This House Would Legalize Prostitution


This is one of the classics that, by now, we expect almost all debate coaches will try to employ when being faced with ultra-extra-conservative debaters as their students. Risk-taker coaches are more likely to try running “This House Would Legalize Gay Marriage” as a stronger form of shock therapy, though, whilst coaches who are more of a play-safer might think of running a less frontal and forward motion, like, “This House Would Legalize Pornography” or “This House Would Legalize Gambling”.

How this is a motion that delivers quite the shock therapy and yet at the same time ignites the spark of critical thinking and analysis, though (the start much needed for these ultra-extra-conservatives in order to become a debater), relies in the mutual exclusivity of the two directions of discourse this debate can unfold. And both of them depends on the Team Affirmative. Team Negative, as always, can choose to follow suit or challenge the notion of the motion interpretation (pun unintended).

The dilemma that newbie debaters (especially the conservative ones) might have when being presented with a motion like this and then they draw (+), is that they tend to automatically assume that they have to support the idea of prostitution (1st mistake of newbies, thus: mistaking ‘legalization’ as ‘supporting’). Second, is that they start having doubts when they assumed that they have to think of benefits to having prostitution (2nd mistake of newbies, thus: mistaking an entirely proposal debate as a value-judgment debate). Third, is that they start having doubts, and then judging the debating scene, both as a sport and as a community, labeling this activity as haram and as actively trying to convert people into atheists and liberals. Erm.. nevermind. The point is that, there is a distinctive difference between how the debating scene in the West nurtures new and aspiring debaters from how the East does. Here, in most debating societies in the East, at this point comes the debate coaches enlightening the ultra-extra-conservative debaters that they can still uphold their own personal values on both sides of the house. It is possible to have conservative ideals and yet still wanting to legalize prostitution: legalizing means control, and proper registry, and that helps curb prostitution better rather than letting black markets running rampant and having government and law enforcement officials futilely trying to eliminate its existence. And that is the distinctive difference from how debate coaches in the West educates: prostitution is good; access to sex is a basic human right, as much as access to food is, for a human.

Anyway, this post entry over here is going to be about us sharing the most common first-sessions. Probably in all debate clubs.

Team Affirmative

  1. Because prostitution needs to be controlled.

Prostitution, if left unchecked, leads to some serious repercussions. STDs, enslaving of underage and minors, affliction to drugs in order for them to stay (and readily exploitable and workable), etc. etc. -> so, that’s the urgency established. Remember the good old classic checklist? Works wonders in improving newbies’ performances.

Legalizing prostitution gives us a form of registry over the brothels that choose to go official. We can curb STDs through the mandatory use of condoms, prevent the employment of children through workforce IDs, and generate extra income for our country via taxes we would otherwise be losing thanks to them operating in the dark, and thanks to us having to pay extra to our police and military forces (law enforcement, when trying to eradicate prostitution) -> so that’s the goal.

All that’s left is just to explain the process from psychology, auditing, and biology perspectives, and then you’re set.

  1. Because body autonomy.

Now, be careful over here! The way you are going to elaborate this point is by basing all your explanations on the belief that prostitution is useful. And harmless. Which is a very different belief than what you would base your explanations for your Team Affirmative Argument 1, are we right? The body autonomy argument has always been a classic, but debating motions like these compel newbie debaters to think especially harder and train better in trying to explore the boundaries of body autonomy – as far as it can be stretched! Sure enough, you have the body autonomy over all your own organs, you have absolute and complete authority over your hands, lungs, kidneys, eyes, and the others, and no other party can control that part of your body. You are free to use your mouth in any way you wish, people can’t prevent you and governments can’t forbid you from eating that hamburger. Basic human rights. Well, it happens that your genitals are your organs as well. People can’t forbid you from urinating or defecating at office hours, and governments can’t issue a ban of “no peeing or pooping from 6pm-7pm”. Will violate basic human rights. You are free to exercise excretion, secretion, and defecation any way you wish; it involves the same organs, the genitals. So, what is there to prevent you from exercising them for a different activity, reproduction and copulation?

Although, yes, we admit, especially to those of you who happen to be alltoofamiliaralready with this body autonomy versus social contract clash, that things like these are never absolute like what we have stated. But, it is imperative that newbie debaters get the feeling of “Ohh!” when things get stretched really far to the extreme. Eventually, when they progress in this field of debating and become more experienced in clashes and analyzing motions, especially classic ones like this, they will know that there are some certain thresholds, which is a more feasible boundary to set, and thus making burdens easier to prove, rather than establishing that these values (body autonomy and social contract) are absolute.

But, again, for now, this should suffice. Should.

  1. Because value of liberal and democracy.

This is another variant of the good old body autonomy versus social contract ideals clash. Prostitution belong to the same identity under economics, being businesses. Service providers. And the moment when governments step in to interfere with how private enterprises conduct their businesses, that’s when the government turns autocratic and into a dictatorship. From that point on, the government can use that justification to invade, control, and conduct the whole production, distribution, and consumption system within a country as they see fit.

