Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nazis, Manson, and Polanski

I wonder how Roman Polanski would feel if the Nazis who mercilessly persecuted his family in Poland during WWII were allowed to simply go free because the crime was committed so long ago. Or perhaps those Charles Manson followers who savagely murdered his 8 1/2 month pregnant wife should be able to walk now because, after all it's been 40 years.

No, I can't imagine he'd feel very happy about that.

And yet he expects to be handed a get out of jail free card for raping a 13 year old girl 32 years ago.

Perhaps he feels that he is an exception to the laws of our land because of the wonderful films he's given the world. But many of those Nazis were living peaceful lives and contributed greatly to their community before they were hunted down and dragged to Nuremberg. And those Manson followers have just been ideal prisoners.

Unfortunately for Nazis, Manson followers, and Polanski that's not how our country's justice system works. You commit a crime, you get caught, you pay for it. And although plying a 13 year old girl with champagne and Quaaludes before sexually assaulting her orally, vaginally and anally isn't quite as heinous as murder, he still needs to pay for it.

The fact that the victim, now 42, has forgiven him publicly and even requested the charges against him be dropped (which, I dare say is more generous than he would be toward a Nazi or his wife's murderer), does not change anything. Prosecution of severe crimes, such as child rape, are left to the discretion of the State, not the victim. To not prosecute this crime NOW sends a dangerous message to a public that frankly already has some issues with sexual exploitation of children. Avoid the law long enough, wait for the victim to forgive you out of shear desperation to move on with her life, and you can get away with doing anything.

I can sympathize why the victim would feel the way she does. Every time this comes up it places unwanted focus and attention on her family and forces her to relive what must be painful memories. But that isn't the fault of the State, it Polanski's. If he truly recognized how wrong he was then he would man up, face his sentencing, and serve his time. If he did that then both he and the victim could finally lay this unfortunate incident to rest. But instead he has avoided, justified and dragged the whole ugly affair out.

No doubt there is a tidy little knot in Hollywood who feel not being able to accept your Academy Award in person is punishment enough, (Not all stars feel this way. Thank you Chris Rock for having the courage call Polanksi what he is--a rapist), but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that most of the people of the Great State of California feel that right is right and that the prosecuting attorneys representing them have an obligation to bring this man (and I use that term very loosely) to justice. If Polanski wasn't who he was, if he were say... just some random black man, or a conservative congressman I image the Hollywood elite would be singing a different tune but instead they seem to be coming up with their own realities where there is "rape" and "rape-rape" and the fact that the victim's mother was in the house some how casts a shade of gray on Polanski's guilt.

No matter how you look at it Roman Polanski was found guilty of statutory rape.* Sing and dance all you want, that's the bare knuckles fact. Not allegedly guilty but found in a court of law to be GUILTY. He needs to stand before a judge and be sentenced as that judge deems appropriate within the preset range determined by the laws of the State of California. After and only after he has served that time is his debt to society paid. Living in the lap of luxury in France for 32 years does not pay it, being forgiven by the poor child you victimized does not pay it, and making critically acclaimed films does not pay it.

It's rather ironic--many Nazis and those responsible for the murder of Sharon Tate have stood trial, been sentenced, and have paid, or are still paying for their crimes. And THAT is more than Roman Polanski can say.

*BTW - The original charges of rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious acts upon a child to which Polanksi plead guilty were plea bargain to simply statutory rape due to the victims effort to remain anonymous. However, because Polanski fled prior to sentencing, all of the original charges remain pending. So all this talk about what he technically is guilting of is just smoke and mirrors. Once he ran, all bets were off.