Rough justice

What is it with Villagers and their extralegal remedies?

Cokie today:

Roman Polanski is a criminal, Roberts said. “He raped and drugged and raped and sodomized a child. And then was a fugitive from justice. As far as I’m concerned, just take him out and shoot him.

Joe Klein on Scooter Libby:

My differences with the lockstep left on the Libby verdict involve matters of sentencing: Instead of sending Scooter to jail, at public expense, I’d rather have him paying back the public by emptying bedpans at Walter Reed and having to stare, every day, into the eyes of those whose lives he shattered. He can do this wearing an ankle bracelet or whatever. But I want to see him–and the rest of them–pay a personal price for this war.


Richard Cohen
on Polanski:

Let Polanski go — but first let me at him.

It’s like some crazy marriage of “Dirty Harry” and the fake Seinfeld pilot where George is sentenced to be Jerry’s butler.

This is how children think of crime and punishment.






94 replies
  1. 1
    Comrade Jake says:

    I suspect this is what these types feel they need to say/write, to show that they are just like ordinary Americans. Apparently they didn’t get the memo that all they need to do is to eat at the Applebee’s salad bar.

  2. 2
    Zifnab25 says:

    It’s not about right and wrong. It’s about making conservatives feel good. That’s why Iraq was ok, despite the trillion dollar price tag and no WMDs. That’s why we should punish Bernie Madoff and Ken Lay, but avoid any actual regulation of industry.

    We want OJ style show trials. Something to put on TV. But if it’s not fun and exciting, leave the government out of it. The pundits aren’t interested.

  3. 3
    mistermix says:

    Let Polanski go—but first let me at him.

    Richard Cohen wants to fuck Roman Polanski? I thought he liked 20-something female Post reporters.

    Also, the ad next to his column is for Alzheimer’s meds. Seems appropriate.

  4. 4
    geg6 says:

    There are no pundits interested in policy any more. That’s a bit of hyperbole, what with people like Krugman and Maddow spitting into the wind. But 90% of these assholes, even the so-called liberals, are all about the process and the media cycle. This is why there are so many stupid people. I hate them.

  5. 5
    Lola says:

    And these are the people we are supposed to think of as intellectual heavyweights. No wonder they loved W.

  6. 6
    aimai says:

    This blog post is so right it should be gilded, recorded, and played every *&^% Christmas. These people are absolute toddlers, morally and intellectually. They refuse to display the slightest emotion, grief, or shame over actual crimes that they are party to as members of our elite media and they posture and wail and display themselves like hired mourners at a funeral over a thirty year old case that they just discovered is topical. And, please, for the record–each and every one of Polanski’s new public enemies would have happilly and quietly gone to dinner with him at any time in the last thirty years because he’s a celebrity and they are all celebrities. This girl and her sufferings were no more real to them than the Iraqis we bombed. The whole thing is fake from top to toe. From outrage to outrage its vaporware.

    aimai

  7. 7
    Fledermaus says:

    “Let Polanski go—but first let me at him”

    yes, Dick, i’m sure it would be the slap-fight to end all slap fights (eyeroll)

  8. 8
    geg6 says:

    aimai, I just have to say that your posts the past couple of days have me crushing on you in the biggest way. You’ve been brilliant. The front pagers are, too. But the commentariat here gives them a run for their money.

  9. 9
    raptusregaliter says:

    If Polanski hadn’t been arrested (imagine jumping in the way-back machine and emerging two weeks ago), and Cokie Roberts somehow found herself in the same restaurant with him, she would overturn tables and body-slam waiters just to introduce herself–especially if cameras were present.

    Not having to listen to her blathering is one of the great benefits of abandoning This Weak after Brinkley retired.

  10. 10
    balconesfault says:

    What – no calls for waterboarding?

  11. 11

    How is Joke Line out of line? That’s one of the few Joke Line articles I can actually agree with. And he didn’t say anything extralegal, he didn’t say he wanted to cave in Scooter’s skull with a baseball bat. He merely said that he wanted his sentence to be community service in a hospital. That’s pretty lame evidence for your argument.

  12. 12
    Max says:

    These are the people that talk tough when they’re at the country club social, but in the real world, cross the street if a black guy is walking towards them.

    Pussies. All.

  13. 13
    Zam says:

    Punishment isn’t about discouraging bad behavior to these people it’s about revenge.

