The Stoning of Deborah Jeane Palfrey

Sad news today as Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the woman persecuted as the “D.C. Madam,” has committed suicide rather than face a lengthy, federal prison sentence (a possibility of up to 55 years though prosecutors described her likely sentence as no more than 6 years).

The whole sordid affair struck me as a modern-day replay of the biblical lesson set forth at John 8:2-11 (Let he who is without sin cast the first stone).

The prosecution was sexist and hypocritical in focusing only on the Madam while turning a blind eye to the Johns that included many powerful men in D.C. including Senator David Vitter and Randall Tobias, a high ranking official in the Bush administration.  The resources dedicated to this prosecution were undoubtedly excessive and could have been better spent dealing with more pressing issues than a matter a great many Americans, including myself, do not believe should be a crime.  A maximunm sentence of 55 years and likely sentence of no more than 6 are absurd for this “crime.”

I suspect that the terror of this sentence weighed heavily on Ms. Palfrey.

Unfortunately, in this modern replay, there was no one playing the role of Jesus, willing to smartly step up and shame those engaged in the persecution of Ms. Palfrey or, to otherwise, bring a common sense resolution to this out-of-control and overzealous prosecution.  Instead, the Pharises in the Bush administration had their victory and Ms. Palfrey is now, sadly, dead.

RIP, Deborah Jeane Palfrey.

5 Responses to “The Stoning of Deborah Jeane Palfrey”

  1. Jeanne says:

    This is not a rhetorical question.
    Is it a crime to be the “john” or only the madam?

  2. Mark says:

    …Actually it depends on what you mean by “crime” and what jurisdiction you’re talking about.

    For instance: if by “crime” you mean felonies, misdemeanors, and even violations on a par with speeding tickets, then both are “crimes” in every state of which I’m aware. If, on the other hand, you mean just felonies and misdemeanors, then both are crimes in most states. Finally, if by “crime” you mean just felonies, then only being a madam is a crime in most states.
    I did a little bit of research on this last night for a comment at Megan Mc’s site, and being a madam is almost always subject to much harsher legal punishment than being a “john” or, for that matter, a regular “prostitute.”
    Since madams in particular actually reduce the social harms caused by prostitution’s illegal status (they provide a discreet and safe location for it in which it is much easier to ensure the use of contraception and in which johns will be unable to act abusively towards the prostitute), this state of affairs is truly sad indeed.

  3. Macswain says:

    Mark,

    Thanks for the insightful comment. I wish someone in big media was making the points you raised during discussions of this tragedy.

  4. Deborah Jeane Palfrey (March 18, 1956 – May 1, 2008) hung herself to avoid a lengthy prison sentence (up to 55 years in federal prison) for facilitating the trading of sex for money between free, rational consenting adults.

    What killed Deborah Jeane Palfrey? A Growing Trend of a Lack of Freedom in America.

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