So, it is one thing for governments to dictate how people should use their genitals, and it is another thing for governments to dictate what people should do for a living. Or what entrepreneurs should think of when having the inspiration to start a new business. That’s the key difference in the tone of explanation for Team Affirmative Argument 2 and Team Affirmative Argument 3.

Again, be careful. Somewhere along explaining this argument, you might contradict your own explanation(s) for your Team Affirmative Argument 1.

Team Negative

  1. Because prostitution is harmful.

Unlike smoking, prostitution harms versus benefits are still of debatable nature, so you don’t want to take your chances. Prostitution does not cause lung cancer, impotence, and infertility unlike smoking. Prostitution might cause AIDS, but isn’t that the point why government is trying to curb AIDS spread by legalizing and thus controlling prostitution? Prostitution might cause moral decrease, but not all morals nor religious values really emphasize abstinence. Some don’t care about promiscuity.

Okay, that’s just great. Just, great. Perfect. So what’s the harm? What can we explain? Social stigma and tension. And the tendency to create a destructive discourse in the society.

Another one of the “Ohh!” feeling that we expect new debaters to experience is this. When all their lives they have been thinking that they know about a thing, and they could actually be right, but not 100% right, and it is actually only from a different perspective when they can fully get it right. That’s what the newbie debaters need, in order to have an understanding that partial perspectives do not work in debates, and views should be universally (or at least generally) applicable. Hence, nobody cites religious scripts when debating.

Social stigma and tension refers to a condition where not everybody in the society is of the same page. When society is still divided into some still upholding abstinence beliefs and others into promiscuity, that is when governments are trying to ignite pandemonium by suddenly taking a side (of promiscuity) amidst the dispute. Furthermore, the discourse will have the tendency to be destructive since the people who uphold the value of abstinence will seem to lose faith in their country, and then unleashes their rage, not to only one, but now to two stakeholders: they do not rage to only the brothels, but now to the government too.

Finally, what to do if geographical setup appears to be unfriendly and this debate takes place in France? Everybody is promiscuous, nobody is upholding abstinence beliefs, basically your worst-case scenario. Surely no harms at all in legalizing prostitution then, right? Well, there still are. Harms in legalizing prostitution under such a scenario is that the discourse will cater around the start of people having perspectives of paying-for-sex is only for losers, in a country where you can have sex for free as long as you socialize enough. The fact that the government endorses these business means that the government accommodates sociopathic and antisocialist tendencies. And introversion. The tension is less, of course, but a dispute is still a dispute. A discourse is still a discourse.

Conservative debaters can still connect with this argument. Because it is now separate and distinct from their own perspectives and points of view. Erm.. thanks to the geographical bias, we guess.

  1. Because social contract over body autonomy.

The fact that the government is elected by the people means that the people surrender some of their rights, including some of their body autonomy, to the government in the process of election.

Thus it becomes the government’s duty, within the social contract theory, to try to uphold the interests of the majority. Or at least the party that reaches closest to 50% of the whole population. But, even so, there have been some cases where it is justifiable for governments to act even when the number of people having their vested interest in that government’s course of action is far from reaching 50%. Talk about the justifications behind governments banning/legalizing something. If you wish to set up a benefit versus harm analysis as the sole parameter of government implementing something, prove why having more benefit than harm (or the other way round) is enough to call for an action from the government. Or you can choose to operate on your worst-case scenario, where there is no urgency to do this in France, and the harms are negligible. Why does the government still have the right to carry this over? You can talk about governments’ vested interests in future outcomes.

  1. Because legalization is a form of governments showing weakness.

We have been talking about arguments for Team Negative from our worst-case scenario point of view forawhile now. Let’s shift our paradigm into analyzing that if our Team Affirmative is the conservative type and addresses that this motion happens in religious countries with strong values of abstinence, and that this motion is a form of control in order to mitigate the STDs harms of prostitution.

It will make perfect sense for you to agree that STDs are bad, and you also have the same goal, which is to stop STDs from spreading. You are now on the same page with your Team Affirmative, with the same goal, but different process in accomplishing to achieve so.

Now, for one, you can analyze this clash from the most optimistic end point of view. In the very end, if the supposed goal is a complete annihilation of the presence of brothels and sex workers, then it is impossible for Team Affirmative to achieve it, unlike Team Negative, which leaves no chance of them existing in the end of the day. You could also analyze this aspect of the debate by using the perspective of social psychology: the fact that the government chose to legalize this instead means that they have given up in the process of combatting against prostitution. However, you could still improve this point. If you could find any piece of evidence in the status quo that supports the idea that governments have been making progress in curbing amount of prostitutes and brothels prior to resorting to legalization (maybe by using statistics, in the number of arrests, and number of enrolment in schools and colleges and universities as supporting evidence that status quo is improving), then this piece of argument gets stronger as what Team Affirmative is trying to achieve will experience a setback because they have been doing a good job, and then here and now they want to try experiment something else new instead of improving what they have been doing well.