Human Exceptionalism

Will San Francisco Voters Protect Human Traffickers?

Usually my wife Debra J. Saunders–better known as Secondhand Smokette–and I plow different fields in our writing. But once in a while, our interests converge, as in a few weeks ago when she wrote a splendid column about animal rights violence directed against researchers in Santa Cruz, the issue of assisted suicide–which she first criticized before I was ever onto the issue–and today in her vivid take down of a proposed San Francisco initiative that, if passed, could have the effect of taking the legal heat off of human traffickers and those who exploit children in commercial sex. From her column in today’s San Francisco Chrnonicle:

Yet the San Francisco ballot measure completely ignores the prostitution of children. The measure simply states, “Law enforcement agencies shall not allocate any resources for the investigation and prosecution of prostitutes for prostitution.” Astonishingly, there’s no exemption that encourages police to enforce the law for minors.

If the measure passes, the city is likely to become an international haven for pimps who peddle girls and boys, and perverts seeking sex with minors. And where does that leave Bay Area youth? “They want new and young,” Jasmine, a former teen prostitute from Oakland who now volunteers for the nonprofit Sage Project, which fights sexual exploitation, explained to me.

And get this, which would clearly indicate the intent behind the measure:

The other big problem: The measure prohibits city law enforcement from applying for grants to prosecute human traffickers. That’s right, this measure gives a free pass to the human sex-slave trade–a city that is a central stop for international sex-trade rings.

So, we’ll see if voters in liberal and libertine San Francisco will have the wisdom to reject this measure–regardless of what they might think about legalizing prostitution generally.

If, as I fear, voters can’t see that this measure isn’t just about being “sex positive” (as one proponent called the measure), it will be another chunk taken out of the hide of human exceptionalism. When any human being is permitted to be treated as a mere commodity–whether as a sex slave, a source of vital organs while living, or an embryo or fetus created and developed or gestated to be used in destructive research–our quest to achieve universal human equality is undermined. And that hurts each and every one of us.