Monday, September 28, 2009

Polanski Redux

I've already thrown in my two cents on the Roman Polanski situation, but the reactions I've seen to it from various people deserve further comment. The French culture minister, Frédéric Mitterand, has declared himself outraged that such a talented artiste could be persecuted and "thrown to the lions" by a sexually puritanical, fascistic U.S. justice system. Let me not mince words with my rebuttal: Fuck you, asshole. Maybe you think it's okay for sleazy old men to DRUG and RAPE CHILDREN, or maybe you just think it's okay for them to get away with DRUGGING and RAPING CHILDREN if they're rich, famous, well-connected, and happen to have directed some well-regarded movies. If so, by all means enact laws in France that legalize RAPING CHILDREN. Then declare that day "National CHILD RAPE Day" and let the merrymaking and CHILD RAPING begin. In our country, popular consensus holds that is morally wrong to RAPE CHILDREN, so we've made a law against CHILD RAPE. When someone RAPES A CHILD, he or she is arrested in accordance with the law against RAPING CHILDREN. In this particular case, the sleazy old man in question DRUGGED AND RAPED a CHILD in our country, so he's going to have to face justice under our system, in which it is illegal to DRUG AND RAPE CHILDREN. This case is not analogous to those of Oscar Wilde (who was persecuted for the "crime" of being gay) or that of Alfred Dreyfus (persecuted, in your country I might point out, for the "crime" of being Jewish). So stop making odious comparisons and apologies for a man who RAPED A CHILD. Let me close by reiterating the thesis statement of this paragraph: FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE.

Almost as disturbing as the spectacle of one morally degenerate Frenchmen making excuses for another, but more surprising, is the degree to which Polanski's apologists elsewhere have attempted to downplay the magnitude of his crimes in their efforts to defend him. Case in point: the Orwellian attempt to re-brand what he did as "unlawful sex". He drugged a 13 year old girl, then repeatedly forced himself on her despite her continual pleas for him to stop. That is not merely "unlawful sex". That is RAPE. R-A-P-E. Given the age of the victim, the use of drugs to incapacitate her, and the fact that she repeatedly and clearly objected, it likely meets the legal definition of aggravated rape. Let's call a spade a spade. Even more disgusting? Apologies for Polanski like this one making arguments of the "she looked older", "she was asking for it", and "her mother pimped her out" variety. Really? Is this the flower of feminism, Huffington Post? I can't help but think defenses like these would be (rightfully) decried by the likes of Joan Shore were the rapist in this case a Sigma Chi frat brother, Greenwich investment banker, scion of the Bush family, or some other emblem of WASPy male Republican privilege. Apparently misogyny, patriarchal exploitation, and sexual violence are still okay, as long as you're a European sophisticate whose art is beloved of cosmopolitan latte-sippers everywhere.

As I said in my previous post, I'm sympathetic to the wishes of the victim in this case to be left at peace rather than being forced to once again re-live a painful part of her history by the spectacle of a celebrity court case. If the case were dismissed out of respect for her wishes, I wouldn't be outraged. But it is absolutely beyond the pale to attempt to defend or excuse Polanski's actions - talented artist and charming conversationalist or not, the man is scum and committed a horrible crime. Anyone who attempts to deny that has forfeited any claim to moral or intellectual credibility.

P.S. - Salon, to their credit, has a pretty comprehensive takedown of all the garbage being peddled by Polanski's defenders.

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