Not News Of The World

Not News Of The World March 10, 2008

This is not news.  While I may take some joy in someone’s public humiliation, this is not news.  While parts of me what to calculate how many meetings would be required before my mortgage was paid off, this is not news.  Ranking right up there with misery lit, crime news is merely circuses for the people.  Rather than raising the public awareness and public discourse, this is meant to appeal to the base emotions.  In particular, this appeals to pride and envy.

For the record, I think prostitution is evil.  I also didn’t celebrate Larry Craig’s incident, so save the hypocrisy charge, despite the fact that I’m more like the embittered former smoker than a Democrat.  I have no issue with Spitzer’s arrest or resignation if they occur, just spare me the details.  Those are just pornography for the righteous.  This is not to claim that only righteous enjoy it, just that many amongst the righteous are fooling themselves into thinking they are doing something worthwhile by indulging in this.

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51 responses to “Not News Of The World”

  1. The involved prostitute’s name was “Christian”. I feel worse about that and about her doing this for money with that name even after this news iten is over. And I feel awful for the wife and three daughters involved. The NT talks about the “sorrow that is from above”…I’ve prayed already that Elliot will receive this sorrow from above and cooperate with it.

  2. Without meaning to sound harsh, I think that this is certainly news. Indeed, in some ways it is a pleasant substantive break from whatever it is <> has been up to. Spitzer sits atop the government whose laws have a tremendous impact on the nation’s economic outlook. Indeed, he made his name by cracking down on those very companies as the state’s AG. Although the news media should try to avoid the salacious side of the story, the fact that NY’s governor may be replaced is significant news in the current economy.

  3. This should not be news– the personal morality of a public official does not need to be a matter of public record.

  4. Mr. Braunlich,

    There are certainly newsworthy elements, and I think you identify some of them. Rather than avoid the salacious side of the story, I’m afraid the media will embrace it.

  5. I’d say the personal morality of a public official matters quite a lot, because the public official wants to wield power and authority in the name of private citizens.

    If someone wishes to represent me, we should know as about them as possible. Family? Off limits. They are not asking to wield anything in my name.

    Clinton’s “personal morality” didn’t impact his public duties? Oh, it most certainly did, and it ain’t Ken Starr’s fault either. How much public time, resources, attention ect. was diverted and replaced by a lack of personal morality? Quite a lot.

    Same here with Spitzer. He should do the right thing and resign immediately.

  6. Yeah right. When the Church gave its blessing to medieval princes as legitimate rulers, do you think this was conditional on no sexual sin? Give me a break. This is an American Protestant obsession with sexual sins above all other sins.

  7. Purely a private matter? Don’t forget blackmailing and extortion. NY politics is very nasty. His actions have many more consequences than yours or mine.

    Obsession with sexual sins! I guess his (proper) shut down of the criminal activities of a Staten Island prostitute ring in 2004 was an undue obsession as well.

    He can redeem himself and seek forgiveness. But to hang on to office is vulgar (and I feel the exact same way about Vitter).

  8. When assessing the moral judgment of public officials, it’s reasonable to include the moral judgments they made in their personal lives. It’s the same person making “personal” and “public” moral decisions.

  9. MM
    You are incorrect. Clinton personally sinned but did not do a crime and thus stayed in office…. but Spitzer broke the Federal Mann Act of the US which forbids interstate transport of persons for the purpose of prostitution (the girl was to travel from NY to Wahsington). That is why the Federal Government is involved and not simply the local police who are in involved in local prostitution arrests.

  10. Not to mention that high-end prostitution and organized crime are one in the same. As a former NY AG, he surely knew this.

    The possibilities for blackmail here are mind boggling had this not come out.

  11. Opportunities for blackmail was an argument used with Clinton. I used it myself. It isn’t a good one. It is basically the Dirty Harry defense: since there are people who do bad things, I must do bad things. One can choose to obsess over another man’s affair, or one can choose to ignore it. One isn’t compelled to place himself in judgement of another’s familial affairs. The adultery is something for the families to work out. In so much as laws were broken, the courts will address the legal issues. Great discretion should be used in addressed obstruction of justice and perjury, something federal prosecutors haven’t seemed to have shown.

