America is wrestling with the meaning of justice. Merriam Webster defines justice as “the assignment of merited rewards or punishments,” and offers no time limits for either. On the other hand, some leftist elites say justice means rescuing scum bags from their “merited” punishments, especially if their crimes were long ago.
Roman Polanski is a wealthy actor-director who was arrested in Switzerland last summer on a decades-old U.S. warrant for having unwanted sex with a 13-year-old whom he had gotten drunk. In February, Polanski received the Silver Bear (best director) award for his movie, The Ghostwriter. The media joined his producer, Alain Sarde, in “lamenting that he couldn’t come.” Many further shout, “It was 30 years ago; he has had a hard life since then; let him go!”
Since when does justice have a timer? Who chooses the length of time? And under what pretense? If someone saved another’s life 30 years ago, should he not still be rewarded? So, too, if someone ruined another’s life.
Closer to home, Robert Otilio Montoya is wanted for attempted murder and various other crimes of violence. On March 8, 2004, in Evergreen, Colo., Montoya allegedly tied the hands of two men behind their backs and repeatedly shot them execution-style. According to the FBI, both victims survived, but they suffer great physical ailments. When Montoya is found, should he just be released?
How recent and how bad must a crime be for punishment to be warranted? What if your family was the victim? Criminal advocates have the burden of proof to draw the line. When we owe Uncle Sam money, he pursues us until the debt is redeemed. Are moral crimes less worthy of satisfying justice?
Last December, AP writer Bradley S. Klapper sounded either elated or bribed in his piece on Polanski’s transfer from jail to house arrest that month. “Especially after two (awful, eternal) months in a Swiss jail … he will miss the pleasures of walking in the snow, skiing or Christmas shopping on the main street. Still, it’s a vast improvement over his small detention cell … which had only a sink, bed, toilet, television and storage compartment.”
Klapper bemoaned the “minor inconvenience of the electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, which ensures that Polanski doesn’t flee like he did from U.S. justice 31 years ago. He was wearing the ankle bracelet Friday as he arrived at the (luxury Alpine) chalet in a police convoy.”
Thank heavens. Still, many view his situation differently.
Days after Polanski’s arrest, Eugene Robinson required answers in the Washington Post: “A grown man drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl? … It’s wrong in any moral universe – and deserves harsher punishment than three decades of gilded exile.”
Consider these old sayings: “crime doesn’t pay,” and “your sins will find you out.” Evil is evil, no matter when it happens. Pursuing justice is both honorable and obligatory.
Let us assume that the moral relativists of our day at least mean well, in that they want to be nice to everyone. So then why will they not confront violence and wickedness?
Ecclesiastes says, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Two thousand years ago, men’s hearts were dark enough to murder the only perfect man who ever lived. Today, some people are willing to grant impunity to some of the worst men (far worse than our film star) who ever lived.