  14. 14
    DougJ says:

    How is Joke Line out of line?

    Why should Libby only get community service? Why shouldn’t he be sentenced the way a normal person would be sentenced?

    I’ll admit that Klein’s point is nowhere near as dumb as Cohen’s and Cokie’s. But it annoyed me that he clung to it even when others pointed out it would be very different from what another defendant would get under the circumstances.

    And, finally, he shouldn’t be punished for supporting the war. He should be punished for breaking the law.

  15. 15
    JackieBinAZ says:

    How else would we know how tough and bad-ass they are if they don’t tell us constantly?

  16. 16
    Zam says:

    @DougJ: because that would be too constitutional.

  17. 17
    mistermix says:

    @Wile E. Quixote: Perhaps, but the “lockstep left” portion of his post is his usual bullshit. What did the horrible “lockstep left” want other than Libby being subject to the rule of law? Klein shits out leftist straw men like no other.

  18. 18
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    shits out leftist straw men

    Sounds uncomfortable.

  19. 19
    DougJ says:

    the “lockstep left” portion of his post is his usual bullshit.

    Yes, the idea that only a lockstep leftist would want Libby to be sentenced normally.

    A real independent centrist would want to, in effect, humiliate him for supporting the war not sentence him for the actual crime he committed.

  20. 20
    balconesfault says:

    @aimai:

    This girl and her sufferings were no more real to them than the Iraqis we bombed. The whole thing is fake from top to toe. From outrage to outrage its vaporware.

    How many times in the last 8 years did we hear “but he gassed his own people!” ?

    Yep … too bad Saddam killed so many … so there were less left over for GW to shock and awe.

  21. 21
    jeffreyw says:

    I was EPU’d in the last thread, so I’m gonna repost it here.

    Fuck Greenspan and the rest of the bastards waging class war. His “Us” is our “Them”.

    What do you do when you want to screw only the working people of your nation with the largest tax increase in history and hand those trillions of dollars to your wealthy campaign contributors, yet not have anybody realize you’ve done it? If you’re Ronald Reagan, you call in Alan Greenspan.

    via

  22. 22
    Rob_in_Hawaii says:

    If these arm-chair vigilantes were as eager to lynch those hundreds of Catholic priests who “seduced” adolescent boys as they are to mete out punishment to Roman Polanski, then perhaps I could better understand their rage.

    Can someone explain to me why so many people are frothing at the mouth over Polanski’s arrest while the priests’ crimes are used to evoke giggles on open mic night at the local comedy club?

  23. 23
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @aimai: I think the MSM is dimly grasping that Polanski’s arrest is not outraging the populace. In some ways, it reminds me of what happened following the Presidential debates last year. The pundits, at first, seemed to want to give points to McCain, yet the feedback from the public contradicted them. With no embarassment or acknowledgement of the situation, they simply switched tacks.

    Of course, the need to go overboard is something else entirely. (On edit) It may be a convert’s need to be more Catholic than the Pope, or simply sociopathy. I am just a simple lawyer, not a sykiatrist.

  24. 24
    Tonybrown74 says:

    This is typical keyboard kommando behavior. The false bravado from afar is easy for them all. It is not surprising that you are seeing these things from the Village.

  25. 25
    Andre says:

    This is what those psychopaths call “standing up for the victims”. The more grotesque and violent a punishment they can describe, the more they are on the side of the victim, and anyone who points out that they’re actually just indulging in masturbatory fantasies that would get them locked up in real life is “soft on crime” and doesn’t “care about the victims”.

    Same bullshit that always appears whenever the justice system is described. Wingers leap over each other trying to prove how weak the system is compared to what they would do if they could. If sentences for every single crime were always twenty years of hard labour followed by death by crucifixion, they’d just complain that there wasn’t enough pre-death mutilation to truly satisfy “justice”.

  26. 26
    Brachiator says:

    What is it with Villagers and their extralegal remedies?

    It’s the flip side of the Arts and Culture’s crowd bleat, “Let Roman go. His victim forgave him and didn’t he suffer enough when he couldn’t pick up his Oscar in person?”

    It’s too bad we can’t dismantle all the Villages.

    By the way, the Klein bit on Scooter is stupider than the other pundits on Polanski. As others have noted, there is that pesky little matter of the law. But Klein was getting at something in wanting the Bush people to have to look at the results of their decisions.

