Friday, July 20, 2007

The Opinionator

July 20, 2007, 5:03 pm
A Very Public Matter
By Chris Suellentrop
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Sean Hannity isn’t the only conservative who thinks Sen. David Vitter, the Louisiana Republican whose phone number was linked to Deborah Palfrey, the “D.C. Madam,” should resign. The Atlantic’s Ross Douthat writes:

Making use of a prostitution ring isn’t a private matter, and Vitter should not be sitting in the United States Senate while the “D.C. Madam” is facing up to 55 years in prison for selling what he was apparently interested in buying. I hope Deborah Jeane Palfrey does call him as a witness, so that he can explain how his phone number ended up on her call list, and whether the “very serious sin” he admits to committing includes, you know, breaking the law.
Unless Republicans are prepared to support “the repeal of laws banning prostitution - which I certainly hope they aren’t - then they shouldn’t be backing Vitter’s ‘it’s a private matter’ line,” Douthat writes. “It isn’t. It’s a crime.”

Douthat’s fellow Atlantic blogger, Matthew Yglesias (a liberal), adds, “Breaking the law is the quintessential public matter.” He writes, “When police officers — public officials — catch people committing crimes, they’re hauled before judges (public officials) by prosecutors (public officials) and sent to jails staffed by guards (public officials) or put under the supervision of parole officers (public officials).”

Yglesias concludes, “For the ‘D.C. Madame’ to be on trial, where her senator client gets off the hook because it’s ‘private’ is ridiculous. What about her privacy?”

National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru, however, isn’t ready to say that Vitter should go, even if it turns out he did pay for sex. “Maybe one reason that Vitter hasn’t been more forcefully and widely condemned is that our law and culture don’t treat prostitution as simply ‘illegal,’ like drug dealing,” Ponnuru writes. “You can’t advertise for drug deals in the yellow pages, but you basically can for prostitution. And it’s not clear to me that anyone has the will to step up enforcement.”

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July 20, 2007, 10:26 am
The Unsweetened Life
By Chris Suellentrop
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Saving children by marketing to them: How will budding consumers develop an appropriate — and magically delicious — skepticism for advertising and marketing without the training wheels provided by Toucan Sam and friends? They won’t, fears Joel Stein in his Los Angeles Times column.

Kellogg’s decision last month to stop advertising sugar cereals to kids under 12 is a disastrous mistake,” Stein writes. “I learned everything I needed to navigate our consumer culture from my close parsing of TV commercials for sugar cereals.”

Stein concludes: “Protecting kids is a natural instinct, but as soon as they learn to type, they’re going to be exposed to more temptations — edible and otherwise — than their parents can control. I’d rather risk some fat kids than a whole generation so naive about marketing that by middle age they can still be manipulated by a dancing leprechaun.”

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