Reader: Prostitute mug shots post offensive, proof Westword's gone to crap

Our post featuring mug shots of fourteen prostitutes busted in a Colfax sting operation sparked a slew of passionate, sometimes angry responses, with a number of readers accusing yours truly of exploiting and demeaning the arrestees. That was not my intention, but after reflection, I concluded that the criticism was valid. The item has now been deleted. Here's a comment that articulates the objections.

Sarah writes:

This is incredibly offensive. First, you post mugshots of these women in a city-wide newspaper, and then you make fun of them for being ugly? Oh, but it's okay, because they're prostitutes, not people. They don't have feelings, and they're not entitled to a single shred of dignity. This paper has really gone to crap.

To those of you leaving comments who are absolutely certain that all of these women "chose" to be in this position: Did you know that an estimated 70-90% of sex workers in the US were sexually abused as children? That an even higher percentage grew up in some sort of highly dysfunctional household, where they were suffered from physical abuse or were raised by parents with substance abuse issues? Did you know that the median age of entry into the sex industry is somewhere between 12 and 14 years old? And that a lot of girls end up in the sex trade after they've run away from home to escape an abusive situation, and end up under the control of a pimp?

I bet you didn't know any of that. It's so easy to criticize when you are lucky enough to not have any idea what other people have gone through.

For more memorable takes, visit our Comment of the Day archive.


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