  27. 27
    Ailuridae says:

    As this is a very much recurring theme in the village I would just like to offer that:

    This is how children think of crime and punishment.

    should just be added as a tag line now.

  28. 28
    El Cruzado says:

    This is how children think of…

    I think you can apply that to most pundit activity.

  29. 29
    bago says:

    Joe Klein’s point can be seen as clever judicial appraisment. The other examples are retarded.
    Cokie seems a bit too personal, and Cohen is just idiotic. This is Richard “I know comedy” Cohen that told us that Colbert wasn’t funny.

    Rearranging deck chairs on the Hindenburg.

  30. 30
    Mr Furious says:

    Overcompensation.

    They want to counter the shit coming out of the Hollywood left defending Polanski, and they want to sound like Joe Sixpack.

    It’s fucking embarrassing.

  31. 31
    tomvox1 says:

    Hate to say it but the Jokeline one is not so far fetched. People get sentenced to community service all the time, so Libby being told by a judge to have to work a certain amount of hours at Walter Reade, say 200, is not the worst idea I ever heard and probably not out of the realm of legal possibility. Sort of like Michael Vick working for the Humane Society (touchy subject, I know), this is a way to reduce jail time while still paying back society for one’s crimes. Personally, I’m all for this type of creative sentencing, even for “white collar” types like Libby.

  32. 32
    Brachiator says:

    @Rob_in_Hawaii:

    Can someone explain to me why so many people are frothing at the mouth over Polanski’s arrest while the priests’ crimes are used to evoke giggles on open mic night at the local comedy club?

    I must have somehow bypassed those comedy clubs. If anything, many people have pointed out that the way some arts and political elites protect and excuse Polanski is similar to the way that the Church protected pedophile priests.

    Omnes Omnibus — I think the MSM is dimly grasping that Polanski’s arrest is not outraging the populace.

    I don’t think this is true at all. Cokie and other pundits are going overboard to condemn Polanski in part to distance themselves from the early Polanski defenders who came out when Polanski was first arrested. The Villagers don’t particularly give a rat’s ass about the populace at large.

    Meanwhile, the average person has been the most rational about the Polanski affair. Few have called for ultra-harsh punishment for him, but they don’t agree that he should simply be let free without some formal consideration of his sentencing.

  33. 33
    HinTN says:

    So here’s the deal. Polanski had a plea agreement, including a sentence agreeable to all parties, all nailed down, to the point that he was permitted by the court to travel to Europe to work on a movie project. Then the DA, the one that’s been in the news lately for telling whoppers to aggrandize his own bad self, sees a picture of Polanski at a party in Europe and makes public statements about how he’s gonna get the judge to not agree to the deal. And Polanski freaks and stays in Europe. What a surprise! And the village is all over that like a duck on a June bug. NOT!!!

  34. 34
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    I have processed many, many private sector permits through public agencies in the past several years and have developed a fantasy. Perhaps this is what Heaven will be like for me, should I prove myself worthy.

    In this hypothetical system of extralegal justice, government workers have to deal with each other, and not be paid by the hour. I could watch this for years and years, and the guttural satisfaction would not be diminished in the least.

    Envision a peep-show type setup, where admission could be charged. There would be slapping, and hair pulling, and high-pitched whining. We could have an SGEW night. If we extrapolate to national politics, imagine Geithner and Emmanuel giving each other wedgies.

  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Brachiator: You are right. I am a big enough man to admit it.

  36. 36
    Harley says:

    Love Cohen’s “let me at him.” What’s he going to do, hurl a poorly written insult in Polanski’s direction?

  37. 37
    Comrade Jake says:

    Klein’s the least fake here, but I’d hazard to guess that, in the spirit of aimai’s post, he’d still go to dinner with Libby and Cheney if invited.

  38. 38
    Ailuridae says:

    @Harley:

    He might sexually harass him. It could be a special Sexual Criminals edition of Celebrity Death Match.

  39. 39
    ericblair says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: In this hypothetical system of extralegal justice, government workers have to deal with each other, and not be paid by the hour. I could watch this for years and years, and the guttural satisfaction would not be diminished in the least.

    Right, because there are never any internal government procedures that need forms filled out by people on salary. Yup. Every government is a monolithic block of Borg. Gotcha.

