Spitzer Swallows

Imagine I could be bothered to photoshop some egg on his face

The so often excellent Game Politics makes a rather astute point in light of New York governor, Eliot Spitzer’s recent resignation. The disgraced politician made a swift exit after being rumbled by the FBI as part of a prostitution ring. This would be the same politician, as GP points out, that said this in 2006:

“Like all parents, I know it is increasingly difficult to protect our children from negative influences… we have learned that when self-regulation fails, government must step in… we must do more to protect our children from excessive sex and violence in the media… Media content has gotten more graphic, more violent and more sex-based… Currently, nothing under New York State law prohibits a fourteen-year old from walking into a video store and buying… a game like ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ which rewards a player for stealing cars and beating people up. Children can even simulate having sex with a prostitute…”


We don’t want to get bogged down in the more salacious side of the story, like pointing out how the ladies he would spend a quiet night with were warned,

“[Spitzer] would ask you to do things, that, like you might not think were safe. You know – I mean that – very basic things…”

That would just be inappropriate for a gaming site. But how very awkward for the guy who fought so vociferously against the GTA games, right when he was trying to get elected. Well, there we go. We’ll soon be launching our campaign to have politics banned, as it seems to directly cause increased immoral behaviour.


  1. Tak says:

    Mr. Spitzer, I hate to use quotes from popular media, but…

    Damn, son! You got served!

    He’s a raging hypocrite on multiple fronts now, having made a name for himself as an AG busting high profile prostitution rings.

    I fully support the movement to ban politics. Where do we sign? Got a bumper sticker and a slogan yet? You need bumper stickers and slogans!

  2. Mike says:

    Although of course, hypocrisy doesn’t always equal wrongness, right? Should a fourteen year-old be allowed to buy GTA?

    The guy’s an idiot, though.

  3. Dracko says:

    Although of course, hypocrisy doesn’t always equal wrongness, right?

    Can you bring up a context when it isn’t?

  4. Tak says:

    Well, I will say from a values stand point I think they should not, personally. From a *legal* standpoint, however, it shouldn’t be in a law at all. As my definition of violent and your definition of violent are different, it is an issue of values and, as much as some of the f’rs here in the US would like to think otherwise, so called ‘values’ or ‘morals’ legislation is completely bass-ackwards and undemocratic in every way.

    Deciding what book, movie, game, TV show, etc. is appropriate for what child is part of parenting. Responsible parenting includes monitoring all the effects of that to ensure no warped world views or other ill effects.

    Would I buy my kids (if I had any) GTA 4? Nope. Would I ground the kid for buying a copy of it? Absolutely, and trash the copy too to prove the point (though I’d likely buy my own copy :p). Do I think the retailer should be held legally responsible because some unattentive minimum wage nitwit behind the counter sold a game that the industry, press, and general public opinion view as unsuitable for minors? Absolutely not.

    He’s an idiot not only for getting caught (I could care less that he hired a hooker :p), but for paying the prices he did. Never been to Vegas to price compare, I guess.

    EDIT@ Dracko: Slavery is legal. I break slaves out and help them escape by night, but am a staunch supporter of slavery whenever asked. Hypocrite in this hypothetical situation, but by no means wrong in my eyes.

  5. Larington says:

    A more important question is: Will trying to prevent a 14 year old from buying a GTA game succeed? Of course not, it just makes him more eager to get it, even if that means via questionable methods such as torrents.

    EDIT: That has to be the most awesome title EVER for an article, btw.

  6. axel says:

    It would have been funnier if it were Jack Thompson but you can’t have everything.

  7. Dracko says:

    Thompson’s already big enough of a joke as it stands already, though.

  8. dhex says:

    what a joyous day it was when spitzer fell.

    god bless america.

    (the only thing that would make this better is if he were dressing them up like rudy giuliani. or if he had herpes. that’d be pretty good too.)

    edit: it should go without saying that it is utterly insane for senators or anyone else to be involved with the gaming industry on the issue of content, but such is the age we live in.

