In the wake of the Polanski arrest, one developing meme is that this “controversy” has provoked some divide – ideological or otherwise – among the blogosphere. The moral questions surrounding child rape, you see, are murky, much like the details of the health care debate. To be frank, this is amazingly stupid. The only “divide” is between people who recognize that child rape is a heinous crime (read: pretty much everyone, conservative, libertarian and liberal alike) and our amazingly blinkered media/film establishment, which has just demonstrated a heretofore unknown ability to rationalize horrendous decisions.
I’m not one to dramatize the idea of newspaper bias, but a consequence of our overly-insulated media environment is the old boys club tendency to circle the wagons whenever one of their own is threatened. So we have Richard Cohen laying out a comprehensive case for locking Polanski up and throwing away the key . . . only to decide that, no, he’s suffered enough already. But, by Godfrey, Cohen would still like to give him a real punch in the nose! No doubt this will lay to rest any questions about the fairness of the American judicidal system with regard to wealth and personal status.
Anne Applebaum also springs to Polanski’s defense, neglecting, of course, to mention her own husband is actively lobbying for his release. It’s then left to Eugene Robinson to make the commonsensical observation that child rape is a crime and should be punished accordingly. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s two out of three Washington Post columnists who favor letting a self-confessed rapist off the hook.
Not to be out done, Patrick Goldstein at The Los Angeles Times argues that exile in Paris (the gulag-on-the-Seine, as long-time residents refer to it) is sufficient redress for Polanski’s crimes. He goes on to literally assert some imaginary trade-off between closing California schools and bringing Polanski to justice. He then manages to compare Polanski to – get this – Jean freakin’ Valjean. Valjean, of course, was repentant; Polanski, not so much. But God forbid we “hound” him any longer.
Look, there are serious procedural questions surrounding Polanski’s original arrest that ought to be resolved. Coincidentally, we have a legal mechanism for doing just that (it’s called an appeal, which is distinct from, say, fleeing the country). But it’s quite obvious that no one outside The Washington Post-Los Angeles Times axis of idiocy is seriously arguing we should just let Polanski go. All in all, it’s a pretty serious indictment of our media establishment’s clubbish mindset.