For the sake of argument, let’s say a high-profile conservative talk show host was embroiled in a sex scandal involving an underage girl. Specifically, let’s pretend that Rush Limbaugh was the talk show host in question, and the underage girl was thirteen years old. In our hypothetical scenario, let’s make believe that Mr. Limbaugh, responding to a fan letter, made a promise to an aspiring thirteen year old broadcaster – a ninth-grader – that he would fly her to his studio in Florida and put her on his radio show. Let’s say he contacted the excited girls’ parents about the plan, and they agreed.
The thrill of a lifetime, right?
Now let’s say that during her visit, Mr. Limbaugh got the young girl drunk, fed her drugs and sodomized her.
Let us all try to imagine the absolute firestorm that would inculcate every free molecule of print, airwave and bandwidth of the mainstream media and beyond. Let us all try to envision and comprehend the totality of not only the expansive media coverage of such a disgusting thing, but the sheer outrage that would blanket and dominate the national dialogue.
Everyone from the uninteresting and self-absorbed Keith Olbermann to thinker-extraordinaire Whoopie Goldberg would be calling for the head of Mr. Limbaugh on any platter. Unbridled indignation would sweep across the nation faster than a college kid can mutter “Dude.” There would be nonstop coverage of Limbaugh the Rapist on every news channel, website, blog, and checkout-stand tabloid. Limbaugh’s reputation would be instantly obliterated, and his career would be over – and rightly so.
But here’s the real question … Could anyone ever envision a time when the public’s outrage of Limbaugh’s crime would ever diminish, especially given the fact that he is an outspoken, unapologetic conservative?
Let us assume that Limbaugh went to jail for the crime, lost everything he had, served his time, and eventually attempted a comeback of some sort down the road. Would he ever be able to shake the tag of child rapist?
Wouldn’t it follow him everywhere for the rest of his natural life?
“Former talk show host and convicted child rapist, Rush Limbaugh …”
“Conservative child rapist Rush Limbaugh …”
After all, despite overcoming his drug addiction to Oxycontin years ago – an accomplishment normally lauded by the Left – Rush is still blasted as an addict by the likes of the tactless and unfunny Congressman Barney Frank, the gay brothel’s best friend.
What I’m really asking is … Does the rape become less terrible with time? Does any rape?
The answer seems obvious, but perhaps the reality of the answer depends on who is committing the rape and who is being asked the question.
Thus, let us remove Rush Limbaugh from the discussion and instead insert celebrated film maker Roman Polanski.
What has changed?
Polanski - film maker, rapist
For one, we move from the hypothetical to the real. Polanski actually did drug a young thirteen year-old gal before raping her.
Second, while Limbaugh (like Polanski) is a celebrity, Limbaugh is not widely admired or held in awe by the most influencial forces of popular culture. To those who control the “drive-by media,” Polanski is seen as flawed, but still eminent and significant.
Limbaugh is simply a hater and a divider.
And so it was that 76-year-old Polanski was finally arrested in Switzerland on Saturday – more than thirty years after the fact.
And as expected, the star-studded, morally-bereft Left is rallying to his cause – primarily because of his “brilliance” as a director and the fact that the crime took place more than three decades ago.
From Harrison Ford to Debra Winger, from Woody Allen to Martin Scorsese, the “Free Roman” cheers are filling the air.
Morality, apparently, has an expiration date if you’re left of center.
Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post exemplifies this attitude perfectly:
There must be some deeper story here, because by any reckoning the decision (to arrest Polanski in Switzerland) was bizarre — though not nearly as bizarre as the fact that a U.S. judge wants to keep pursuing this case after so many decades.
So, in other words, because it happened so long ago, and because the crime is not nearly the emotional lightning rod it was in the 1970s, the desire to administer justice all of these years later must fall within the realm of the bizarre. (Accordingly, Applebaum effectively places blame with “a U.S. judge” for bothering to keep this old annoyance alive – not with the rapist).
What if the fugitive rapist was not an artistically influential pop-culture icon? What if it was someone on the decidely conservative side of the cultural or political spectrum – Ronald Reagan, Oliver North, Sean Hannity, Thomas Sowell, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, William Buckley, or anyone not revered for his soul-touching artistry and ground-breaking creativity?
Would Applebaum come to his defense, too?
He can be blamed, it is true, for his original, panicky decision to flee. But for this decision I see mitigating circumstances, not least an understandable fear of irrational punishment.
Actually, Polanski can be blamed for drugging and raping a child.
The fact that Polanski survived the Krakow ghetto during World War II (while his mother was murdered at Auschwitz) has absolutely nothing to do with his raping of a thirteen year old girl in 1977, and should not, by any moral standard, play a role in whether or not Polanski should pay for his crime. Additionally, the fact that his wife and unborn child were murdered in 1969 by the Charles Manson family, while profoundly tragic, is irrelevant to this case. Indeed, as Applebaum points out, Polanski was a suspect for a short period of time in Sharon Tate’s murder – a factor that coupled with his experience at Krakow, according to Applebaum, contributed to Polanski’s “fear of irrational punishment.” But so what?
