HYPOCRISY (20 january 2004)
It must have been about ten years ago that I went to London with my youngest daughter. It was not the first time that I went to England.
The first time was very much different: soon after my arrival in Sheerness I was sent back by an immigration officer who cherished the (justified) suspicion that I sometimes smoked pot (and even inhaled it). After all these years, it is still not fully clear to me why he sent me back to the Netherlands. I did not carry any dope, so he must have thought that those who smoke pot must be highly criminal and therefore completely unfit to enter Britain.
Although the boat company that had brought me probably had an obligation to ship me back without charging any fare, I was contacted by an employee of the shipping company, who told me it would be nice if I could make at least some payment for my journey back. I was young and naive enough to pay and not to notice that this man never gave me a receipt. So it's anybody's guess what he did with my "fare".
Anyway, that was more than thirty years ago. During my last visit I noticed that London telephone boots were daily adorned with cards which advertise models, who offer special services . One of the conclusions I drew was that prostitution is obviously illegal in Britain and this was the reason why the interiors of the telephone boots were daily covered with new cards.
The situation in the Netherlands is quite different: in this country, prostitution was legalized a few years ago. So when Rob Oudkerk, an alderman of the Amsterdam council, turned out to be in the habit of visiting prostitutes, you would expect there would not be much of a problem, considering the fact that prostitution is not illegal in the Netherlands.
But many Dutch still seem to have a rather schizophrenic attitude about prostitution. Although there is nothing illegal about visiting prostitutes, conservative forces managed to force Rob Oudkerk to resign his office.
Of course, it would have been somewhat odd if an alderman had to resign because of something that is completely legal. So all kinds of arguments have been dragged in, such as the example that the alderman should have set. Others emphasize the fact that Rob Oudkerk also visited a site that was attracting more and more criminals. A salient detail is that this site was set up by the Amsterdam council (and recently closed by the same council).
I wonder if the people who forced the alderman to resign did not suffer from the same kind of delusion as the immigration officer who sent me back to the Netherlands many years ago. Although I wasn't doing anything illegal, his opinion about people who smoke pot was enough to put an end to my holiday illusions.