Here's the difference I see in the scenario. If someone were to just cut out their eyes for free, they would be considered mentally ill. Even if they asked a doctor to do it (and no doctor who was licensed and wanted to keep their license would do it, not to mention the ethical problems with this). Even if they were asked to do it by someone else just for that person's amusement.
However, in the case of prostitution, the act itself that is being sold is not considered something that would be seen as a mentally ill or really is considered a natural part of life. Almost every person on the planet participates in this act, some even with some monetary/asset/financial gain of some kind when it wasn't part of a contract/agreement. The only part of the act that makes it illegal or even seen as wrong is when money is offered for it.
The two things are not comparable. The act itself, when it comes to cutting out your healthy eyes, even without being paid is seen as a sign of mental illness and for good reason. It destroys a perfectly functioning part of your body for no medical reason but in a way that limits (severely) the operation of your body. Just having sex does not destroy a part of a person's body, particularly not in a way that would severely limit the operation of your body.
That is where the biggest difference lies, the comparison of the acts in relation to whether money is offered or not. They are on opposite sides of the spectrum. One is considered more acceptable (by some) when money is offered while the other is considered more acceptable (in general) when it is done for free.
"A woman is like a teabag, you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water." - Eleanor Roosevelt
Keep your religion out of other people's marriages.
I think such extreme situations as presented in the OP would be extremely rare. In those rare cases, some kind of official should investigate to make sure that person is of sound mind to make the decision and isn't being coerced. If that's good, there's no reason not to let them.
"If I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life - and only then will I be free to become myself." ~ Martin Heidegger
The road to Hell and the road to Jahannam is the same damn road.
I became a conservative by being around liberals. I became a libertarian by being around conservatives. ~ Greg Gutfeld.
What Roguenuke said...
I find most people can't separate those terms at all.
Come to Las Vegas, where in the 70s we had thousands of mini-skirted girls crowding the sidewalks. They are all gone now, they get detained the moment the first patrol car comes by. Brothels, yes, apparently we still have some. Metro's Vice Unit Bust Brothel - 8 News NOW but they are rare enough (I never heard of one) that this made the headlines. The internet has completely changed the way sex is sold and 90% of the available girls could fall under the "escort" category. If you tried to recruit a group to be against stree-walkers, everybody would join. Street girls are sick, drugged, dangerous and often pimp-controlled. Nobody wants that to be legal.
But the entire industry is deemed "immoral" because of a tiny minority. This is the same mentality that says that because of a few criminal gun owners, we must illegalize guns. How little sense that makes. So, I wantd to ckarify what you meant by "prostitution" is immoral. Slavery is immoral, not prostitution, and I use that word because 87% of the population doesn't realize that other terms mean other things.
I sleep with my wife pretty much every time she's drunk, since drinking makes her horny and I'm not going to say no.
If you build a man a fire, he'll be warm for a day.
If you set a man on fire, he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
You start off by making a personal statement of belief: "It surprises me how many of you answered "yes" to the question, this in spite of all the data which shows prostitutes suffer from a variety of diseases and psychological disorders - including heightened suicide rates - as a direct result of their profession."
Then you offer a false premise: "Therefore, you are saying it's OK to pay someone to harm themselves as long as both parties are consenting," which creates a false dilemma.
Finally, you provide a straw man argument (billionaire sadist) to try to support your "false continuum" i.e. if one supports legalization of prostitution it means postitutes suffer abuse legally, and so we would also allows sadistic abuse simply because the victim s being paid for it.
The problem is that your basic assumption is false...legalizing prostitution will not encourage abuses; instead it will alleviate the conditions that lead to such abuses. That because it allows for regulation, inspection, medical controls, zoning, business licensing, and free criminal justice resources to pursue the real criminals, i.e. human traffickers, pimps, abusive johns (like your billionaire sadist), etc.
Finally, making it legal and inspectable will also serve to insure that participants are all voluntary, and have recourse to social support resources if problems arise.
That's why I voted YES. You should read my reply in that poll.
You are right, sex in itself is not harmful, whereas removing one's eyes is quite harmful. Indeed, sex can be quite beautiful. On the other hand, it can be quite horrible (rape, incest, for example). Therefore, since sex can be either a good thing or a bad thing, consider whether these women are having sex that is enjoyable to them or horrible to them.
Consider in your own mind, not abstractly but as a woman... I'm sure you would never think of having sex with a series of random, nasty old men for $500. You would most likely feel ashamed of yourself afterwards, feel dirty, and you would question what kind of person you are and your own self-worth.
The damage done by prostitution is to the self-esteem of these women, which, while not being as graphic as gouging one's eyes out, is still quite real damage.