Friday, October 02, 2009

My Weekend Contemplation

There will be no crush today, only contemplation. You see, it’s never easy to do what is right. It’s even harder when the powerful and famous urge you to do otherwise. But when the facts are this simple and the case this clear, it’s stunning that so many still choose the wrong thing. And, make no mistake, supporting the Free Polanski movement is the wrong thing.

The ugly and undisputed truth is that in 1977 when he was 43 years old, Roman Polanski raped a 13-year-old girl. He brought her to Jack Nicholson’s house with the promise of a photoshoot, gave her a Quaalude, plied her with champagne and then despite her protests and requests to see her mother, raped her repeatedly. Of course, her saying “no” is ultimately moot here because a 13-year-old cannot and could never consent to sex. There is no such thing. But just in case people want to muddy the waters with the canard of consent, yeah, no.

Nor do the victim’s assertions in the years since that she does not want the case pursued anymore change what happened. Just like when victims of domestic violence refuse to press charges against their attackers, the state must step in even if the victim is reluctant. The law is the law and the crime is one against not only the victim but the state. As a society, we do what is in the best interest of both the victim and the community at large. And just in case you still have any lingering ambiguity over whether a crime was committed, you can read the victim’s original grand jury testimony here. It is not a pleasant experience, believe me.

Roman Polanski pled guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and then, after spending 42 days in custody, he fled the country before he could be sentenced. Since then he has lived a life of artistic and personal freedom, wealth and acclaim overseas. These are just the facts.

That Roman Polanski is a great director is not the question here. He is a great director. “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Chinatown,” “The Pianist.” These are all great films. But the art is not the artist, nor does the art absolve the artist either. What he did was wrong and criminal. It does not matter that he may be a genius. It also doesn’t matter that Roman Polanski had a tragic life. His survival of the Holocaust, the gruesome murder of his wife Sharon Tate; these are all unspeakable things for any human to have to survive. But, once again, they do not negate one’s own ugly actions.

But both these reasons – his genius and his tragedy – have been used as excuses by those seeking to have him freed. And, quite frankly, both reasons make me furious. They smack of an insular elitism that has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with power and privilege. If he wasn’t talented, would his apologists then think it was OK for him to be finally punished for raping a 13-year-old girl? How easy it is through the lens of time to say, “Oh, it was the 70s, everyone did crazy things.” But going to a key party in bell bottoms and drugging and raping a 13-year-old are not the same. The former is a crazy thing, the latter is a despicable crime.

Which bring me to the petitions demanding his release (see them here and here). As we all know, some of the biggest and most influential names in Hollywood have signed including Martin Scorsese, Pedro Almodovar, David Lynch, Jonathan Demme, John Landis, Wes Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, Sam Mendes, Terry Gilliam, Neil Jordan, Steven Soderbergh and Woody Allen. (If that last name doesn’t make you laugh, then you have no sense of irony.) And then there are the ridiculous things Debra Winger and Whoopi Goldberg have said in his defense. But it’s the women on the petitions who truly break my heart. Among them are women I greatly admire like Tilda Swinton, Natalie Portman, Penelope Cruz and Kristin Scott Thomas. Oh God, no.

But, yes. There they are – signed, sealed, delivered. I don’t know their reasoning. I don’t particularly want to know their rationalizations. Because I know already that they are wrong. Rape is a terrible crime that echoes through the lives of its victims forever. Not time, not tragedy, not genius, not anything is an excuse for admittedly raping a 13-year-old girl and then fleeing the country when it came time to face the punishment.

But the silence from the rest of Hollywood is almost as perplexing. This, people, is what makes liberals look bad – their refusal to condemn one of their own. The thing is, lots of progressive men and women abhor Polanski’s actions and applaud his arrest. So many brilliant, eloquent women have spoken out against the Free Polanski nonsense like Eve Ensler, Allison Anders, Carrie Brownstein, Kate Harding, Melissa Silverstein. But we need more and more powerful allies.

So now comes the difficult task of reckoning. Do I still think Roman Polanski is a great director? Yes. Do I think he should be punished for his crimes? Yes. Do I still think Tilda Swinton, Natalie Portman, Penelope Cruz and Kristin Scott Thomas are wonderful actresses? Yes. Do I think they are flat wrong with Free Polanski? Yes. While it’s true that the art is not the artist, the artist must be held accountable for his actions no matter how great the art. What Roman Polanski did 32 years ago by fleeing his fate is deny all of us any possibility of redemption. I’m not sure if a child rapist can be redeemed; I have my doubts. But by never letting justice run its course, he has never taken true responsibility for his actions. Therefore anyone who then defends them is just defending the rape of a child. And that will never, ever be right.

97 comments:

LithiumSun said...

HEAR, HEAR!! This whole thing is ridiculous! It's extremely disappointing that these smart, talented and interesting women support this guy. You're absolutely right. Nothing can ever make this go away, or right. Raping a woman is bad enough, there are no words strong enough to condemn the rape of a child. May he rot in jail somewhere, someday.

Anonymous said...

Absolute fantastic writing. "The artist is not the art"? Spot on. I would love to hear the reasons from all the petitioners but I fear their only arguments will be that they respect and admire Polanski's artistry, alot of time has past.... but the victim has to live with this to the death. Shameful all of these petitioners

;) babs said...

thank you ms. sarker, once again!

if the man is guilty, he has to face punishment like any other criminal!

