I haven’t written on Roman Polanski’s arrest because everything worth saying is so blindingly obvious that those who need to hear are likely devoid of any capacity for understanding it. Still, one point thrown around bothered me most. The following excerpt from a New York Times article discussing cultural changes since the rape of a 13-year-old sums up the point I witnessed in more than one excuse for Polanski (emphasis added):
A 28-page probation officer’s report completed in September of that year presented a broadly sympathetic portrait of Mr. Polanski and his behavior, even while acknowledging that the victim, Samantha Geimer (who has since publicly identified herself), had offered grand jury testimony of forcible rape.
Submitted by the acting probation officer Kenneth F. Fare, and signed by a deputy, Irwin Gold, that report, which recommended against further jail time, said “the present offense appears to have been spontaneous and an exercise of poor judgment by the defendant.”
In a further conclusion that appeared to shed blame on the victim, it said, “There was some indication that circumstances were provocative, that there was some permissiveness by the mother,” who had allowed Ms. Geimer to spend time with Mr. Polanski. And, in a conclusion that might particularly jar readers today, it pointed toward evidence “that the victim was not only physically mature, but willing.”
I do not want to meet the sort of person who would suggest that parents may consent to the rape of their children. Anyone who suggests such a right exists is a barbarian. It doesn’t, because children are not property.
Posted without comment, I agree with every word of this assessment of the case (and the NYT article) by author Lauren McLaughlin, titled “She Was an Eight Grader.” A choice excerpt:
They don’t mention the drugs he gave her, drugs with very specific muscle-relaxing properties, mind you. They don’t mention that she said no repeatedly. They don’t mention that, after fleeing his sentence, Polanski immediately took up with another minor, Nastassja Kinski. If there’s a clearer case of unrepentant pedophilia, I’m not aware of it.
Nor is Polanski’s pedophilia in anyway mitigated by the fact that he seems to think that everyone wants to have sex with young girls. Rather, it’s a sign of the decrepit company he must have kept. And, perhaps, of the decrepit leniency with which sexual assault used to be treated.
For this reason, it irks but does not surprise me that people like Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, and Terry Gilliam signed that petition. But why did Tilda Swinton, Darren Aronofsky, and Alexander Payne sign it? Are they aware of the actual crimes they’re so anxious to pardon? And if so, what exactly would Polanski have had to do to this eighth grader to disqualify himself from their forgiveness?