Sunday, March 23, 2008

Eliot Spitzer and Human Morality

This article was originally posted at on March 16th, 2008

I know next to nothing about Eliot Spitzer. Until this week, I didn´t even know he was the governor of New York, nor did I care. All I know about him I found out in the last week from news releases and opinion articles about his follies with some prostitute and his subsequent capture by the morality brigade. I must say that the moment the news broke I had mixed feelings about the whole episode. On the one hand I thought, "So what? He´s a politician. He deserves it. We all know they´re all corrupt anyway. Just look at the Deborah Jeane Palfrey case." Funny how we don´t hear much about that anymore. Then I thought, on the other hand, "I wonder why him? I wonder what is the real reason they decided to bust this guy."

Well, to be honest, Eliot Spitzer´s misfortunes don´t affect my life much. He´s more of a problem for the people of the state of New York. Still, I have been doing a lot of thinking about it this week. It has weighed somewhat heavily on my mind. Now, since I have to work for a living unlike some people who are governors, and since I´ve got familial and other obligations to take care of, I find it hard to always keep up on news. I´ve heard things and I´m uncertain as to all the facts. What follows is my opinion to the best of my understanding of the situation, a situation which I find to be sad, convoluted and perhaps a bit conspiratorial.

Let me first say this. Eliot Spitzer is a damn lucky man. I wish I had an extra $5000 dollars laying around that I could just give to some woman for sex. That´s two and a half months take home pay for me. If I were to pay that much to get laid, I´d have to go without food for two months. I have a little extra around the middle, but not that much. I would love to be able to afford such luxuries. No, like most men, and since my ex and I have separated, I have to try to win a woman over with what´s left of my good looks and my charm. Things are a bit rough for me. I have to get up the nerve to ask them out on a date, then I have to take them to dinner, or a movie, or bowling, or somewhere else that I guess they might like or find nice. I have to talk to them, listen to them, get to know them, tell them about myself, and then if we feel comfortable enough with each other some sparks may fly. Without a doubt, the prostitute thing would be a lot simpler, but I guess that´s just not my cup of tea. Even if I had the extra $5000 lying around the house, I doubt I´d spend it on a prostitute. Then again, who am I to judge? I´m not a super busy state governor with loads of pressure on me running around all over the place with hardly the time to stop in and see my beautiful wife.

Now, don´t get me wrong. I´m definitely no saint. I´ve done things I deeply regret. I am a human being and with that I get all the frailties, failings and imperfections that come with being a human being. Eliot Spitzer is no different. Yet he became elevated to a position of power. He was put into a position of trust to serve the people and so it was that people believe he is somehow better than human. So what if he had a prostitute service him? He´s a man, a powerful man, with urges that apparently weren´t be satisfied at home, and he simply paid for a service. It was just a simple business transaction. There should be nothing illegal about two consenting adults exchanging money for a service. It is a crime which, much like gambling and the consumption of marijuana, involves no victims, only people consensually agreeing to interact with one another or deciding what they want to put in their bodies. It is a crime simply because some people find it morally objectionable and feel they should be able to force their sense of morality on the rest of us.

It is, however, my understanding that Eliot Spitzer used to prosecute prostitution rings. In fact, I understand he used to prosecute such cases with much gusto and malicious zeal. I have no idea how many lives have been ruined because of his prosecution of such cases, but I imagine quite a few. This is where the real crime occurs, in my opinion, the crime of being hypocritical. Do as I say and not as I do is simply not a valid philosophy. Here is a man who could have used his position of power in a more principled manner. He could have refused to prosecute prostitution cases. He could have lobbied to make prostitution legal. He could have used his position to fight against bad law and to try to legalize crimes where there are no victims. Instead he decided to use the excuse that he was just doing his job to prosecute these crimes and destroy lives. It´s difficult to feel pity for such a man when he decides to break the very laws he so vehemently defended no matter what conspiratorial theories might be suggested as to why he was busted.

I have the feeling that prostitution was the least of Eliot Spitzer´s transgressions. He was busted because bank laws that shouldn´t be on the books caught some "strange" transactions taking place and alerted the government thugs to investigate. This could happen to anyone with enough money. This could be used by anyone with power and a political axe to grind, but remember, everything flows downhill.

The spy mentality that is pervasive throughout our society is out of hand. The artificial fear inundating the American populace is unhealthy. So long as police and prosecutors continue to use the excuse of "just doing their job" to enforce bad laws everyone will continue to be open to retribution. So long as we continue to elect representatives and government officials because of their party rather than their ethics and principles, we will continue to put in power those who will pass bad, unconstitutional laws. It´s good that Eliot Spitzer has been taken down. Perhaps they can start going through Ms. Palfrey´s client list and we can start replacing most of the federal government. Perhaps then people will start to realize that humans are fallible and the state should stop trying to legislate human morality.

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