Victimless Crimes?

I swore to myself that I would not discuss this issue on my blog. But the sustained interest in this tawdry affair demands some sort of comment. In a recent Yahoo news story, for example, we are told that the DEA is now involved in the prostitution scandal that recently rocked the Secret Service.

Two of the agents allegedly had encounters with masseuses in the apartment of one of the agents, according to Sen. Susan Collins, the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“It’s disturbing that we may be uncovering a troubling culture that spans more than one law enforcement agency,” the Maine Republican said this evening. “In addition to the Secret Service scandal, we now learn that at least two DEA agents apparently entertained female foreign national masseuses in the Cartagena apartment of one of the agents. The evidence uncovered thus far indicates that this likely was not just a one-time incident.”

Needless to say, it is the Republicans who want to keep our collective attention focused on these incidents, as though the Democratic President is personally or professionally responsible for what the people around him do in their free time. This is absurd on its face. Obama is responsible for a great many sins of omissions and commission, I dare say. We all are, including Senator Collins. But these would be acts the man committed himself or knew about and refused to take action to prevent. In the cases before us, there is simply no way he could be held responsible for actions agents of his government engaged in while out of his sight and hearing in their free time in a country in which prostitution is perfectly legal.

Generally speaking, prostitution is a “victimless crime.” That is to say, no harm, no foul. Sex between consulting adults in a country where that law allows women to receive cash payment for sex, cannot be viewed as a crime except by the neo-Puritans among us who simply think that prostitution is “wrong.”  What possible grounds could there be for condemning legal acts in which no one is harmed and both participants consent? There might be a moral issue if the women were forced into prostitution, as is sometimes the case. But this is not the case in Cartagena where the women who prostitute themselves do so voluntarily and, apparently, routinely. To be sure, many in our society find prostitution offensive for personal reasons, but that’s their problem. As a recent story in the New York Times noted following the scandal involving the security forces, Many here [in Cartagena] are perplexed about why the Americans have made such a fuss over something as unremarkable, in local eyes, as a man taking a woman to a hotel room, and paying for sex.

In the case of the Secret Service personnel who were supposed to protect the President, the situation is a bit more complex. There is some concern that secrets may have been divulged to the prostitutes, though it “beggars belief,” as the English would say. In any case, isn’t that always a possibility when two people are intimate? If secrets were revealed by the security people, it is irrelevant that the people who were supposedly told these secrets were prostitutes. The problem in this case is simply one of keeping security personnel away from anyone who might be told something that the government regards as a risk to national security. But this would mean keeping security personnel away from everyone, which is clearly absurd. One must trust that those with the highest clearance will not betray that trust.

The real issue here, as I see it, is that the Republicans want to make political hay out of an issue they think will help them regain the White House. It’s as simple as that. And it may indeed work if they are able to keep the issue afloat (as they seem to be doing) until well into the Summer and even into the Fall. The average citizen loves to read about this sort of thing and to cast stones from their glass house. So I dare say we will hear more about this sordid affair, even though it is hardly worth a moment of our time.


6 thoughts on “Victimless Crimes?

  1. Perhaps the Secret Service should do what it is good at instead of airing dirty laundry out to the public, and being low profile and secret.

    • My understanding of that situation is that the press aired the Secret Service’s dirty laundry. I dare say they would have preferred to keep it quiet!

  2. I am so with you on this. You can’t tell me GW and Bill Clinton’s secret service didn’t do the same thing when they were off duty. And frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn! Feels like a witch hunt to me. Thanks for posting.

  3. On the issue of “victimless crimes”… What would you say about “date rape”?

    I don’t know about generalizing prostitution like that. That’s the thing with the manipulated in society, hardly anyone stands up for them unless they are (or were) children during the crime. Unfortunately, manipulation isn’t considered a crime. It will take a genius to prove it is. Just because someone said “yes” and consented to something, t doesn’t make it right, and it certainly doesn’t make those two involved in the crime one in the same.

    Something you might be interested in is an ex-prostitute’s account of the trauma she’s overcoming from that industry. She and others like her who have overcome the same are dedicated to bringing awareness and support for educating the public about the reality of prostitution beyond what the stereotypes project it to be. Her blog link is:

    I would like to know if you have any thoughts about this.

    • I have a real problem with rape, period! And I don’t mean to seem to apologize for prostitution as a rule. In this case, in that country, it is hard to see who the victim might be. I wanted to focus attention on this particular situation.But I realize that in many cases the women are very much the victims.

  4. P.S. I have visited the blog you mentioned and found it to be very interesting. Many thanks! As I say, it is the issue in Colombia that I wanted to focus ion — I think it is a tempest in a teapot that Republicans are trying to whip into a major issue.

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