I’m with Kevin Drum: I don’t think prostitution/escortism should be illegal, or is necessarily always a bad thing (though it can very often be part of bad things). But if you’re going to make a career of putting people in jail for a particular victimless crime, then I don’t have a lot of sympathy left when you get caught committing it.
Like Cindy McCain and her prescription drug abuse, I imagine the trajectory here will be the usual one for rich and connected folks who commit crimes: they face daunting “personal problems” that are all very tragic but ultimately make them into better people as they overcome them with the help of friends and family. Meanwhile, those that earn less than 50,000 a year don’t have the luxury of celebrity tell-all pathos: they’re simply locked up in jail without so much as a tearful interview on 60 minutes or even a stint at a rehab resort.
The penalties for “johns” aren’t particularly high, and Spitzer has likely only ruined his career instead of his life as a free man, but there’s certainly as much poetic irony here as all the anti-gay politicians who ended up being on the “down low.”
Update: Randy Balko points out the amusing insanity of right-wing bloggers piling on to condemn and celebrate Spitzer’s downfall: all of them a virtual mirror image of Spitzer’s own contradictory stand. They’ve spent years defending Republican politicians who had procured prostitutes like David Vitter, only to turn around and suddenly discover that hiring an escort demands an immediate resignation. How can even a conservative blogger of the year justify this scatterbrained stance? Why the inconsistency?