The Shotgun Blog
Friday, March 14, 2008
Don’t blame Americans; it’s Spitzer who can’t distinguish between sin and crime
When Eliot Spitzer was my research assistant in the 1980s, he was a young man of great brilliance, high integrity, conservative demeanour and enormous promise. It pains me deeply to see him brought down so far, and so quickly, by private sexual misconduct...
The laws criminalizing adult consensual prostitution — especially with $5,000-an-hour call girls — are as anachronistic as the old laws that used to criminalize adultery, fornication, homosexuality and even masturbation. These may be sins, but there are no real victims, except for family members...
Yes, Eliot Spitzer can be charged with hypocrisy for prosecuting prostitution rings while patronizing prostitutes himself. The voters would have had every right to hold his hypocrisy against him had he run for office after completing his term. They could have considered the recklessness of his conduct in evaluating his ability to perform his public functions. But forcing him to resign constitutes an abuse of the political and criminal processes, an abuse that would only be compounded by using vague criminal statutes to prosecute him for federal crimes for which no one is prosecuted...
As a nation we must learn how to distinguish between sin and crime, between activities that endanger the public and those that harm only the actor and his family. The criminal law should be reserved for serious predatory misconduct.
I agree with almost every word Dershowitz has written here, but it is Spitzer who needs to learn to distinguish between sin and crime – not average Americans. I’ve posted recently about the non-crimes Spitzer has prosecuted. The list includes the non-crimes of price gouging, insider trading, music industry payola, prostitution and many others.
Spitzer and Dershowitz should both read Lysander Spooner’s classic “Vices are not Crimes.”
Here’s the opening paragraph of this essay:
Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property.
Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another.
Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons.
In vices, the very essence of crime - that is, the design to injure the person or property of another - is wanting.
It is a maxim of the law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent; that is, without the intent to invade the person or property of another. But no one ever practises a vice with any such criminal intent. He practices his vice for his own happiness solely, and not from any malice toward others.
Unless this clear distinction between vices and crimes be made and recognized by the laws, there can be on earth no such thing as individual right, liberty, or property, and the corresponding and coequal rights of another man to the control of his own person and property.
For a government to declare a vice to be a crime, and to punish it as such, is an attempt to falsify the very nature of things. It is as absurd as it would be to declare truth to be falsehood, or falsehood truth.
Posted by Matthew Johnston on March 14, 2008 | Permalink
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Don’t blame Americans; it’s Spitzer who can’t distinguish between sin and crime:
He makes a good case. Perhaps it is hypocrisy but I would call it double standards. Still I maintain that we need to stay off the victim wagon, as Spitzer alone is responsible for the choices he made and makes.
Posted by: Alain | 2008-03-14 4:25:51 PM
"Vice" crimes didn't exist until the end of the 19th/early 20th Century anyways. Drugs, booze, gambling, prostitution, and so forth were legal pretty much everywhere (with a few notable exceptions) through pretty much all of human history up until the progressive movement first showed up - temperance and all of that - with a fundamnetally ahistoric idea of human perfection by legislation.
The problem now, though, is unwinding those laws without giving in to the statist desire to expand government. For example, I'd be perfectly happy to legalize drugs if someone could show me a scenario where it wouldn't be coupled with massive social spending for drug addicts and the like.
The rest, well, I'd be perfectly happy to see legalized. Though, I'd say that - in the case of prostitution - street prostituion should remain outlawed as a public order issue.
We need laws. We just need fewer laws. And we need the ones we have left to be harshly enforced.
What we need is a restoration of Victorian values.
Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 2008-03-14 6:29:05 PM
Ahhh....who really cares about hookers and political figures anymore?
Posted by: SW | 2008-03-14 7:24:42 PM
"but a married man going to a prostitute is simply not a big deal."
True, but the Governor of New York State exposing himself(no pun intended) to an organized crime ring is a big deal.
If the American public knew JFK was banging Sam Gianconna's girlfriend they would shrug and say "no big deal"?
Posted by: Bocanut | 2008-03-14 7:39:06 PM
So you think we need only obey and enforce the laws which the individual agrees with?
Where do you park your car and keep the keys to it?
When is your wife at home alone and what's that address? Oh, do you have any teenage daughters?
Where is your wallet and what is your ATM card PIN number?
I know a bunch of guys who are way into agreement with a lot of you Canadian folks regarding drug use, to whom I can pass all of this information, and trust me, they don't agree with the need to respect anything of your sensibilities.
Mr. Spitzer actually personally violated several significant laws involving trafficing with criminal conspiracy enterprises and using several public conveyances (bank money transfers, etc.) in the process, all nice jumbo sized enhancements to the various violations of crystal clear democratically enacted State and Federal laws.
Mr. Spitzer made his entire "career" by means of rabidly hounding and exaggerating and even manufacturing criminal accusations and charges against actual innocent men (victims) of his prosecutorial excesses (nearly bankrupting his "targets").
They say his Dad was a 1/2 billionaire.
I would gladly contribute to finance the absolute scorched earth prosecution of every jot and tiddle or law violations by Mr. Spitzer in order to absolutely vaccuum every penny out of his "personal wealth" for legal fees and then he would be convicted in two minutes by ANY jury in America to the multiple hundreds of years type prison sentences which he regularly threatened and got phony plea deals from his victims.
I'll bet Mr. Spitzer goes to jail forever and arrives there a pauper to the sound of thundering cheers from the convicts greeting an infamously ruthless Prosecutor into the Justice System.
Posted by: Conrad-USA | 2008-03-14 8:29:42 PM
I just dont get the attitude here from some commenters and the author of this post. Is it ok for someone who holds public office to be seen cavorting with prostitutes?? Don't those who hold public office have some standards to maintain, or is Clinton or Spitzer the new standard?
I cant believe that people actually think its ok for the hypocrisy of Spitzer to be overlooked.
Posted by: MikeP | 2008-03-14 9:38:38 PM
Dershowitz: "It pains me deeply to see him brought down so far, and so quickly, by private sexual misconduct..."
When you are in public office nothing you do, except maybe go to the bathroom, is merely "private conduct." What page is Dershowitz reading from--obviously not the Jewish Scriptures.
Ask any pastor or teacher. Hey, pastors and teachers in Canada are being taken to Human Rights Tribunals for things they have written and/or said--without any defence of having said them "as private citizens."
Mark Spitzer does not have the luxury--or the shelter--of separating his procuring high-end prostitutes from his holding political office.
My greater concern, however, is his actions as a private citizen, specifically as a father of three teenaged girls. He has deeply betrayed them by actions which will have tsunami-like repercussions for them for the rest of their lives.
You've got to be asking yourself, "WHAT WAS HE THINKING?" when he so recklessly abandoned himself to his lusts and pleasures. Did he really think that because he was so high and mighty, no one would touch him? Pride definitely cometh before a fall.
Posted by: batb | 2008-03-15 7:14:17 AM
It is not so much that he contravened the Mann Act by moving a prostitute across state lines, it is the hypocrisy of it all that doomed Spitzer. When you are a crusading moralist who has hounded others for various misdeeds, you have to be squeaky clean.
Had he not quit his job, Spitzer would have had all moral authority to govern bled away by public ridicule.
Posted by: JMD | 2008-03-15 9:20:16 AM
What's that line the Left was so fond of using?
"The personal is political"
Be careful what you wish for.
Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-03-15 9:34:47 AM
For those of you who can't get enough of this topic, Sirius Radio has set up, on Channel 126, a 7/24 band called Client 9.
Spitzer is a classic hypocrite, using all the power of the state to tell people to not indulge in certain behaviours, then indulging in that behaviour himself.
Human nature will never change and it can never be ‘evolved' through laws and prosecutions.
And, if you disagree with me, I'll have you killed.
Posted by: set you free | 2008-03-15 10:23:13 AM
Spmething not touched on yet, was how big brother played a part in catching Spitzer. This is the real scary part. Have a look at this superb article: http://www.fee.org/in_brief/default.asp?id=1946
Thankfully Spitzer's rein of terror is over. But how he was caught should be of concern for all Americans.
Posted by: TM | 2008-03-15 11:45:36 AM
It's time for Volume 2 of
"Do as I say (not as I do)"-Profiles in Liberal Hypocricy.
Posted by: bocanut | 2008-03-15 12:32:26 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.