Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the "D C Madam" facing a probable four to six years in prison for running a call-girl ring here, hanged herself. She was fifty-two.
She had repeatedly told a journalist named Dan Moldea that she would. "I'm not going back to jail," she told him, "I'll kill myself first." Apparently she meant it.
I don't know why this seems sad but it does. Being a madam isn't an admirable profession, of course. Prostitution isn't an admirable thing, though it's been with us about forever. And it's worth remembering that the attractive, college-educated women who worked for Palfrey were volunteers. She wasn't kidnapping them off the street. It's an ugly trade, but nobody forced anybody into it. Child abusers, people who use violence, use pain against others are surely worse people than Palfrey.
And she made a decision I think she had a right to make. One of the Roman stoics--was it Seneca? I'm not sure--summed it up. "We have none of us the right to complain of life," he wrote, "It holds no man against his will."
RIP, Ms. Palfrey.