I too cannot believe who signed the free polanski list!
it has nothing to do with his art.


;) babs

Megan said...

Well said! It is despicable that those in the film industry would defend him like this. They've been doing it for years though. I clearly remember Adrien Brody speaking in support of Polanski at the Oscars when he won best actor for The Pianist. He was angry they wouldn't let Polanski into the country for the award ceremony. I was about thirteen at the time was baffled by the emotional support so many in that auditorium had for a man who had committed a heinous crime.

Genius artists are just as responsible for their actions as the rest of us, and if they have to serve time after committing a crime, then it's they who are robbing the world of their genius, not the law or their jailers.

CAB said...

Even if these people signing the petition think he did not rape the girl the fact is that he agreed to a plea bargain that would have put him in jail and instead he fled the country. At a minimum he should be punished for that.

I may think the actresses you mentioned are good at their jobs but my opinion of them has dropped dramatically

Tapwater Jackson said...

Thank you.

Celine said...

It absolutely was rape like you said, and he should have to come back and go through the judicial system, just like anyone else. There's no question he did it, since he confessed, and then he compounded that by fleeing, which is also illegal. Those are facts, and no amount of artistic talent can erase what he did.

As a counter to the petition for his release, blogger Thomas Hawk has created an informal petition asking for him to be returned to the US.

Cal said...

I don't know what to think about your article. It makes me uneasy. I agreed on this point : M. Polanski needs to confront (a second time) justice. But, what can assure you he will be judged in a proper way with a fair judge ? (which seems not to be what happened in the first place).The thing that makes me uneasy about your article is the way you take position : "But, yes. There they are – signed, sealed, delivered. I don’t know their reasoning. I don’t particularly want to know their rationalizations. Because I know already that they are wrong." It's your right not to be impartial. But please, don't call you article : week-end "contemplation", you are not contemplating these delicate matter, you are judging. You are free to do so but please allow me to say I don't like it.

WannabeVirginia W. said...

That was an excellent post. While I was reading the smoking gun link you provided, clearly she is a child to which he took advantage of. RAPE IS RAPE. How many more times could she have said NO! NO means NO! She must have been so scared. If he was a regular person not a famous director, he would be arrested and if he had fled, there would be an immediate warrant for his arrest. He had been in the public eye for so long and was not picked up. I say he should be punished for what he did. I am so disappointed with Whoopi for supporting the free roman garbage.

ashb22 said...

You have articulated much of what I've been thinking since this hit the news. I agree that this situation is making liberals look bad. I'm very disappointed to hear about all the signatures on the petition, especially Natalie Portman, because I've been a fan for a while.

Years ago, Portman initially turned down a role in a film because it required a partially nude sex scene. I even found a comment she made about it (Google is amazing): "I was 16 at the time, and I just wasn't ready to do something like that..." But it's OK for Polanski to rape a thirteen year old? Wow.

karen said...

Excellent post.

LizW said...

I had not been aware of some of the facts you set out. Given that there appears to be no question about rape (even taking out the statutory aspect of it), the mental gymnastics required to even consider supporting his release really boggle the mind. I do feel sorry for the girl (now woman) in question having to go through this ordeal yet again in the press. Of course, if there had been an ounce of decency left in him, Roman would have taken the agreed upon punishment and this woman might have had a chance to try to heal (although what she thought about the plea deal is a different matter).
Before coming to read your blog, I had just read about what Elizabeth Smart went through.
We need justice, not just for the sake of these young girls, but the many others who have gone through the same thing.
btw - I didn't see it, but I understand Chris Rock was especially unsympathetic to Roman on Jay Leno's show last night.

Kristin said...

Well said Ms. Snarker. I mean, how out of touch does a community need to be in order to defend a child rapist? It's just disgusting. I love movies, but I've had enough with Hollywood elitists. It's just sad.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your eloquent and lucid description of this abhorent crime. As a Nurse-Midwife who performs exams in the ER on women who have been sexually assaulted, I fully concur with your analysis of the impact rape has on its victims. There is then too a special place in hell for child rapists.

All of your points are dead-on--the victim's current opinion of the matter is irrelevant; Polansky's personal history and talent are irrelevant; the passage of time is irrelevant. He is an admitted criminal of the worst kind.

I am ashamed of and disappointed in those who support this man. They don't have a leg to stand on.

Keep it up, Snarker. Fabulous as always.

Disgusted in OK said...

THANK YOU for speaking out and saying what so many of us think. I don't understand his supporters' reasoning and I wish his detractors would speak out just as loudly. I've only seen a couple of celebs speak out against Polanksi, reiterating "rape is rape": Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Fallon. Let's hope more take a stand.

cjanet said...

Thank you for your post. It was beautifully written. After seeing who signed the petition it has helped me know to NOT support them by seeing any of their movies. (Of course I boycotted Woody Allen years ago) I can not believe ANYONE would think it was OK. It absolutely disgusts me. You're awesome!

ekg from pdx said...

Thank you, Ms Snarker. I agree wholeheartedly.

One tiny thing in this whole roiling drama: his attorney asking for his release because "he's not a flight risk". F*ck Off! Arsehole!

Big Shamu said...

