11/03/08

Spitzer: cementing a cross-party tradition of hypocrisy

spitzer prostitution

So New York’s Democrat governor Elliot Spitzer admits to having been a naughty boy. He wanted to have sex with someone who wasn’t his wife, and pay for it. Tut tut. Paroxysms of delight from his enemies at The Wall Street Journal and comment about Spitzer’s staying power and other analysis many other places besides. Even the tech nerds want in on the gloating.

I don’t give a toss if politicians want to buy sex as long as the treat the person who wants to sell it decently and pay them well (which Spitzer was apparently more than willing to do). Many other people feel the same. The problem comes not with the behaviour but with the hypocrisy. Spitzer has in the past ridden around on his white charger, puffed up with self-righteousness, telling people what a great job he has done of busting prostitution rings. My sentiments were nicely put by Vincent Romano, lawyer for Frank Farella, who has mouldered in jail since Spitzer bust his Staten Island sex work ring. “My client feels that people who live in a glass mansion in Albany should not throw stones,” Romano was quoted as saying.

While Democratic Assemblyman John McEneny is quoted by Hot Air as saying:

“I don’t think anyone remembers anything like this. The fact that the governor has a reputation as a reformer and there is a certain assumption as attorney general that you’re Caesar’s wife [above suspicion]. It’s a different element than if you were an accountant.”…

Gosh, Mr. McEneny has a short memory. Randall Tobias ran USAID and before that PEPFAR (the US effort against AIDS globally). The Bush appointee championed the Loyalty Oath (which some call The Pledge), an anti sex work provision that handcuffed PEPFAR money to organisations that oppose prostitution. Then oooops! he turned up in the address book of Deborah Palfrey, aka the DC Madam. She spun a gossamer web around his self-righteous hypocisy, until there was no escape and Tobias resigned.

For some really interesting comment on Spitzer’s hypocrisy and the surrounding hoopla, check out some of the sex worker blogs — there’s a good summary on Bound, Not Gagged. I especially liked Waking Vixen’s account of how the media are sticking their snouts into the affair:

And while I am not ashamed that I was a sex worker, and I know sound bites are short and cannot be anywhere near as complicated as my shit it, I don’t want to be MSNBC’s whore on television. It does nothing for me personally and nothing for the movement I’m part of for me to be boiled down to the essence of “will fuck for cash. here’s how.”

(Read more here)

Another thing to be upset about: as Lee Rudolph has already pointed out, it seems that Spitzer may have done “things that, like, you might not think were safe”. And we allow this man to preside over the educational policies of New York’s schools?

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This post was published on 11/03/08 in Good sex and bad, Pisani's picks, The sex trade.

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  1. Comment by Anton, 11/03/08, 05:39:

    “I don’t give a toss if politicians want to buy sex as long as the treat the person who wants to sell it decently and pay them well…”

    I wonder if his wife and children “…give a toss.” And if they do, I wonder if we should care.

    I doubt as many people as you claim live in the morals-free, responsibility-free world that you live in Elizabeth. Indeed, the people I know decry the death of right and wrong that you seem so glib about.

  2. Comment by Lee Rudolph, 12/03/08, 12:52:

    Anton writes, “I wonder if his wife and children ‘…give a toss.’”

    Though presented (I suspect) as a rhetorical question (okay, a rhetorical “wonder”, there being no question mark), if taken seriously it’s an empirical question. Some similarly situated spouses doubtless do, others doubtless don’t, and the distribution of those (and all the intermediate) degrees of toss-giving among the population (or, better, among the various populations) is something at least somewhat susceptible to scientific study. A similar situation no doubt obtains for similarly situated daughters (and sons, etc., etc.).

    Absent such studies (actually, I have read some, but don’t have them at hand, couldn’t vouch for them if I did, and don’t want to risk misstating their conclusions; interested readers can find them, and pointers to others, in Kluwer’s Archives of Sexual Behavior, among other recent sources, if they are–probably rightly–too fastidious to handle Kinsey’s work without layers of latex), there is little or no value in Anton’s expressed “doubt” about the number of people who “live in” such a world as he ascribes to Elizabeth Pisani. And there is almost certainly little accurate information about peoples’ sexual behavior (even the behavior of “the people” Anton “know”s) that can be learned directly from the same peoples’ speech behavior (including their “decry”ing of “the death of right and wrong”).

    For instance, today’s US news brings us the tit-bit that “At least one in four teenage girls nationwide has a sexually transmitted disease, or more than 3 million teens, according to the first study of its kind in this age group” (an AP wire story). Here “teenage” means 13 to 19, inclusive. What do you make of that, Anton?

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