What on earth does that have to do with his contemptible treatment of a thirteen year old girl?
And yet, the growing sentiment is: Poor, poor Roman Polanski.
Cries of outrage at Polanski’s arrest are coming in from all corners of the globe.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said, “A man whose talent is recognized around the world, recognized especially in the country that arrested him, that’s not nice. This story, frankly, is a little sinister.”
This is now the criterion for whether or not a man should be punished for a detestable crime?
Would the French Foreign Minister feel the same if it were his thirteen year old daughter having her senses numbed by alcohol and quaaludes at the hands of a horny 44-year old pervert before being violated? Would Polanski’s “recognized talent” amount to a hill of beans to Kouchner if it was his child who was being penetrated, both vaginally and anally, by a man more than 30 years her senior?
If I may ask him directly … How exactly do you define “sinister,” Mr. Kouchner?
This is the crux of my article today and where much of my distaste rests – that Polanski’s standing as an artist somehow has any bearing on whether or not what he did should be subject to any further punishment.
From the Globe and Mail Online:
Frédéric Mitterrand, the Minister of Culture, went further. He called the rape case “an old story” and said he was stupefied that Mr. Polanski would still be pursued.
“There is an America that we love,” he said. “There is also a certain America that scares us.”
International leftists love America when it is more like Europe, i.e. weak and unwilling to stand up against evil. The fact that America values goodness and liberty more than how many vacation days one has on the books, like the French do, scares them.
Again, note how Mitterrand refers to the Polanski case as “an old story,” not worthy of pursuit all of these years later. Clearly, as alluded to earlier, the crime’s severity seems to be directly proportional to the talent of the criminal and the amount of time that has passed since the crime.
Yet another factor that cannot be overlooked is whether or not the crime was perpetrated on a human.
Leftists seem to save their most bombastic displays of outrage for crimes against animals – or the execution of convicted first-degree murderers.
Vick - quarterback, dog killer
NFL Quarterback Michael Vick will forever be branded a cruel, despicable human being unworthy of forgiveness because of what he did to dogs. Indeed, his actions were deplorable, but when other athletes have actually been involved in the death of humans, outcry has been minimal, at best.
To many, Vick is evil personified.
Roman Polanski, on the other hand, has directed such cinematic classics as Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown. He’s a supremely talented and highly respected movie maker. His crime was committed against a thirteen year old girl over thirty years ago – something he’s certainly sorry for.
It’s time for all of us to get over it and move on.
Besides, the girl who was raped is doing just fine today.
Producer Harvey Weinstein said he would try to mobilize the movie business to support the petition drive so that Mr. Polanski would not be forced to return to court. Mr. Weinstein reportedly owns the international rights to an HBO documentary that was broadcast last year and contends that Mr. Polanski did not get a fair trial in 1978.
And Polanski was in Krakow, and his wife was slaughtered by Manson, blah, blah, blah …
Please understand, I am not diminishing the brutality of the Manson murders. Each of those examples of human debris who participated in those killings should have long ago been executed.
And I am certainly not diminishing the horrors of the Holocaust.
Rather, I chide those who rally around a child rapist who has, for three decades, escaped the justice that he must rightfully face in some form, regardless of his age, the time between the crime and his arrest, and his talent for film making.
Ticks of a clock do not lessen the ruthlessness of what he did to that little girl.
With all of that said, it is necessary that I acknowledge the fact that a legitimate argument can be made that the amount of law enforcement resources it would take to have Polanski extradited, along with what would almost certainly be a long, drawn-out, costly re-trail, is not the wisest or most efficient use of money and energy. A case can certainly be made that Polanski poses absolutely no threat to anyone. I am willing to concede that point as well. Even the young women who was raped by Polanski has said that she forgives him and wishes Polanski would be able to return to the United States.
For those not aware, Polanski actually served 42 days at Chino State Prison in California where he underwent a psychiatric observation period. Initially convinced that he would ultimately only get parole for what he did, Polanski fled the United States when prison and deportment became a very real possibility.
He remained a fugitive until Saturday. He was taken into custody while on his way to the Zurich Film Festival, which is actually holding a tribute to him this year.
Actress Deborah Winger epitomized the raging amorality – and sick irony – that is rampant among Hollywood elites when she reacted to Polanski’s arrest, saying, “The festival has been unfairly exploited.”
Still, the questions loom … Is justice to be set aside because of how long ago the crime took place? Or because of the financial burden of bringing him back to the United States to face charges? Or because he has (in the eyes of some) already “paid” for his crimes in ways more tangible than mere jail time?
And as the morally weak of the world continue to come to the defense of Polanski, one of my favorite mottos is given more credence: “Whatever world opinion is on any given subject, go with the opposite.”
Kudos to the Swiss, incidentally.