  40. 40
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Brachiator: On second thought, I think there is a little from Column A and a little from Column B. Seeing the reaction to the early Polanski defenders had some effect on current pundit opinion. They, then, took things to the opposite extreme. No actual reflection or thought involved.

  41. 41
    anonevent says:

    This is how children think of…

    The entire Republican platform these days could be preceded by that fragment.

  42. 42
    Dude says:

    “Let Polanski go—but first let me at him.”

    What would Devon Spurgeon say?
    http://www.observer.com/node/40521

  43. 43
    georgia pig says:

    Just another facet of the courtier society in DC and the media. Justice is extralegal because there is no real law, just the whims of the powerful. The Cohens and Kleins are drawn to this power, which is why they do what they do. They fantasize about having that kind of power, e.g., Richard Cohen fantasizes about having as much sway as Polanski so he could get away with the functional equivalent of raping little girls.

  44. 44
    Penfold says:

    @Wile E. Quixote:

    I have to join the other people agreeing with this. I mean, there are some BS aspects to what Klein had to say, and arguably such a punishment could be seen as inappropriate or unusual to the extent that it is not directly tied to what he was indicted for, yet it’s not really extralegal, nor would I necessarily mind seeing Libby serve such a sentence–not that the latter part has anything to do with whether or not it’s an appropriate judicial action.

    Cohen and Cokie though are just talking bullshit, obviously. Also, too.

  45. 45
    Ash Can says:

    To be honest, we fling hyperbole like that around this forum all the time. I can see how it would seem particularly jarring, though, expressed by the likes of Cokie Roberts or Joe Klein. Here, we’re just a bunch of riff raff blowing off steam. The cited pundits, however, get big salaries and big audiences for their opinions, and usually express themselves a lot more delicately than this.

  46. 46
    Brachiator says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Seeing the reaction to the early Polanski defenders had some effect on current pundit opinion. They, then, took things to the opposite extreme. No actual reflection or thought involved

    .

    Good points. Cokie and company had more time to reflect on the Polanski case, which I guess is what pundits are supposed to do, but then they double downed on a simplistic and simple-minded response, in part designed to make sure that viewers knew that they were Polanski-hating elitists, as opposed to Polanski-loving elitists.

  47. 47
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    It’s like some crazy marriage of “Dirty Harry” and the fake Seinfeld pilot where George is sentenced to be Jerry’s butler.

    George wasn’t sentenced to be Jerry’s butler – Jerry was in a car accident with a man who didn’t have auto insurance so the uninsured man was sentenced to be Jerry’s butler. Elaine flirted with the man while he was cleaning Jerry’s apartment but Jerry nixed Elaine’s attempt to date the man with a “because he’s my butler.”

  48. 48
    Nellcote says:

    If Scooter had been given community service at Walter Reed, I wonder if Bush would have been so willing to commute his sentence or at least maybe it would have caused a bigger stink.

  49. 49
    Penfold says:

    @Nellcote:

    Interesting point. He probably wouldn’t have commuted the sentence, because, remember as we already learned via Dick Cheney, that Bush was just a wishy-washy liberal because he wouldn’t outright pardon Scooter.

  50. 50
    SenyorDave says:

    Richard Cohen going at someone? I’m not sure whether it would be more like Curly of the Three Stooges (let me at him) or a cat fight out of some teenage comedy.

  51. 51
    Ripley says:

    Abandon all Hope, ye who face the withering yet baleful stare of Richard Cohen. Fall to your knees in repentance, lest ye suffer the hands on hips, exasperated sigh of Cokie Roberts’ wrath.

  52. 52
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Where are all these supposed Polanski defenders? I read one thing about Whoopi Goldberg and there was evidently some kind of letter going around. From there it seems like some people have concluded that “liberals” and “Hollywood” are defending him. Not from where I’m sitting.

    Getting all upset at the people defending Polanski seems disproportionate when there aren’t that many of them. Who are you trying to win over when vast numbers of people are already on your side?

    And the idea of Richard Cohen issuing physical threats… umm… he’s about as intimidating as he is funny, with a similarly elevated opinion of both.

  53. 53
    gocart mozart says:

    @aimai:
    Aimai, right on, I have yet to disagree with anything you have ever said and you have said a lot. I find this somewhat odd, I don’t know why.

