While serving as guest host of Tuesday's Hardball, Michael Smerconish closed the program by pushing for a legalization of prostitution. He claimed not to see anything wrong with women selling their bodies for money, calling it “the private affairs of consenting adults.” It's no coincidence that Smerconish's defense of the sex trade came just two days after gushing over prostitution patron Eliot Spitzer and his "unwarranted" resignation as governor.
In his defense of prostitution, Smerconish made two arguments for its legalization. First, he argued that it would be financially profitable for the government to “bring the world’s oldest profession aboveboard” and allow it to be considered a taxable income. This legalization would also allow for the communities to “clean up the trade,” he argued.
The second reason he gave for his promotion of prostitution was that “some among us are never going to find companionship for a variety of reasons” and “it can’t be healthy for some people to … have their personal expectations go unfulfilled.” Therefore, Mr. Smerconish believes that people have the right to have their sexual tensions relieved in our sex-saturated culture, and if they cannot find it through a personal relationship, we should have the ability to pay a woman or man to provide that service for them.
On the heels of his personal interview with Spitzer, Smerconish also mentioned that he finds issue with the fact that federal resources were used to investigate Spitzer’s illegal improprieties. He thought the ex-governor should have only been disciplined from within his family and that “it was really not [the public’s] business.”
Smerconish believes that “beyond the role of the taxman, prostitution doesn’t warrant the involvement of federal authorities.” However, given the fact that he also wants extensive regulation of the prostitution industry if it were legalized, there would have to be much more involvement of the police in prostitution to make sure it complied with whatever controls the law required.
Despite that Smerconish said that the government should “clamp down on the exploitation” after prostitution has been legalized, he does not seem to realize the extent that exploitation, drug use, and trafficking play in the prostitution industry. Even Sptizer admitted that prostitution is “intimately related with other parts of criminal activity that is fundamentally wrong,” and that he is “not willing” to claim that prostitution should be legalized.
An incredible three-part exposé was written on the facts about prostitution in the seemingly docile town of Anderson, SC told from the mouths of ex-prostitutes that had escaped the system. It emphasizes the ties of prostitution to drug-use and domestic abuse. Most of the women that engage in prostituting themselves do so to feed themselves and to feed their addictions, not because she wants to have “consensual sex” with the man. The series also spotlights the efforts of local rehabilitation service, the Shalom Center, which provides its services to free to those who need to escape this terrible industry
Smerconish is certainly entitled to his opinion the issue; however, it is most shameful that MSNBC would not temper his claims with any other opinions on the matter. Instead, the network tried to pass it off as part of their news programming. All news organizations should strive provide its viewers to sufficient exposure to both sides of the argument on this and every controversial issue. Unfortunately, this seems to rarely be part of what most media outlets like MSNBC strive to do.
For reference, the transcript of Michael Smerconish’s monologue is provided below:
Hardball with Chris Matthews
July 9, 2013
7:58 p.m. Eastern
MICHAEL SMERCONISH: Let Me Finish tonight with this: Yesterday, Eliot Spitzer was my guest right here. I told him that when he cheated on his wife with a hooker, his wife should have thrown his clothes into Central Park. But as far as the public was concerned, it was really not our business. He violated the law and that wasn’t right, but we should have an adult conversation about the laws he violated.
I would argue that it’s time to bring the world’s oldest profession aboveboard in communities willing to allow it, clean up the trade, and clamp down on the exploitation. Let government share in the revenue, but otherwise stay out of the private affairs of consenting adults. Beyond the role of the taxman, prostitution doesn’t warrant the involvement of federal authorities.
Instructive to me has always been the way in which Spitzer was caught. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the financial world has been required to alert the feds when evidence arises of conduct that could be linked to terrorism. Spitzer’s suspicious money transfers were the thread that led to his discovery. Some functionary or other recognized that this was a case of titillation, not terrorism, yet nevertheless committed the resources that brought about Spitzer’s public crash. What a waste of time, expertise, and the people’s money.
Alan Dershowitz once taught Eliot Spitzer at Harvard Law, and Spitzer worked for him as a research assistant on the Claus von Bülow case. With regard to the investigation, Dershowitz once told me “they used 5,000 wiretaps. They intercepted 6,000 e-mails. Every hour spent on going after prostitution is an hour that could have been spent on going after terrorists and going after people who victimize,” which is not to say that Spitzer shouldn’t have emerged from his escapades unscathed. But the discipline that should be meted in a case like this should come from within his family.
There’s another argument in support of legalizing prostitution. Some among us are never going to find companionship for a variety of reasons. And their solitary existence is accentuated by the constant barrage of sexual stimulation we see every day on television and billboards, in our mailboxes in the form of fashion catalogs. It can’t be healthy for some people to feel the amassed pressure of such images, and have their personal expectations go unfulfilled.
Yesterday, when I asked Spitzer whether he believed we should legalize prostitution, he demurred. I won’t. We should.