Governor Eliot Spitzer
New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who resigned amid accusations that he patronized prostitutes, is now in a legal fight to avoid criminal charges. Mr. Spitzer made his public reputation over his willingness to pursue criminals and protect the public’s interest. As the attorney general for the state of New York, Mr. Spitzer prosecuted prostitution rings and their patrons. He gave his constituents the impression that his integrity was light years away from reproach. He was a steamroller of justice. He was the pit bull biting the ankle of crime.
But through a series of incredibly unfortunate incidents Mr. Spitzer is revealed to be little more than some of the criminals he pursued. It is true that he has done some public good. He is not a totally wicked person. Then again I’m sure if we look hard enough, many of the people he prosecuted did their fair share for their community. It should be noted that the good works and generosity if a criminal doesn’t mitigate the fact that we are talking about a criminal.
Mr. Spitzer has resigned. As a Governor patronizing prostitutes, Mr. Spitzer opened himself up to all kinds of potential problems. One of the scariest scenarios has the Governor opening his office up to the potential of being blackmailed. Imagine the owners of the prostitution ring or one of the prostitutes themselves demanding a favor of the Governor. Hey Spitzer, I got a speeding ticket the other day, could you fix it for me? Oh I think you can! Well what if I went to the papers about our little business deal? That’s what I thought. See you next Thursday.
Mr. Spitzer is humiliated. Long assumed to be a bastion of integrity he is exposed to have the same weaknesses and failings as the people he came down on as hard as possible. And yet, even though he knew that they had a little something in common, he had no sympathy. He stands in front of a podium with his dutiful wife Silda who he betrayed at his side. He has three young daughters that he has to face. Chances are that they have come to the obvious conclusion that they don’t who their father is. Those days when he wasn’t able to come on time, when he was working late, when he couldn’t come to their special events, are now questionable. Mr. Spitzer may have a lot of explaining to do to his children and to his wife.
I was listening to a radio pundit discuss Mr. Spitzer’s situation and make the suggestion that this man has suffered enough. He lost his job and he is very publicly humiliated. What more does the public want to happen to this guy?
I am reminded of Genarlow Wilson, the black seventeen year old who was sentenced to ten years in Georgia’s state prison for having oral sex with a fifteen year old girl. This black young man was humiliated and his mother had to endure the publicity for her son’s indiscretion. What more did the state of Georgia want from Mr. Wilson? They wanted justice. They wanted to send a clear message that society does not tolerate this kind of behavior from black people. I am reminded of Martin Lee Anderson who was sent to boot camp for joyriding in his grandmother’s car. The attorney general of the state of Florida didn’t hesitate to send this young man to a boot camp where he lost his life within hours of his arrival.
What would I want from former Governor Eliot Spitzer? I want him to face the same circumstances for prosecution that he subjected others to. I want him to face the same maximum extent of punishment that the law allows just like Genarlow Wilson had to endure for a crime so petty that his sentence almost defies comprehension. I would like for him to go to boot camp like Martin Anderson and feel what its like to try and breathe while having a baton across the throat and ammonia tablets up his nostrils. If maximum prosecution is good enough for black children who are not allowed to use the lack of judgment that comes from the exuberance of youth as a defense then it should be good enough for a former Governor and a former attorney general who knew exactly where the line of the law stood.
It doesn’t matter if New York state normally prosecutes such behavior or not. Mr. Spitzer opened himself up to prosecution the moment he made the choice to break the law. He’s a lawyer and he knew the law. His disdain for the state, his disrespect for law, his scorn of his constituents invites maximum prosecution. If people are squeamish about prosecuting Mr. Spitzer all they need to do is imagine what would happen if he was a teenaged black male. The way the law comes down on black youths? I’m sure nobody would have a problem throwing the proverbial book at him then.
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