  54. 54
    Corner Stone says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: IMO, this is right. At least, it fits in perfectly with the skit The Onion posted recently about the pundits watching real-time feedback and changing their opinions on the fly. And eventually just barking out keywords to satisfy the meter.
    http://www.theonion.com/conten.....pundits_to

  55. 55
    linda says:

    being sentenced to emptying bedpans is a worse sentence for someone like libby than a jail cell and yanking his law license.

    cleaning up after oneself is unknown to someone of libby’s social status. that’s what the household help is for. imagine his horror cleaning up shit-stained bedsheets from a grievously wounded 20yo — that he must know on some level he is responsible for.

    and reading that richard cohen quote made me laugh.

  56. 56
    gocart mozart says:

    Also aimai, I have put your blog on my semi-daily reading list along with Sadly No!, Balloon Juice, Kos And Crooks and Liars.

  57. 57
    Reason60 says:

    What is it with Villagers and their extralegal remedies?

    Yes, exactly- when the Glenn Greenwalds of the world go on about the rule of law and how it should apply to everyone equally, the punditry yawns and patiently explains how the rule of law would somehow gum up the works and anyway it is long in the past and should be forgotten.

    So every scandal, every horror of injustice can be laid only at the feet of scapegoats, who must be lynched, while the underlying corruption is quietly allowed to fester.

  58. 58
    Mr Furious says:

    @FlipYrWhig: HuffPo was well-stocked with Polanski apologists when the story broke, and the petition that went around Hollywood looks like a who’s who of Hollywood—from heavyweight directors like Woody Allen, Martin Scorcese, David Lynch, and Michael Mann to lesser-known but important people like Wes Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, Jonathan Demme, Terry Gilliam…

    The complete list here.

    And of course there’s Applebaum’s column.

  59. 59
    cyd says:

    @geg6:

    There are no pundits interested in policy any more… This is why there are so many stupid people.

    You are confusing cause with effect.

  60. 60
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mr Furious: The overwhelming majority of these names sound suspiciously…French.
    I say we round ’em all up. I’ll take Monica Bellucci and the rest of y’all split ’em up as necessary.

  61. 61
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Mr Furious:

    Thx for the context. Still, it seems like railing at Polanski is a very cheap way to feel brave.

  62. 62
    Brachiator says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Where are all these supposed Polanski defenders? I read one thing about Whoopi Goldberg and there was evidently some kind of letter going around. From there it seems like some people have concluded that “liberals” and “Hollywood” are defending him. Not from where I’m sitting.

    You obviously can’t see the Polanski defenders from your front porch.

    One of the bigger Balloon Juice threads on the issue,

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=27604

    And it certainly wasn’t about all liberals or all Hollywood defending Polanski.

    But here is LA Times columnist Patrick Goldstein, arguing for the “poor Roman” crowd.

    http://www.latimes.com/enterta.....0887.story

    But at a time when California is shredding the safety net that protects the poor and the unemployed, not to mention the budget of the public school system, you’d hope that L.A. County prosecutors had better things to do than cause an international furor by hounding a film director for a 32-year-old sex crime….

    But [Polanski] also has his stout defenders, notably French minister of Culture Frédéric Mitterrand, who said over the weekend that he was “dumbfounded” by Polanski’s arrest in Switzerland, adding that he “strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them.”

    And another of the people seeking Polanski’s release was Poland’s foreign minister. That’s pretty big cheese.

  63. 63
    Penfold says:

    @Mr Furious:

    I was disappointed to see who was on that list. This issue has been talked to death, and I think some of them are merely blinded by friendship/tribal loyalty rather than really forigivng or endorsing what Polanski did–indeed, I suspect some desperately want to make it not so (someone whose name I forget–apologies–made this point rather well in a thread the other day).

    Here are some of the facts: Polanski’s crime — statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl — was committed in 1977

    I like how she glosses over the fact the crime itself would have been indictable as rape regardless of the victim’s age (and a particularly heinous rape at that), not to mention acting as though 13 were a good age of consent, particularly with a 44 year old man. While I did verbally beat the crap out of someone (a troll, I think) the other day another thread for making what I thought was a stupid assertion about statutory rape, I would like to think we can all agree that a middle-aged man having sex with a pre-/barely pubescent girl is pretty wrong and disgusting, particularly when it involves gettting her drunk and feeding qualudes.

