Susie Bright writes:

Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the “DC Madam” whose call-girl service got busted in the cross-hairs of partisan payback, has committed suicide. She hung herself at her mother’s home in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

Jeane, I am so sorry. I know you swore to me that you’d never serve another term in prison for prostitution, or anything else. You almost lost your eyesight the first time. I’m sure you asked your lawyers if there was any hope for your sentencing, and I guess it must have looked bleak.

Was Jeane suicidal, in the first place? Yes, but I’d describe that carefully. She wasn’t irrational to think she wouldn’t survive another round in a penitentiary; her health was poor. And she was brittle, the kind of person who is aware of her considerable intellect and education, but who finds herself in unlucky and vulnerable situations over and over again.

When I first heard this news, I had a resentful nutbar conspiracy theorist moment. This woman had a little black book and she tried to use it in her defense, for all the good it did her. How skeptical, I wondered, should I be of the “suicide” story? How could we ever know if two hard men came over her mother’s back fence in the dark of night, with a rope?

To that limited extent, Susie’s closer view is marginally comforting. But it’s still a sordid tale; as a matter of social policy, we-the-people have driven a woman to her death for facilitating the pleasures of powerful men. I’m not seeing why it was important to do so.