It's not just you who feels this way. The man committed two crimes and admitted to the fact that he raped this girl.
Cal, I must admit I'm mystified at your inability to grasp this, Roman Polanski admitted to raping the girl. What astounds me is that you're more concerned about Polanski receiving "fair" justice while the victim receives NONE. What's fair? From what I've read, the original judge wanted to have Polanski serve another 48 days in prison. Apparently Mr. Polanski, is too delicate to serve a friggin' month and a half but not too delicate to slip a 13 year old part of a Qualude, champagne and rape her. That neither Dorothy nor I can understand the rational of signing a petition demanding the admitted child rapist's release is not judgement but confusion at some people's inability to grasp the obvious.

Sharon said...

i couldn't agree you more, he is definitely guilty

FrannyMae said...

Brava Dorothy! Well said. There are other illuminating court documents at thesmokinggun.com, especially the transcript of Polanski's guilty plea when he acknowledges that the judge is not bound by any sentencing agreement worked out between the prosecutor and defense counsel, but that he may reconsider after Polanski is evaluated and sentence him to up to 30 years in prison.

No one is above the law. As an attorney I'm appalled by the attitude of some who think the passage of time negates Polanski's fleeing the jurisdiction. That was a huge "fuck you" to the U.S., though I notice he's hasn't declined any American revenue from his films.

There's only one thing I disagree about with you, Dorothy--the women who signed the "Free Polanski" petitions are not smart. They're insular and in no way grounded in reality. In contrast, you might want to check some red carpet comments in a recent CNN video, especially Patricia Arquette's. She discusses the case and then says "Who cares what I think anyway?"

Too many of us confuse the actress with the role and put these people on a pedestal they don't deserve. Playing a woman of courage doesn't make you one in real life. Money and fame are a great divide, and few actors have the book smarts to understand any country's justice system.

There's only one correct response in the Polanski case--it's about time the man is being brought to justice.

:(( babs said...

these are the women I know/like from the list, what a shame!!!

Diane von Furstenberg
Isabelle Huppert
Arielle Dombasle
Isabelle Adjani
Tilda Swinton
Jeanne Moreau
Asia Argento
Penelope Cruz
Sylvia Kristel
Sonia Rykiel
Ludivine Sagnier
Natalie Portman
Kristin Scott Thomas

why oh why!?

DaChickenLady said...

Brava, Ms. Snarker, and thank you.

The point about whether he would receive fair justice is just another excuse. Someone even made a documentary arguing that point. Here's the thing: nobody could be CERTAIN that he/she would receive fair justice. There are people wrongly accused, unfairly sentenced, and otherwise do not receive fair justice all the time. HOWEVER, we must go through the legal process so that justice has a chance. Otherwise, everyone can just raise the possibility of things going wrong and place themselves above and outside the legal system.

With so many supporters, journalists, and others interested in this case, you can bet that those who are responsible for meting out justice will be extra careful in being, and appearing to be, fair.

scribegrrrl said...

Thank you. It's been a very weird week.

I hadn't heard the Debra Winger thing -- I feel absolutely heartbroken by that. I don't understand.

I also find it ironic that Monica Bellucci is supporting him, considering her movie "Irreversible" makes many strong anti-rape statements.

Sadness all around.

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Anonymous said...

Alright, this is the first and last thing I'm going to say about this, I've been reading posts like this all week and I didn't want to get involved at all, but it's starting to bug me now. I was raped when I was younger than 13, repeatedly, and guess what? It really can be forgiven. Of course I don't pretend to be speaking for all victims, not at all, but I'm sick of reading about this "fate worse than death", this unspeakable thing that ruins young girls lives for ever and ever and about which everyone gets to have an opinion, indignation mostly. It's not true, at least not for me (which must mean there are more people like me out there, I think)...My life didn't get ruined, it wasn't nice but it was not disastrous either, and I genuinely don't care what happens to "my" rapist at all, I just don't want to talk about it ever again (and I guess I should be glad that it wasn't more traumatic in my case, because I don't pretend it isn't life-wrecking for some, everyone reacts in their own way). I can imagine the same that is true for me is true for Polanski's victim. So just shut up already, if the victim doesn't want to sue anymore who are you (or is anybody else) to say she HAS TO? It was a crime against her, not you, not the world. Why do you know better? I'd sign those petitions just for all this (and yes there are other arguments that have merit), so don't say "I already know they're wrong, I don't even want to know there reasons", maybe they're valid?

Sorry if I sound angry and not very coherent, but it seems I just had to let it out and your blog was the final drop...Sorry for that, and in all other matters, keep writing the way you are, because I really like your blog most of the time :-)

stefanie said...

tilda disappoints me

Anonymous said...

It is like those who support Vick the dog fighter because he is a great football player, Bobby Cox the coach of the Braves who abused his wife, Tyson who is a great fighter but raped women, and the list goes on. Like you mention, people are in the spotlight because of their talent but that does not make them "good people", it just makes them talented, and we need to separate the two. Polanski can be a great director but that doesn't make him a great person.

the crustybastard said...

ANONYMOUS WROTE: "I can imagine the same that is true for me is true for Polanski's victim. So just shut up already, if the victim doesn't want to sue anymore who are you (or is anybody else) to say she HAS TO? It was a crime against her, not you, not the world. Why do you know better?"

Wrong.

Crimes are committed against the State — the people, that is to say, EVERYONE. The State brings the criminal action, which is why prosecutors sit alone. The crime victim is a complaining witness, and like any other witness (cooperative or hostile), they are subject to subpoena.