  64. 64
    joel hanes says:

    If you want to read the columns of a long-time liberal pundit who is a.) not childish and b.) sometimes funny, I can recommend Donald Kaul, whose column for a couple decades adorned the Des Moines Register back page as “Over The Coffee”.

    These days, you can find Kaul’s stuff here.
    He’s still good.

  65. 65
    freelancer says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Dibs on Marion Cotillard!

  66. 66
    aimai says:

    What comes to mind after reading Cohen’s threat, aside from thinking a “poorly worded insult” might even be beyond him is

    the slap fight between Harmony and Xander in Season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Alas, I can not find a youtube clip of it.

    As for Klein’s point–the problem, as others have correctly pointed out, is that the left’s dog in this hunt is not spite, but law. We didn’t want to punish Libby for wrongful thoughts about the war, we wanted to see him serve time for breaking the law and exposing Valerie Plame.

    When Klein says he wants to see people punished for having been, as he sees it, responsible for lying us into war and therefore culpable in the matter of our dead and wounded soldiers he is speaking strictly for himself. And in posing as speaking for us, or speaking as one more outraged than us, he’s *posing* for effect. The effect of being outside of Libby’s magic circle of liars for war.

    But Libby didn’t commit that part of his crimes himself–he was aided and abetted by people like Klein himself who supported Libby and his bosses all the way to the gates of Baghdad. Klein doesn’t get to assume the armor of the last, best, honorable man enraged that *Libby* of all people–mere potlicker to power–didn’t realize that bombing Iraq was going to produce horrendous suffering. All of us on the left/center knew it. But Klein was for it, before he was against it. This rhetorical flourish is no more than, again, the toddler’s logic. Egg your friend on to hit the other kid, then cry and point the finger of blame and pretend it wasn’t your idea.

    aimai

    (Oh, and gocart mozart, thank you so much for the kind words.)

  67. 67
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @aimai: I think many Villagers view punishment as something that should happen to “bad” people, not something that is a consequence of a violation of some objective standard of behavior. Thus, Libby, whom they know and believe to be both a good person and one of their own, should not face consequences for his actions. Polanski is an elite, but not a Villager, so the reaction is mixed.

  68. 68
    Penfold says:

    @Penfold:

    Oh, there’s also this column by Eugene Robinson quoting a delusional Polanski:

    Was Polanski filled with remorse? Not when the British novelist Martin Amis interviewed him in 1979. “If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see?” Polanski told Amis. “But … [having sex], you see, and the young girls. Judges want to [have sex with] young girls. Juries want to [have sex with] young girls. Everyone wants to [have sex with] young girls!” For “having sex,” he used an Anglo-Saxon vulgarity.

    I suppose this might be true sans context…if by “young” he meant some older men might want to have sex with an 18 or 20 year old (or whatever) girl. Although, frankly, even at not-quite-30, most of them look frighteningly young to me. What would make him think that a preponderance of people want to have sex with 13 year olds is beyond me.

  69. 69
    linda says:

    @joel hanes:

    as an iowa native long departed from the state, he was one of my favorite columnists. i had no idea he was still alive.

  70. 70
    aimai says:

    Omnes Omnibus,
    That is also true and has been clear for a long time. It was at the root of every sane person’s discomfort with Bush’s “with us or against us” speeches and at the root of Colbert’s brilliant explanation for why American torture doesn’t matter:

    “Its something we wouldn’t do/but its something we did do” or some line like that. The fact that we imagine that we are too good to torture meant, retroactively, that we couldn’t be held accountable for it. And, of course, that was more or less the defense inscribed in the Yoo memos, I think, that the torturer had to have some kind of guilty conscience for it to be considered legally torture. As long as the torturer did it for the right reasons it wasn’t a crime.

    But as for Klein the whole thing is pure P projection–he reminds me of the part in Pepys’ diary when he describes standing in the crowd cheering madly for the return of the monarchy in the person of King Charles the II. Then he describes looking around, guiltily, at all the other cheering people on the street in front of the palace because he remembers that *he had been there,* years before to see Charles the First be condemened and he had been cheering that, too. He hopes no one recognizes him from that day.

    That’s Klein. He’ll poney up the outrage to distract people from his own culpability. He would care if he knew Libby personally, but *that wouldn’t stop him from demanding that he be hung, drawn, and quartered* if that’s what it takes to keep Klein himself happilly in the public eye.

    aimai

  71. 71
    geg6 says:

    Penfold@65: His attitude seems to be that if he wants it then, obviously, everyone else must want it, too. Which, come to think of it, is remarkably similar to the attitude of our media pundits. Not on rape, but certainly on war with brown people, ever lower taxes, torture, healthcare reform, climate change, energy independence, and a center-right country.

