Roman Polanski has been arrested in Switzerland and is facing extradition to the United States because he was convicted of having unlawful sex with a minor in 1977. Faced with the prospect of an arranged plea deal being reneged on, the director lammed it, fleeing to Europe, where he has evaded the reach of authority until now.
The underlying facts of the case have not changed: On March 10, 1977, Polanski drugged a thirteen-year-old girl and forced her to submit to sexual intercourse. Know what else hasn't changed? The wholesale dementia of those who think Polanski deserves a pass for what he did.
The Washington City Paper's Amanda Hess does a fine job in running down and refuting many of the extant arguments that carry a brief for Polanski. There's the L.A. Times Patrick Goldstein's "Polanski's punishment is that he doesn't get the same privileges of all the other members of the Director's Guild who haven't committed crimes" defense. There's the "Wouldn't incarcerating Polanski be exactly like Auschwitz?" argument. There's HuffPost blogger Kim Morgan's creative convolution, which asserts, "Roman Polanski really understands women when he's not drugging and buggering them," and her fellow HuffPost blogger Joan Shore's "Her mother offered up her thirteen-year old for the taking" defense, a premise that belongs in one of Saudi Arabia's finer legal journals.
For idiocy completists, you should check out the apologias from Harvey Weinstein and Woody Allen, as well. But I'll add to this pile of sidesteppery the arguments offered by The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel, who really has done her publication a ton of good today by taking to Twitter to say: "Very Rarely agree with Anne Applebaum [who wrote a defense of Polanski in the Washington Post without disclosing a major bias conflict], but do in Polanski case," and then following up with, "Watch "Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired"--doc made last year. Detailed claims of prosecutorial wrongdoing at time of RP's original arrest," and "I am a feminist, declared and proud, but also hate prosecutorial misconduct. How to reconcile? Don't call me apologist for Polanski."
Prosecutorial misconduct: It's uhm...bad, mmm'kay? It's especially bad when it happens to anonymous defendants who slip through the criminal justice system, who cannot afford to mount the best appeals, and whose fates go largely unnoticed by the media. It should be fought. But Polanski had all sorts of resources at his disposal to fight it: he had wealth, he had friends, he had access to fine legal representation... why, I am reliably informed by Katrina vanden Heuvel that they even made a movie about the prosecutorial misconduct in his case. Polanski had the opportunity to expose prosecutorial misconduct -- and who knows whether that misconduct didn't extend to other defendants? But he didn't fight it. Instead, he fled, taking that fight with him.
Why did he do that? I'm guessing it's because he drugged and raped a thirteen year old girl.
But don't call vanden Heuvel a "Polanski apologist." He's just totally helping to raise awareness of rampant prosecutorial misconduct! Forget it, Jake, it's crazy town!