A rape victim may choose to bring a separate CIVIL action on his or her own behalf to obtain compensation for damages. In this case, Polanski's victim chose not to bring a civil claim against him. That is exclusively her right and decision, and I don't begrudge her in the least, either way.

With the evidence that they had against Polanski, failure to bring a criminal case would have been prosecutorial misconduct.

That said, I'm very sorry you were the victim of a sexual assault.

I'm also very sorry that your rapist evidently got away with it.

FrannyMae said...

Thank you, crustybastard, for posting what you did. The point is, Polanski's victim will not be required to testify if he's extradited to the U.S. He's already entered a guilty plea to the lesser included charge of having sex with a minor, so that stage of the proceedings is over. He'll be sentenced on the charge as he would have been in 1977.

His fleeing the jurisdiction is of course another matter entirely and will be dealt with accordingly. It has nothing to do with the underlying crime.

I believe Polanski's victim did bring a civil suit against him but it was settled prior to the entry of his guilty plea.

To the anonymous poster who was raped as a child and to Polanski's victim--you both have my utmost sympathy. It's not Samantha's fault that the matter was not concluded 30 years ago--it's because Polanski acted like a scared child and ran. To that extent she might redirect some of the scorn she's shown the justice system to the man who's actually prolonged her suffering.

j.d said...

Maybe their reasoning is that the woman, who will forever be identified as a victim by the media, doesn't want to be known as 'the victim' anymore and has stated specifically she wants this all to go away.
I know, it's not what the law intends at all, but I'm hoping maybe their reasoning is more for their fellow woman than their fellow artist.
/thinks polanski should go to jail. Also thinks we should stop spreading the details of the rap for the sake of the woman's private life. Imagine walking down the street and strangers knowing and thinking about that one night in your life??

Anonymous said...

(same anonymous speaking)

Yes, well, I'm not. Him getting away with it means I'M not pegged as "a poor poor victim" for the rest of my life, because almost nobody knows (except the people who I MYSELF chose to tell), and seeing how people react to this story just confirms my opinion that his freedom a very small price to pay. Also, I don't even hate him (never did, actually). (and I'm almost certain he never did it to anybody else, which might have changed the case, I don't feel like I let a rapist loose on the public or something).

And it might be the law that it's a crime against the state, but that doesn't ring true to me at all. If someone touches MY body against MY will, it's a crime against ME, not the damn state. That's what it feels like, anyway. I'm sure it's not even a bad law, and very helpful to real justice in many cases, but it still seems very wrong that it's not a victim's decision whether to go further in court or not. And if we lived in a society where justice was complete after every crime this "prosecutorial misconduct" argument might make more sense but people get away with much worse every day, publicly even. It's not like you read any outraged accounts of Polanski's behaviour before this arrest, for instance, few people would have shown so much indignation if the case was never proceeded with again, and it was public knowledge.

Then again, I'm obviously no lawyer, so what do I know?

RHEA said...

Thank you for this.

linster said...

Thank you. I've been so sad and confused by the comments of women I admire that I needed your eloquence to clear the fog.

Anonymous said...

Exceptionally well-done. Thank you. It has been a banner week for Dorothy Surrenders. Keep it up!

taylor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thank you. The fact is, he raped a girl. I don't know how many of you have been raped under the age of 16, but let me tell you, it sucks. And very, very few girls that young will press charges. The horror of the event goes deep in to their psyche and stays there for years. Maybe later they will regret the choice, maybe not.

As far as the many who have asked for him to be freed, I don't understand. Is that what we really want to put out as a society? Rape is OK?

I would rather die than be raped again. A stint in prison is nothing compared to the pain he has caused.

Reese DoWitt said...

Finally! Thank you Snaker. This post helped streamline all the chaotic WTF thoughts that have been spinning around in my head regarding this entire issue. Im stupefied that ACTORS believe that certain people should be above the law simply bc they are members of the 'Hollywood Club'. Great post, Snarker. I hope your message reaches at least one of their computer screens.

Anonymous said...

Other anonymous, it saddens me very much that you feel that way. I'd rather be raped 100 more times myself than die, and as I said above, I'm very glad that I'm lucky enough to react this way. This proves my point once more, everyone reacts differently in a situation like this, and it's nobody else's business, unless you choose to involve them. So that's what bugs me the most about this whole business, and that's why I'm behind those disapproving this arrest; it's all this hysterical, self-righteous all-knowing talk by people who have nothing whatsoever to do with it, acting outraged as if R. Polanski were the worst criminal of all time.
Like I said, this whole affair has been public knowledge for years and years, and all that time all was quiet on the outrage front. Polanski has moved on, more importantly the victim had moved on, she was living a normal, fairly anonymous life like she wanted; and now this arrest happens (against the victim's will) and BOOM everyone's talking about it, outraged as though it's their own trauma. It just doesn't sit right with me, not at all. I could never defend Polanski's behaviour in 1977 but the anti-Polanski reactions this week have made me much, much angrier than those who defend him. For some reason, I can't really explain (although I'm aware I've been going on about it for ages now!)...

JC said...

This is a beautifully written article. One aspect that seems relevant but absent in the larger discussion is what 'the victims' rights and roles are in the pursuit of justice. It's a topic I wish got more attention, as I think this public media battle is doing a deep disservice to this woman. In general our discourse about what men and women who are raped "should do" or are obligated to do could stand to be more nuanced and realistic about the consequences. It's hard to feel good about a process that causes further harm to those who have been victimized. (though i am certainly not saying this is always the case, it is a reality for some)

This http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2009/09/28/polanski_justice/index.html gives a counter-point from a similar perspective.

