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Posted by on Sep 28, 2009 in At TMV | 21 comments

Roman Polanski: Scumbag

Polanski.jpgAs you may have heard by now, infamous film director Roman Polanski has been arrested in Switzerland more than thirty years after the fact of his crimes and may be extradited to the United States. For those of us who have been outraged by this case for decades, it may come as cold comfort to see justice finally served when the criminal is in his twilight years and has lived a live of decadent luxury for all this time, but half a loaf is better than none, I suppose. But perhaps nearly as outrageous as Polanski’s story is the jaw dropping response of industry luminaries and journalists to the news. There is probably no more insulting example of this than the incredible reaction of Anne Applebaum at the Washington Post, The Outrageous Arrest of Roman Polanski.

Of all nations, why was it Switzerland — the country that traditionally guarded the secret bank accounts of international criminals and corrupt dictators — that finally decided to arrest Roman Polanski? There must be some deeper story here, because by any reckoning the decision was bizarre — though not nearly as bizarre as the fact that a U.S. judge wants to keep pursuing this case after so many decades.

Excuse me? The arrest of Roman Polanski was outrageous? The facts of this case have never been in doubt, regardless of discussions of a judge who was “out to get him” or suggestions that Polanski didn’t know the age of his victim. He invited a thirteen year old child to the home of Jack Nicholson to be photographed with suggestions that it might be her “big break” into Hollywood. Once there, he drugged her and, over her clearly stated objections, took pictures of her in the nude. He then raped and sodomized the drugged child. And his arrest is what you find outrageous? (We should note in the interest of fairness and clarity that Mr. Nicholson was out of the country at the time and only allowing Polanski to stay at his home. He was not involved in the incident.)

Applebaum points to the many tragedies in Polanski’s life… the loss of his mother in Auschwitz and his impoverished upbringing in Poland. These things are sad, but have no bearing on his actions as a successful adult in California’s film mecca. Applebaum then piles more insult on injury with the suggestion that perhaps he’s already been “punished” for his crimes.

He did commit a crime, but he has paid for the crime in many, many ways: In notoriety, in lawyers’ fees, in professional stigma. He could not return to Los Angeles to receive his recent Oscar. He cannot visit Hollywood to direct or cast a film.

I see. So a child rapist was unable to fly to Hollywood for a dinner and to pick up an award, so clearly that should settle the score on the scales of justice. I’m sure the murderers of Bill Sparkman (should we ever catch them) will be disheartened to know that for the next five years they won’t be allowed to select anything from the dessert cart when they go out for dinner.

This was a thirteen year old girl… somebody’s daughter. Yes, she now says she has forgiven him, but I seem to recall the Pope forgiving the guy who shot him some time ago. That doesn’t mean we let the perpetrator walk. Polanski was convicted and fled the country in a successful bid to evade our legal system. He should have been in jail decades ago when it would have really mattered.

I have consistently refused to review any of Polanski’s films in my other on-line incarnation as an at large film reviewer and his continued freedom has been an affront to every decent person. It is far, far past time for him to stand before the wheel, and I certainly hope that the administration’s Justice Department plans to see this process through.

UPDATE: Patterico does a fine job in not only pointing out the “fact challenged” nature of Applebaum’s column, but that she failed to disclose the fact that her husband is a Polish foreign minister who is lobbying for Polanski’s case to be dismissed.

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  • tidbits

    Ask what the response would be if it wasn’t Roman Polanski, just some no-name who did the same thing, and you’ve got your answer. You’d hunt him to the ends of the earth to see that justice was done.

  • AustinRoth

    But he is an ARTIST, a darling of the cognoscenti.

    How can the masses expect such a luminary to be held to petty bourgeois standards?

  • tidbits

    AR – You’re right. Silly me. Some overblown sense of equal justice caused a lapse in thinking and I forgot about the special treatment accommodations for the rich & famous. 🙂

  • archangel

    thanks Jazz for this article; a good pulling back the veil.

    As I understand it at the moment, the woman who was once the child, age 13 then, and I think perhaps about in early -mid forties now… even tho she may want to drop the case now, the case remains a ‘people’ vs Mr. Polanski issue… and the going forward is decided now not by the victim, but by the prosecutor representing the people… ‘the people’ as in ‘we the people’ who the law is answerable to.

    If Miss Applebaum wrote in defense of Mr. Polanski without disclosing her ties to Polish lobbying for Mr. Polanski’s release and dropped charges, that would constitute a breathtaking breach of journalistic ethics in spades; a serious violation. Look for other journalists who keep to that ethic to make allegations against her and against the Washington Post. That story would have legs, arms, and head…

  • Jazz — Totally agree. It always gets my goat when people’s artistic abilities or fame allow them to do horrible things that any normal person of normal means would be put away for. I did not, however, stop watching his movies. If I were to boycott every artist I thought was a personal piece of slime, I’d never get any entertainment, sports, or beauty into my home.

