Brutal Calculus, Part Two: What Price License?

As more and more people line up to excuse confessed child rapist Roman Polanski, their arguments sound more and more familiar. In fact, they sound very much like those who were excusing the Catholic Church’s role in covering up the abuses of scores of pedophile priests several years ago.

In both cases, one of the most common argument seems to be “the greater good.” In the Church’s case, the tremendous good deeds it has carried out ought to be weighed against the harm it caused, and some measure of forgiveness offered. In Polanski’s case, they cite his brutal upbringing and his tremendous artistic gifts.

To me, that sounds an awful like there is an exchange rate for horrific deeds — commit enough good ones, and they will balance out (or, at least, partially mitigate) the bad ones.

That sounds like an idea I can get behind. Let’s play this out:

I mentioned a while ago that I have a friend who is exceptionally attractive. I would very much enjoy having my way with her, but I know I wouldn’t have a chance — I’m too old, she has a boyfriend, and so on. So we’re friends.

But if I could have my way with her anyway, with some help from some suitable pharmacological assistance, that could be pretty fun. Except, of course, for the inevitable consequences — arrest, trial, and sentencing.

So I’d like to avoid all that if possible.

Here’s my question: what sorts of good deeds or artistic achievements would I have to rack up first before I could rape her and not get punished?

I’ll admit I’m no Roman Polanski, so I can’t match his contributions to the arts, but on the other hand the young lady in question is 21, not 13, so it’s not quite as heinous an offense. Also, supplying her with alcohol wouldn’t be a separate crime.

As I said in my earlier piece, I’m not proposing this kind of bartering — I’m just applying it, and looking for input on just what the exchange rate should be.

Or, as the punchline to the old joke goes, “we’ve already established what you are. Now we’re just haggling over price.”

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