JC said...

http://preview.tinyurl.com/yannyw6

hmm, sharefail. trying again.

awnutts said...

Obviously, it is uncomfortable for some to condemn a man who has lived through such terrible personal tragedies. And yet, had he been a man of no esteem or clout (as so many criminals are) but with intense traumatic experiences (as so many criminals have) everyone would say that nothing excuses violating a child.

Certainly, the reluctance of the victim to pursue this would give many pause. The way to respect her, I believe, would be to quietly extradite him and have him serve his time for (at least) the violations he made against the state. His supporters bringing more attention to the case won't help her much. Not that I believe any case like this could be handled respectfully in the public forum either way.

Lastly, I read a comment that mentioned Bobby Cox's history of abusing his wife. I googled it, and saw that he was arrested for, among other things, punching her in the face. I am a huge Braves fan and have loved Bobby since I was probably 8 years old. I am so heartbroken. It's like I just learned Mr. Rodgers kicked a puppy. But at least Fred Rodgers was really a good guy. The one childhood hero that has never and will never let me down. Unlike Bobby Cox....jackass.

Blazer said...

You are a master with words and are so right! Thank you for stating so eloquently what so many of us have been thinking!

FrannyMae said...

Anonymous--This is not something we're ever going to agree on, but the state has a very large interest in this case as it has in any crime committed against a minor. It's the state's job to protect the safety and well-being of its citizens and to punish those who transgress. This is a prime function of society and the governments it creates. Yes it is your body, but the state has a responsibility to try to assure the public that other bodies won't be violated by the perpetrator in the future.

This interest means that yes, prosecution will continue in certain cases whether the victim is willing or not. Most prominently these are crimes against minors and domestic violence incidents, both for very good reasons--the perpetrators in these cases are rarely one-timers and because of this they need treatment and/or incarceration to prevent future damage.

I'm not swayed by the argument that Polanski was a one-time offender. First of all, his taste for underage girls was known before and has certainly been demonstrated in the years since he fled to Europe. How old was Nastassia Kinski when they got involved? 15? And "Law & Order: SVU" notwithstanding, any prosecutor or police officer can tell you that one-time sex offenders, particularly where minors are concerned, are very rare indeed.

I'm glad non-prosecution worked in your case and you apparently went on with your life after you were raped. However, the situation is quite different in many other cases, which is why we have prosecutors and courts. It may not be the best system in the world, but it's far better than anything else that's been invented so far.

FrannyMae said...

One thing I forgot to mention--no, it hasn't been "all quiet on the Western front" in the years since Polanski fled the country. The press rehashed the rape and his flight from justice every time a new film of his opened (along with a mention of Sharon Tate and the Manson gang). And things really got hot a few years ago when he was nominated and won an Oscar for directing "The Pianist".

LadyJustice said...

And the cheese stands alone ...
Roman Polanski plead guilty to a lesser charge, a plea bargain that was offered up by the state. Part of that plea bargain was supposed to be "time served".
No evidence was ever presented in the case.
The Judge decided he did not want to accept the 42 days time served, and was going to sentence Polanski to a longer sentence. Which was not part of the plea bargain. In fact, it took the "bargain" out of the plea. If Polanski had known he was going to go to jail for a much longer time, he may have presented a defense.
This was tantamount to a football team being ahead in a game 56-0, and then having the Ref's say, "Oh, by the way, we're changing the rules. Anytime you've crossed the goal line, we're giving the other team 6 points."

Without any evidence, all of you are going against our basic rule of justice, "Innocent until proven guilty." The state never presented any evidence, and thus, never proved anything other than the fact that there is a huge flaw in a system that allows plea bargains in the first place.

alphafemme said...

What sickens me most about the whole situation is that it totally and completely and quite clearly demonstrates that we are *not* a just democracy. A crime is a crime is a crime. Just because he's an artist, a privileged straight white rich man, a man with a lot of friends and a lot of clout, DOES NOT mean he should get treated any differently by the law (or by our sympathies) than, say, a middle-aged black man living in urban poverty. Because THAT kind of perpetrator would never win over our sympathies, and would never have petitions signed demanding mercy. Why? Because our society is bleeping racist and classist.

And that's not to say the latter perpetrator shouldn't be thrown in prison for raping a 13 year old. It's to say that *Polanski* should NOT get any special privileges. He should be treated the same under the law as anyone else who commits that kind of heinous crime.

Anonymous, FannyMae has explained very well why the victim's wishes, in the eyes of the state, are not really paramount. I think it's a flawed system, for sure, because it's a system that *further* objectifies the woman/survivor, in that it just uses her(him) as a pawn in the State's prosecution. That's a large part of the reason why many survivors choose not to file police reports of their assaults.

But, this matter with Polanski, now, isn't about "justice for the woman." Not anymore. To me, it's about justice *for the State* and for everyone in it. And it's about ensuring that our legal system truly offers a level playing field to everyone in it, and not sending the message that money and power and clout means you can get away with whatever you want.

taylor said...

thank you for this post! i hadn't been up to date about the controversy and you did a wonderful job discussing it. i agree, all around. i've wasted the whole morning drafting a tirade of my own, but i think you put it best!

Big Shamu said...