  9. Zell says:

    If you are a prosecutor who owns an illegal gun for self defense, you are not wrong to prosecute illegal arms dealers, even though you’re very much a hypocrite.

    It could be argued that you’re wrong to continue being a prosecutor once you realize you’re a hypocrite, but I’m not sure that’s a very practical approach to the world.

    For what it’s worth, I think fourteen is on the young side for GTA and I see no problem in a society imposing that restriction on merchants. Nothing wrong with ‘values’, the problem lies in too many dumb ones.

  10. Tak says:

    I’m not saying there is an issue with values, nor am I saying society as a whole should not determine some basic rules for some things. I am, however, going to argue that those values are better left to review boards and coalitions rather than legislation when no one is actually in danger.

    A drunk driver can kill people. You might have no problem with it personally, but you can deprive someone else of their right to live. That is a value judgment that it makes sense to make into a binding law.

    A kid getting into an R rated movie or playing GTA is a kid getting exposed to something that they might not be able to comprehend fully, yet. They deprive themselves of ‘innocence’ (though that’s questionable at 14). Bad? If you’re against it. But no one actually gets hurt here, it’s foolish, reactionary, and wasteful to try and bind everyone to that opinion.

    I can only speak for myself, but I don’t that’s too wide off of public opinion (in the US, anyway) contrary to what sensationalist reporting might have you believe.

  11. Hidden_7 says:

    Kids these days lose most of their innocence in school anyway, it could be argued that such a pure pursuit like playing games brings it back a little. That’s just Devil’s Advocatin’ though.

    Personally I think it depends on the kid. I was playing games such as Blood, etc, whatever the violent ones were when I was a kid… when I was a kid. I suppose I got to be careful not to go on any murderous rampages now, lest my passtime of choice be sleighted as the cause. But my brother is 14 now, and I’ve been playing M rated games with him for awhile, including the GTA games. Operative word there being “with,” so I can help contextualize things, though he’s a pretty smart kid. My parents were never big on full on banning of media in our house, prefering to do thier parenting via parenting, rather than attempting, in vain, to keep certain content out of our hands. Personally, if I was a parent I’d find it pretty hard to sell the idea that a game is not appropriate for my 14 year old kid, but appropriate for me, since it would come down to telling them full on that they are not ‘mature’ enough, which is like… what kind of lesson is that to teach your kid, you’re supposed to help them mature. Most kids are a lot cleverer than we give them credit for, and it’s all about the specific kid, rather than a blanket statement that at 14 you cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality. This actually came up in a conversation with a co-worker the other day, anyone here actually remember when they COULDN’T tell the difference between a movie/game/whathaveyou and reality? I can’t, though to be sure when I was that young I wouldn’t have been able to figure GTA out, let alone be warped by it, but I suppose it’s different for different people. I do recall my dad limiting me playing Doom late at night, and giving the excuse that I was getting tired and it’s harder to differentiate reality and fantasy, but I always found that bullshit. I just figured he wanted me to go to bed.

  12. Noc says:

    I think part of the point is that we tend to select politicians not on their platforms but on our perception of them as human beings. Given a choice, most of us would vote for someone that seems like a pretty cool guy, instead of someone who’s probably a capable administrator but comes off as kind of a cock.

    Whether his proposed legislation was right or not isn’t the issue . . . the issue is that he’s personally inconsistent, which means that we don’t like him as a person. And since our perceptions of him are a person are more important to us than the implications of laws he may wish to pass . . .

  13. Alex Hopkinson says:

    Many of us already live in a place where a 14 year old isn’t allowed to buy GTA.

  14. Cigol says:

    GTA is really the least of parents worries.

  15. Dracko says:

    Tak: No, that is lying. Hypocrisy is maintaining double standards. There’s a whole world of difference.

    Like, say, supporting the abolition of slavery, but not being able to do without your “servants”.

  16. Tak says:

    I have to disagree. While yes, telling lies isn’t always hypocrisy, hypocrisy always involves telling lies.

    link to merriam-webster.com

  17. Dinger says:

    Spitzer wasn’t governor at age 14. Oh, and the “Spitzer Swallows” pun was already brought up on Tuesday night’s The Daily Show (and rejected).

