Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Godammit, do I have to write about this again? Yes, I do. I am in such a state of rage that my fingers can hardly move coherently over the keyboard.
It often astonishes me how days turn out. We have not had a huge amount of summer up here in Scotland; you got all the good stuff in the south. But today was a proper, all stops out, sunshiny day. It was so hot this morning that I put on a skirt, laid out a blanket on the lawn, and took my work outside, so I could bask in the weather. I was entirely happy. I solemnly saluted the high good fortune of the self-employed. I made some lemonade, and marinated a chicken for my lunch. It was all domestic goddess, all the time, and all manner of things were well.
Then, for no special reason, I came inside to check my email, and thought I'd say something on Twitter. I have neglected Twitter lately, and felt oddly guilty about it. And there was a tweet from Johann Hari saying that he was getting hate mail about an article he'd written on the sordid Roman Polanski affair.
You can find the piece here. It is excellent. It says everything I think. Yet Mr Hari is getting hate mail, because he takes the scandalous position that child rape is wrong. I understand nothing.
I was talking a couple of days ago about moral relativists, and how they baffle me. Some people might think the defenders of Polanksi, who are so happy that he has been released, are relativists. I think they are worse than that. I think they are immoralists. It is very difficult for me to write this about a man like Bernard-Henri Levy, whose book on the killing of Daniel Pearl is filled with brilliantly calibrated moral outrage. But I can come to no other conclusion.
Let us perform a short and horrible thought experiment. You have a thirteen year old daughter. She comes home and tells you that a forty-three year old man has performed cunnilingus and anal sex on her, while she wept and said no, no, please no, I want to go home.
A. Desperately attempt to comfort her, then call the police and insist that the full force of the law be brought to bear against her rapist?
B. Tell her it's not such a big deal because her seducer once directed rather a good film with Mia Farrow in it?
It's not really very hard to choose, is it?
What would all these staunch defenders say if it had been their thirteen-year-old child? What ethical code are they calling on when they dismiss the sodomising of a child against her will?
The categorical imperative is useful here. I sometimes think that Kant struck at the very heart of morality when he said:
'Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.'.
It is such a lovely, true, shining principle. It is the most Occamish of Occam's Razors. It cuts through all the noise, and confusion, and spurious justification. It kills relativity with one single stroke.
By the lights of the categorical imperative, the supporters of Roman Polanksi are suggesting that all adult males should be forgiven child rape if they have suffered tragedy in their personal lives, and if they have some artistic talent. Just pause for a moment and imagine writing that law into the statute book.
I understand complexity. I understand that Manichean thinking can be the enemy of sense. I understand that moral rigidity is not a good thing. I do not understand this. I do not understand why it is all right for the director of Chinatown to molest a child. I do not understand why Whoopi Goldberg thinks it is not 'rape-rape' (nor do I understand what rape-rape even is). I do not understand why people should be so enraged by any challenge to their twisted ethics that they send a good and honourable journalist hate mail.
I can't remember if it was Socrates or one of those sage old Chinese gents who said: the wise man is the one who knows he knows nothing. Today, I feel as if I know nothing. It does not make me feel awfully wise.
This, my darlings, is what I was going to write about, before:
Did you ever see such blue? Do you think that if I stare at that sky for long enough I shall recover my equilibrium?
Perhaps if I let my eyes fall on these faces, I shall once again grow calm:
They damn well know right from wrong. And they are dogs.