Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More on Roman Polanski

...and the morons who apologize for him.

Reading through the Wikipedia entry on Roman Polanski and the reaction to his recent arrest, I came across the following:

French minister of Culture and Communication, Frédéric Mitterrand, was especially vehement in his support, all the while announcing his "very deep emotion" after the questioning of the director, "a French citizen" and "a film-maker of international dimension ": "the sight of him thrown to the lions for an old story which doesn't make much sense, imprisoned while traveling to an event that was intending to honor him: caught, in short, in a trap, is absolutely dreadful". Polanski, Mitterrand continued, "had a difficult life" but had "always said how much he loves France, and he is a wonderful man". There is, he added, "a generous America that we love, and a certain America that frightens us. It's that America that has just shown its face."

Such naivete is incredible. We should not arrest known criminals if they are on their way to collect awards? I can just imagine the example that would set for other criminals:

Officer: Sir, you are under arrest for murder. Please step out of the car.
Suspect: But officer, I'm just on my way to accept an award!
Officer: What award is that?
Suspect: Serial Killer of the Year.
Officer: Oh. I had no idea. Please, proceed. We'll pick you up afterward.
Suspect: (Under his breath) Not if I can help it...

Remember, this is Roman Polanski. He's fled justice before. You think he wouldn't have tried to do so again? In spite of what the celebrity left would have us think, police are not stupid.

But wait, there's more. We should forgive Roman Polanski because he "loves France" and is a "wonderful man." Well of course he loves France, you dolt! That's the country that has helped him avoid consequences for his crimes for so many years! And if Polanski is such a wonderful man, why did he drug and rape that girl? Lots of criminals are wonderful people when they're not committing their crimes. So what?

Mitterrand also seems to find an America that believes in law enforcement frightening. That terrible America! They lock up rapists! They extradite criminals! Oh, the shame! Where will it end?! I'm sure Mr. Mitterrand has no trouble with law enforcement and extradition when it goes the other way. Or perhaps he does oppose hauling French citizens back to France to face justice for their crimes. From what I've heard of French prisons, I don't think they have much ground to call America frightening.

Of course Mitterrand is no more a fool than the group or artists who wrote a manifesto calling for his release. Also from Wikipedia, the manifesto concludes as follows: "Roman Polanski is a French citizen, an artist of international reputation, now threatened to be extradited. This extradition, if brought into effect, would carry a heavy load of consequences as well as deprive the film-maker of his freedom".

Uh...yes, I believe that is the point of criminal punishments. They are intended to bring consequences to bear; the heavier the crime, the heavier the load. And yes, that usually involves depriving people of their freedom, film-makers or not. It's called a disincentive. It's called the law.

Luc Besson, on the other hand, seems to get it: "I do not know the history of the process. (...) I feel a lot of affection for [Polanski], he's a man I really like and I know him a bit, our daughters are very good friends but there is a justice, [and] it is the same for everyone".

So does Jewel: "Polanski-admitted raping a 13 yr old-whys every1 in the arts upset hes facing jail? cause hes a gifted director? what am i missing?" asked bewildered singer-songwriter Jewel via Twitter.

UPDATE: Ran across a few more reports of celebrities rushing to defend him with such platitudes as "it was consensual" or "that was so long ago" or "the victim has asked for the case to be dismissed". According to the court transcript it was NOT consensual. She was thirteen! She was drunk and on drugs, and she was still saying no. Under the law, consent has nothing to do with it. He knew that, or should have known it. In what universe is a forty-four year old having sex with a thirteen year old girl okay?

As for the length of time since the incident, that's Roman Polanski's fault, not the justice system's. He didn't have to run. He didn't have to stay away so long. He could have put this behind him long, long ago. He chose to continue avoiding responsibility. It's his fault, and no one else's.

Let me put it another way. I have a son who does not take well to punishment. When he does something wrong he gets time out. Often he will throw a tantrum and refuse to go into time out. He has not only done something wrong, but he is refusing to accept the punishment. So when he finally does calm down and accept punishment he still has to have his time out.

It would do neither of us any good to say "Well, your tantrum was longer than the time out would have been. Since you weren't having any fun during that time I'll count that as your time out. Go play now." He would only learn to keep throwing tantrums. He and his siblings would learn that I don't mean it when I threaten him with time out.

Roman Polanski is pretty much like my four-year-old, sorry to say. To let him off now, especially when his life has been by no means bad for those 32 years, would send him and society the wrong message. Punishment is punishment. He didn't even stick around to see what his would have been. It would serve him right if his punishment now is much longer than it might have been had he just accepted responsibility and served whatever time was coming to him.

He had the ability to put this to rest long ago. Instead he threw a 32-year tantrum.

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