What’s Wrong with the World

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Not a Furtive Exploration of Scandal-Porn

I have but two things to say concerning the Eliot Spitzer brouhaha, beyond the seasonally-appropriate observation that pride, and particularly inordinate pride, goeth before the fall. First, having heard some talking head interviewed on one of the morning news programs - I attribute my inability to recollect his name to my sons, who were busily behaving as toddlers behave - state that Spitzer's offense was a "victimless crime", I must demur. The notion of a "victimless crime", a sort of pseudo-offense existing in a netherworld between actual criminality - on the liberal conception, acts which either inflict physical harm or psychical harm, this latter upon certain classes of super-special persons - and those transactions between "consenting adults" that only prudes oppose, is a myth. It could not be otherwise, given that "consent" is itself a myth, a fiction that liberal modernity has conjured, consistent with its underlying nominalism, in order to transubstantiate certain types of acts into certain other types of acts. The ontology of moral acts, however, cannot be changed by mere thought, which is all that "consent" really is - the lie one tells oneself that something evil or unjust is not so, because one thinks it not so.

In the case of Mr. Spitzer, the matter is plain: prostitution entails both the reduction of the payee to so many quanta of utilitarian satisfactions, expressible as an exchange-value, the instrumentalization of her body, and the payer's participation in this objectification, by which, on the one-flesh principle, he also instrumentalizes his own body. The commodification of sex, and of the human body in sexuality, is an existential denial of personhood, inasmuch as it presupposes an untenable and quasi-gnostic dualism of self and body. And to thus thing-ify oneself and another is to be both victim and victimizer. Society ought to, at least, stigmatize such acts so as to inculcate the lesson that persons and things belong to different ontological categories.

Second, I associate myself fully with the comments of John Zmirak, with reference to Spitzer's diabolical attempt to coerce the consciences of the religiously orthodox, the culture of death's parody of ex opere operato. Hopefully, the scandal will weaken his administration sufficiently to prevent the implementation of a policy of persecution.

As for Spitzer himself, one may hope that he will do well by himself and his family, though the failure of his abortion legislation is most devoutly to be desired.

Comments (13)

The advocates for the "victimless crime" position are forgetting someone: his wife.

Here's another article on his abortion mania. Good riddance to him.

and children

Since Eliot prosecuted these exact sort of criminal enterprises before, I take it as an absolute certainty that he knew it wasn't a victimless crime. With the exception of Nevada, every place in the country does "stigmatize such acts so as to inculcate the lesson that persons and things belong to different ontological categories," by making it illegal.

The thing that bothers me in this case, and others like it, is why the wife almost always stands by her husband. Her consent is just taken for granted that she will try to save the marriage, with few exceptions to this rule. If he unilaterally decides to renege on their mutual partnership, as far as the law and common sense is concerned, she owes him nothing but scorn.

I too was going to mention the wife as a victim of this crime.

In more legal language, one could argue that Spitzer was abusing the property of his wife, namely his body. Call it a violation of conjugal rights.

I did listen to a clever exchange on talk radio about this. Somebody called up with the standard boilerplate about how government shouldn't meddle in private business between consenting adults.

The radio host replied:

"So, John, if we legalize prostitution, we should tax it, right?"
"Yeah, I don't see why not-- Oh."

Yes, cmatt. I didn't find out till later in the day he had 3 daughters. (And that's all I know of.)

I'm with you, Step 2. I saw her standing there during the press conference and wondered what kind of jerk would ask the object of his humiliation to stand up there with him as though "the team" were still intact. And why would she do it? Maybe she's in shock.

She would go up there because she's a lawyer and a pro. She probably knew about it already. She knows she can either go up there and show loyalty, allowing him the possibility of riding out this storm, or she can keep away and bring him down, and incidentally watch her family fall apart.

She did it for her kids, that's why. And maybe she likes the Governor's mansion thing.


I wondering if you have some sort of evidence or proof that the "notion of a "victimless crime", is a " liberal conception'. Forgive me if I'm putting words in your mouth. The gambit of ridiculous excuses for sexual misconduct among our politicians runs through both parties and all religions. I like the way this blog considers the feelings of the wife and kids in these things. Imagine Chelsea a few years ago.

The conception of a "victimless crime" is merely a translation into a contemporary idiom of Mill's (in)famous "harm principle". Mill was a liberal, strongly inclined towards socialism, regardless of what libertarians might have to say, whose political philosophy was eviscerated by James Fitzjames Stephen, an old-school Whig.

I fail to perceive how discussion of a transgression can cause greater harm than its commission; what harms have come to Mrs. Spitzer and their children have come on his account, not ours.


My next question is what liberals are pushing this principal. Alan Dershowitz does but the NY Times has a feminist with an article; The Myth of the Victimless Crime by MELISSA FARLEY and VICTOR MALAREK Published: March 12, 2008. Thanks for taking your time to respond to my last post!

Of course there are dissenting liberals who, for reasons of some or other ideological inflection, such as feminism (and only certain variants thereof, mind you), repudiate the notion of the victimless crime. But the dominant liberal tradition, reflected everywhere in our de facto and de jure jurisprudence on a legion of moral questions, hews closely to the Harm Principle; in fact, most of Spitzer's defenders have invoked tacit versions of this conceit.

Thank you very much for answering my questions.

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