Excusing the crimes of the elite
Chappaquiddick was not just some trivial sex scandal. A person died.
Now we're seeing the same nasty impulse rise to the surface again, with Roman Polanski. While the evil of Polanski's act cannot be equated with Chappaquiddick (his victim is still alive), it was utterly heinous -- a responsible adult drugged and forcibly sodomized a 13-year-old who was vehemently protesting and asserting her lack of consent. In this case there don't seem to be many bloggers seeking to excuse and minimize the crime (thank goodness), but a laundry list of celebrities and commentators has rushed to protest Polanski's arrest and possible extradition. The Middle of Nowhere has a definitive overview of the situation (read this too). The rationalizations in defense of Polanski recall the twisted verbiage used by others to downplay and minimize the Catholic-priest child-molestation scandals.
How many of those rushing to defend Polanski would be doing so if he were an ordinary nobody guilty of exactly the same crime? (Not even a hypothetical -- there are plenty of child-rapists sitting in prison right now.) Isn't there more than a hint here, as with Kennedy, of the attitude that the "extraordinary man" should be forgiven acts for which common mortals would deserve full punishment?
I don't care if the right does worse. That's not the topic of this posting. I don't want to see this on our side.