Friday, November 07, 2008

Can We Talk About Eliot Spitzer?

I know: he's so last year. Now it's a new day in America. We have a Black president. Who cares about a disgraced former governor? Uh, me?

Spitzer is not going to be charged "for his role in a prostitution scandal," according to the AP. Go read the article. You don't even have to read the whole thing, just the first two paragraphs.

Did you see it? The money quote? In case you missed it, here you go: "federal prosecutors typically do not prosecute clients of prostitution rings."

Does that bother anyone else the way it bothers me?

The NY Times provides a bit more detail on the rationale:

The policy [of the Department of Justice with respect to prostitution offenses], detailed in the Justice Department’s manual for United States attorneys on how to carry out their duties, advises that unless minors are victims, prosecutions “should generally be limited to persons engaged in commercial prostitution activities.”

Hmm. Here the money word seems to be "commercial," and I'm guessing we're supposed to interpret that line as meaning that if you're making money from prostitution, you get prosecuted. Which means that if you're paying money for prostitution, you're off the hook?

Am I missing something here? Isn't prostitution itself a crime (whether or not you think it should be, currently it is--unless you're in Nevada)? In which case, shouldn't all participants be prosecuted, i.e. those who sell and those who buy? What's wrong with this picture?

Oh yeah, silly me...I forgot all about entrenched racism, sexism, and class privilege! What a goofball I am! I wasn't even thinking about the fact that the people who pay prostitutes HAVE money, and the people who are prostitutes NEED money. Which means, you know, the people who pay tend to be, like, men of means. And the people who get paid tend to be...women of no means.

Oh no! Does this mean that the practice of law is biased against...the underprivileged!? Well, shoot me with a watergun. Maybe this does all lead back to Barack Obama. And maybe it's a great thing to weep and celebrate when a Black man gets elected president. But maybe we've still got work to do.