I was reminded of the above H.G. Wells quote after reading the comments to Sparticus’s post, “Oh Eliot, How Could You?” The Eliot Spitzer scandal draws a clear line between free-thinking dissenters and the “Proud to be a Democrat” variety. The latter accept uncritically that, but of course, we must all show how thoroughly outraged we are at Spitzer’s hypocrisy—as if omitting that disclaimer implies that we, too, cheat on our spouses with hookers and gigolos.
But what if instead we refused to treat this scandal as newsworthy? Nevermind that monogamy is unrealistic & biologically improper. The union of sex and capitalism should be celebrated in a society that insists on fetishizing both. What is prostitution, really, but pornography without a camera?
The public can always be counted on for our moral indignation when good guys sleep around, as well as for civic impotence when bad guys have sex only with their wives. It’s no wonder politicians are so obedient to the special interests of white-collar thugs on Wall Street.
Why not Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics? Or be ethical, but modernize your moral indignation to include dilemmas not necessarily covered by the ridiculous and ruthless human beings who created the bible to oppress the ignorant masses. Even the Vatican has the balls to do that!
Obviously, America has known better husbands than Eliot Spitzer. But it’s up to his wife to make that judgment, and she’s made the choice to hold his hand in unblushing support during his apology. So why is it up to the rest of us to indict him on her behalf?
I’m not saying the guy is a good husband; just that being a bad husband shouldn’t automatically disqualify him as a political leader. When Kobe Bryant had (quasi-consensual) sex outside of marriage, with a teeny-bopper, we all agreed to agree he was still a good basketball player–his sponsors came crawling back, too. Hugh Grant solicited sex with a prostitute, and nobody suddenly questioned his acting abilities. Even when Mike Tyson raped Desiree Washington, we never doubted his boxing abilities (though we later did, when the Kevin McBrides of the world started bitch-slapping him all over the ring). What’s the difference? (And please don’t say it’s because politicians are supposed to set the right example for youngsters; we all know, from the culture we’ve created, that kids are more likely to see athletes and movie stars as role models than they are politicians.).
I’m starting to get the hang of our ass-backwards American pseudo-morality: Lying is legit. Killing is fine. Profitable wars are okay, if they’re well-timed and poorly planned. And if you can multitask–lie 935 times to justify a lucrative war and mass-killing–then you’ve sunken the political three-pointer, drawn the foul, and drained the free throw. Just bang your wife, and only your wife. And if you get your jollies outside of the marriage, your mistress better at least put out for free (or at best, in exchange for shopping sprees, jewelry, elegant dinners, and exotic vacations).