Are all crimes created equal? Certainly, few would advocate that a public official should resign for the offense of jay-walking, or talking on a cell phone while driving. Obviously, Spitzer’s involvement in a prostitution ring is a little more serious. But does it rise to the level of a political capital offense? To me prostitution is not really a crime. First of all, I believe prostitution should be legalized, and in fact, it is legal in parts of the State of Nevada. Furthermore, prostitution, like other imagined crimes (drug use for example) is a product of an antiquated morality that no longer seems to make any sense in a society that is (slowly) evolving and maturing on matters of sex and recreational drug use.
In many states and countries around the world, marijuana has been essentially decriminalized, or made equivalent to a minor traffic infraction for all intents and purposes. And though the public is often scandalized by stories involving their leaders’ sexual improprieties, prostitution has similarly been essentially decriminalized, with most johns getting let off with a warning.
The bottom line here being, these are victimless crimes. They are non-crimes. These are laws that are relics from a bygone age. This does not mean that citizens or politicians can flout them with impunity. But it does mean that we should accord our politicians the same amount of leniency that we would accord the average Joe who gets little more than a slap on the wrist for being caught with a little pot or for soliciting a prostitute.
The activities in which Governor Spitzer has engaged make him fair game for criticism, especially considering the hypocritical nature of his involvement. Critics may take shots at him and they may be right. He may be a jerk and a hypocrite. But in my view, these are not compelling reasons for him to abandon his governorship.
Spitzer’s behavior while clearly a violation of the law and morally reprobate to some do not indicate an impaired fitness to serve as governor, even a great governor. What’s more, a Spitzer resignation would be a political windfall to Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (who is currently under federal investigation for serious crimes and corruption) bumping him up closer to serving as governor as a contingency. To see Spitzer go down while bolstering Bruno would be a travesty.
Anyone of us could find ourselves in the position of having made a mistake that could potentially derail our careers that we have worked so long and hard to build. In Spitzer’s situation we would be hoping for a second chance, and many of us (provided it is not a repeat offense) would probably get it.
Why shouldn’t Spitzer?