  12. “Splendor of the Truth” named prostitution as an intrinsically evil act and suddenly here where that encyclical is cited ad infinitum for other intrinsically evil acts…..VS’s content herein is being understated by its normal defenders:

    “the Church teaches that “there exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object”.The Second Vatican Council itself, in discussing the respect due to the human person, gives a number of examples of such acts: “Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, PROSTITUTION and TRAFFICKING in women and children…”

  13. Actually Jonathan’s point is the best one here. A political figure who exposes himself to blackmail …be it Clinton or Spitzer or Craig or Barney Frank of JFK and his Marilyn Monroe dalliance……is spreading the evil far beyond the individual mortal sin of fornication or prostitution involvement. They are making the entire electorate vulnerable to the wishes of malevolent forces in eg organized crime and whatever is the object of their possible blackmail.

  14. There is part of me that is sympathetic to MM’s point. There is an unhealthy obsession with audio and video recordings and detailed public confessions. There is a voyeuristic aspect of our culture that is publicly repulsed but privately attracted to this kind of story.

    That being said, when an elected official breaks the law, the media must cover it. More than that, the media has a duty to the public to give an account of how justice is done. If only the media would be interested in other crimes (like illegal wiretapping, obstruction by public officials, etc.) just as much as sex crimes.

  15. I stand with Thomas Aquinas in believing that prostitution should not be a crime. Is it always wrong? Of course it is. So is adultery. So. for that matter, is every sexual activity outside a licit marriage. I simply fail to see the big difference between having sex with somebody one meets in a bar for free, and paying for it. This is not something that should come under the domain of coercive law, if one defines law as an ordinance of reason for the common good (the Catholic concept), as opposed to something designed to embody virtue and outlaw vice (the Protestant-Islamic concept). And selective vice at that! How come we never hear outcrys against greed and gluttony?

    Obviously, this does not mean coercive law has no role whatsoever. I think the sex trade (especially involving minors) is one of the greatest evils in the world today, and we should fight it vigorously.

    But to simply say that he broke the law, and that’s that–well, that is to elevate positive law to a level of importance that is undeserving.

  16. Must the media cover it? The media knew all abnout JFK’s prostitutes, and the way he made sure every hotel he stayed in had a back entrace to sneak the women in and out– but they did not consider it appropriate to report.

  17. MM
    So we should fight it vigourously but pass it off as no big thing here in this case?
    Forget the sex involved. Let’s say he was snorting crack cocaine. It becomes more serious than drug involvement because of the office and is then serious beyond measure when it makes a leader subject to blackmail especially when that leader has certain points of great power such as the veto of laws of Congress to a certain extent…laws that could affect organized crime as the Rico law did in fact affect them greatly.

  18. I am more than open to a discussion about whether or not prostitution and adultery should be civil crimes, but while these laws are justly constituted, they should be respected by all of us. So yes, the media does have a duty to report on public officials engaged in criminal activities, including even the beloved JFK.

  19. Mason
    Actually Augustine was the source of Aquinas’ acceptance of prostitution since Augustine said that if one forbade it, the whole world would break out in lust…..which Freud would have called a little bit of projecting. But I think that modern Popes broke with them on that exact issue but again not in a way that is definitive so that MM’s and Augustine’s and Aquinas’ view is not entirely out of the question.

  20. I suppose I would take a sort of middle position here. As a general rule, I don’t want to hear about a politician’s sex life, and wish that the press would show the sort of discretion on such matters that they did in the past. On the other hand, I don’t think you can say that matters of personal morality are never relevant or ought never to be reported. In cases like this there may be good reason for the press not to go digging around in someone’s private life, but once law enforcement has gotten involved, I think you have to report the story.

  21. What about the complete degradation of women involved here? And the whole sexual slave trade involving women on an intern’l level and this is not news?! Wow!

  22. When the Church gave its blessing to medieval princes as legitimate rulers, do you think this was conditional on no sexual sin? Give me a break.

    I haven’t noticed, MM, that you’re particularly partial to “if medieval princes did it with the approval the Church” arguments when it comes to preemptive war or torture. Why try to deploy the same argument yourself here?

    I don’t think that anyone would suggest that sexual purity is necessary in order for one to be a legitimate ruler, and I have no interest in the excessive reporting of politicians’ and celebrities’ sexual lives that is so often indulged in by the media. However, I think that there may be a certain degree to which the citizens of a republic might want to have such information about those they choose to represent them.

    First, there is the matter of abuse of power. If a CEO were publicly exposed to be having an in-office affair with an intern, it would be assumed that he had to some extent used the power of his position to demand sexual favors. Just about any corporate code of ethics would require that he resign or be fired. Now, one can argue that the insistence that those in power not have sex with their junior subordinates represents the intersection of puritanism and political correctness, but I think there’s a certain value to requiring that executives (whether public or private) find their fresh meat in their off hours rather than demanding it from those within their organizations.

