What the Washington elite thinks

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on September 27, 2009

It happens all the time. “Smart” people reveal themselves to be amoral, unethical fools as they look to curry favor among the enlightened Hollywood elite. Today’s case in point is Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum who thinks that child rape isn’t anything to get worked up over as long as a famous director was the perp and his mother died in the Holocaust.

Seriously. I present Applebaum’s commentary in whole because, although it may be unethical, the smart thing to do would be for this post to be disappeared.

The Outrageous Arrest of Roman Polanski

Of all nations, why was it Switzerland -- the country that traditionally guarded the secret bank accounts of international criminals and corrupt dictators -- that finally decided to arrest Roman Polanski? There must be some deeper story here, because by any reckoning the decision 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.

Here are some of the facts: Polanski's crime -- statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl -- was committed in 1977. The girl, now 45, has said more than once that she forgives him, that she can live with the memory, that she does not want him to be put back in court or in jail, and that a new trial will hurt her husband and children. There is evidence of judicial misconduct in the original trial. There is evidence that Polanski did not know her real age. Polanski, who panicked and fled the U.S. during that trial, has been pursued by this case for 30 years, during which time he has never returned to America, has never returned to the United Kingdom., has avoided many other countries, and has never been convicted of anything else. He did commit a crime, but he has paid for the crime in many, many ways: In notoriety, in lawyers' fees, in professional stigma. He could not return to Los Angeles to receive his recent Oscar. He cannot visit Hollywood to direct or cast a film.

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. Polanski's mother died in Auschwitz. His father survived Mauthausen. He himself survived the Krakow ghetto, and later emigrated from communist Poland. His pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered in 1969 by the followers of Charles Manson, though for a time Polanski himself was a suspect.

I am certain there are many who will harrumph that, following this arrest, justice was done at last. But Polanski is 76. To put him on trial or keep him in jail does not serve society in general or his victim in particular. Nor does it prove the doggedness and earnestness of the American legal system. If he weren't famous, I bet no one would bother with him at all.

By Anne Applebaum  |  September 27, 2009; 3:13 PM ET
Categories:  Applebaum  | Tags: Anne Applebaum

As others have noted, Applebaum gets her facts wrong in her efforts to soft-peddle her pro-child rape post. Polanski didn’t flee during his trial. He fled after pleading guilty. He pled guilty to get other charges dropped. It was part of plea bargain – an embarrassingly lenient plea deal.

Then he fled the country.

Judicial misconduct in the trial? Once again, no trial. He pled guilty. We don’t have trials when people plead guilty.

The rest of Applebaum’s pleading is just a bunch of crap. He’s 76. So, swindler Bernie Madoff is 71. Should he get off too? My former congressman and criminal Randy “Duke” Cunningham is 67. How ‘bout him? And neither of these guys violated a 13-year-old girl.

How morally bankrupt do you have to be to use the fact that Polanski fled from his punishment as a mitigating factor worthy of erasing the punishment altogether? How morally bankrupt do you have to be to excuse child rape?

In the future, Applebaum will undoubtedly use her column to make the case that a wide variety of things are “right” or “wrong.” When analyzing her views, make sure to take into account her morality (or lack thereof) in this situation.

For the record, Patterico notes Applebaum’s lack of moral fiber may be a result of who she’s married to.

0 comments on “What the Washington elite thinks”

  1. "There is evidence that Polanski did not know her real age."

    Lack of knowledge of the victim's age is not a defense to statutory rape. Not sure why that is thrown in there. Even if the victim had a fake I.D. or lied about her age, that is not a defense.

  2. Did you notice that she didn't provide any evidence to prove that Polanski did not know her age? Not even a link. I wonder if there really is such evidence.

  3. This is the same Anne Applebaum who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Gulag: A History"? Her column here and its loose association with the facts makes one wonder about the scholarship behind her book.

    -RJP

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Why, one must ask, was the suit against Biden's student debt wipe “inevitable”?

Was it because the Biden admin is in flagrant violation of the law, and because *everyone* in America knows it?

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