Thursday, October 1, 2009

Time To Bring Roman Polanski To Justice

The facts of the Roman Polanski case are simple enough. In 1977, a 43-year-old man gave a frightened 13-year-old girl alcohol and a Quaalude, and raped and sodomized her. He fled the country before his sentencing under a plea agreement that involved admitting to having had sex with a minor.

Questions are now being raised: Why now? Didn't the victim express forgiveness? Wasn't it a long time ago? Hasn't Polanski suffered enough? Political and entertainment celebrities are weighing in. Jack Lang, former French culture minister, called it a "judicial lynching." Polish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar called Polanski's arrest at a Zurich airport on an American-issued warrant a "provocation." Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Salman Rushdie, Woody Allen and Whoppi Goldberg are among the prominent cultural figures who support Polanski.

So let's call it the Polanski defense. If one rapes an underage girl and skips the country and decades go by and there are questions about the timing of the arrest and one is well-connected and has made acclaimed films–well, then, let's just forget about what French philosopher Bernard Henri-Levi called a "youthful error."

These defenses are all irrelevant. Polanski committed a serious crime and evaded justice. Not even the forgiveness of his victim, as understandable as it is that she wants to get on with her life, should stop the judicial proceedings. To drop the case would inspire the deepest cynicism about the law: charges against the rich, famous and influential are swept away.

It is distressing to see those who support human rights, including the rights of women and the powerless, line up for a child rapist. It's time for Roman Polanski to be brought to justice for the crime he confessed to decades ago.

No comments: