and (sexual and labor) exploitation of children; this new rule would simply invite threats against and prosecutions of parents for anything folks found distasteful or didn't understand.

In the case of the drag show, the child's parents say there was nothing sexual about the performance and that it's actually outraged conservatives who are sexualizing children here. But the bill's sponsor is invoking everyone's favorite new bogeyman—human traffickers—to back up his legislation. "Given our heightened focus on human trafficking and the role money plays in trafficking children, I knew I had to take action to make sure this activity does not occur again," he said.


Washington law could keep kids in car seats through middle school. A new measure signed into law by the state's governor says kids must use booster seats until they reach a height of 4 feet and 9 inches tall.

"In some cases, that means some kids could still be in a booster at the age of 12," points out ABC7 News. "The new guidelines will go into effect in January."


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