Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Weighing In On Polanski's Arrest

UPDATE: Did Polanski dare to be arrested after recently taunting the D.A. with "giving up?"

I HATE DOING THIS but I gotta and gonna. It'll be short though. Too many other good writers with my sensibilities have weighed in and voiced my concurring opinion on the whole judicial mess surrounding a crime Polanski committed with a child over three decades ago and his recent arrest while traveling in Switzerland.

Kate Harding at Salon weighed in first. Her extremely well-written bottom line: Drugging and raping a child, then leaving the country before you can be sentenced for it, is behavior our society should not tolerate, no matter how famous, wealthy or well-connected you are.

I, Webutante, might also add it doesn't matter how precocious she was at the time. She was still 13 and under the age of consent. Nor does it matter how close she was to her 14th birthday, for heaven's sakes. She was still under age. It was still a crime.

Then Neo weighed in adding her salient bottom line: I will add that the attitudes of those who would whitewash Polanski’s sorry crime and make excuses for him are not only wrong, but an example of the precipitous decline of what used to be known as Western Civilization.

A couple of legal points: it doesn’t matter what the victim wants at this point. It never does, except in the sentencing phase at the judge’s discretion, because one of the differences between civil and criminal law is that criminal acts are considered a crime against society as a whole.

Right, again as far as I'm concerned. Still many people hate to see this sordid mess brought up again, saying everyone---victim and offender---has suffered enough. Leave it alone!

This sadly misses the point however. While Polanski has made a private settlement to the now grown victim, married with three children, he has NOT paid his debt to society . Futhermore, he's fled from paying that debt, intending never to return to the United States.


Here's my comment at Neo's last night:

Kate Harding’s piece is right on, as is yours Neo. Polanski raped and sodomized a child and it’s time, this crime is finally resolved in the criminal court system. There was a similar case in Nashville of a child being raped, then murdered over thirty years ago which went unsolved and unresolved in the court system until last year. Having judicial closure and due process even if the judge gives Polanski a reduced sentence---or commutes his sentence---is of major importance. Thanks for saying what needs to be said here.

I would only add that closure does not mean he should and will be burned at the stake. It means this case needs to go back into the criminal court system for due process of law at the point at which Polanski took matters into his own hands and left the country.

Then, this morning (Am a bit behind in my reading yesterday) I see Pajamas Roger Simon, conservative editor and writer par excellence in Hollywood threw his hat in the ring on Polanski. His bottom line: he hates the whole damn mess, doesn't condone what Polanski did, but after all is said and done, it's not good for the Jews right now, since they have much bigger fish to fry with Ahmadinejad and all his saber-rattling in Iran against Israel.

Normally I agree with Roger on most things, but here I drew the line. So I tossed out a comment at his site:

Several points, Roger.

First, any "emblem of special pleading," especially after we think we’ve suffered enough, comes from self-pity and/or self-righteousness. None of us are immune to such thought patterns; however, they should never give us a pass from facing the consequences of our actions---illegal and otherwise.

Second, if every family or every child plead that a trial would harm the victim-child, pedophiles and sex offenders would rarely be brought to justice. I do think toning down the media circus in some of these cases might help, though it’s probably not possible in many sensational cases like this.

Last, I think there two legal issues going on here: the need for legal closure in a criminal court for the child rape/abuse—in spite of the private settlement with the victim many years ago; AND Polanski’s fleeing the country before sentencing and justice being served. This is not an acceptable resolution in spite of the passage of time, and should not be excused in any court of law for any reason.


I have to agree with some of the other commenters here about making this about hard on Jews. It’s a bit racist and you surely know better. There is such a thing as racial pride and racial pity. This case should not be made about race, creed, nationality or anything else. A mere man named Roman Polanski broke the law by drugging and raping a child under the age of consent. Then he fled the country before he faced punishment. That’s all there is to it. But that’s certainly enough.

I think this arrest has stirred a healthy, spirited debate. As events unfold, and Polanski fights extradition with the help of his buddy French President Sarkozy and his myriad Hollywood friends, I think it will become clear, society needs judicial closure on this case. The sooner at this point, the better.

Emotions around the world are running passionately high on Polanski's arrest and the word compassion for the perpetrator is being bantered about from Hollywood and Paris to the Zurich. Obviously there's a great deal of confusion when it comes to knowing how compassion works within the framework of justice in a case such as this.

So I would like to also publish another comment from Neo's post by Jon Baker who did a great job of clarifying this matter:

The following is a portion of the victim statement that my Uncle, who is a pastor, had for his daughter’s killer : “…Forgiveness for human beings is an act of obedience to the command of Scripture. Forgiveness on our part for those who offend us helps us maintain our fellowship with God because he forgives us as we forgive those who trespass against us. … we also forgave you. While I am commanded to forgive you for this offense, I do not possess the authority to pardon you…..The Scripture says, that human government was ordained by God “for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well” (1 Peter 2:14). This means that justice is a function and responsibility given by God to human government. Without the administration of justice, society becomes ever more increasingly vile and violent….redemption is only available to those who repent of sin and fully acknowledge truth. The only way that you will ever be free from this terrible tragedy is to completely speak the truth about what happened….When and if you ever speak the truth, the truth will set you free….We rest in the hope of the resurrection when Jesus Christ comes again…”

I believe my Uncle was speaking of truth bringing Spiritual Redemption and Freedom at the end, not freedom from jail.

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