  72. 72
    Bruce (formerly Steve S.) says:

    What is it with Villagers and their extralegal remedies?

    Um, Doug, have you noticed how many of your readers have called for Polanski to be tortured, raped, incarcerated for life, or killed? Quite a few of them, actually. You might want to give them a little tut-tut as well.

  73. 73
    RSA says:

    This is the way cowboy justice works. You don’t wait around for some citified judge from back east to get to town–that stage coach might not get here for weeks or months. You take the bad guys out back and deal with ’em yourself. And you can tell they’re bad guys. They’re the ones wearing the black hats, and everybody knows they’re guilty.

    (This fantasy has been sponsored by the previous administration. Thank you for your patronage.)

  74. 74
    Penfold says:

    @geg6:

    You know, that’s true. For some reason that fairly obvious similarity didn’t click for me. Presumably why he has so many defenders in said class.

    @Bruce (formerly Steve S.):

    Very true. But careful, you might be accused of being pro-child rape again.

    I can’t believe I keep coming back to the well on this topic.

  75. 75
    Penfold says:

    You know, I don’t know if this was ever linked before, but Glenzilla took the nitwits at the Post out behind the woodshed the other day. And actually, he makes a rather similar point to geg6’s.

  76. 76
    Cyrus says:

    What is it with Villagers and their extralegal remedies?

    In fairness, I doubt they’re any worse than the average American, or even the average human being. Like Bruce (formerly Steve S.) pointed out, there were calls here for extralegal punishment for Polanski, and Bush and Cheney et al. probably at some point. You can observe that those weren’t serious, and that’s true, but since when do we expect seriousness from Beltway pundits either? This is the most recent example of stupidity or bad behavior from them, but far from the worst example.

  77. 77
    Corner Stone says:

    @Cyrus: Are you seriously suggesting we don’t go all-in with “Braveheart Justice”?

  78. 78
    Mike G says:

    This is how children think of crime and punishment.

    This describes so much of rightard Repig policies.
    Everything is like a Saturday morning cartoon — loud, simplistic, stupid, reptilian and contemptuous of thought. It’s all gimmegimmegimme sugartoysfearsugarfearmommy!

  79. 79
    slightly_peeved says:

    But as for Klein the whole thing is pure P projection—he reminds me of the part in Pepys’ diary when he describes standing in the crowd cheering madly for the return of the monarchy in the person of King Charles the II. Then he describes looking around, guiltily, at all the other cheering people on the street in front of the palace because he remembers that he had been there, years before to see Charles the First be condemened and he had been cheering that, too. He hopes no one recognizes him from that day.

    And in Pepys’ defense, showing up in both those cheering crowds was probably figured a sensible way of ensuring your own head remained on its shoulders.

    Cohen’s just trying to prevent a few people from sneering at him at his cocktail parties, the cowardly bastard.

    I figure this is just what Internet Tough Guy Syndrome looks like when you have a newspaper column instead of a forum thread.

  80. 80
    Phoebe says:

    I have nothing to say except thank you, Doug J. Yes. Not said enough.

  81. 81
    Left Coast Tom says:

    Klein’s quote of “Reader Alkali”, whom he doesn’t really answer, is really the point as far as I see Cohen’s blathering:

    Update: Reader Alkali raises an interesting question:
    I’m not sure favoring a purely imaginary alternative to one of the real world alternatives actually amounts to a genuine “difference” of opinion.

    Cohen is arguing that Polanski should be freed but that we should really, really, hate him. He seems to see this position as indefensible, so he’s covering it by offering to personally “bust him one in the mouth. But we all know, partly by looking at the law, partly by looking at a picture of Cohen, that he can’t really do such a thing. So his only real argument is to free Polanski.

    Which isn’t a particularly honest way to make the “free Polanski” “argument”.

  82. 82
    Left Coast Tom says:

    The “I’m not sure…” text belongs with the blockquote. Can we have either a working blockquote or an edit button?

  83. 83
    The Raven says:

    It’s not just the villagers–there’s a huge storm on the net. Polanski may be the lightning rod (and he is guilty and has not served any sentence), but the storm will not end with Polanski.

