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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ce n'est pas un crime

This morning's NY Times had an article about the reaction to the Roman Polanski's arrest in Switzerland on a three decades old rape (and unlawful flight) charge.

At first, they quoted various Hollywood luminaries, all of whom of course supported Polanski. There was Whoopi Goldberg, who said that it wasn't as if Polanski committed "rape rape." Harvey Weinstein referred to the charge as a "so-called crime." Then Weinstein was quoted as saying, "Hollywood has the best moral compass." (Yes. He actually said that.)

Then they quoted various French cultural figures, all of whom of course supported Polanski as well. (Polanski has made his home in France for the past three decades.)

The Times at least had the decency to quote a poll showing that only 25% of Americans think Polanski should not be prosecuted, though they didn't quote that till later in the article, on an inside page (as always, more conservative positions are banished to Siberia).

But back to the French. The article talked a bit about other criminals the French had embraced. One in particular stood out:

"Louis Althusser, the French Marxist philosopher, strangled his wife in 1980. But French intellectuals supported him, too. Mr. Althusser had a history of mental instability. He said he had been massaging her neck, only to discover that he had killed her. He avoided prison, instead going to a psychiatric hospital where he remained until 1983, after which he retired to write an autobiography in the north of Paris."

Massaging her neck?

If his first trial had been held in France, OJ could have said he was performing an emergency tracheotomy on Nicole. Justin Volpe could have said he was just checking Abner Louima's prostate for him. Phil Spector could have said he had just been cleaning Lana Clarkson's teeth with that handgun. Each might have gotten off with a couple years in an asylum. And if they believed in Marxist philosophy, the French intellectuals would have lionized them.

French intellectuals have always seemed to live, as my kids might have said when younger, in Opposite Land. The further away from the Land of Common Sense they travel, the prouder they seem to get. And the more the other French admire them.

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