Sex Workers, Train Carriages and Video Games: The Puritans are Hard at Work

A handful of news stories this week have been bubbling under the main headlines. All of which are quite serious assaults on personal freedom.

The Spectator Podcast this week featured an interview with the English writer Julie Bindel. This was followed up by a lengthy article that appeared in The Spectator magazine. Bindel goes against many experts, feminists and popular wisdom by declaring that all sex work is slavery. She claims that the nature of their work demands that the only moral stance on the oldest trade in the world is total prohibition.

The crux of Bindel’s argument rests on the assertion that sex workers, unlike IT consultants, for example, are renting a part of their body rather than a marketable skill.

She claims that more assertive measures by law enforcement are the only way to combat this social ill.

Similarly, Labour MP and Shadow Fire Secretary Chris Williamson has suggested that we should allow women only carriages on trains. Mr Williamson claims that this is a necessary step the country must take in order to combat sexual assaults on Britain’s rail network.

do not deny that sexual harassment is utterly abhorrent and no woman should have to experience unsolicited advances from strangers. It is also undeniable that many sex workers are in an actual situation of slavery. But notice that in both cases the assumption is that sexual desire is essentially sinful. Humans are unable to control their genitals. Therefore, the law must stand between individuals and unsuspecting victims. Apparently, it is futile to try and moderate people’s animal instincts.

Lastly, chief inspector Stuart Weaver of Suffolk Constabulary has railed against violent video games leading to a surge in knife crime. Despite the proof that computer games have no direct relationship with public misconduct.

Even if this statement was grounded in any hard facts, it is difficult to see what could be done about it. Unlike books, I imagine video games don’t burn very easily.

What worries me is the language these individuals have utilised to put their point across. Rather than such attacks on personal freedom being from church groups or Conservative politicians. They are dressed up as progressive steps to ensure public safety. Regardless of the evidence against them.

Fortunately, the immediate reaction against these suggestions has been disapproval. Let us hope that the public continues to support freedom of choice over such puritanical nonsense.

One Comment

  1. I too read that article, and was surprised, both by how badly it was argued and by the fact that it was the cover article for as The Spectator.

    I was, I’ll admit, expecting the opposite argument to be voiced from such an august publication, which is usually a champion on the matter of liberty. I suppose that it is admirable that they decided to ‘go against type’ and put the counter argument.

    If anyone is interested in hearing the other side of the discussion, there is no better than Maggie McNeill, who runs a blog called The Honest Courtesan. That is a real voice of liberty.



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