See Harding, McEwen, and Hess. Eugene Robinson’s column on the subject is so good that I suspect that as we speak Fred Hiatt is firing him so he can buy Anne Applebaum and Richard Cohen more crayons. Speaking of Applebaum, I guess one of the topics at that blogger ethics panel is going to have to be “dishonest or inept?”
Reading comments here and elsewhere it seems that the leading non-insane line of defense seems to be a porkbusters-type argument — i.e. given California’s fiscal problems why are they spending money to put away an old man? These arguments are perhaps even less persuasive than most such arguments. Like all porkbusters arguments, it has the obvious problem that the money involved is, in the context of California state expenditures, trivial. And while the isolated programs identified by porkbusters are sometimes (though not always) genuinely wasteful, compared to the other things the prosecutor’s office might plausibly spend money on bringing a child rapist who fled the jurisdiction seems pretty comfortably above the median in terms of priorities to me. Certainly, people making this argument explaining why we should assume that money that isn’t used on the case of the fugitive child rapist will be used in a clearly more efficient manner.
A related good point from Daniel Davies: “I hesitate to even make this point because I have so far had little success in finding a way to express it which doesn’t look like trivialising the actual crime, but more or less notwithstanding the crime, there has to be a general principle of especially harsh treatment of fugitives from justice. The system has to defend itself against people who undermine its authority by trying to lead lives which publicly flaunt the fact that they have escaped the prescribed social sanctions.”
Leaving aside the fact that nominally “consensual” sex between a 40 year-old and a (drugged) 13 year-old is plenty horrible, people asserting that what Polanski did isn’t “rape-rape” really do need to come up with some evidence that the victim lied to investigators and then lied under oath to a grand jury.
And a good point here: I don’t recall many people rushing to argue that we should just live-and-let-live with elderly priests who molested children. Although I guess those victims were often boys, so they count more, and they probably weren’t sluts whose mothers totally set them up.