Talking Prostitutes . . . (2/7/01)

Guys are infatuated with the prostitute.

If I'm flipping through the TV channels and catch the old Michael Keeton movie, Night Shift, I'm hooked.

Whenever I watch the television show Cops and some poor smuck is about to take some undercover female cop into a motel room, I can't look away. In fact, I feel a twinge of sadness whenever the cops bust into the room, scare the guy half to death, and wrestle him to the ground as he looks at them like a deer in headlights.

My first week in the DA's office in Tarrant County introduced me to my first "jail run". A bunch of women had been in jail for a week and they were all going to be brought to court at one time for a potential plea bargaining session. I was surprised, shocked, and somewhat pleased to see that they had all been charged with prostitution. I had seen "Pretty Woman". This, I thought, was going to be a treat as I prepared to feast my eyes on the Julia Roberts look-a-likes. I still have nightmares about what I saw. Ugly. Toothless. Homeless. It was not what Hollywood had taught me about prostitutes. I still feel cheated to this day.

When I was in my twenties, I was running around one night with a buddy of mine and his high school aged little sister in Dallas. In an attempt to always broaden our minds, we decided to cruise over to Harry Hines Boulevard to see if we could spot a few hookers. (Hey, we were small town kids in the big city, so we figured we might as well see something that you don't get to see every Saturday night in downtown Bridgeport). I felt like a hunter looking for deer as we looked for all the tell-tale signs that would be a dead giveaway for a sighting: a seedy motel, stop lights, no cops. I wasn't sure what to expect but we finally found one on a side road walking up and down the street. I still laugh to this day when the naive little sister exclaimed: "Oh, my God! Where does she tell her mother where she's been?"

I was reminded of this naivety the other day when I picked up the Dallas Morning News editorial section. The editorial page drives me up the wall. You know what I'm talking about: Next to the letters to the editor, on the right side of the page, are always three small editorials which express the official opinion of the paper. They are always boring, unchallenging, and state the obvious: we shouldn't litter, we should feed the homeless, we should be tough on crime, we should expect services for our tax dollars. Yada, yada, yada.

But one the other day was labeled "Reducing Prostitution" and I was hooked. I read it and then shook my head.

Mind you, this is the Dallas Morning News. THE paper. Child of Belo Broadcasting. The editorial stated that  "city officials are looking for more ammunition" to fight prostitution. Moreover, ladies of that trade were "moving to Dallas" from neighboring areas "because fines are so low", thus, "city officials are right to want to enhance the punishment" by petitioning the legislature.


The City of Dallas has nothing to do with fighting prostitution. It is a Class B misdemeanor which means that any prostitution offense committed in the county is referred to the Dallas County DA's office. It doesn't matter if it is in Garland, Highland Park, Pleasant Grove, or Oak Cliff. It all goes to the DA's office.

That's a minor mistake, but one that you wouldn't expect from THE paper.

The second aspect that got my goat was this sentence: "It will [also] be even more important for prostitutes to know there are ways out. Organizations exist to help women who want to escape the degradation of working in sexually oriented businesses."

The editorial writers have watched too many movies. Any woman working as a prostitute in this day in time is far more worldly and street smart than any blue blood working on the editorial staff at the Morning News. They have explored the world and made their choice. To believe the trade is made up of teenagers who are unaware of the Dallas Community College System or the concept of a GED is naive as the little sister that night on Harry Hines.

"It's never too late to change" the editorial ended.  But the boring editorials sure haven't shown that inclination.

Barry Green served as District Attorney for Wise and Jack Counties from 1993 through 2000. He is now a partner in the Decatur law firm of Smith & Green, P.C.

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