    • JeffersonDavis

      Ah! There’s the rub!

      But if you stuck to your principles and did not give the scumbags money, they wouldn’t be rich and famous.
      Catch 22 huh?

      That goes for us all, of course. I personally try my best to avoid movies with certain actors and entertainment with certain belief systems that go against my own. I don’t always succeed, but I try.

      That seems to be yet another portion of the cultural and spiritual death we are experiencing in this country.

      • Well sure, I try to give my consumer dollars to those I also like personally, but at the same time, I feel like art is a little different than, say, what online bookseller you generally buy from. Particluarly considering how perfectly unhinged most of the world’s artistic (or otherwise) genuises are. Examples: Picasso was a jerk and a womanizer and a pervert. Dali was totally nuts. I find the personal politics of authors like Rand and CS Lewis to be repugnant and off kilter, respectively, but I still find the stories they write to illustrate those pretty fascinating. So, yeah, I guess I’m lining the pockets of people whose personal lives I strongly dislike, but at least they’re just individuals, and their work is unique. I do take a harder line supporting companies whose policies/politics/practices I dislike, as it’s pretty easy to find a different company filling the same market.

        • JeffersonDavis

          Good point, roro. It’s a big difference between individuals and groups.
          However, more and more, the individuals are becoming groups within “liberal” corporations or “conservative” corporations that have their individuals’ work emedded with a liberal or conservative message.
          Examples: Publishing houses, National Endowment for the Arts, News networks, etc.

          Heck…. Even Progressive Insurance bankrolls many liberal political entities – that’s why I dropped them.

  • ksb43

    Time to face the music, Roman.

    This is Polanski’s problem to solve, not the victim’s.

  • ksb43

    Actually, daveinboca, it speaks volumes about what kind of person you are, that you post something completely unrelated to the discussion at hand.

    • kathykattenburg

      It was removed before I could see it and laugh at it! Wah!

  • StockBoySF

    Yes, Polanski is a scumbag. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    While this sorts itself out he could very well be in jail longer than the original plea sentence. Plus wouldn’t more charges be brought against him for fleeing the country? Once a sentence is passed on him, he may be let go for time already served.

  • pacatrue

    I too don’t understand statements from those such as Mitterand who claimed Polanski’s arrest was a gross injustice. It seems in Mitterand’s mind that if you make good movies, you can sleep with 13 year olds? My only understanding at all is that because Polanski’s mother was murdered by Nazis and his wife was murdered by the Manson cult, that’s enough suffering for him. I can agree that such things should be taken into account in his sentencing, but he still must be sentenced.

  • Zzzzz

    Folks with money and connections never think the others in their click ought to face prosecution for their crimes. I, on the other hand, think that Polanski should spend the rest of his life in jail.

  • archangel

    some comments have been removed. This may interrupt flow of subsequent remarks. Sorry to be late on the scene to not have stopped this at the first post OT. The TMV comments rules are that commenters stick to the topic of the post. All the moderators would appreciate it if all commenters would follow TMV rules without having to be reminded. It makes for civil debates and discussions at TMV, and allows those of us who write here, to write more rather than having to take time to re-warn the same people again and again.

    If you see comments in violation of TMV policy, you are welcome to call it to our attention or ignore it (we’ll get to it,). It’s tempting to take such on with counter-barrages, but that’s not debate or discussion… and the one who rolls it out to begin with, seems to crave exactly that. I’d just suggest, ignore it, and one of the ‘tmv sweepers’ will come along soon. Thanksdr.e

    • tidbits

      Thank you!

      And, thank you as well for the earlier cmment about journalistic ethics related to Applebaum purportedly advocating for Polanski without revealing a conflict.

  • Father_Time

    My daughters are grown now, but I can tell you this; If Mr. Polansky had done what he did, to one of my daughters, I would have hunted him down and cut his throat.That,s how I feel about it.

  • If Roman Polanski’s life could be put into a movie review; perhaps Roman Polanski shows us the tragic man afraid of the light . . .a blind character that did not learn where others or even his own safe boundary resided. . .then fatefully towards the ending he is given an opportunity to learn that life is not accountable to him, but he is accountable for how he lives life. . . he is left facing the glaring lights. . .

    And thank you Jazz for seeing past the glitter. . .

  • I’m glad to see him face charges. Would it be off-topic to suggest that “not looking back” is not a valid excuse for those who have committed past crimes to avoid prosecution?

  • TheLid

    The Guy Drugged and had sex with a thirteen-year-old. Jazz I believe scumbag is way too nice of a term for him

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