March 14, 2008
Over 60 percent of New Yorkers wanted Governor Eliot Spitzer to resign at the revelation he had solicited sex with a prostitute. What’s wrong with these people? The home of “Sex in the City” doesn’t want their chief executive doing what the natives are doing?
Why are they so upset, so outraged, and for that matter, why are we? Why does it disturb so many to see Silda Spitzer stand next to her husband of 20 years as he made his public, quasi-remorseful apology? Didn’t we learn from Bill Clinton and surrogates that private behavior has no effect on public life? That the judgment and deceit it took to arrange sexual favors from a young intern in the Oval Office had no bearing on the judgment and trust required to conduct the nation’s business or lead the free world? Can’t a brilliant governor of such a forward-thinking state possess superior wisdom on matters of state while privately choosing to betray his wife and children, even putting Silda at risk by engaging in unsafe sex with his trollop? A private matter, said Spitzer, hinting that it was not related to his decisions as a publicly elected official.
“Big deal. Married man goes to a prostitute,” declared Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz. In Europe, it would hardly have made the papers. A “uniquely American” story of our “pandering” and hypocrisy “when it comes to sex,” he concluded. In a Los Angeles Times article published in the aftermath of the revelations about Spitzer, evolutionary biologist David Barash says, “I told you so,” informing us that the only reliable life form practicing monogamy is “a parasitic worm that inhabits the intestines of fish. Before Western colonization, 85 percent of human societies unabashedly favored polygamy.”
So what’s wrong with us?
Could it be that too many of us have suffered the pain of being lied to and betrayed in that most intimate part of our lives? That we have seen in the faces of our children the realization of deep betrayal absorbed by their young, innocent minds? That we have seen mothers and fathers ripped apart, houses disassembled, children shuffled between parents, broken or hardened by the loss of what should be theirs: a loving home with two parents disciplined enough to love and be faithful for a lifetime?
Could it be that we have gazed into the eyes of a loved one knowing that, through the exercise of our own unrestrained appetites, we were the betrayer? Have we, too, known the agony of inflicting pain on those we would once have given our lives for? Could it be that too many of us still long for a “Leave it to Beaver” existence, with parents who love us and each other and the most difficult days are the ones with too much homework or not enough peanut butter and jelly? Could it be that we remember enough to have retained the dream that somehow, some way “happily ever after” is still possible? Why else would no-longer-innocent young girls still long for white dresses and meaningful weddings and dare to pledge their love for a lifetime, in spite of the statistics that mark them for failure? Why would men’s chests still swell at the anticipation of being a father in the fullest sense in spite of a history of multiple conquests offered freely.
Could it be that Americans, in spite of the sexual saturation of movies, television, music, art and public school still long for something more … something that requires sacrifice, commitment, hard work and integrity? Marriage, for a lifetime?
Alan Dershowitz doesn’t believe in God and I’m thinking most New Yorkers wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable discussing faith in God. But the truth is the Old Testament, shared by Christians and Jews alike, tells us that God, in addition to giving Charlton Heston the Ten Commandments, promised one day to write those laws, firmly, indelibly, in our hearts. Could it be that hard-wired in our souls, all of our souls, is the truth that there is a better way, a faithful way that unleashes love and contentment and human potential through restraint that license and personal indulgence never can?
What’s wrong with us? Aren’t we too sophisticated, too progressive to go back to the old morals of the past? Evidently not.
That’s why we collectively wish and some of us pray for the restoration of the Spitzer family, for his personal cleansing, for Silda’s strength in the process and for no permanent damage to their precious three girls.
And New Yorkers have now resoundingly weighed in on their view of what Sex really should be in their City. Isn’t it amazing?
Sandy Rios is the host of the “The Sandy Rios Show,” heard daily on WYLL in Chicago. Contact her at [email protected]