On the Eliot Spitzer Affair

by Damola Awoyokun

In his “Eliot Spitzer and Nigerian Governors” (The Guardian, March 16), Reuben Abati referred to the ‘evil of prostitution’. Prostitution is not an evil. It may be immoral but definitely not an evil. We need not devalue the meaning of evil. Prostitution is not synonymous with human trafficking. The latter is absolutely condemnable in its entire dimension but not identical with the former.

Secondly why is Abati and many of the mainstream American media scissoring from public discourse the illegality of big brother wire-tapping with which Eliot Spitzer was caught that would have made the case not travel far in court?

Thirdly why are we so voyeuristic that we want to keep private and public life Siamese twins? One of the most important inventions of governance was to keep church and state apart and also to keep private and public life separate. With regards to visiting call girls, Spitzer only wronged his wife and children. And they are saying he is pardoned. So what was the business of the media? Why is it so desperate to make us loyal followers of frivolous matters? In the UK, one of the youngest foremost police officer with a first class honours degree and a distinguished service career recently embraced suicide because he could not bear to think that the tabloids would soon expose an ‘illicit’ affair he had along time ago. He sacrificed himself on voyeurs’ altar.

Immediately David Paterson, the first legally blind New York governor was sworn in, he started confessing his own series of sexual misconducts yet no one said he was unfit for the job because of that. Meaning that Spitzer’s crime was that he let the FBI confess on his behalf. If you don’t want the media to pry into your private life, you keep some dealings secret, and the fact you keep them secret does not mean those dealings are intrinsically wrong. At least nobody could accuse Spitzer that he stole public money to fund his sexual hunger. So why lose a talented man, a brilliant, charismatic, brave, public servant like that to a minor issue when on the other hand there is a widespread epidemic of mediocres and yes men all around which definitely is worse.

Just like the Bill Clinton – Monica Lewinsky affair, Eliot Spitzer should not have resigned and the event would have fizzled away. He was simply a victim of a sinister conspiracy aimed at the personal destruction of someone whose grand stature political adversaries could not bear. After all the US is the country of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great novel, ‘The Scarlet Letter’: if Spitzer was client 9, client 8 would surprisingly turn out to be the very person who called for his resignation, client 7, the owner of the prosecuting media house and client 1 would be found in the White House. I don’t know which is worse: Puritanism disguising as voyeurism or voyeurism disguising as Puritanism? Fiction was taken to a new level when the biblical Jonah got back to his wife and convinced her he had been in the belly of a whale for three days! Sexual misconduct is an unoriginal matter of fact. Why do we still get excited over any ‘media exposure’ like preteens that have not reached puberty?

The only problem Nigerians should have with their politicians is that they are creating economic conditions that are making almost every young lady synonymous with call girls. Besides that, any of their sexual misconducts is a domestic business with their wives and families and nothing of the public’s. This is a moral we Africans should teach the West not the other way round. If Spitzer was regarded as Mr Integrity because of his cleaning up of rot in corporate New York and the wickedly unreported act of mobilising all the attorneys-general of all American states against the federal might that was conniving with the banks on the issue of predatory lending now affecting the sub prime mortgage sector and the whole US economy, he is still Mr Integrity. His reputation still stands as the Sheriff of Wall Street. As a former action governor of Lagos remarked: oju lasan kose se were. How many of us know that the renowned ‘I have a dream’ civil liberties legend, Rev Dr Martin Luther King was a serial adulterer?

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Dennis March 23, 2009 - 8:26 pm

“Immediately David Paterson, the first legally blind New York governor was sworn in, he started confessing his own series of sexual misconducts yet no one said he was unfit for the job because of that. Meaning that Spitzer’s crime was that he let the FBI confess on his behalf.” — And why would the FBI be confessing in Spitzer’s behalf? Because Spitzer was involved in what is formally a crime. Not so in Paterson’s case; some could tell between an affair and what Spitzer was engaged in. The law could be changed, and it should, but there’s no basis for comparison in Spitzer’s one hand, and Paterson’s/Clinton’s/MLK’s on the other.

femi adetunji December 12, 2008 - 11:07 pm

this article is nothing short of excellent, damola has addressed the world’s issues in a nutshell. people fight tooth and nail to destroy a man’s destiny if he does not dance to their rythme, there is every tendency to attack what you can not identify with. truth must be told, so is damola’s opinion shared ride on let the mountains be your platform, and the horns of the old testament priests your microphones.


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