Knotting Some Public/Private Threads

One can hear, in the expected quarters, the admonition that Eliot Spitzer’s $80,000 whoring habit is a private matter. I wonder how many who’d make that argument also see David Richardson’s travails in Providence — where he recently requested proof of the citizenship status of an Hispanic customer to his store — as private.
I imagine that a sizable number of them would insist that Richardson’s act, as a manifestation of racism, was a blight on our society and has repercussions beyond the individuals involved. But then, I’d say the same of adultery and prostitution.
Perhaps they’d take the tack that his business transactions are a public matter. But then a prostitute’s business transactions would be the same, and a marriage is even more explicitly so.
The circumstances are different, of course, one involving an elected official and the other a store owner, but I don’t see anywhere to draw a line between the two that makes one act private and the other public.

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msteven
msteven
13 years ago

Justin is correct. The situations are similar and it is not a simple matter of drawing the line between them. I’d like to see an argument that one is more socially significant than the other. Actually, I haven’t heard a tenable argument in defense of Spitzer. It is not about what Spitzer did. It’s about the hypocrisy of being an elected official involved in the prosecution of crimes – of which he himself is committing. The debate as to whether prostitution should or should not be legal is irrelevant. If he felt the law should be changed, he was in a place to pursue that change. He did no such thing. This is not Clinton and Lewinsky. This is ‘politically speaking’ far worse in that Spitzer could no longer be trusted to enforce laws.
Of course, the other hypocrisy is the taking of sides based primarily on, in my opinion, political affiliation. If Spitzer had been a Republican, I believe many of the same people defending him would be calling for his head. And vice-versa. It’s always about winning.

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Spitzer’s actions were about the arrogance of power – do as I say, not as I do. He can easily be equated to Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Larry Craig or David Vitter. He bragged about steamrolling people, and never built the reservoir of goodwill that has enabled other politicians to survive sex scandals.

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