Friday, October 02, 2009

Common decency and the rule of law v. Roman Polanski and the Hollywood elite

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I think Ed Morrissey is right, more or less, that a "Left-Right consensus" is "building on Polanski." I say more or less because I think that formulation oversimplifies the situation somewhat. It isn't so much that both liberals and conservatives are coming out against Polanski and his apologists, it's that pretty much everyone with a modicum of common decency and respect for the rule of law thinks that Polanski ought to get what he deserves, which is, in some form, punishment for his crime. (Still, make sure to read Ed's post in full. It is typically insightful.)


As for Polanski's apologists, check out Katha Pollitt's fine piece at The Nation, which includes:

If a rapist escapes justice for long enough, should the world hand him a get-out-of-jail-free card? If you're Roman Polanski, world-famous director, a lot of famous and gifted people think the answer is yes.


Fact: What happened was not some gray, vague he said/she said Katie-Roiphe-style "bad sex." A 43-year-old man got a 13-year-old girl alone, got her drunk, gave her a quaalude, and, after checking the date of her period, anally raped her, twice, while she protested; she submitted, she told the grand jury "because I was afraid."


Fact: In February 2008, LA Superior Court Judge Peter Espinosa ruled that Polanski can challenge his conviction. All he has to do is come to the United States and subject himself to the rule of law. Why is that unfair? Were he not a world-famous director with boatloads of powerful friends, but just a regular convicted sex criminal who had fled abroad, would anyone think it was asking too much that he should go through the same formal process as anyone else?


The widespread support for Polanski shows the liberal cultural elite at its preening, fatuous worst. They may make great movies, write great books, and design beautiful things, they may have lots of noble humanitarian ideas and care, in the abstract, about all the right principles: equality under the law, for example. But in this case, they're just the white culture-class counterpart of hip-hop fans who stood by R. Kelly and Chris Brown and of sports fans who automatically support their favorite athletes when they're accused of beating their wives and raping hotel workers.

Yes, it has taken Roman Polanski, a 30-year-old sex crime case, and a bunch of "preening, fatuous" Hollywood types to bring not just right (Morrissey) and left (Pollitt) together, but to unite Americans, and people around the world, in common cause.

Don't get me wrong, Polanski has his supporters beyond the circle of his cinematic pals (many of whom I admire as artists), but, increasingly, as the facts, many of them long forgotten, emerge once more into public view, for all to judge, most of the rest of us are just disgusted, and are demanding justice.


Mr. Polanski, come back to America, and defend yourself. If you were wronged, prove it. I, for one, will surely have an open mind. But if you weren't, and you really did what you are alleged to have done, and for which you were convicted, then challenge whatever you like in a court of law and, ultimately, accept responsibility for your crime.


See my previous posts on the Polanski saga:

-- The truth about Roman Polanski;

-- Defending Polanski; or, how the Hollywood left has completely lost its marbles; and

-- Polanski, the French, and the backlash against the rape apologists.

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