The article I link to here is not for the faint of heart. It has its own trigger warning, but if you're likely to have an adverse reaction to a story of sexual abuse against children, consider giving it a pass. "Harrowing" is an accurate one-word description.
I beg you again to please consider the logic of prohibition. Every vice cop out there busting a majority-aged streetwalker or professional call girl is an officer of the law not out there tracking down mothers renting out their children to pedophiles to pay for drugs.
Mercifully, not all paid sex work is forced to accept the second-best governance of the pimp and the gangster. The (relatively) new profession of cam-girl enjoys if not all, at least most of the ordinary protections of the law. They (I assume—correct me if I'm wrong) pay taxes, feel as comfortable calling the cops if they're harassed as any NORP (Normal Ordinary Respectable Person), can petition the government for redress of injury, file suit in courts of law, and register for jury duty—they live in virtually every respect as mundane as June Cleaver. But they still trade sexual pleasure for money. Is being a camgirl so much more euvoluntary than being a call girl that we treat one like a typical PTA member and the other like a social and legal pariah?
I find myself unable to offer much in the way of moral commentary, other than to note that Jesus of Nazareth spent a big chunk of the New Testament narrative tending to prostitutes, thieves, tax collectors, and the chronically ill. I hear a lot about how America is a Christian nation—unfortunately, the actual operation of the criminal justice system seems to put the lie to that kayfabe. What I can offer is a useful question: is the difference between being a cam girl and being a call girl so great that one can lead a normal life in the eyes of the law and the other cannot?
Legalizing prostitution doesn't mean we have to celebrate it, elevate its cultural status, lionize it. What it does mean is that for justice to apply without discrimination or dominion, sex workers must have equal access to the machinery of law—access that they do not now enjoy. What it also means is that a large, well-trained law enforcement apparatus can be liberated to concentrate on the important tasks of investigating and prosecuting cases of actual abuse, such as the one linked above. That seems like a pretty good trade-off to me.
It's entirely consistent to believe that sex work degrades and corrodes civil society and to believe that affording workers commonplace legal protection is an improvement over the institutions they now labor under. It's also entirely consistent to believe that sex work is more or less harmless fun and to believe that the law of the Union is preferable to the law of the underworld. Legalizing prostitution doesn't say, "prostitution is okay" as much as it says, "abusing prostitutes is not okay."
Sex work is not euvoluntary. Legalizing it will help make it more so. Liberate police so that Cracked doesn't have to run another article like the one above.