The Politician and the Prostitute

Eliot Spitzer has resigned as governor of New York after being caught using an "escort service." He’s notHooking
the first politician to hire a call girl — even JFK brought them to the White House — and certainly won’t be the last. Yet politicians rarely come to the defense of prostitutes, as Canadian journalist Jeet Heer notes in the National Post’s blog.

There is something tragic about the relationship between prostitutes
and politicians. The two professions have a hidden affinity: Both are
essential and perennial human activities that are unfairly maligned. If
you label someone a politician or a prostitute, it’s likely that you’re
seeking to insult them. Politicians are often stereotyped as amoral and
insincere, always performing a role and never being themselves, eager
to please, willing to say or do anything to achieve their ends. A
similar set of moral strictures hover around the terrible word “whore.”

Yet no human society can exist without politics, without
leaders who are skilled in deal-making, coalition-building and
compromise. [Link]

In other words, we’re stuck with politicians, in much the same way that we’re stuck with boogers. We can remove the former from office, just as we can remove the latter from orifice. But we can’t eliminate them. In fact, they perform a rather important job. Boogers, that is. Well, politicians too, I suppose.

Since politicians and prostitutes are both wrongly denigrated, we need
a legal and cultural revolution to help rehabilitate these professions.
The first step is to decriminalize all forms of prostitution, except
where it involves minors or coercion. Libertarians have cogently argued
that, as with attempts to prohibit alcohol and drugs, the squalor of
prostitution comes in large part from it being a crime, making it a
profession vulnerable to control by gangsters. [Link]

No, no, say the Dutch. Don’t make prostitution legal in your country. If it’s legal in your country, what’s going to happen to our tourism industry? Besides, there are lots of gangsters involved in prostitution here. Do you want some of them to come over there?

No, no, say the morality police. If we legalize prostitution, an attractive young woman might choose to sleep with a number of rich old men to make a living, instead of just marrying and divorcing one of them.

Decriminalization
is only the first step. We also need to challenge moral odium that
hangs over prostitution. In a better world, being a prostitute would be
seen as a job, no better or worse than being a plumber, a miner, a
doctor or a politician. Legalized and made respectable, prostitutes
will be able to safely keep company with politicians. [Link]

It’s a big step: legalizing prostitution. Perhaps we should take a small step first: legalizing prostitution for politicians. I don’t mean that politicians can prostitute themselves (that’s already legal) — I mean that they can hire prostitutes to help them overcome the stress of their jobs.

What do you say, Bill Clinton — do ya like that law?

Photo by Ryan Junell

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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