A victimless crime?

Via Hugh Hewitt, here are Carol Platt Liebau’s thoughts on the prostitution scandal now engulfing New York Governor Eliot Spitzer:

The whole idea, pioneered by you-know-who and enabled by you-know-who-else, is that illicit sexual behavior and the scandals resulting therefrom can be brazened out by the insistence that they are irrelevant to the discharge of public duties. As I argue in my book, it’s all part of a new ethical calculus concluding that — uniquely in the constellation of virtues — sexual morality is a subjective and purely personal matter that’s of relevance only to “religious” people (or else prurient and “judgmental” ones), even when it impacts the public.

All of us are human, all of us are sinners, no one is perfect. Certainly, there but for the grace of God go any of us. But that doesn’t mean that there should be no standards. In particular, it’s unfortunate if and when public officials conclude that sexual behavior that’s deeply disgraceful (not to mention illegal) doesn’t merit resignation. It degrades our culture, makes others complicit in condoning conduct that shouldn’t be condoned, and normalizes behavior that’s wrong.

As has become the norm, there are also plenty of voices (here’s one) decrying the fact that Spitzer may be forced to resign over a sexual indiscretion, that the worst he’s guilty of his hypocrisy, and that prostitution is essentially a “victimless crime.” It remains to be seen whether or not Spitzer will step down as a result of the scandal, but in the meantime Jordan Ballor offers some food for thought in this post, which looks at the differing standards that seem to apply to business and church leaders on the one hand and governmental officials on the other when sexual indiscretions are revealed. And be sure to take a look at the David Hess essay that Jordan references in his post as well.

So, dear readers, what do you think? Should Spitzer step down, or is his indiscretion not that serious?

  • James

    It’s not just a sexual indiscretion, it’s a felony, and he committed it repeatedly. Regardless, does anyone really believe he’ll be able to effectively govern after this?

  • John E

    If he cheated on his wife, should the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers whom he does not even personally know trust him?

    Yes we should forgive him and yes he should resign.

  • John E

    “I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and violates my — *or any* — sense of right and wrong,” he said.

    At least a little light in this story: Perhaps a step out of moral relativism.

  • Mary

    Eliot Spitzer put the office of Governor in jepordy. He put the citizens of this country and New York in Jepordy. He could have been blackmailed. Prostitution is controlled by criminals… He prosicuted a few when he was Attorney General.
    On a personal level…his wife and family are devistated by his behavior. He needs to be prosecuted!