Lady Justice, are you saying that Polanski now denies having intercourse with a 13 year old girl? If no deal had ever been reached, are you saying the victim would not have testified in open court?
If the deal was not the one agreed to than certainly it would have been in the defendant's best interest to go to trial and clear his name. Fleeing the country are certainly not the actions of an innocent man,who I might add had the power, money and status to fight this charge. They are the actions of a guilty man unwilling to accept the punishment he might have received.

Anonymous said...

Frannymae, I do see your point, but you're right, we're never going to agree. I can even see the point of those laws maing some things crimes against the state as well as the victim, in theory it's all very nice. But the most legal way isn't always the best way (that's why most laws can and do change, after all, they're not written in stone), in practise, and this arrest is obviously doing more harm than good to all those ACTUALLY involved. The mainstream opinion (at least over here and in most media at the moment) seems to be that R.P. is expecting/has received special treatment because he's famous, but it seems to me that it's the other way around: they're making some kind of example out of him, to show the public how the State never gives up until justice is served, or something. And the public is going along with it extremely well. There may have been talk/indignation about this before, from time to time (I vaguely knew about this before, as did most people, I'm assuming) but not like this, this week everyone seems to be personally involved. And Polanski's the Hitler of the week. This whole attitude seems very wrong to me; everyone is still acting like rape is a fate worse than death, as if not being scarred too much afterwards isn't a realistic possiblity (IF people, or worse yet the entire world press, don't keep treating you like a victim, that is). I'm not saying it's not a horrible, heinous crime but victims CAN (and do) get over it and lead normal lives - and that's not a message that's going to come across if people keep reacting like this.

Anonymous said...

(ps: sorry, still not very coherent I'm afraid, I've been trying to avoid discussions like this all week and this is the first time I'm trying to lay my finger on what exactly is bothering so much about all these outraged "opinion pieces" I'm seeing everywhere...But I guess those last lines summed it up pretty good, it's that whole "She moved on? Impossible! It's only been 30 years! We'll take matters into our own hands and make sure no one ever forgets what happened to this person"-attitude)

Fannie said...

Great post. You should write about Serious Stuff more often ;-) (Although, I'd sure miss tank tops and your commentary on other assorted eye candies).

bluebell said...

Oh my! Have none you geniuses seen the documentary? Do you not understand that the man served his time? That the judge was involved in some very dirty politics, and the entire judical process a farce? But who cares about that right? Who really cares about what really happened anyway?

LadyJustice sums it up all quite nicely in her post, but I don't think you all can handle the truth.

Carol said...

The women you mentioned signing this petition disappoint me greatly. (Tilda? Kristen? Isabelle? Really?) It's a little heartbreaking. Unlike Ms. Snarker, tho, I am morbidly curious enuf to want to actually hear their rationalizations about it. Because I can't imagine.

As a midwestern American, I've always envied (what I regarded as) the more sophisticated European attitude towards life, especially with sex. America's self conscious prudishness on the one hand and it's crass sensationalism on the other extreme, often seem very silly and immature to me.

The actresses I mentioned have struck me as having this savvy and knowing sophistication, which is why I have admired them (that and their talent). But that attitude I envy is in regards to *consensual* sexual relations. Which this case was and is most certainly not. So these actresses' support of Polanski is inconceivable to me.

I'm a creative person myself, but still think I should be held to the same standards of common decency. As a society we too often excuse the excesses of our talented and beautiful people. I might even overlook a genius being cranky and demanding, but not harmful and destructive to others. Artists are supposed to be a force of creation, not destruction.

As far as the legal angle, I whole-heartedly agree with AlphaFemme: "To me, it's about justice *for the State* and for everyone in it. And it's about ensuring that our legal system truly offers a level playing field to everyone in it, and not sending the message that money and power and clout means you can get away with whatever you want."

Thanks, Ms. Snarker, for tackling this subject.

FrannyMae said...

I'm sorry for seemingly hogging the conversation, but one of the big problems with the Polanski business is that a lot of people don't understand how a plea bargain works. There's more to it any you see on TV.

Polanski pled guilty to having sex with a minor. The guilty plea negated the need for any testimony whatsoever from the victim, the police or whoever, whether then or in the future. A guilty plea is the same as a conviction, legally speaking, so it's case closed on that issue. However, it's not a minor point that Polanski admitted on the record that he knew the victim was 13 at the time.

A plea bargain is actually an agreement between the prosecutor and the defense attorney whereby the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser crime than that originally charged in exchange for the prosecutor's recommendation of probation or minimal jail time. Technically the judge is not a party to the agreement at any time.

In Polanski's case his guilty plea triggered the judge's ordering him to serve 42 days in a psychiatric facility for pre-sentencing evaluation under California's law applicable to offenders who are guilty of having sex with minors. Apparently the plea deal worked out would have limited incarceration to that time frame, with I believe additional time on probation.

Had Polanski shown up for sentencing, the judge would have reviewed the pre-sentencing report and either approved or rejected the sentence offered by the prosecutor under the plea deal. A judge is not required to accept any plea deal, a fact which Polanski acknowledged on the record on the date he entered his guilty plea. Both this transcript and the pre-sentencing report can be found at thesmokinggun.com.

Judges are permitted to reject plea deals if they feel justice is not being served by the prosecutor's recommendation. I recently represented a defendant for whom I had worked out a deal, but the judge, a real prick, rejected it and threatened my client with jail time in open court (This was municipal court and my client was guilty of a minor offense). So I did what every prudent attorney does in that situation--I withdrew my client's guilty plea and returned to court when the regular judge was back on the bench. P.S.--She approved the deal without batting an eye.

