September 29th, 2009  |  Tags: , , ,  |  Leave a comment

I have mentioned Roman Polanski exactly once on this site before today; at the time, I referred to him with an anarthrous noun phrase, as “Convicted child rapist and Academy Award-winning director Roman Polanski.” In the days since his arrest in Switzerland, I have been baffled and saddened by the myriad commentators who seek to excuse the former because of the latter; who seemingly forget that Polanski is a convicted child rapist who admitted to drugging a young girl, forcing intercourse upon her in spite of her repeated objections, and then, after an apparent change of heart, sodomizing her instead of running the risk of knocking her up.

Kate Harding in Salon provides an uncompromising and polemical rebuttal to the current Polanski whitewash festival, including this digression on the nature of justice — a concept that is ignored by the legions of petition-happy celebrities:

[Justice] works on behalf of the people, in fact — the people whose laws in every state make it clear that both child rape and fleeing prosecution are serious crimes. The point is not to keep 76-year-old Polanski off the streets or help his victim feel safe. The point is that drugging and raping a child, then leaving the country before you can be sentenced for it, is behavior our society should not — and at least in theory, does not — tolerate, no matter how famous, wealthy or well-connected you are, no matter how old you were when you finally got caught, no matter what your victim says about it now, no matter how mature she looked at 13, no matter how pushy her mother was, and no matter how many really swell movies you’ve made.

The difference between what our society tolerates “in theory” and in practice, especially when celebrities of means are the unrepentant perpetrators (ahem), is one of the saddest indictments of the narrowly-targeted injustice that passes for “justice” in this country. One wonders whether the commentators tripping over one another to excuse Polanski’s apparent belief in droit de seigneur are also concerned about the fates of criminals who can’t afford to flee the law and live in luxury in countries without extradition treaties. I suppose poor people don’t make really great movies, but it is still shocking that none of Polanski’s defenders seem able to comprehend the horrific turpitude of his crime. Have any of these people ever had children? Have they ever been children?