Monday, September 28, 2009

How could I not?

I mean, really...

Background: Roman Polanski raped a child. He admitted to having done so, and fled the country before sentencing. Moving on...

Of all nations, why was it Switzerland -- the country that traditionally guarded the secret bank accounts of international criminals and corrupt dictators -- that finally decided to arrest Roman Polanski?

Who cares? Also, since when is a question a thesis statement?

There must be some deeper story here, because by any reckoning the decision was bizarre

By any reckoning? Seriously, there is NO non-bizarre reckoning by which one could discern it would be a good thing to arrest a confessed child rapist?

though not nearly as bizarre as the fact that a U.S. judge wants to keep pursuing this case after so many decades.


Completely bizarre, this whole idea that one should eventually go to prison for crimes, and that a judge would have any role in his pursuit.

Here are some of the facts: Polanski's crime -- statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl

Kind of a biggie.

The girl, now 45,


Note to woman who were raped in the 1970s... Get over yourselves. You are so old now.

has said more than once that she forgives him,

Unlike you lousy 1970s rape victims. Get on the boat, Mrs. Victimy McVictimstatus.

that she can live with the memory,

After all, you lived this long with your memory... Your very existence is proof that your rapist is innocent. This reasoning is not completely insane, somehow, I assure you.

that she does not want him to be put back in court or in jail, and that a new trial will hurt her husband and children.

And, by the way, don't you dare have the temerity to bring it up, all these decades later. Think about your family. Do you want to embarrass them by having some guy who raped you sent to prison.

There is evidence of judicial misconduct in the original trial.

Which isn't relevant considering the facts of the case are not in dispute.

There is evidence that Polanski did not know her real age.
After all, 1970s rape victims, you pretty much brought it on yourself, what with the makeup and all.

Also, I should point out that there is not such evidence. Applebaum just made this up.

Polanski, who panicked and fled the U.S. during that trial

Having raped a child and having confessed to the act.

has been pursued by this case for 30 years, during which time he has never returned to America,

You see? He didn't even want to be arrested! Let's just leave him alone.

He did commit a crime,

Gotta love the indefinite article.

but he has paid for the crime in many, many ways:

He couldn't even attend the Oscars. Poor sap.

In notoriety, in lawyers' fees, in professional stigma.


None of which constitutes a prison sentence, but whatever... I mean, the dude directs movies people.

He could not return to Los Angeles to receive his recent Oscar.


Wow, I was just kidding about the Oscar thing. Like, honest to God, I am parsing this as I go along, and I honestly did not think the author would cite the inability to attend the Academy Awards as a parcel of a suitable punishment for the offense of child rape.

He can be blamed,


He sure can...

it is true, for his original, panicky decision to flee.


But certainly not for having raped a child. Which, again, he totally did.

But for this decision I see mitigating circumstances, not least an understandable fear of irrational punishment.

What constitutes "irrational" punishment in this case? If it were my kid, I'd be compelled to jaunt to Europe and go "irrational" on his ass.

Polanski's mother died in Auschwitz.

Having not raped a single child.

His father survived Mauthausen.


Ditto. Incidentally, could an Israelite, fed up by anger at denials of the Holocaust, kill an Iranian and get of scot free, in Applebaum's world? Just curious. Well, no I am not. The answer is "no".

He himself survived the Krakow ghetto, and later emigrated from communist Poland.

After which he raped another human being.

His pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered in 1969 by the followers of Charles Manson, though for a time Polanski himself was a suspect.


Which, in retrospect, doesn't seem all that unreasonable, given his confessed behavior thereafter.

I am certain there are many who will harrumph that, following this arrest, justice was done at last.

Listen lady, my dad is in jail in spite of having not done what Polanski is accused of having done. That dude (Polanski) is wasting our time and corroding our sense of justice. If that is "harrumphing", label me the king of harrumph.

But Polanski is 76.

Good point. He should also be charged with evading arrest for several decades.

To put him on trial or keep him in jail does not serve society in general or his victim in particular.

Hypocrisy (viz. differing standards for famous people) serves society in general? If Polanski hadn't directed films, he'd be rotting in prison, or dead.

Nor does it prove the doggedness and earnestness of the American legal system.

Irrelevant.

If he weren't famous, I bet no one would bother with him at all.


Because he'd be in prison, having raped a child.

Anne Applebaum is a Washington Post contributer. Full disclosure: Applebaum's husband is the foreign minister for Poland, and has long sought Polanski's release.

That wasn't in there, but I thought I'd pretend, for a moment, that the Washington Post had a shred of journalistic integrity.

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