    Second, while it’s true that some people have wholly different senses of morality which they apply to their personal and professional lives, I think it is at times reasonable to ask: If a man chooses to publicly be unfaithful to his wife, is he really all that likely to choose to remain faithful to the promises he made to the voters? There are those who would be unfaithful in sex while never breaking a business or political promise, but if a public servant goes so far as to become to become notorious for his infidelities, I think that it’s reasonable for voters to take that into account.

  23. RCM
    I think in this particular case, none of us are thinking slavery has anything to do with it since it is apparently very high paid model level beauties who were involved in this Emperor’s Club which charges like $5000 per hour so that the girls are getting wealthy from this also and for all we know, their leader may be a female. So you are right about the degradation but I doubt that it is slavery or coercion involved and it seems to be a freely chosen degradation.
    In the catechism, # 2354 is about pornography and says that the government should stop it yet in #2355 which is about prostitution, it does not repeat that same injunction….maybe because with AIDS, it would be safer for a country to have health monitored prostitution rather than illegal unmonitered prostitution…though some time ago I did see a hierarchy level passage enjoining governments to forbid it yet why then did the CCC leave out that detail….it might be the new reality of AIDS amongst unmonitered prostitutes.

  24. RCM
    CNN confirms what I just wrote. Here they quote a model in a Federally captured email who turned down the job which she thought would pay more than $250 per hour after 50% commission:

    “I wasn’t very happy to find out that it’s only 500 ph + over 50% commission fees … This is the kind of money I make very easily in photo shoots and the reason I wanted to join your site [was] to make extra money.”

    So this is the voluntary level of prostitution at the upper $ end and involving models who are already well paid since $250 an hour works out to nearly a half million a year.
    So we can assume that she had absolutely no financial or psychological need operative (since she turned it down)… was for money above the wealthy level at which she was already living.

  25. I am on board with Professor Bainbridge’s opinion about Spitzer. He seems to be little more than a thug. I suspect that this event is another manifestation of this personality trait.

  26. I don’t understand any of the *shock* about this. Spitzer is very PRO-abortion and when one’s basic philosophical stance is that morally corrupt, other corruptions will surely follow. We can only pray for him, his family and ourselves.

  27. Kathy makes the salient point here. We already knew from his legal campaign against crisis pregnancy centers that Spitzer was using his political power to advance the interests of evil and opress God’s people.

    These recent events should comes as no surprise. Still, it is a sin to be happy about any acts of prostitution, even one that will occaision the removl of a corrupt man from power. But i was too weak to resist this temptation. I will have to mention it in my next confession.

  28. I don’t have a great awareness of Spitzer’s political views. I’m familiar with some of his stuff, like suing Strong. Some things, like his abortion record, don’t surprise, but I wasn’t specifically knowledgable. I would like to say that one’s abortion views are a good predictor of marital fidelity. I’m afraid the statistics probably wouldn’t show that.

  29. If this is “Not news of the World’ why does M.Z. Forrest pin a post about it in order to
    make sure the news travels into Vox Nova?
    Is Vox Nova perhaps not of this World?

    Kathy nice try – unfortunatelly you can be assured that plenty stellar abortion opponents engage in the same sleezy behaviour.

  30. For the record, I’m of the opinion as noted by Mr. Bannon that Evangelium Vitae invalidates Aquinas. While clearly precluding a right to prostitution or abortion – this is what non-negotiable means, something that can’t be made just by law – I’m not sure of the extent decriminalization is likewise restricted. My present opinion is that decriminalization is likewise precluded.

  31. Also, apparently as Mr. Spitzer was working to get the call girl from NY to D.C. for the purposes of prostitution, he is potentially guilty of a felony under federal law.

  32. The law was not created to protect $5000/hr prostitutes from meeting clients in other states. If an indictment comes down, then there is a newsworthy aspect. Presently it appears no indictment will be forthcoming.

  33. Perhaps, but what I am referring to as newsworthy is not Mr. Spitzer’s possible involvement with high priced call girls. What is probably what was considered newsworthy was a man who has been abusing his office who is finally caught in what is potentially a career ending ethical/illegal act.

  34. Count me among the fooled. I think public opprobrium for the public failings of public officials is good for the health of the republic. If you think these people would resign without a hue and cry, you’re much mistaken (look at Craig, for instance, who stills tenuously holding on).

    Its a bit confused to be bitter about people denouncing crime but not about crime.

