Off With Their Heads
You sometimes wonder if ordinary people in American will one day say “enough” and turn on the “elites” and make them bleed and die, the way the masses in France did, in 1789. That smacks of hyperbole, of course, and sounds like the sort of thing someone would put up on the internet just to draw clicks.
The more one reads of the Jeffery Epstein scandal, the more one thinks that maybe a little mob-justice might be in order. And, if not a beheading, then maybe something more American. A horsewhipping, perhaps? Tar and feathers?
Epstein is a pedophile and in a fallen world, those do exist. The question for a civilized society is what to do about them. The answer in contemporary America is, in theory, to arrest them, try them, and imprison them if they are found guilty. And, once they have done some serious time, to monitor them.
But an exception seems to have been made in Epstein’s case. He was, indeed, arrested. And he did a little time. Around a year. People have taken harder falls for casual use of marijuana and other such victimless crimes.
Epstein was allowed out of his cell so much that he might have been going to school at the Miami jail instead of doing time there. He was paroled and obliged to register as a sex offender and check in, every ninety days, with the police in New York where he had a very nice town house.
In 2010, less than a year after he had finished his stretch in jail. Epstein hosted a party at his New York digs. The guest of honor was Britain’s Prince Andrew, establishing, yet again, the compatibility royal blood with gutter morals. Also on the guest list were tv talking heads Katie Couric and George Stephanopoulos. Representing the world of show business were comedienne Chelsea Handler, and director Woody Allen.
Jeffery Epstein, you see, knew the right people. And those people were not inclined to let a little pedophilia conviction keep them from attending that party. It isn’t easy getting on a guest list like that one.
Epstein was, during this time, reaching legal settlements with women who had been his victims. This, presumably, left him too busy to check in with the New York police every ninety days, which was a condition of his parole. He did not simply forget once or twice, either. He never reported. Not once.
He had good reason to suspect that he could escape charges. There was that soft deal he had negotiated with the prosecutors, for one thing. For another, his lawyer was Alan Dershowitz whose other clients included O.J. Simpson.
He had, in short, money and friends. He was a generous benefactor of Harvard University. He flew important people, including former President Bill Clinton, around on his jet. He made political contributions to, among others, the minority leader of the U.S. Senate, Charles Schumer.
He also had an island in Caribbean with an opulent residence and an airstrip. The staff had all been required to sign non-disclosure agreements. According to a local boat operator, “Everyone called it ‘Pedophile Island.’”
Oh, and by the way, Epstein’s 727 was called the “Lolita Express.”
So even before he was arrested, again, several days ago and hauled into court where he pled “not guilty,” the people who should have known … knew.
This includes Donald Trump who once called Epstein a “terrific guy. Then added, “It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do and many of them are on the younger side.”
This was in 2002. Years before Epstein was tried and convicted. Nobody is laughing now.
He was arrested, again, several days ago and has pled not-guilty to charges of sex- trafficking. Some of his victims were as young as 14. Other victims are still coming forward as Epstein sits in a cell and his lawyers attempt to work out some sort of arrangement that would get him released on bail.
How does $77 million sound, they are saying to the judge. And we’ll throw in the airplane and the townhouse to sweeten the deal. And put a GPS tracker on his ankle.
Epstein seems unlikely to beat the rap but, then, he did manage for two decades to get away with it. He had the money and the connections. The rules didn’t apply to him. A decadent elite that could give Roman Polanski – another convicted pedophile – a standing ovation at an Academy Award ceremony, could easily overlook Epstein’s indiscretions.
Meanwhile, some non-members of the elite might be thinking, “If he did that to my daughter, I’d gut shoot him.”
And if I were on the jury, I’d vote to acquit that shooter.
Geoffrey Norman is a former editor of Esquire magazine and is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Weekly Standard and National Review. He has authored more than 15 books and remains active shaping public policy discussions. He lives in Vermont.