If you read the transcript of Polanski's guilty plea, he acknowledged on the record that he had the right to withdraw his guilty plea if the judge disallowed the reduced sentence. Whether the judge would have actually done so is something we'll never know because Polanski left the country.
If he had, my point is that Polanski had legal remedies available to him, including making a motion to recuse (remove) the judge from the case, which if denied, could have been appealed.

Sorry for going on at such length but there's more involved here than a lot of people, especially Hollywood types, think.

frannie said...

Well said and spoken. I agree wholeheartedly! I think it's insane that anyone would believe he's done his "time" or served any sort of punishment. Until he is held accountable, SCREW HIM!

Thanks for this post.

Ladyjustice said...

FrannyMae, I fully understand the reality of plea bargains, and why no evidence was presented. I also am well aware that he could have withdrawn his plea. That all being said, I still believe the man has been found guilty without a trial. I FULLY believe he committed a crime that night; and yes, that crime was rape. Our legal system is not based on what I believe though. If he is returned to the USA, he should face trial. I have my doubts about the possibility of a fair trial at this point, let alone how any evidence may have stood the test of time.

Jae said...

as a survivor of child sexual assault, i am heartbroken that people are coming to the defense of this pervert. i couldn't imagine having to sit back and watch people stand up for and defend my rapist. though i agree with another, i would like to hear their rationalizations...if its anything like whoopi's, they're screwed.

i don't understand what took them so long to track him down, i don't know what exactly the plea bargain was, but he pled guilty, and they got him. he ran on the assumption that the judge may change his sentencing. you don't get to run just because you THINK you might get an unfair sentence.

some have mentioned their experiences with rape here and how they managed to move on with their lives, and i applaud that, but as you also mentioned, many rape victims cannot. i struggled with my rape for years battling a decade long suicidal depression, and though i recovered from that, i continue to try to heal. there is no expiration date for the effects of rape, there should be no expiration date for the rape crime.

the victim has already pressed charges, she testified, she got him convicted, she can't back down now, its out of her hands, and he should not be excused of his crime to avoid embarrassing her. as ms. snarker said, sometimes the law is there to protect us from ourselves.

FrannyMae said...

Ladyjustice, I don't understand what you're saying. Polanski pleaded guilty and waived his right to a trial. The state can't compel a trial at this point. Polanski can move to withdraw his guilty plea and proceed to trial, but the state can't require him to do so.

Don't high schools teach this anymore? Yikes, when I was in school it was required in U.S. History II, a.k.a "Problems of American Democracy". Some of the comments posted here are just unbelievable.

Carol said...

Thanks FrannieMae for your explanation of the legal process involved.

I've read on other forum comments where people were objecting to the judge backing out on "his" (meaning the judge's) plea bargain with Polanski. That didn't make sense to me, but your explanation makes it clear why. It was never the judge's agreement. And he had the legal right to not heed the plea bargain.

Bluebell? You state the "man did his time". My understanding is he appeared for a 42 day PRE-sentencing evaluation. There was no jail time served because final sentencing was not made before he fled. No matter how one might feel about France, it is not "doing time" there, either.

Carol said...

FrannyMae (Sorry for the misspelling). But to answer your question - that never got taught in *my* school. Which is probably obvious!

inn33dfr33dom said...

There should be no argument to whether he should be charge or not charge. The underlying matter is that he raped an underage girl. That is enough statement to charge him guilty. It is sad to say he is defended by these celebrities because of his genius work or his tragic life.

I pity the victim for all the difficulties she gone through for all these years.

beth said...

"This, people, is what makes liberals look bad – their refusal to condemn one of their own."

I'm neither a hardcore liberal nor a conservative, more of an independent really but you’re words are very on-point.

Onto the heart of your message though, any support for this man makes my stomach turn. Try looking in the face of a 13 yr old child who was raped and telling them that the person who committed such a horrible crime against them isn't going to suffer any consequences because they're, essentially, good at their job and wealthy and apparently still respected even though they pled guilty. Bet they wouldn’t be so quick to sign then.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous the rape victim:

though it may have been no big life altering deal for you to be raped, your attacker's next victim may feel differently, or he may eventually escalate the violence he's willing to use. that's why prosecution of crimes is a good idea, rather than just absorbing the abuse. Good grief.

Antonia said...

Well put, Madame Snarker. This has been bothering me since it came up again. I'm old enough to remember the original case. (Yikes!)The man pled guilty to raping a 13 year old girl. At the time, she was accused of all sorts of things, boiled down to "she asked for it." He ran, and thanks to his talent, his friends and his connections, he led a pretty nice life.

And now all should be forgiven? He could have done his time-if any-laid low, and redeemed himself either by acts, or by his oft-told tale of woe. But no, he was above that.
He could STILL throw himself on the mercy of the court, and have this over and done with in a reasonable amount of time.
I'm a wild-eyed liberal, and I say he should be held to the same standard as the perv down the street. The man admitted to raping a child and ran from the consequences. Time doesn't clean up that stain.

I'm disappointed in some of the celebrities, but I wonder if it is more of closing up ranks around one of their own. Most are too young to have known about the case before it was molded into something other than what it once was.

DaChickenLady said...