    Still, Spitzer was going to be a superdelegate with unwavering support for Hillary Clinton, who’s on record as saying videogames need more regulation lest they corrupt children’s minds.

    Y’all realize that you can’t shield children from the reality of the world, and in fact, shielding them only makes them less capable of dealing with it? Have you bothered to listen to lullabies and (non-Disneyfied) fairy tales lately? Every wonder why their content is more sordid that most of what we experience in our lives?

    Oh, and Hypocrisy doesn’t have to involve telling lies (no, I don’t believe dictionaries are authorities):

    you can have a person who crusades against prostitution, and fights the “evil scourge”, but who solicits prostitutes as well. We’d consider that person a hypocrite, even if (s)he never denied going to prostitutes.

    Or, to take another case from real life, when I was very young, I worked in a radio station, left of the dial, doing the bridge between the Metropolitan Opera and a Heavy Metal show extremely popular with the half-dozen rural 13-year-olds capable of receiving our signal. This guy was the most obnoxious, sexist homophobe on the planet (which ultimately led to his demise). Anyway, at one point he finally came out to the (gay, as about 40% of my fellow students claimed to be) station manager, and admitted he’d frequented a notorious leather bar. Well, he was a hypocrite, even if a self-hating one.

  18. Nick says:

    God I hate it when people feel the need to dictionary link to try and prove a point.

    Anyway, lulz @ Spitzer.

  19. unclebulgaria says:

    [Client-9]: I AM NOT A NUMBER!

  20. Zell says:

    Of course you can shield your kids. Everybody does. I assume you meant there’s a point at which too much shielding is detrimental, which is also obviously true. So the question is how much, and what.

    I’m generally no proponent of neutering stories for kids. They deal pretty well with mature topics like death, killing, temptation, sin, betrayal, weakness. The problem is not dark material, it’s the extraordinary level to which children immerse themselves in what they’re doing.

    Blasting people in GTA or watching first-person slasher is a fundamentally more visceral, animal-level experience than being told a Grimm’s fairy tale in the original. The former is an adrenalin-soaked reality immersion first and foremost; the latter is all story.

    Now I’m not prepared to claim that even playing GTA night and day is going to screw a kid up who isn’t already screwed up. I just don’t know. But I find it a little tiresome that so many people in the gaming industry views this issue through such thoroughly polarized glasses, as if the mere idea that anything affects kids at all is fascist propaganda.

  21. Mike says:

    Incidentally, the hypocrisy/wrongness thing was meant in this way: if I say murder is wrong, and then murder someone, it doesn’t mean murder isn’t wrong.

    Obviously, it’s ironic that this guy has ended up doing things he decried. But GTA is hardly ideal fourteen-year-old fodder nonetheless.

  22. Mustache says:

    Best tittle yet!

    Its apparent that parents parenting skills should be the parents worst fear.

  23. Zuffox says:

    I think the RPS crew should put out a title contest in lieu of the great titles so often seen here, I assume are facilitated by the 98% success rate Pun-o-Matic.

    “Spitzer is NSFW”, for instance, would be kinda fun, too.

    May of course be tiredness talking, but I assume no such thing!

  24. Crispy says:

    He’s just like some of the scumbag characters in GTA. But they’re just characters based on immoral politicians.

  25. John Walker says:

    “Oh, and the “Spitzer Swallows” pun was already brought up on Tuesday night’s The Daily Show (and rejected).”

    I haven’t watched TDS since the strike breaking. How was it rejected? (I was fairly sure someone else would have come up with the joke before me, but I’d not seen it anywhere).

  26. Mustache says:

    well kudos if you genuinely came up with it, it’s a gem

  27. Tak says:

    I stand corrected. Blatant hypocrisy doesn’t have to involve lying. Given that wasn’t the case here, the painfully obvious didn’t cross my mind.

    Apologies offered from this end :)

  28. Devin says:

    Didn’t anyone read The Diamond Age?

