Massage Parlor Blues

In their endless quest to rid Houston of things that they don’t like, city officials have been cracking down on massage parlors and spas. In the past year, at least thirteen of these havens for naughty deeds have been closed by the city.

Last year, City Council strengthened Chapter 125, the section of the city code that deals with nuisance businesses. Since then, police have been raiding massage parlors and spas. The police have found such things as money, condoms, and lingerie, all of which apparently constitutes a nuisance.

According to the Chronicle:

The nuisance lawsuits take anti-prostitution efforts to the next level.

Habitual evidence of a wide range of illicit activities – including everything from prostitution to gambling or murder – can be grounds for a so-called “Chapter 125 suit,” a reference to the section of civil law used to shut down nuisance businesses.

Do the police really need “habitual evidence” in order to file charges for murder? And why are they filing a nuisance lawsuit for murder? But I digress.

The “next level” that the paper speaks of is going after property owners, even though they often have nothing to do with the massage parlors and spas. The nuisance lawsuits are aimed at shutting down a property for a year. Which means, a property owner could lose the use of his property for a year because of what his tenants do. This is certainly taking things to the next level, and that’s not a level that any defender of individual rights should welcome.

Gambling does not violate anybody’s rights. Individuals choose to gamble of their own volition, and that is their moral right. It is hypocritical to legalize some gambling–such as the lottery, horse racing, and dog racing–while prosecuting individuals for other forms of gambling.

Similarly with voluntary prostitution. (Involuntary prostitution is rape.) If a woman chooses to engage in sex for money, that is her choice. It violates nobody’s rights. And that is true whether the form of payment is dinner and a movie, or the cash equivalent.

It is bad enough that the police waste countless hours and untold taxpayer money trying to stop these voluntary activities. But now the city is taking it to the “next level” and victimizing innocent property owners as well.

If we want the freedom to live our lives as we choose, we must defend the freedom of others to do the same. Even when we don’t agree with their choices.

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