September 30, 2009

The Mondays Wednesdays: Roman Polanski and the "Minor Technicality"

I usually save my rants for the Mondays, but this has had me steamed a little bit and I just need to vent and get it over with.

The thing about Roman Polanski's arrest in Switzerland is that, to see some of the reaction to it, I must be living in Bizarro world. I have to be, because the man pled guilty to drugging and raping a thirteen-year-old girl--the legalese term he officially plead to was "unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor"--then fled the country before his sentencing, thus making him a fugitive from justice as well. And yet, because the man is an award-winning film director--I recently watched Rosemary's Baby again and enjoyed it--celebrities and others in the arts community are calling his arrest and potential extradition back to the U.S. a travesty of justice. What in the blue hell are these people talking about?!

He administered alcohol and at least one Quaalude to the girl, then in her weakened and inebriated state and in spite of her protests, he performed oral, vaginal, and anal sex on the girl. After facing several charges for his heinous acts, his lawyers managed to whittle it down to a single charge of which he readily pleaded guilty. Then the bastard fled the country to France where extradition laws are practically non-existent. For over thirty years, three whole decades, he has been on the lamb, hiding from his crimes and the debt he owes to society. I don't care how good his movies are, Roman Polanski is a worthless miscreant.

What's even more infuriating about this is how unrepentant Polanski is after all these years. To this day, he asserts he did nothing wrong, that the girl was "thirteen going on thirty-five." Holy crap, is that his logic? Abigail Breslin turned thirteen this year and is a pretty smart whip for someone her age, so by Polanski's reasoning she's fair game for a guy in his forties (Polanski was around 42 when he raped the girl). That's deplorable.

His defenders, which are a gaggle of addle-minded cretins, among whom are names I would have never thought capable of defending a morally bankrupted individual like Polanski, have circled the wagons as if he's being hunted down by the Gestapo. If the L.A. prosecutors and the judge seeing his case back then are guilty of some kind of misconduct, that's a separate issue that we can all examine in its own time. It, however, does not negate the fact that Roman Polanski drugged and raped a thirteen-year-old girl, then absconded to the other side of the world so he wouldn't go to prison. Throw as many red herrings as you want at the issue, those actions are indefensible.

I have heard some galling things from celebrities this week as they have hoisted Polanski as some kind of Laurentian hero. Debra Winger referred to his crimes as "a three decades-old case that is dead but for minor technicalities," which I found to be the most loathsome attempt at justification so far, though it's possible more asinine comments have been made by the rapist's pals and confidants. The day we get to dismiss the drugging and raping of a minor and subsequent refusal to face punishment for thirty years a "minor technicality" is the day the justice system means absolutely nothing to rape victims around the globe.

Now, I grant you that the real victim in all this has grown up, matured, and exhibited the grace to forgive Polanski for his abominable crime. That, however, does not negate the fact that he actually did it, that he actually confessed to it, and that he actually tucked tail afterwards and sought sanctuary in France, thus wagging his middle finger to the entire justice system and every rape victim in America and the world. Is it any wonder the rape victim has been able to forgive him, as thirty years is plenty of time to get over an atrocity. It's rather noble of her to find a place in her heart to pardon that vile reprobate, but there is still the matter of fact that he has not paid a true price for his crimes--sipping expensive wine and skiing the slopes of Europe are hardly things I would describe as "hard time."

I see absolutely no excuse to defend Polanski, and I have lost a measure of respect for those who have thus far. I had no idea until this week that Warren Beatty once referred to Polanski's crime as a "personal mistake." What a nauseating euphemism. I'm amazed how much depravity the arts community will tolerate when it's committed by one of their own.

The sick, remorseless son-of-a-bitch should rot in prison for the rest of his life. And that's justice, Hollywood, not a travesty of justice.

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