    Hypocrisy is only society’s ultimate ill if you’re unwilling to postulate actual moral values for your society. If your society is against slavery, then pro-slavery advocates who whinge when they themselves are enslaved are guilty of an embarrassing peccadillo, while those who enslaved them are guilty of a terrible crime indeed.

    If our society is against prostitution, then Elliot Spitzer is less wrong than most johns, because while he did commit the crime, he also made (presumably good faith) efforts to prosecute and suppress it. Compare to a gang member who made sincere efforts to persuade others not to follow his path.

    I think this whole argument really comes from the fact that most of our commenters don’t regard sex work as a categorical evil. If sex work isn’t in and of itself wrong, and if Spitzer wasn’t forcing anyone into it, was paying fairly, et cetera, than the only thing we can pin on him is hypocrisy. And since he tried to pin on our tribe the very peccadillo he was guilty of himself, we’re mad at him for that.

    Sure, it’s worth crowing a bit. But in the end, I’ll take a hooker-bangin’ moralist over, say, an utterly sincere, single-faced, walked-the-walk, seen-the-elephant, practiced-what-he’s-preaching John McCain any day. John McCain’s got a lot more dead bodies behind him than Spitzer ever will (given the likely downward trend of Spitzer’s career).

    Hiring sex workers is a bit fraught and I suspect that if I had an omniscient view of Spitzer’s actions I’d find them suspect. Moralistic tirades, I don’t like. I think they’re bad. I especially think it’s bad when you’re egging on a crowd by telling them what they want to hear and inciting them to persecution. But Spitzer’s were fairly mild cases of the tirade, and even if they hadn’t been, killing is killing. You take away a kid’s games, he grows up and buys them. Maybe he doesn’t and his life is a bit less happy than it would have been. But if you kill him, he’s dead. That’s it. So Spitzer the hypocrite is still, morally, ahead of any number of totally sincere politicians in my book.

    Of course, the gripping hand is that if he were President or Senator or Congressman Spitzer, he’d have no qualms about voting for or ordering those deaths, so it doesn’t really matter.

  29. Alexander says:

    Devin nice argument, since I am not American I have no idea what Mr. McCain’s previous life was like. However argumenting that one can prefer someone however hypocritically treating his values (and thus becoming worthless) over someone who carries a different set of values but faithfully follows them is not my kind of pudding. In fact, I prefer a tyrant who believes what he preachers (as it declares some sort of innocence and helplessness) over the other any time.

    If there is anything affecting kids, it’s probably their parents. Cut the debate short, cut away from the monitors, look at the kids behind you, look at reality, the exact way we ‘inherit’ (because we don’t, we learn) personality from our parents; we don’t become our parents, but their personality greatly affects us.

  30. Dinger says:

    Woah. Musta had too much St.-Emilion last night.

    TDS: Was March 10, as a list of Spitzer puns he wouldn’t be making. (The others being “Bang the Gov Slowly” and “Fuckgate”.
    Anyway, if you look hard enough, all the puns have been made.

    Hypocrisy: ad hominem circumstantial is the fallacious argumentative form you’re referring to: an argument is valid or invalid regardless of the person sustaining it. So I can say, for example, “Drinking St.-Emilion and posting to RPS is a horrible thing”, then go and do exactly that, and the fact I behave opposite to my principles doesn’t invalidate those principles.

    On the other hand, if someone makes the basis of their power their image as a fighter of organized crime and corruption, then getting caught supporting those things destroys the image, and the basis of power. You can’t say “I’m against organized crime”, and then spend thousands of bucks personally supporting it.

    “You can’t shield the children” — right, that’s not entirely true. But when you talk about controlling what a 14-year-old finds out about, then in that sense, you can’t “protect them” from the “ugly parts” of the world, and trying to do so generally has the opposite effect.

    What I find loathsome about the “anti-videogame” politicians is just how transparent they are. “Think of the Children” is one of the nastiest appeals to pity out there (just as “Tough on Crime” is to anger). Should there be controls on children and games? Sure. Parents should be taking an interest in their children and in what they do, particularly, in the case of videogames, in their own homes. If they don’t take an interest, no amount of government regulation is going to protect teh kidz.

