Defending a child rapist - 'He's suffered enough'
Every once and a while, an issue jumps up and really shows the moral chasm that separates the right and the left.
Whether it's Teri Schiavo or the cop killer Mumia, or AIM founder and convicted murderer of FBI agents Leonard Pelitier, there are some matters that bring out in the starkest relief imaginable, the great liberal/conservative divide on questions of simple, basic morality that seem so self-evident to conservatives but a mystery to liberals.
The Roman Polanski case highlights this difference in spades.
The reaction on the left to what should be a non-controversial case of a child rapist finally being forced to face the music for his horrific crime has been nothing short of astonishing. I suppose we should be used to this kind of moral blindness from people who invented the phrase "If it feels good - do it," but for the life of me, it is boggling my mind that the Hollywood left - and their fellow travelers around the country - are singing the praises of this "artist" while excusing the bestial actions of a man who lured a 13 year old girl into disrobing to take pictures, drugged her, and then savagely raped her.
But weighed against his "accomplishments?" Tis a pittance, a non-event, or, as Whoopie Goldberg put it, "It wasn't a "rape" rape." That kind of sophistry deserves its own award from the Academy.
A couple of good links; first, from Allahpundit who is as discombobulated as I am about the reaction from liberals:
Needless to say, this reminds me of the left's umbrage at conservatives daring to bring up Chappaquiddick after Teddy died. Yeah, he left a woman to drown and then made jokes about it afterwards; he was for universal health care, though, wasn't he? Same with Polanski: Dare we deny the man who made "Chinatown" an occasional drugging and raping of a child? Sure, a kid gets traumatized for life, but on the other side of the scale: "Rosemary's Baby." It'd be sweet if the left could come up with some sort of mathematical formula by which we could tell whether an artist or liberal politician has exceeded his quotient of moral indulgence. I'm assuming "Chinatown" wasn't so awesome that Polanski would be excused shooting a kid in the head at point-blank range, so evidently it's "worth" less than that but more than a child-rape. Let's figure out just how much of a liberal hero you have to be to get away with certain crimes.Kate Harding writing in Salon:
Roman Polanski raped a child. No one, not even him, disputes that. Regardless of whatever legal misconduct might have gone on during his trial, the man admitted to unlawful sex with a minor. But the Polanski apologism we're seeing now has been heating up since "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," the 2008 documentary about Polanski's fight to get the conviction dismissed. Writing in Salon, Bill Wyman criticized the documentary's whitewashing of Polanksi's crimes last February, after Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza ruled that if the director wanted to challenge the conviction, he'd need to turn himself in to U.S. authorities and let the justice system sort it out. "Fugitives don't get to dictate the terms of their case ... Polanski deserves to have any potential legal folderol investigated, of course. But the fact that Espinoza had to state the obvious is testimony to the ways in which the documentary, and much of the media coverage the director has received in recent months, are bizarrely skewed."
The reporting on Polanski's arrest has been every bit as "bizarrely skewed," if not more so. Roman Polanski may be a great director, an old man, a husband, a father, a friend to many powerful people, and even the target of some questionable legal shenanigans. He may very well be no threat to society at this point. He may even be a good person on balance, whatever that means. But none of that changes the basic, undisputed fact: Roman Polanski raped a child. And rushing past that point to focus on the reasons why we should forgive him, pity him, respect him, admire him, support him, whatever, is absolutely twisted.
In addition to Goldberg's dismissal of Polanski's brutality with the cryptic defense that it really wasn't "rape-rape," there's this from the Daily Mail.
In a statement, Mr Mitterand, a nephew of former President Francois Mitterand, said he learned of the arrest ‘with astonishment' and that he regretted ‘in the strongest way that a new ordeal has been inflicted on someone who has already gone through so much'.
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the arrest was a ‘bit sinister'...
The Zurich Film Festival jury accused Switzerland of ‘philistine collusion'.
‘The case is three decades old and is all but dead but for minor technicalities. We stand by and wait for his release and his next masterwork,' said jury president Debra Winger.
Other members of the film industry, including Italian actress Monica Bellucci, French actress Fanny Ardant, president of the Cannes film festival Gilles Jacob and Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai issued a petition demanding his immediate release.
I will never watch "Officer and a Gentleman" again and not look at Winger as lower than a slug.
I don't understand it. The idea of defending Polanski in any way, shape, or form is so far beyond the realm of any conscious thought I might imagine that it enters the world of dreams - a place where the physical laws of gravity and reality simply don't apply and strange, surreal images float in front of your mind's eye causing you to wake up with a start. It is then that you heave a sigh of relief because it was only a dream and such things couldn't happen in the waking world.
Not so with those on the left who are defending Polanski. There is a hole in their soul where conscience and empathy are usually found. There is no way to patch that hole, to fill it with a moral framework that would cause these lefties to react as any normal, rational, human being would react when faced with the choice of condemning a child rapist or excusing him.
As an historical aside, a similar state of mind infected America when John Brown went to the gallows in 1857 to die for his crimes. Here, northerners condemned his actions but sympathized with his cause. That reaction drew the same kind of astonishment from southerners that we feel today at the reaction on the left to Polanski's arrest. In fact, it hurried the day when civil war became probable as the south felt that northerners didn't care if slaves murdered their masters in their beds as long as it was done in the just cause of getting rid of the institution. They didn't understand the north's moral confusion and many felt that a great chasm had opened up between the two sides.
Obviously, Polanski is no John Brown. But I wanted to highlight the fact that such radical differences in moral outlook are really quite rare in American history until recently, since we all spring from pretty much the same general background and ancestry steeped in western traditions that are based on Christian principles of personal responsibility and right and wrong. It used to be extremely rare that Americans, as a group, didn't generally agree on the Big Questions that define the moral parameters in society, while having a common framework to discuss these questions even if there are what used to be usually relatively minor disagreements over purpose and motivation.
But since this New Morality swept America in the 1960's - a morality that posits the idea that we are moral creatures responsible only to ourselves and our instincts - such moral flights of fancy have become somewhat more common on the left these days but are still relatively rare.
Apparently, sometimes the hard wiring that is responsible for giving us a moral conscience breaks down and we get inexplicable breaks in our moral continuity like this. To me, this is as good an explanation as any for why there has been this cognitive dissonance on the part of some on the left when it comes to the Roman Polanski case.