  35. Maybe this will help Mr. Greenwood. I believe smoking marijuana should be illegal. I feel little sympathy for those charged with possession. Some of the punishments I find to be excessive, but that is periphery to this point. Believing in the illegality of marijuana does not compel me to believe that great efforts need to be undertaken to prevent the smoking of it. I even go so far as to thinking that stings that attempt to get people to purchase drugs from undercover agents are wrong, even if they aren’t technically entrapment.

    The larger question, whether drug use or extra marital activity should disqualify one from office, is one I answer equivocally. In general, I believe notorious adulters or notorious users should be denied office. Lacking this, I think people should mind their own business. Since notorious sin is not often spoken of, an example would be parading around with one’s mistress at a public function.

  36. Though it seems what started it all wasn’t sex, but suspicious money transactions by Spitzer that paid for his trysts:

    “The federal investigation of a New York prostitution ring was triggered by Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s suspicious money transfers, initially leading agents to believe Spitzer was hiding bribes, according to federal officials.

    It was only months later that the IRS and the FBI determined that Spitzer wasn’t hiding bribes but payments to a company called QAT, what prosecutors say is a prostitution operation operating under the name of the Emperor’s Club.

    As recently as this past Valentine’s Day, Feb. 13, Spitzer, who officials say is identified in a federal complaint as “Client 9,” arranged for a prostitute “Kristen” to meet him in Washington, D.C.

    The woman met Client 9 at the Mayflower Hotel, room 871, “for her tryst,” according to the complaint. Client 9 also is alleged to have paid for the woman’s train tickets, cab fare, mini bar and room service, travel time and hotel.

    The suspicious financial activity was initially reported by a bank to the IRS which, under direction from the Justice Department, brought in the FBI’s Public Corruption Squad.

    “We had no interest at all in the prostitution ring until the thing with Spitzer led us to learn about it,” said one Justice Department official. ”

    Full story here:

  37. And this:

    “Mr. Spitzer has not been charged with a crime. But one law enforcement official who has been briefed on the case said that Mr. Spitzer’s lawyers would probably meet soon with federal prosecutors to discuss any possible legal exposure. The official said the discussions were likely to focus not on prostitution, but on how it was paid for: Whether the payments from Mr. Spitzer to the service were made in a way to conceal their purpose and source. That could amount to a crime called structuring, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.”

    So again its not the sex, but another crime that he is potentially on the ropes for.

  38. I would personally add strictly speaking. That the discovery of his solications to prostitutes was discovered accidently is not entirely surprising. Very few people actively look to indulge in observing others’ sins. Once we remove the strictly speaking part, we do find that these crimes do relate to the solications of prostitutes. This is why there most likely won’t arise any felony charges despite the liklihood of definitionally felonious crimes having been committed. And in the end if he offers his resignation, he will have done so for soliciting a prostitutes.

  39. I find it fascinating that everyone assumes the prostitute gets to keep the money. I would NEVER make an assumption like that. I would assume otherwise until proven opposite.

  40. Why on earth should Marijuana be illegal ? Esp. since cigarettes and alcohol are legal. Legalize it, man. That’d kill the already stupid “gateway drug” argument, too. Drug prohibition is about as ‘successful’ as alcohol prohibition was. It creates astronomic prices, rich criminals and addicts who go criminal cause they can’t afford it. The drug ‘industry’ has a bigger budget than the Dept. of Defense.

  41. Alcohol prohibition was actually successful, not that I supported it. Having had roomates who smoked marijuana, I’m not convinced of its benign nature. From what I’ve observed, one couldn’t have a joint for lunch and go back to work and function regularly. Admittedly my experience was more hearing a roomate try to bring his lung out through his throat. With alcohol, one can be a social drinker. I have never heard of a social marijuana smoker.

  42. Having said that, I would make marijuana generally a non-criminal fine or a minor misdemeanor.

  43. rcm,

    In the specific case, the women get to keep the money less a prenegotiated commission amount.

  44. Prohibition was great – for the Mafia. If people want something, they’ll get it.

    I know plenty of social marijuana smokers in Austria 😀
    Besides, it’s really something to be done in the evening, before going to bed. I wouldn’t dare buy any in the draconian USA of course. It’d be a great source of tax revenue if legalized. Not to mention emptying a sizable part of prisons and reducing drug smuggling and profit for drug dealers. I really am not a big fan of telling people what they can or can’t do in their free time. Milton Friedman wrote a great piece on the topic with which I agree. Be kind to your buds 😀

  45. Agreed that our marijuana laws go overboard (maybe some kind of legalization is the way to go) but also agreed that in my anecdotal experience marijuana use isn’t reliably innocuous. Also agreed that the massive failure of Prohibition is largely a myth. It increased crime but it reduced drinking quite a bit.