Too High To Reach

When Eliot Spitzer resigns his position as New York governor today it will be the end of his career in politics. Much of the blogosphere is debating the rights and wrongs of his wife standing with him while he acknowledged his assignations with high-class prostitutes, but the argument goes much deeper than that.

It throws the whole concept of American morality into question.

While we have a right to expect our politicians to practice that which they preach, the biblical ethics forced on society by right-wing powers in this country are so ludicrously outdated as to be obsolete. Struggling to maintain a set of ethical rules dating back thousands of years results in a constant stream of public figures, both from politics and religion, falling from grace in a fashion that makes a mockery of the morals they swear to uphold.

Hardly a week goes by that some unfortunate soul is not caught with his pants round his ankles, performing ‘lewd acts’ – whatever that is supposed to mean – with a man, or woman, or animal, definitely not his wife.

Interestingly, another news item to hit the headlines this week has not been connected to Spitzer’s demise. But it should be.

A recent report has noted that an incredibly high percentage of teenage girls in America are infected with sexually transmitted diseases such as clamydia, human papilloma virus, and herpes.[1] One in every four white teenage girls between the ages of fourteen and nineteen are infected, and nearly half (48%) of black girls of similar age.

The reason is so obvious it hardly bears explanation: ignorance.

Lack of proper sex education; moralistic emphasis on abstinence rather than condom use and proper birth control, and the high-handed approach that US girls just won’t have sex if they’re properly brought up and attend church regularly, are all causes of this unhealthy explosion in disease.

The plain fact is that teenagers will have sex. It’s not possible to stop it because it’s a natural function controlled by hormones. To demand youngsters abstain totally until marriage is not only stupid, it’s plain cruel. Perhaps, in a perfect society it might be feasible, but America is one of the most imperfect society’s on the planet. It runs the length of the spectrum from High Church to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, yet American values demand all its citizens adhere to the same moral standards, as decreed by those who regularly flaunt them, and occasionally – like Eliot Spitzer – get found out.

Mister Spitzer may, today, be wishing he was born French. The French have a much more sensible approach than Americans, or even the British, to morals and ethics. French politicians are expected to perform their duties well, but how they entertain themselves in their spare time is seldom cause for headlines in Gallic newspapers. While President Sarkozy’s recent, steamy, love affair with Carla Bruni caused a few Parisian ‘tut-tuts’, it was more out of boredom with the whole business rather than any sense of moral indignation.

To compare the United States to Europe is to step back in history over one hundred years, to the time Queen Victoria ruled Britain. Then, moral values were biblically pure, as they are in America today. In practice, however, everyone was ‘doing it’ just as much as they ever have since before man first jumped down from the trees.

Today, morals have fallen more into line with reality throughout Europe, though certain nations like France have proved more openly forthright over the issue than others.

America has remained a closed society for years, unaffected by the apparent immorality of the outside world. European visitors find it quaintly amusing that female breasts are fuzzed, and even mildly ‘blasphemous’ comments bleeped out by US TV channels.

It all begs the question: who is right? Have Europe and other secular nations descended the long road to hell and abomination since the nineteenth century, or is America just wallowing in a time-warped pit of its own self-righteousness?

To answer the question it is necessary to define ‘morals’.

Websters defines ‘morals’ as ‘modes of conduct’; rules by which we conduct ourselves. That suggests a rule can be made to which we, as individual human beings, can all adhere.

Nothing is further from the truth. Eliot Spitzer, his long line of precedent politicians and churchmen, and our sexually infected teenage girls are all living proof of that.

Morals are nothing more than a curtain, a veil we draw to obscure our true selves. The occurrences behind the curtain go on as they have since time immemorial, but we pretend they’re not there.

Once in a while, the curtain is lifted, or the veil rent, revealing the true hypocrisy – not of the accused, but of the moral code our minds have convinced us we all happily live under and obey.

Eliot Spitzer’s frolic with a prostitute is a matter for himself and his family. He should resign, but not because of his assignation. His crime was one of pretense. He made a virtue of attacking the actions of others while underhandedly mocking the morals he pretended to uphold.

Prostitution is illegal in this country, as in certain parts of Europe. Yet it is one of the most flourishing and oldest professions on the planet. It has survived, despite moral persecution, because it supplies a universal need, yet it is seen by the moralistic right as a flagship, the hallmark of evil and corrupt immorality in this country.

In truth, the only reason for outlawing it is to keep our moral veil in place.

Meanwhile, that veil will regularly twitch, revealing more and more Eliot Spitzers, fallen politicians and clerics, and teenagers infected by sexually transmitted diseases.

[1] BBC News – “STDs rife among US teenage girls.”

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5 Replies to “Too High To Reach”

  1. Yes! The problem, though not what will be the “main issue” is his hypocrisy, and all of the bible-thumping philanderers. SexEd= evil.
    Spoken word of fidelity and integrity=GOOD! Falling from grace=Nothing.

  2. Poor girls are kids for such a short time. Makes me kind of sick that they yearn for adulthood and all the servitude it entails.

    Spitzer was one of the few that was not afraid of the big shots – that is why he had to go and why he was under surveillance. Enron types can sleep better now that a crusader is humiliated and has slunk off. I wonder just how many people have nothing to hide and who chooses whom to target?

    It bugs me that the little press that is still liberal has little to say about this Spitzer thing. I know mainstream press is biased to the right, but I had hoped alternative press was following some kind of journalistic standards. They talked about Larry Craig quite a bit.

  3. Jerry – exactly! They set the bar so high we can never get over it, in the same way religion leaves one striving for the unattainable – to be perfect like Jesus. It means we always have to come back for more – great marketing! Unfortunately for them, they can never achieve it either and fall from grace with stunning regularity.

    Flimsy – you got it right first time 😉

    These particular girls weren’t exactly ‘poor’. Many of them become very wealthy from their ‘profession’, unlike the street women one sees in ports and rundown areas all over the world. You may well be right that ‘they’ were out to get him. If so, he would have known. Doesn’t that make him even more stupid and hypocritical for doing what he did?

    As for the press, they run where the story is; it’s all about making money.

  4. RJA:
    A few of the more liberal pundits I heard on radio were more concerned with the ‘money laundering’ side of what he did. $80,000 (from whatever source, though probably his own personal substantial wealth)was being removed from the economy, prostitution not being recognised as a taxable business in the US. As a governor who made it his business to go after the black economy this was his true hypocrisy.
    of course the forbidden fruit of illicit sex is in all the papers, grow up America.
    And Lord I do feel sorry for those bedraggled wives dragged in front of cameras after their husband’s sexual pecadilloes have been uncovered.
    Just for once, just for once, I would give anything to see one of them bitchslap the bastard to the ground and walk away.

  5. WWW – I believe the $80,000 was from his own personal accounts. That’s how they caught him. He was moving large sums around and they thought maybe he was being blackmailed. Hypocrisy was certainly his biggest sin, though illicit sex is always good fun for the moralistic ‘tut-tutters’, isn’t it?

    What is it about these wives? If she’d been hot-footing it about with some stud, would he have stood up and supported her in public? I very much doubt it. As you say, one good slap around the chops before the cameras, would have been his best comeuppance.

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