According to the invaluable but frequently erratic Wikipedia, that translates to “the lord’s right” – that is, the right of a noble lord to be the first to bed any or all of the local girls, willing or not, who caught his lordly eye. Further, Wikipedia states that although there is not much credible evidence to suggest this legal right ever existed or was practiced in Western Europe, the phrase has been used ever since, as a convenient short-hand, in reference to all those rights that a noble lord exercised over the tenantry – especially those rights and privileges which infuriated those they were exercised upon. The rights of the lord with regard to the lesser orders variously infuriated, insulted, demeaned, degraded, or at the very least inconvenienced the sturdy peasantry. And there is, I think, something of a race-memory of this in middle- or working-class Americans, for they don’t much like it when someone attempts to claim a lordly privilege. Nothing is more calculated to earn a snappy comeback from a hard working American prole with nothing to loose, then someone in a high dudgeon demanding “Don’t you know who I am?!” There are whole sub-categories of stories of independent mechanics and plumbers who reply, “Yeah, the guy who ain’t gonna get his Hummer back until next Wednesday,” or “Yeah, the a-hole who’d better call another plumber!” The original of this tale involved the English investor, visiting an American cattle ranch, in the far West, circa 1880, and accosted one of the ranch-hands, saying, “Where is your master?” and the hand replying (doubtless with a spit into the weeds and something of a John Wayne snarl) “The S-O-B ain’t been born, yet!

So, no – traditionally claiming special privilege on account of exalted wealth or blood never went down very well over on this side of the pond, although there is an element in American society that does tend to go all wobbly-kneed when it comes to Euro-royalty. Or royalty of any sort; just look at the covers of the magazines on the rack by the supermarket check-out station. But an over-developed interest in aristocracy of the old, or the new-made kind ought not to be confused with any eagerness to allow law to be set aside for the convenience of a member in good standing of the aristocracy – as the usual Hollywood crowd is discovering to their horror in the wake of the Polonski business. I’d have called it l’affaire Polonski, but that doesn’t quite translate the sense that it wasn’t an affair, in the sexual sense. It was plain old rape (and drugging, and unconsenting sodomy) of a minor, for which the perpetrator bargained down to a lesser charge, was found guilty and skipped the country. And nope, I don’t give a rodent’s patoot that it was upty-odd- decades ago, that he’s a really sooooper-talented, and all his nice Hollywood friends with their faultless moral compasses and quasi-aristocratic assumptions are rallying around, demanding that he is a very, very special person, and entitled to clemency. Nope – that will not do. It wouldn’t do if it had been the plumber Ronnie Polonski, or the Father Polonski the Catholic priest – in fact, I think – no, scratch that; I know the reaction of the Hollywood set would have been much different, in those cases.

I think most of us have assumed for years that Hollywood was a weird, and insulated little world, all to itself, and now we see how very, very easily they assumed the trappings of privilege, and a sense of how the laws that apply to everyone else, somehow, magically do not apply to them, and their very special, talented friends. And now we see, exactly, what they would justify and excuse, and explain away. Frankly, I find it pretty sick-making. Even more sick-making, is the list of actors, directors, and other illuminati who have come out in support of their good buddy, the child-rapist. From what little I might know of some of them, I had expected a little better. Especially Whoopi Goldberg, whom I used to think funny…

Well, then – there’s another ten of fifteen entries on my private movie boycott list, some of them with movies that I still would watch. But not now, not after this sick little exercise in droit de seigneur. Really, are these people trying to make everyone in the whole damned country not watch their movies?

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