Geert Wilders
Right-wing Dutch MP Geert Wilders (R) appears in court with his lawyer Bram Moszkowicz (L) in Amsterdam October 4, 2010. REUTERS

The strange cases of Geert Wilders, John Galliano, Dominique Strauss Kahn and Roman Polanski seem to suggest that to the modern media and political establishment, racism is a more serious crime than rape.

Mr Wilders was today acquitted in the Netherlands after being accused of defaming Musilms with comments in which he said the Koran promotes fascism and should be banned as Mein Kampf is in the Netherlands.

He has also in the past described Islam's founder, Mohammad, as a "barbarian" and a "paedophile", a reference to Mohammad's marriage to a pre-adolescent girl and his decision to execute hundreds of Jewish prisoners in Medina.

Despite this Mr Wilders has always claimed that he does not hate Muslims, but that he detests Islam as a political ideology that he views as incompatible with western conceptions of liberal democracy, freedom and human rights.

As well as being put on trial for his views, Mr Wilders also is provided 24 hour security protection in case Muslim extremists attempt to murder him (as happened to Theo van Gough, a Dutch filmmaker killed for making a film critical of Islam's treatment of women). He is also regularly referred to as being "far right" in the media.

Certainly Mr Wilders is no centrist, but to call him "far right" does seem to be an attempt to paint him as an extremist who should not be listened to, when it would perhaps be more accurate to say that he stands on both sides of the border between the "far right" and what might be called the "respectable right".

In any case he is widely portrayed as a man whose views should not be listened to, as has now happened to fashion designer John Galliano who is on trial for saying far more offensive things than Mr Wilders has ever uttered.

Mr Galliano was recorded on film saying, "I love Hitler... People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers would all be ******* gassed." He was also very obviously drunk at the time.

This was of course a deeply unpleasant thing to do and does not reflect well on the character of Mr Galliano, who now faces trial, has been dismissed from Dior and has been accorded pariah status.

Compare this to the treatment of Dominique Strauss Kahn and Roman Polanski.

Mr Polanski raped a 13 year old girl in 1977 and subsequently escaped justice by running away to France for a few decades. When he was finally re-arrested 2009 Hollywood stars were falling over themselves to defend poor Mr Polanski, as were members of the French government. That same year Mr Polanski was even presented with a "Lifetime achievement" award at the Cannes film festival.

Mr Dominique Strauss Kahn, who stands accused of successfully forcing a hotel maid to perform oral sex on him and of attempting to rape the maid (apparently there is a difference) also does not seem to have suffered quite as much reputational damage as, for example Mr Galliano.

True he has lost his job as head of the International Monetary Fund, although not because the IMF felt a rapist should not be their head, but because Mr Strauss Kahn came to the conclusion that he could not run the organisation from a prison cell like a kind of French Noel Coward in "The Italian Job".

But like Mr Polanski, scores of (mainly French) important figures spoke up for Mr Strauss Kahn, with apparently large chunks of the French population believing him to be the victim of some kind of conspiracy theory.

This set of events in which known and alleged rapists are defended, while people who make controversial or vile comments about race or religion are demonised has worrying implications.

It would seem to suggest that being rude about someone's race or religion, even if the culprit does not act on it, (for example by gassing or otherwise harming Jews, Muslims or any other minority) is morally worse than actually raping someone.

Such an implication seems bizarre and is perhaps indicative of a society that has become more intolerant of what people say and think, while paradoxically being increasingly tolerant towards the bad they actually do.