In response to the news that former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer would not be charged with any crimes crime for hiring prostitutes, Newsweek magazine published an opinion piece by Melissa Farley and Norma Ramos arguing that this was “a stunning betrayal of the public trust,” and coming out in favor of cracking down more heavily on men who hire prostitutes.
The DOJ also chose not to charge Mr. Spitzer for transporting a woman across state lines for the purpose of prostitution–a violation of the Mann Act. Congress might be interested to learn that its laws are being effectively nullified by DOJ policy.
Actually, I think of Congress might be very relieved to learn that the Mann Act is being ignored. I’m sure Spitzer wasn’t the first elected official ever to bring a prostitute to Washington, D.C. He probably wasn’t even the first one that week.
As much as I’ve enjoyed the downfall of that self-righteous jerk, I don’t think Spitzer deserved to go to jail for any of this. More than that, the artidle by Farley and Ramos made me angry—surprisingly angry—and it took a while to figure out why.
Part of the reason for my anger it is their willingness to bend all logic and reason to achieve their goal of villifying men who pay for sex. For example:
Prosecutorial discretion cannot be based on gender bias, nor can it eliminate whole classes of people that the law was designed to protect.
That’s exactly backward.
In every other form of vice, enforcement priorities are directed at the people most involved in perpetuating the crime. Police target drug dealers instead of drug users because one drug dealer can sell to 50 drug users. Similarly, police target bookies before gamblers and dogfight operators before dogfight spectators. The idea is to concentrate on the people who commit the crimes as a way of life, rather than the people who commit them once in a while.
(Actually, although police are after the bigger players in theory, and are usually willing to “trade up” to get them, as a practical matter it’s often easier to catch the little guys, especially when it comes to drugs. But that’s a different problem.)
When it comes to prostitution, Farley and Ramos want to turn these priorities on their head and charge the customers of prostitutes rather than the prostitutes, and the reason for it is because the prostitutes are women, and their customers are men. It is Farley and Ramos who advocate a gender bias.
Update: Permalink and Comments fixed…I hope.
[Part 2 is up.]