Letter from the Editor 

I was out of town last week on my annual trout-fishing trek to the deep woods of Pennsylvania. (You know, the place where Obama saw his shadow, and now we have six more weeks of Hillary.) I was off the grid — no Internet, no cell phone — just my gun and my religion and a four-weight fly-rod. And beer.

On my return Sunday, I sat down with a week's worth of Commercial Appeals and tried to catch up on the doings here in the ol' Bluff City. And what I saw was Trouble, and that starts with S and ends with X. There was our intrepid district attorney, Bill Gibbons, on the front page of last Wednesday's paper, showcasing the 43 vehicles the Memphis police had impounded in a prostitution "sting."

I know prostitution is a problem, but this seems like selective law enforcement. Soliciting prostitution is not a felony. We don't impound perps' cars for speeding violations, also a misdemeanor. And the police, as John Branston pointed out in his online column last week, are not assigning fake hookers to snare tourists in downtown hotel lobbies. They're tackling the low-end offenders — weak and easy targets.

But the media love a good sex story, and the local gendarmes know how to manipulate the media. And they know sex scares public officials, which is why very few City Council members had the stones to stand up for the strip clubs in their fight against the County Commision's brave new circa-1890s-era strip-club ordinance.

The inescapable bottom line is that the sex industry is huge — and hugely profitable. Hotel-room pornography takes in two billion dollars a year. Sex sites are the most popular and profitable websites on the Internet. Heck, thousands of hookers don't walk the streets anymore; they use the Internet to make their "dates."

Taking a few johns off the street makes for good television, but it doesn't have any real effect on the core issue. And taking their cars is just showboating.

Human beings will find sex. They always have. And as has been demonstrated by moralistic preachers and politicians countless times, the ones doing the most grandstanding are often caught with their own hands in the cookie jar.

What happens between consenting adults is their own business, not the government's.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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