Ignorance is a virtue that will keep us virtuous.
The Supreme Court has refused to hear an ACLU appeal of a state ban of advertising on legal brothels in jurisdictions where the practice is not legal.
This leaves the law in a rather curious state. It is legal for outcall and escort services, which are mere fronts for illegal prostitution, to openly advertise on billboards and cards handed out on the Strip. But it is illegal for legal brothels from neighboring counties to tout their services.
Plaintiff and brothel owner Bobbi Davis said it rather succinctly in today’s R-J:
"Escorts get to put up billboards, but I can't even advertise for a housekeeper in (the Las Vegas Review-Journal). That's how stupid the law is.
“The courts want to punish a legal business in favor of (pimps) trafficking in 13- and 14-year-old girls, beating their women and getting them hooked on drugs and then they'll give people HIV. The Supreme Court has said we shall let this happen."
The law of the land is now a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that reads more like a sermon than an opinion, when it concluded the state has a right to prevent the “commodification of sex,” whatever that means.
Judge Marsha Berzon mentioned but then skirted rulings such as 44 Liquormart, which found unconstitutional a ban on advertising prices for booze. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the courts were asked to "weigh incommensurables — the value of knowledge versus the value of ignorance — and to apply contradictory premises — that informed adults are the best judges of their own interests, and that they are not."
Not, rules Judge Berzon.
In her ruling, she offers this bit of questionable rationale: "Common sense counsels that advertising tends to stimulate demand for products and services. Conversely, prohibitions on advertising tend to limit demand."
Ignorance is bliss, and dangerous.
A local federal judge, James Mahan, had an opposite, and far more realistic, take in a 2007 ruling:
"Defendants have posited that advertising of licensed brothels in counties that by statute or county option do not have legal prostitution will promote and increase illegal prostitution in those counties ... Defendants' suggestion is, at best, highly speculative. The opposite effect is at least as plausible if not more so. It is more likely that tourists who are unclear about what is legal and what is not will be better able to discern, through truthful advertising, which establishments are lawful."
Laws banning liquor and pharmacy prices have been overturned in Rhode Island and Virginia.
Maybe the brothels should have tried to advertise their price list.