Sunday, December 25, 2011

Why I support SUPA

I support SUPA. There, I said it. Bring on the hate.

In case there’s anyone left who doesn’t know, SUPA (Stop Underage Prostitution Act) is a U.S. congressional bill that purports to fight trafficking in underage prostitutes. SUPA would allow law enforcement to seek court orders against anyone accused of transporting, facilitating such transport, or accepting payment for, underage prostitutes into this country.

Proponents of the bill say it would prevent abuse of young girls while protecting the rights of 18+ working women. Opponents say it infringes free love, our rights, young girls rights, and will cripple the sex trade.

To tell the truth, I know very little about SUPA other than what I just cut-and-pasted from the first page of its Wikipedia entry. I’m leaning toward supporting SUPA mostly because I’m so tired of the vitriolic, reactionary, and self-serving responses of those who are against it. For example, this rant I just saw on reddit, from the CEO of “SUPA is ripe for abuse. Anyone could claim that an arriving ship holds a container of 13-year old sex-slaves and the SUPA police could use this as an excuse to slow or even prevent unloading of that ship into the free marketplace. Anyone could make such a claim--my competitors, troublemakers looking for a cheap laugh, the girls’ Thai parents wanting to renege on the sale--and the police would have to conduct a search for underage prostitutes, slowing the unloading of that ship, wreaking havoc on worldwide shipping, ending free trade, and destroying our economy. SUPA is a job killer. Worse, SUPA could delay my third round of funding for”

Another way to understand SUPA (without actually *reading* the legislation) is to look at those who are most against it. Many of the corporations shouting the loudest against SUPA *claim* that they’re against underage pornography, and that SUPA is just the wrong way to fight it, but they haven’t offered an alternative. I suspect most of these companies are really just afraid of losing the huge cash flow they get from facilitating underage prostitution. For example, the company fighting hardest against SUPA is Ogle, the giant search engine that most people use to locate young hookers. Or look at the latest anti-SUPA restrictions imposed by XXXCombinator, the incubator that twice a year takes a group of young people for 3 months and trains them to be, um, ahem, “entrepreneurs”. Are Ogle and XXXCombinator fighting the good fight, or are they just watching out for their bottom lines.

The most interesting case may be YoDaddy, which specializes in selling really really cheap licenses to pimps. Originally YoDaddy supported SUPA (due to pressure from pimps who didn’t want an influx of young girls to undercut the prices charged for experienced ladies) until the huge backlash from 10 gazillion underage prostitution startups forced YoDaddy to change its position.

I suspect that, fundamentally, our responses to SUPA, or anything that is a reaction to rampant underage prostitution, has very little to do with particulars of this piece of legislation. Both sides are over-reacting based on fundamentally different values. Either you A) think underage prostitution is bad and steps should be taken to prevent it, even imperfect steps, or B) think the world has changed and we need to just accept that there no longer is an age limit on prostitutes and anyone denying that fact is just badly in need of a new business model.

As for me, I’m torn. On the one hand, I’d like young kids to be encouraged to stay in school, develop healthy relationships with their families and their peers, and so on; but on the other hand, it would be nice to if I could break in a fresh young virgin every day for a couple bucks.

So in the end, I do support SUPA, but just barely.