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Law Maker = Law Breaker: The Spitzer Drama

recorded 3/12//08

1) 2:52 Radio Essay - short - Mp3

2) 4:37 Radio Essay - long - Mp3

Law-Maker = Law-Breaker (The Spitzer Drama)

[col. writ. 3/11/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal

    The rise and imminent fall of New York's Governor, Eliot Spitzer has all the drama and pathos of a TV movie.

    If it weren't true, it could hardly be believed.

    Spitzer, the Dick Tracy of the prosecutorial set (with his squinting blue eyes, and square jaw), has joined the peculiarly American photo op of the fallen politician, with his doleful wife dutifully standing beside him, a look in her eyes like a deer in headlights.

    It is rare to see such a spectacle in Asia, Africa or Europe, where there is a certain maturity about affairs of the heart (or the loins).

    But this is the U.S., not France.

    While the Spitzer affair is but the latest in what seems like a seasonal event, it is different from those that came before because of the nature of the man, who built his political career on being the ruthless prosecutor, the 'clean up man' of the filthy political culture of the Empire state.  It is indeed, more than the obvious:  hypocrisy run wild.  It is a classic case of a man 'hoisted by his own petard' (or destroyed by his own weapon).

    For, inasmuch as the former state Attorney General won a trip to the Governor's Mansion in Albany because of his relentless attacks on Wall Street brokers, he also had an appetite for the doings of prostitution rings, one of which led to his own front door.

    According to published and broadcast reports, Spitzer paid nearly $80,000 for his trysts with high-end call girls.

    And while this still seems a peculiar American fascination and revulsion with sex, the particulars of his money-changing to secure these services suggests that he has violated federal criminal statutes -- some that have been on the books for nearly a century.

    At issue is the infamous Mann Act -- a law known (particularly in the African-American community) because of its usage against the great Black boxing champ, Jack Johnson (1878-1946). The law is perhaps best known  as the 'White Slavery' law, for it has been used to prosecute men charged with trafficking in the sexual services of white women.

    The Mann Act, as defined by the prestigious Black's Law Dictionary, is as follows:


                    Federal statute (White Slave Traffic Act, 18 U.S.CA  § 2421) making it a crime

                    to transport a woman or girl in interstate or foreign commerce for the purpose

                    of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose. {Black L. Dict..,

                    5th ed., (West Publ., 1979), p.869.}

    Yet, if news reports are correct( that he essentially hired young women to cross state lines for 'immoral' purposes), it is doubtful that this high-ranking political figure will face a jail cell.  For him, it might suffice to surrender his lofty office, while his loyal acolytes will fill op-ed pages with furtive prose that the public figure "has suffered enough."

    In the legendary life of the first Black heavyweight boxing champ, Jack Johnson, this internationally renowned pugilist was charged, tried, convicted and sentenced for violating the Mann Act, for driving 2 white women across state lines to accompany him as he plied his trade.  The government didn't claim that either of these women were prostitutes.

    They were his wives!  They were Etta Terry Duryea, whom he married in 1911, and after her suicide, Lucille Cameron.

    The immorality?  The mere fact that he, a Black man, had married white women.

    After his 1913 conviction, he fled the U.S. for France to stay out of prison.

    But that was the; this is now.  Violations of the letter of the law don't mean the same thing when it comes to rich, powerful white men (unless they were prosecuted by Spitzer, that is)

    In addition to being the most powerful political  figure in the state, Spitzer wears (until his resignation) the title of super-delegate, and he has already pledged to vote for Hillary Clinton.

    What does one of the nations' foremost feminists have to say about her homie, and his exploitation of women in the sex trades?

    Hypocrisy, it seems, doesn't end in the Governor's Mansion.

--(c) '08 maj

{Source: Appiah, Kwame Anthony and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African-American Experience (Concise Desk Reference) Phila., PA: Running  Press, 2003), pp.481-83}


[Mr. Jamal's recent book features a chapter on the
remarkable women who helped build and defend
the Black Panther Party: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South
End Press (http://www.southendpress.org); Ph.


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[Check out Mumia's latest: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South
End Press (http://www.southendpress.org); Ph.

"When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is
just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die.
And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about
justice." - Mumia Abu-Jamal

For additional information and to order Mumia's new book We Want Freedom,

visit: southendpress.org

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