Time for Politicians to Prohibit the Prohibition of Vice

(Dennis Hof) – For some reason some public officials somehow continue to miss the point that it’s only when something WORKS that you don’t fix it, not when something DOESN’T work.

You’d think these folks would learn from history rather than continually repeat it.  But you’d be wrong.  Take prohibition, for example.

We tried it with liquor.  From 1920 to 1933 it was illegal to make or sell alcoholic beverages.  But did that stop people from imbibing?  Heck, no.  Instead, the Immutable Law of Good Intentions kicked in – meaning we made what was perceived as a bad situation worse.

Once liquor became a crime, it didn’t stop people from drinking.  Instead, criminals took over the business.  It drove the consumption of alcohol by consenting adults in the freest country in the universe underground while simultaneously giving rise to violent mobsters.

Bye-bye tax revenue; hello Murder, Inc.

After it was undeniably demonstrated that the War on Booze was a complete and utter failure, the country repealed Prohibition and happy days were here again.  But being a busy-body moralist means never crying “Uncle.”

So they tried it again.  This time with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 that criminalized the sale, possession and use of marijuana.

Did the War on Drugs stop potheads from taking one toke over the line?  Heck, no.  Instead we drove smoking pot by consenting adults in the freest country in the universe underground while simultaneously giving rise to violent drug lords.

Bye-bye tax revenue; hello necklacing.

I bring this up because of a recent announcement by the Nevada Attorney General and the Nevada Broadcasters Association of a new public relations campaign designed to combat human trafficking, defined as “a commercial sex act induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.”

For the uninitiated, they’re talking about prostitution – which has been declared illegal in just about every corner of the United States.  Has it stopped prostitution?  Heck, no.  Instead, we’ve driven the world’s oldest profession underground while giving rise to violent pimps.

Bye-bye tax revenue; hello sex slaves.

Make no mistake.  Sex trafficking is a despicable scourge on society.  But it exists because we’ve tried, once again, to legislate morality.  History and experience has taught us that such prohibition doesn’t work.   It’s time to fix it.

When conducted between two consenting adults – with the operative words being “consenting” and “adults” – carnal knowledge for cash should be treated no differently from taking a shot of whiskey or firing up a bong.  Which, to our credit, is the case for legal brothels licensed in a handful of rural Nevada counties.

As the owner of seven of those legal brothels, I know from whence I speak.  In towns where prostitution is legal, sex trafficking is all but non-existent.  The business is controlled, regulated and taxed.  And no one is forced to participate; just as no one is forced to drink a bourbon-and-branch or smoke a doobie.

This is not true, however, in Las Vegas and Reno – and the rest of the country – where prostitution continues to be banned.  As such, we’ve criminalized non-criminals and fueled sex trafficking.  We’ve repeated history.

Making prostitution illegal doesn’t work.  It’s time to fix it.  Everywhere.  Let freedom ring.

Mr. Hof is a successful Nevada businessman, author, philanthropist, star of an award-winning reality TV series on HBO and president of the Home of Freedom PAC.  He can be reached at DennisHof.com