I was pleased to read a recent Associated Press article that used a Maine case to highlight a growing trend – the publication of the names of prostitutes’ patrons . Oh yes, you heard that right. The days of nameless, faceless customers only referenced as “Johns” seem to be coming to an end.
Well, it is about damn time. I have never understood why these men were allowed to remain in the shadows. How has that ever been right? Do we let the folks who buy drugs from pushers likewise stay in the shadows? No, we don’t. We fill the courtrooms, jails, and prisons with these folks. With drugs we vigorously go after the buyers – the folks who generate the demand.
Let’s face it, what is a prostitute without customers? The customers create the market for prostitutes’ services. And yes, I know that the world’s so-called “oldest profession” has many more layers of complexity that are not remedied by just focusing on cutting the demand, but let’s face it – that really is the best place to start. If you want to pay for sex – be it with a female or male – be ready to pay publicly.
Opponents of this public shaming of Johns state concerns about the ripple effect on the families. I can certainly understand how that could be embarrassing and traumatizing for family members, but do we consider the effect on families in relation to other folks complicit in crime? We do not. I am sure that being a family member of a murderer is embarrassing and traumatizing too, but we don’t call murderers Johns. I know there is a big difference between prostitution and murder – the point is, addressing societal challenges through the application of law should be consistent in application unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise. There is no reason here. Prostitution is a crime and Johns are not only complicit – they are the unapologetic in their role in spreading the epidemic.
When Maine publishes the list of Johns that they collected in a recent bust there is one thing that we know for sure - the gentlemen formerly known as John won’t be nameless or faceless any longer. Say what you will about the potential fallout, but I am guessing it will give folks who engage with prostitutes pause. And yes, that is exactly the point, isn’t it?
Day one thousand one hundred and ninety-seven of the new forty – obla di obla da