An earlier post, dealing tangentially with the Roman Polanski nine-days'-wonder, evoked some comments that deserve a bit more than an offhand answer.
Okay, so... if you're a Marxist you can't be against child molestation because of, uh, the cops. Or something.The response to this is obvious enough -- it's a false dichotomy. One might well dislike child molestation and still not want to become a cheerleader for the cops, as so many of my Lefty comrades have done in the Polanski case.
Speaking as an androgynous extra-terrestrial eggplant, I gotta say, that's fucked up.
It's as though they felt they had to take sides: Child molesters versus storm troopers. As if it would matter which side they took.
This is one of the luxuries of being utterly powerless: you have no responsibilities. Comrades, we don't have to answer questions of the form, "If you have no X, how do you do Y?" -- where X might be, for example, cops, and Y might be, "prevent child molestation." If we had power we would have choices to make, perhaps difficult ones. Right now we have no power, and we really don't have to backed into any corners: Truncheons or roofies? Polanski or LAPD? Take your pick! We're allowed to say "none of the above," and in fact that's just what we should say.
Perhaps you think I'm being evasive. You may be wondering, shouldn't we think these things through? Shouldn't we have answers ready? Shouldn't we have alternatives to propose? Shouldn't we be, well, prepared to rule?
Well, no, I'd say. It's absurdly grandiose. It reminds me of some old Maoist friends of mine, back in the late 70s when Three Mile Island blew up. They were a bit reluctant to make an opportunist alliance with the anti-nuke folks. Comrade Steve York, the ranking commissar in these parts, laid it all out for us: "When we take state power, we may have to operate these reactors." How different is that from us wondering what we would do about child molesters -- if we had any power or responsibility?
This Walter-Mittyish outlook betrays us into a kind of imaginative complicity with the enforcement state. Once we start sifting through its operations, trying to decide where it goes wrong and where it goes right, we've made a mental investment in it.
This, I believe, we need to avoid.
Personally, I'm a creature of my time, and I find the idea of an old guy having sex with a 13-year-old pretty repellent. I'm not filing a brief here for the child molesters -- though there is more than one kind of child molestation; as a culture we throw up our hands in horror at the sexual kind, while simultaneously piling on a dozen other kinds. Our collective righteousness about the Polanskis of the world serves to mask our ingrained and ingeniously-justified institutional brutality towards children in every sphere but the sexual.
But okay. Point taken. Polanski's a creep. Fair enough.
Still: from what I have seen of life, the cops are a much bigger problem than the child molesters. There are lots of cops. They are heavily armed. They are running around the streets with time on their hands and a hypertrophied sense of entitlement. A good many of them work out, and not a few take steroids. If they decide to fuck you up, the DA and the Mayor and the local newspaper will back them up.
The child molesters are not so numerous, and they enjoy none of these advantages. From where I'm sitting, twice as many child molesters and half as many cops would be, on balance, a change for the better.