Soon: Chapters 22-23: Paul and the Whores
Inara: Ambassador is Mal’s way of saying…
Mal: She’s a whore, Shepherd.
Kaylee: The term is “Companion.”
Mal: I always get those mixed up. How’s business?
Inara: None of yours.
Time for Paul to interrogate some prostitutes!
And it’s time to see how Jenkins portrays the lives of prostitutes when their work is no longer illegal.
It’s not like he doesn’t have any sources from which he can draw ideas. After all, prostitution has been legal in various locations and at various times throughout human history. Hell, prostitution is legal right now in some U.S.(S.A.) counties, including ones right outside of Las Vegas, so I’m a bit confused by the fact that Jenkins’ conclusion about what legal prostitution would be like boils down to: just like illegal prostitution right now, but the women say “employer” instead of “pimp.”
I also admit to some confusion about legal and illegal acts in Atheistopia, to wit: prostitution is legal, but drugs are not. Given the widespread support for legalizing drugs like marijuana right now in the States (poll from Gallup), it surprises me that Jenkins imagines that drugs would still be illegal in an atheist-run world, but that prostitution would be quickly legalized. As you can see from these polls gathered at ProCon.org, support for prostitution is generally quite low these days.
But before he can ponder the sad realities of legal prostitution in Atheistopia, Paul has to spend a moment in smug religious self-righteousness:
Paul had zero interest in even attractive, alluring women who made sex their business.
Yeah, he prefers them either drunk and confused, or single and unaware of his married state.
He felt a strange emotion, however, as he made the public rounds. As he talked to various women, finding it easier one-on-one than with a pair or three, he actually felt compassion for them. Paul ran that through his mental grid. If God loved everyone and cared for every soul, and if He, as Straight had quoted to him over and over, “does not want anyone to perish,” He must love these women too. Living in out-and-out sin, selling their bodies, and yet worthy of love and compassion and forgiveness.
Does it ever cross Paul’s mind, even for a second (excuse me, does he run it through his mental grid) that the Bible is forbidden in Atheistopia and these women do not know what “sin” is? Or that even if they did know, they might not care what sin is? Seeing as they’re, yanno, atheists?
I think Paul has gridlock in his mental grid.
And speaking of lovely ladies, Paul is certain he saw Angela Barger wandering around the casinos. This, of course, immediately takes precedence over his INVESTIGATION OF THE MURDEROUS CULT, so he starts asking the prostitutes (who are, inexplicably, streetwalkers instead of employees of brothels) about Angela. Because grabbing some alone time with her is waaaay more important than catching Morty Bag-of-Donuts and stopping him from killing prostitutes.
Paul even prays, and of all the possible things to pray about at this juncture: preventing Morty from killing more women, getting his wife and kids back, staying safe from the Atheistapo…Paul prays to find Angela.
Since the investigation has come to a complete and utter halt while Paul seeks out his next would-be conquest, it’s a good thing that he tracks her down almost instantly. He finds a prostitute who is hopeless and drug-addicted, because there is no way that legalizing prostitution would make it a job like any other, and she has seen Angela!
“I’m looking for a dramatically pretty blonde, about thirty, who may have come around talking to working girls.”
This is Paul’s opening. I’m kinda surprised that his opening isn’t, “I’m looking for a creep who calls himself Jonah and is trying to lure prostitutes away from their legitimate employment and into his death cult,” but that’s just me, I guess.
Turns out that Angela has been wandering around Vegas, randomly talking to whores about Jesus. Jenkins tries to make a point about how awful Atheistopia is:
“You gonna get her in trouble? What she’s doing is dangerous–and illegal.”
Paul contemplated the irony of that, considering the source.
Okay, as we have touched on again and again, it is not cool that religion is illegal. NOT COOL. But you know what else is not cool? That in our world, illegal prostitution is dangerous. That women are hurt because (in part) they do not have the protections that those of us with legal employment enjoy. In Atheistopia, where prostitutes are legal and licensed, it is natural to assume that they would live lives not dissimilar from legal prostitutes in the U.S. today, but Jenkins just portrays them as hopeless, uneducated, drug-addicted losers, walking the streets in sin and wretchedness, and not really engaged in legitimate business. The fact that prostitution is legal changes nothing about the lives of prostitutes in Atheistopia.
Imagination fail. Research fail.