Monday, March 10, 2008

Spitzer the John - Not So Bad

The Paper of Record reports today that New York's crusading governor, Eliot Spitzer, has been implicated in a federal wiretap investingation of a high-rollers' prostitution ring. Spitzer, his wife standing at his side, gave a press conference in which he admitted betraying his family's trust. The New York Times article is here:

I certainly don't mind seeing this partisan fall hard, since he has abused his office to carry out dirty tricks against his Republican rivals. The fact that Spitzer has prosecuted prostitutes, pimps and johns in his prior job as Attorney General only makes him that much more deserving of the shame on him now.

However, it's about time we started having a more honest discussion of sex, including sexual services and other sex business. Spitzer's opponents will beat him over the head with this issue, and deservedly so. The man is a lying hypocrite. But when you get down to it, the fact that he "allegedly" paid a woman to have sex with him really isn't anyone's business but his and that woman's.

People pay each other all the time to perform a variety of services, many of which are downright miserable. Do you think there is any such thing as consensual, non-compensated garbage exchanges between society and the men who drive by early in the morning to pick up our trash? Would anyone really be willing to work in cubicles day after day without being offered money to do it? And even fun things like professional sports and entertainment involve pay for service. Heck, athletes and actors even have unions! So why shouldn't a person be allowed to perform sex work for fees? And why shouldn't consumers be able to purchase the services they want in a free market?

I realize many people have religious reasons to oppose prostitution. But that isn't enough to ban it from society altogether. If, over time, Muslims become the majority in the country, we should not prohibit unrelated men and women from speaking to one another in public, ban public exposure of female arms and legs, etc. No, religious prohibitions about sexuality and gender have no place in the wider secular society. If individuals choose to not follow Islamic edicts, or choose not to follow Christian bans on prostitution, that should be tolerated. And if some folks do want to live by those religious ideas, fine. Live and let live.

There really is no valid reason for a rational, secular society to ban prostitution. Feminist extremists will raise issues of objectification of women and bad pimps, but those are all foolish. If prostitution were legal, it could be regulated to remove the parasitic pimps, improve conditions for sex workers, promote public health, etc. Sex workers in many countries actually have unions to represent them, and if American prostitues had such bargaining power, their lot could not but be improved.

As for objectification, that's none of our business. People come in an unfathomable variety of sexual flavors. Some like not only to be objectified, but also humiliated or bound and gagged. Some people go to swingers parties and trade off partners or watch others. It may not be your taste, but what right do you have to tell other grown men and women they cannot engage in these activities because you don't think it's right for them to be objectified, humiliated, peed on, etc.? If that's your thing, fine. If you only do those things because it pays well and you're willing to trade your services for a fee, fine. I only come to my cubicle each day because they pay me. The day that stops, I won't show up anymore. Yes, I'm an insurance whore. I may like you and even have pleasant conversation with you, but pay me or don't waste my time.

Spitzer deserves to go down hard because he's a lying sack of hypocritical excrement, and he's used his offices to hurt his rivals. But as for Spitzer's use of sexual services, the law should not even be involved. If his wife approves, who cares? If she doesn't approve, he's a jerk and she should leave him. It's not the public's business.


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