I haven’t paid much attention to the Roman Polanski story. The short version is that 30+ years ago a famous Hollywood director pleads guilty to having “unlawful sexual intercourse” with a 13-year-old girl and then flees the country before sentencing. Last weekend Swiss police picked him up and are preparing to extradite him. Some members of Hollywood are demanding his release, citing things like his age, the wishes of the victim and his art.
What made me look into the story was this article on the backlash against the Hollywood supporters of Polanski and then this article, Father Polanski would go to jail. The comparison to the Catholic abuse scandal is right on. Child and sexual abuse from people in power is not something we should take lightly. I’m all for Hollywood rallying to Polanski’s side and supporting their friend and colleague. But that doesn’t mean the man shouldn’t face justice.
I honestly don’t know the inter-workings of the legal system and ramifications of a 30 year old case involving extradition well enough to comment one way or the other on what should happen to Polanski. But the piece of this story that really blows me away is arguments for Polanski’s release based on his talent:
“If you are a talent, the industry is willing in many ways to look the other way.” -Matthew Belloni of the Hollywood Reporter
“This is for me a shock. I am ashamed to be Swiss, that the Swiss is doing such a thing to brilliant fantastic genius, that millions and millions of people love his work. He’s a brilliant guy, and he made a little mistake 32 years ago. What a shame for Switzerland.” -Swiss filmmaker Otto Weisser
Wow. So if you’re talented or a brilliant genius or loved by millions of people then you’re above the law? Belloni comments that America is a forgiving culture, especially for our celebrities. That’s definitely true and it’s kind of sad. I’m all for forgiveness and grace, but there also needs to be justice and condemnation of what is wrong. A 43-year-old plying a 13-year-old with alcohol and then having sex with her is not a “little mistake.” Nobody is perfect, certainly not celebrities, and we all make mistakes. But even Michael Vick went to jail and paid his time. Are we a country that values justice for animal abusers but not for child abusers? I shudder to think.