Originally posted on August 24, 2011.
I'm unemployed in Oregon and trying to come up with simple ways to make rent. My dear wife and I would like your opinion on the legality of selling my teenage son's sweaty gym clothes online. It sounds rather skeezy, I realize, and I'm only half-joking here. If we had a nonsexual website with pictures that weren't necessarily of my son, would that be buffer enough? Would this be seen as me whoring out the boy? He's up for it—as long as he gets his cut—but could I go to jail for this? He is 14.
Pimpin' Out Real Teen's Leftover, Acrid, Nasty Duds
My response after the jump...
Speaking parent-to-parent, PORTLAND, informing your 14-year-old son that there are perverts all over the internet who would be willing to pay him for his sweaty gym clothes wasn't the best idea. Whatever you ultimately decide to do with his sweaty jocks, shorts, and T-shirts—and I vote for tossing them in the wash—dangling the money your son could make catering to the desires of online pervs in front of him might inspire him to go into business for himself, whatever you decide to do. So keep an eye on his internet usage, okay? As for the legal issues...
"Selling a physical property—sweat—might be an issue," said Chris O'Connor, a public defender in Portland, Oregon. "Also, he could be [charged with] fraud and misrepresentation for selling clothing he says is his 14-year-old son's but isn't."
Even if no dissatisfied customers go running to the chamber of commerce, PORTLAND, there are other potential problems. For instance, as your son's sweaty gym clothes make their way from his bedroom floor to the hands of underpants-huffing pervs all over the world, some items would travel—via US mail or UPS or FedEx—through different jurisdictions. While there may not be a statute in Oregon that you could be prosecuted under for selling his undies, Mississippi or Illinois or Vatican City "may have specific laws, too," says O'Connor, laws that you could be violating.
The biggest potential problem: Underpants huffers wanna know exactly whose underpants they're huffing. That means you'll have to include pictures and biographical info on your website, PORTLAND, and involving a minor—even a fake/buffer one—in what many police officers, district attorneys, judges, and some sex-advice columnists see as a kind of gateway sex work will quickly add arrest, prosecution, incarceration, crushing legal bills, and a lifetime on a sex-offender registry to your current troubles. Even if the authorities can't point to a particular law that criminalizes your home business, they'll find something to charge you with.
I'm sorry you're hurting right now, PORTLAND, but I think you should come up with another way to make rent.