In what will probably be my only post on Eliot Spitzer’s sex scandal, I’m not going to talk much about his sex scandal. I just don’t care about the sleaze. His hypocritical moral thuggery speaks for itself, although I’m perfectly happy to witness every libertarian rip him. I’m just not willing to pretend that this will in any way assist the return of individual liberty to the legislative process surrounding consensual, victim-less transactions of subjectively-questionable morality¹.
At best, I’m willing to consider that it might discourage politicians from private misbehavior. Upon reflection, and before completing the previous sentence, I accepted that Spitzer’s fall will discourage nothing. The hubris of politicians to preen in public crusades while mucking around in the filth in private is going nowhere. In other words, this is just another sex scandal that will, at most, ruin Spitzer’s political career.
[A]re there actually many people left who care if an adult who isn’t their spouse hires prostitutes? Are there really people left who think that doing so should be a crime, that adults who hire other consenting adults for sex should be convicted and go to prison?
To which Kip replied:
Actually, the “need” to criminalize prostitution is one of those rare worldviews that unites radical conservatives (“morals,” “social fabric,” etc.) with radical liberals (“oppression of women,” “the powerful exploiting the powerless,” etc.).
While the Vast Center-Wing Conspiracy just shrugs it off.
I think that’s spot-on. Our society’s puritan response to sex is not exclusively a trait of social conservatives. That belief may be more prevalent on the right, and I think it’s more explicit there, but it appears in various forms on the left. As Kip highlights, only the reasoning is different. The revulsion is identical.
There’s no reason for me to comment on that with an entry of my own rather than a comment on Kip’s original entry, so allow me to expand where I think his logic applies. Since I’m writing it, my thought process applies to genital mutilation. There is a comparison to be made in the mistaken logic applied based on gender. As it applies to female genital mutilation, I’d write the comment like this:
Actually, the need to criminalize female genital mutilation is one of those rare worldviews that unites radical conservatives (“anti-Islam,” “nationalism,” etc.) with radical liberals (“oppression of women,” “the patriarchy²,” etc.).
While the Vast Center-Wing Conspiracy just understands that the individual’s right to be free from unnecessary harm is all that’s necessary to denounce and prohibit female genital mutilation.
Although the conclusion is the same, the approach matters. The Vast Center-Wing Conspiracy relies on the principle rather than its own subjective interpretation of what is right and wrong. It leaves open the idea that the individual could choose something different, but leaves open only the idea that the individual should choose.
With male genital mutilation, I’d write the comment like this, with the obvious reversal of the original prostitution argument on criminalization versus legalization:
Actually, the “need” to legalize male genital mutilation is one of those rare worldviews that unites radical conservatives (“parental rights,” “conformity,” “religion,” etc.) with radical liberals (“parental rights,” “women’s sexual preferences,” “women’s sexual health,” etc.).
VastCenter-Wing Conspiracy just understands that the individual’s right to be free from unnecessary harm is all that’s necessary to denounce and prohibit male genital mutilation.
I am not making the claim to the prevalence of these world views or that they approach a tipping point close to a majority. But I have encountered every one of them in person and on the Internet. And politicians (and courts) accept every one of them.
Still, the central point remains. Those who rely on principles of individual liberty arrive at the same conclusion, which is equal treatment (i.e. protection) for all people, regardless of gender. There is a foundation that isn’t open to political whims and/or faulty personal character. This Center-Wing Conspiracy grasps the point of a civil society and acts to make it reality.
Everyone else just pretends that his or her personal, subjective tastes and preferences for a traditional practice should apply to everyone. There is no concern that the other individual might not choose the same³. There is no recognition that, if he or she chooses differently, he or she is not automatically wrong. There need not be any delusion or coercion.
The difference between principle and ideology is important.
¹ Paying for sex? Not immoral. Paying for sex with someone other than one’s spouse? Not necessarily immoral. Paying for sex with someone other than one’s spouse when that spouse has not/would not agree to such marital terms? Immoral. Each person is entitled to his or her own private shades of gray.
² As if males can’t be the victim of the patriarchy. As if women can’t be the instigator in “the patriarchy”. (Any look at the scope of FGM advocates demonstrates the fallacy in that belief.) The only thing I know for sure is that when I see the patriarchy in a debate, I stop to question the receptivity of all participants to the complete, objective set of facts informing the debate. With the FGM debate, this receptivity is generally very low.
³ A common argument in favor of permitting genital mutilation of male infants is “if you don’t like it, don’t do it to your kids.” These people miss the point because they don’t rely on any principle.