I find the whole Spitzer mess dispiriting. In America, there is really only one principle when it comes to sexuality: don't get caught. People talk about his hypocrisy as a married man or as a former prosecutor. They talk about how he's an elected official and ought to have known better, but the subtext is always, "He was dumb enough to get caught, so he deserves what's coming to him."
Except, you know, he doesn't. I'm all in favor of recognizing the facts on the ground, and as a politician and former prosecutor, Eliot Spitzer both should have known that getting caught employing a prostitute would end his political career. But can we please not lose sight of the fact that "don't get caught" as a guiding principle celebrates the very hypocrisy that so many people say they hate about politics?
And can we also not lose sight of the fact that not all laws are created equal? Our current laws and mores regarding prostitution and other sexual behaviors are ridiculous. For a lot of people, their opinion about prostitution comes down to:
Q: Why is prostitution bad?
A: Because it's illegal!
Q: Why is it illegal?
A: Because it's bad!
And, yes, I realize there are other arguments, but there is nothing about prostitution that is made better by having it be illegal, and there are many things about it that are made worse.
I'm not interested in arguing the right and wrong of a married man visiting a prostitute. As far as I'm concerned, that's between him and his wife. What I'm arguing for is some fundamental right to privacy. The law and the public have no business getting involved in someone else's consensual sexual relations. For all we know, the Spitzers had a difficult discussion at some point in the past and agreed upon certain sexual ground rules that allowed Mr. Spitzer to have sex with prostitutes. But can you imagine the public outcry if Mrs. Spitzer came out and said that? And that same perceived public reaction is why they likely never had such a conversation in the first place.
The idea that every couple will always be perfectly sexually compatible is patent nonsense. Maybe if you're very, very lucky, you find someone else who has the exact same level of horndoginess that you have and that always wants things that complement what you want. And you never want anyone but that person, who, in turn, never wants anyone but you. And I am Marie of Rumania.
So while we're all busy lamenting the fact that Governor Spitzer didn't take a discreet mistress instead, can we also begin to suggest to our legislators that we don't want to know what they do behind closed doors and that we'd appreciate it if they'd return the favor. And write it into the law.
As a side note, I'll say that I've seen a lot of people online who would normally feel the same way as I feel on this issue spouting all sorts of outrage about how Spitzer didn't follow the law. They're doing this because they think Spitzer's problems are bad news for Senator Clinton and good news for Senator Obama. If you're willing to so quickly change your principles and beliefs for what you perceive to be some small political advantage, then you're clearly more worthy of contempt than either Governor Spitzer or Senator Clinton. Seriously, what is it about politics and the Internet that turns normal, decent people into douchebags?
3 years ago