A website on which male escorts advertise just got busted. The CEO of Rentboy.com and six of its employees have conspired to promote prostitution, according to an indictment unsealed by Kelly T. Currie, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Glenn Sorge, a Department of Homeland Security official; and William Bratton, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department.
Prostitution is illegal. And if the graphic criminal complaint can be trusted, there’s strong evidence that the site facilitated and encouraged prostitution.
On the other hand, having pondered how many man hours the Department of Homeland Security should spend trying to stop men paying other men for consensual sex, there’s a strong case can be made that the answer is “zero.” I find it hard to believe New Yorkers want the NYPD working this beat. And can’t federal prosecutors find more threatening conspiracies to thwart?
Even if this case didn’t represent a dubious use of scarce criminal-justice resources, I’d still argue that, in the end, it will leave the world a worse place than it is today.
Gay prostitution is not a riskless enterprise. Like all intercourse, it can spread sexually transmitted diseases. Just like maids, masseuses, plumbers, and babysitters, gay prostitutes enter the homes of strangers, making them vulnerable to being attacked; and just like straight sex workers, football players, attorneys, and politicians, some gay prostitutes will always stand behind their past choices while others will feel that the job caused them some degree of physical, mental, or spiritual injury.