I spent one summer at the University of Amsterdam and I learned that some societies had practical instead of moral approaches to illegal behaviors. The most well-known example of this in the Netherlands is their decision to stop policing marijuana, even though it is illegal. It’s simply, I was told, believed to be a waste of resources with little reward.
A more fascinating example, I thought, was their approach to streetwalking. While prostitution is legal in Amsterdam, streetwalking is not. Still, there will be sex workers who can’t afford rent and, so, there will be streetwalkers. Instead of throwing them all in jails or constantly fining them, the city built a drive, just outside of town. Basically you would drive in, go around in a big circle, and drive back out. Streetwalkers, if they went there, could avoid being harassed by the police and the city could achieve it’s goal of cutting down on street prostitution.
So, just to bring the point home, the city built a venue for an activity that it had made illegal… and they considered it a win-win.
The United States would never go for this. We tend to think that it’s immoral to break the law, not just illegal, and would consider this kind of practical approach to be hypocrisy.
In any case, I thought of this when Julieta R. sent in this picture, shot by her friend, at the Aberdeen Pub in Edinburgh, Scotland in Oct. 2009.
Hook ups in the bathroom, it appears, had begun to inconvenience customers. But, instead of trying to police everyone, the Pub just said: “Ok, fine, but just keep it to Cubicle 4.”
Check out Krista’s blog here.