  84. 84
    Rock says:

    The Villagers are not Michael Dukakis and they really, really want you to know they are not Michael Dukakis. They are true Americans and believe in frontier justice just like all they people in fly-over country that they know so well.

  85. 85
    Lupin says:

    I have had many arguments on Kos (where the mob is particularly bloodthirsty) about the Polanski case.

    Being a lawyer, I know our justice system isn’t perfect, but we must live with it, even when one feels there has been a miscarriage of justice.

    Right off the start, DA John Van de Kamp had to face a difficult choice: go to trial on the six original counts, but with a victim refusing to testify, or let Polanski off by pleading guilty to a very reduced charge (unlawful sex with a minor).

    (Many use “rape” indiscriminately, just as one might use the word “killer”. It’s like the different categories of homicide.
    Homicide is homicide but not all homicides are murders.

    I don’t care if you call Polanski a “rapist”, but inferring from it that he should have served 10 years, for example, is incorrect. The charge he pleaded guilty to does not even require him to register as a sex offender under California Law.)

    Anyway, Polanski’s attorneys also rolled the dice. Without the victim’s testimony, if her background had been deemed admissible, could have Polanski beaten the rap? In 1977, perhaps.

    I can see that a lot of people HATE the results of that plea bargain, and I do understand why, but once it was made and accepted by the judge (which it was), the only thing left to settle was the sentencing.

    And there again, things went wrong. But that’s another entirely separate issue.

    The fact remains that, as much as some folks hate it, the most likely legal consequence Polanski would have faced had he not fled and behaved as a complete idiot was perhaps another 90 days. (Which he should have served.)

  86. 86
    Xenos says:

    @Penfold:

    What would make him think that a preponderance of people want to have sex with 13 year olds is beyond me.

    Like many racists, the misogynists who are thrilled by the sexual seduction and rape of a young girl think that most men are just like them. Thus their violence and cruelty are recast in their minds as bravery, authenticity, and manliness. It is like a form of projection where the viciousness in their hearts is attributed to half the human race.

  87. 87
    aimai says:

    Well, but *ill wishing* isn’t the same as *posing*. Its not that its not in human nature to ill wish bad fortune on some guy, somewhere–it is. Its that its wrong for our public intelligentsia to, on the one hand, issue blanket pardons *in the name of humanity* to their personal friends and then, on the other hand to issue blanket calls to vigilante justice for their new found enemies. That’s the problem with Klein, Cohen, and what’s her name. They aren’t supposed to be speaking just for their baser selves–they are permitting themselves to do so publicly because this is just another privilege of rank–imagining that your bathroom rape/torture fantasies are of the slightest interest to your readership.

    aimai

  88. 88
    lutton says:

    I wonder if any of these people have ever served jury duty on a criminal case?

  89. 89
    Brachiator says:

    @Xenos:

    Like many racists, the misogynists who are thrilled by the sexual seduction and rape of a young girl think that most men are just like them. Thus their violence and cruelty are recast in their minds as bravery, authenticity, and manliness.

    It is just wrong-headed to try to twist the behavior of sexual predators into some kind of riff on misogyny.

  90. 90

    “He raped and drugged and raped and sodomized a child.”

    “You said rape twice.”

    “I like rape.”

    (Sorry, just reminded me of my favorite movie.)

  91. 91
    Ryan says:

    Throw Polanski in jail along with everyone white knighting the victim.

  92. 92

    Huh. And here I’d thought that Eric Raymond’s ideas about weregild were fringey. I suppose it’s time to recalibrate my wackyometer.

  93. 93

    @aimai

    What comes to mind after reading Cohen’s threat, aside from thinking a “poorly worded insult” might even be beyond him is
    the slap fight between Harmony and Xander in Season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Alas, I can not find a youtube clip of it.

    OMFG. I was thinking the same thing. That is the most hilariously pathetic fight scene ever filmed. From reading your post and others I see now what DougJ was saying about what was wrong with Joke Line’s suggested punishment for Scooter Libby, thank you.

  94. 94

    @Comrade Jake

    Klein’s the least fake here, but I’d hazard to guess that, in the spirit of aimai’s post, he’d still go to dinner be the meat in the Manwich (if you know what I mean) with Libby and Cheney if invited.

    Fixt.

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