Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The obscenity in New York

Well, I'm sure you've all heard about the shameful, sleazy story about Governor Eliot Spitzer.

Yes, that's right... the GOP is insisting that he resign or face impeachment before any proof of any criminal activity has surfaced. How sleazy can you get?

I know, I know... I'm supposed to act all shocked and horrified that Spitzer has been with a prostitute. And I will be angry as all hell, once it's established that he did something illegal. But it's both possible to run a legal escort service, and to behave legally with an escort, so I'd like to hear an actual crime before there's talk of impeachment.

But isn't it awful, a married man meeting a prostitute? Well, that depends on what he did with her. If he has a weird kink that he can play out with another woman, his wife might even be glad he's doing that so she doesn't have to worry about him asking her to do the honors. That's between them. So, again, I want to hear about a crime before I start wanting to hear about possible criminal penalties.

Now, I have heard a disturbing story that, even if he did nothing but hire an escort and behave legally, the government might still go after him for a crime called "structuring", because he fiddled around with smaller amounts of money in a way that might avoid setting off alarms.

Frankly, I have a bit of a problem using that kind of law to catch real criminals, but when you go after Al Capone, sometimes you need to hit him for tax evasion because you can't prove anything else. But using it against someone when there's no other crime (yet) established is awfully fishy. People died because of Al Capone; no one is going to die because of Spitzer.

Now, don't get me wrong... I'm thoroughly disgusted by his hypocrisy. He used to bust up prostitution rings, and since the feds were able to bust up this one, he was willing to engage in behavior that he used to put people in jail for. Even if he didn't, personally, break the law, that's truly ugly behavior. Also, if and when he is charged with crimes relating to prostitution, his past eliminates any sympathy I might feel for him.

(You see, I'm ambivalent about prosecuting prostitution. Today, on another blog, I saw a perfect summary of my feelings: if two people, acting freely, choose to have sex for a porn film, and both get paid, it's legal. But if two people, acting freely, choose to have sex without the cameras rolling, and only one gets paid, it's illegal. Yes, I know, the issue is a lot more complicated than that, and most prostitutes aren't making a free choice, and so on, and so forth. That's why I'm ambivalent.)

But before I'm willing to accept that he must resign, or that he should face impeachment, I want to see a lot more than claims that maybe he did some financial fiddling or met with an escort, without proof of illegal behavior.

He's done some awful things, I grant you. But George W. has started a war, killing scores of thousands of innocent people, and the New York GOP hasn't said boo about that, so before I listen to them call for Spitzer's head, I at least want to see a real, honest-to-goodness criminal charge brought forward.

If that crime is one meriting impeachment, then they certainly should go forward. But jumping the gun before the facts are in is really sleazy.

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