Jim Furlong: Massaging the Truth

It has been marvellous to see the winds of change blow through St. John’s City Council. The moratorium on massage parlours is over. Council has finally moved away from the ridiculous position of trying to legislate morality. The moratorium was not the work of this council. This council is largely a new configuration that seems to have a nice dose of common sense to it.

Do what they do

This is not the council of “old” St. John’s where the city fathers seemed to be like the old guy on the Community Chest Card in Monopoly, but rather a newer more enlightened crowd. The motion to lift the moratorium was the work of Councillor Maggie Burton and her cohorts. Good for them! There will be a public meeting about the details of the regulations that will pertain to when and where a massage parlour can operate, but the issue is essentially settled.

What is the lesson learned? Well it’s an old one and it’s you cannot legislate public morality. People are going to do what they do. You can take a wild snake and put it in a long tube so it can’t move an inch, but you can never end its desire to wriggle. “Thank you Grasshopper”.

I can tell you right here that I don’t frequent massage parlours, but I can also tell you quite frankly that if you asked everyone you know or everyone you ever knew they would tell you the same thing. They don’t go there. The truth is somebody goes there and someone is lying to you.

If nobody went to massage parlours they would be out of business in a hurry. They don’t operate as a charity for the odd person who might want to drop in and pass an hour or so. They are a business and operate because of the oldest principle of commerce; supply and demand. There is a demand for those services because if there wasn’t there would be no massage parlours. It would be like the old Maytag Repairman commercials; somebody stood around with nothing to do; or business flowing through the front door of the buggy whip shops.

Money is earned

There is in this a more serious issue here that is important. The moratorium on massage parlors didn’t end the business. It just drove it underground. The citizenry didn’t have to look at it. You could convince yourself there was no such thing and your husband or brother or father wasn’t a customer.

There is comfort in that I suppose. Massage parlour worker is not the nicest job in the world and I suspect it was on nobody’s “what I want to be when I graduate” goal in the school yearbook, but it is a job. Money is earned and taxes are paid.

It’s also absolutely a profession made less dangerous when registered and regulated massage parlours are allowed to operate. People who work in them have the same right of protection and safety in the workplace as anybody else. Finally there seems to be a recognition of that.

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