Kate Harding at Salon.com has probably the best opinion piece I’ve seen on the arrest (in Switzerland) of famous/imfamous director Roman Polanski. In it, she reminds the apologists for Polanski, who are crawling out of the woodwork in condemnation of the arrest, of one simple fact: Roman Polanski raped a child (via Tom Maguire):
Roman Polanski raped a child. Let’s just start right there, because that’s the detail that tends to get neglected when we start discussing whether it was fair for the bail-jumping director to be arrested at age 76, after 32 years in “exile” (which in this case means owning multiple homes in Europe, continuing to work as a director, marrying and fathering two children, even winning an Oscar, but never — poor baby — being able to return to the U.S.). Let’s keep in mind that Roman Polanski gave a 13-year-old girl a Quaalude and champagne, then raped her, before we start discussing whether the victim looked older than her 13 years, or that she now says she’d rather not see him prosecuted because she can’t stand the media attention. Before we discuss how awesome his movies are or what the now-deceased judge did wrong at his trial, let’s take a moment to recall that according to the victim’s grand jury testimony, Roman Polanski instructed her to get into a jacuzzi naked, refused to take her home when she begged to go, ….
I’d rather not reprint the rest here; make sure to visit the link for more on the victim’s testimony, and for a sampling of some of what the Polanski apologists are saying today. Especially interesting was this reprehensible piece of pure nuttery by WaPo columnist Anne Applebaum. Calling his arrest “outrageous,” she wrote:
Here are some of the facts: Polanski’s crime — statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl — was committed in 1977. The girl, now 45, has said more than once that she forgives him, that she can live with the memory, that she does not want him to be put back in court or in jail, and that a new trial will hurt her husband and children. There is evidence of judicial misconduct in the original trial. There is evidence that Polanski did not know her real age. Polanski, who panicked and fled the U.S. during that trial, has been pursued by this case for 30 years, during which time he has never returned to America, has never returned to the United Kingdom., has avoided many other countries, and has never been convicted of anything else. He did commit a crime, but he has paid for the crime in many, many ways: In notoriety, in lawyers’ fees, in professional stigma. He could not return to Los Angeles to receive his recent Oscar. He cannot visit Hollywood to direct or cast a film.
Regarding Applebaum’s questionable “facts,” however, one point she neglected to mention was the fact that she has an undisclosed conflict of interest regarding Roman Polanski: she’s married to Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, who just happens to be lobbying the US for Polanski’s (who is a native of Poland) release.
In response to Applebaum’s apologist rant for Polanksi, Ann Althouse unloads:
But is that any more absurd than saying he’s suffered enough because of all the burdens on his career? Think what this means, generalizing the opinion into an abstract rule. It means that those with high professional standing do not need the usual criminal punishments given to individuals who have very little in this world. Ordinary people must be punished in prison, but big shots are already punished heavily by the mere revelation of their crimes and therefore should be relieved of much or all of the usual prison sentence. Care to sign on to that rule?
In any event, surely it’s a sign of the times – and not a good one – that there is even a “debate” as to whether or not a child rapist should be prosecuted, aged or not.