Friday, February 26, 2016

Power corrupts ...


//In his letter to Mandell Creighton, a bishop and historian, Acton warned that we should not make moral allowances for powerful people just because they are powerful. If a common man murdered someone, Acton explained, he should hang. But when a king or queen murders, we make allowances for it. “I would hang them higher than Haman, for reasons of quite obvious justice,” Acton wrote. Now, if the issue were merely the homicidal intrigues of monarchs of old, we might make allowances for the times in which they lived. But Acton’s point is much broader, and more relevant, than that.

We are constantly making allowances for “great” men and women, though we don’t use the word “great” that way. But the gist is the same. Bill Cosby is believed to have gotten away with his alleged abuses because he was powerful and famous. The same goes for Bill Clinton and his many alleged transgressions. The Polish director Roman Polanski, who fled U.S. prosecution for statutory rape, had countless celebrity defenders whom a plumber would never have under the same circumstances. The same was true of Michael Jackson.

While money often plays a role — the powerful and famous are very often rich as well — it’s rare that such people buy the kind of protection I’m talking about. The people who forgive, say, Fidel Castro or Che Guevara for their innumerable crimes aren’t paid to do so. Their defenders volunteer for duty.//


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