    And what are the solutions out there? ESRB? All ESRB serves to do is provide a barrier to entry for small developers (got enough money to develop a small game? yeah? how about to certify it with the ESRB?) and an ongoing liability (what if someone mods your game to include something nasty they saw in a Japanese comic book?).

    Meanwhile, he’ll complain about GTA, which in its current incarnation is nothing more than a sanitized version of every R-rated action/crime film cliche out there. With an awesome soundtrack, of course.

  31. Ian says:

    ‘Children can even simulate having sex with a prostitute…’

    …when they should be doing it for real, I presume?

  32. Gilzor says:


  33. James T says:

    *points* …He has the cancer.

  34. dhex says:

    If our society is against prostitution, then Elliot Spitzer is less wrong than most johns, because while he did commit the crime, he also made (presumably good faith) efforts to prosecute and suppress it.

    the main issue here is more that he used his power to imprison others for doing something he himself was involved in. that’s chutzpah-licious! and typical scummy good for me but not for thee type behavior we expect from the imperial class.

    for a real-life analogue, check out http://www.copswritingcops.com

  35. Devin says:

    “In fact, I prefer a tyrant who believes what he preachers (as it declares some sort of innocence and helplessness) over the other any time.”
    Really? So you’d rather watch your whole family tortured to death than live under a man who doesn’t pay his parking tickets but expects you to pay yours?

    I can’t agree. I’m with you as far as “sincerity is a mitigating factor” in that I’d rather, I suppose, be imprisoned by a man who sincerely believes I need to be locked up than by a man who’s locking me up to feed a witch hunt he doesn’t believe in but uses to keep himself in power. Hell, I might even prefer a society where I serve a week in jail from the one guy over one where I serve three days from the other. But given the choice of “dead or living with a man who bangs hookers and lies,” well, count me on the liar’s side.

    I can’t quite shake the impression that you’re conducting moral thought-experiments with other people’s imaginary lives. It doesn’t sound like you’ve owned the idea that your sincere tyrant isn’t just oppressing other people. Can you tell me honestly “I, Alexander, would prefer to die in agony at the hands of a man who sincerely believed in my murder than to live in a country with a head of state who acts differently than his professed moral code?”

    You’re assuming he believes that what he did was right AND that he believes that it’s wrong when other people do the same thing. We don’t have any actual evidence (he said on TV that he thinks it’s wrong for him and for others, but he had to say that so I’m not taking it as evidence of anything besides that he’s a politician.) There are four cases:
    1. What you said. He’s a pseudoaristocratic piece of shit who believes that what he did is okay because of who he is but not okay if plebes like you or I were to do the same.
    2. He’s not aganst sleepin’ with whores. He doesn’t actually have a problem with prostitution at all. He did what he did because he didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. He claimed to hold other beliefs because he had to claim those beliefs to keep his job (and either he’s a powerseeking scumsucker or he places the end of the good he thinks he can do or has done as AG ahead of the evil of the lie).
    3. He is really, sincerely, sorry for his crimes. He screwed up because he is human and fallible, like most of us. This might put him in the same box as some of the Founding Fathers, several of whom were mildly in favor of abolishing slavery, but kept slaves while alive (commonly including in their wills the freedom of their slaves).
    4. He believes that engaging the services of a prostitute is morally okay for some people, but that he is not one of those people. This one is unlikely in my opinion, but at least theoretically possible. Oddly, it’s the one I come closest to: Spitzer’s married and while it’s possible that he and his wife have an explicit or implicit negotiated agreement about extramarital sex, I doubt it. For that reason, his actions were wrong, not because he hired prostitutes, but because he betrayed a trust in doing so.

    Obviously 1 and 3 are the most likely, and I don’t think you’re wrong in suggesting that 1 is the largest chance, but I do think you’re wrong in assuming that he feels no remorse or guilt for his actions. He might well.