He did not have a trial because he, and his lawyers, thought he got a sweetheart of a deal with the prosecutor. He knew what legal rights (including a trial by jury) he was giving up in pleading guilty to a lesser charge. He also knew that the judge had not decided how to rule, and that there were no guarantees that the judge would go along with the plea bargain. He also knew that he had the right to withdraw his guilty plea if the judge decided not to go along with the sweetheart deal. All these were specifically set forth BEFORE he pled guilty.

Here's a link to his plea transcript:

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2009/0928091polanskiplea1.html

So, he thought the judge was not going to give him just a slap on the wrist for performing forcible oral sex, raping, and sodomizing a 13-year old girl after giving her drugs and alcohol? He had every right to withdraw his plea and force the state to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Then, he would have had a trial. What did he do instead? He ran away. Why would he run any higher a risk of an unfair trial than anyone else in this country? He's rich and famous, has rich and famous friends, sympathizers, and apologists, a victim who does not want him to go to trial, and many "common folks" on his side. Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

Could the "dark haired woman" she described be Anjelica Huston? ... she was with Jack N. at that time, no?

ysubassoon said...

Dear Anonymous the First, and all others who may be living shadowed lives:

Clearly this issue has touched a raw place in you. You have been knocked on your heels by the retelling of an event that closely parallels what happened to you. You are defensive and fighting back, yet claiming all the while that you have forgiven your rapist, that you never hated him, and moved on. Everything you have written here, on this page alone, says that you haven't. It does not align that you have forgiven your rapist and that you don't ever want to have to talk about the rape again.Any trauma unaddressed cannot result in forgiveness. Psychological wounds don't heal because time passes. As Tara Brach, a psychologist and respected meditation teacher has said, things that happened in the past that are still in your psyche, still invading your life at a moment's notice, aren't really in the past.

It should also be obvious that the statement that you would rather be raped a hundred times than die is not the product of a healthy, well-adjusted state of mind. To wish that on anyone, especially yourself, is really unspeakable.

This is why organizations like RAINN provide counseling for rape victims months and years after the event because just one touch, one sound, one sight, one smell can bring it all back just like it was happening again.

I want closure for you, and safety. I want you to get the control and independence stolen from you back. I want you to have peaceful dreams and a life with more sun and less creeping shade. I can't give you any of these things, though. I can offer you the services of the RAINN online hotline, so you can have a secure, confidential, and truly anonymous safe place to begin the healing process. I hope you will accept this and face what happened to you.

As for the rest of you, whatever your opinion of Roman Polanski, please consider making donations to organizations that support rape victims. The women especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo need us.

Anonymous said...

Ysubassoon, I'm glad for your sympathy and I'm sorry to have to say it but this is exactly what I mean. Everyone in the world seems to think they know how the victim should react, better than the victim herself. That's just crap. What do I care if some "respected medidation teacher" thinks I couldn't possibly have gotten over my rapes? I know for myself that I did, and the fact that I don't like to talk about it is not so much that I hate to relive it (although it's not NICE, of course), but the fact that people tend to react like you do. I have talked about it, got things off my chest, but the main thing for me it's that it's something EXTREMELY private, and I want to control who knows and especially who doesn't. It seems like the biggest nightmare ever to me, the whole world knowing about what happened to you as a child and talking about it like it's their business. Which is exactly what's happening to R.P.'s victim, now almost more than ever, because of this arrest.

Of course everyone gets to react in their own way, and if you want to prosecute of course that's a great idea. Rape should be punished as often as possible, but if the victim isn't up to it (like I wasn't, and I think that's because of my personality, I hate it when people know things about me I don't want them to know anyway, much more than most people), shouldn't that be factor? I really think so, and as far as I know Polanski's victim feels the same. Which really does matter more than what the medidation teacher thinks, after all.

And of course I don't want to be raped a hundred times, and of course I wouldn't wish being raped even just once on my worst enemy. But I want to survive, and I know/hope I would be strong enough to pick up the pieces and move on even after being raped again. You say that's unhealthy, but I said it in reply to another victim who said she'd rather die than be raped again. Isn't that even less healthy? I feel very sorry for her, really, and I know I'm lucky to be able to move on, even if it is in my own and imperfect way (without prosecution).

Anonymous said...

Rape is a crime (disproportionately) perpetrated against women as a class. One women's rape is a violation of her (female) body and thus, by extension, is a violation of all womankind. We are blustered and bullied or eased and persuaded into silence after the fact by patriarchal norms while (supposed) structured justice via the law, police, courts, etc is stacked against us because women do not control these institutions. Justice is a system conceived and tweaked by men for men. We are in a no win situation and while we may not now feel damaged by our experiences, all of us suffer the heavy weight of an institutionalised rape culture; the same culture that condones the belittling of our horrific experiences so that we internalise the message ourselves.

Anonymous said...

And another thing... if I read one more time in the press or elsewhere that Polanski "had sex" with a 13 year old girl, I'll scream! A 13 year old child CAN NOT consent to sex; it is rape by definition.

sparksnsmoke said...

I love you. If I ever doubted it before now it is confirmed. Thank you for speaking my heart in an intellegent and eloquent way.

Big Shamu said...

FrannieMae, thank you for your intelligent explanations.

And no, not taught in my school either. Wanna teach a class to all of us ignorant of the justice system at large?

pickpocket said...

The Mormons and the Muslims are already marrying their girls at that age, condemning them to lives of subservience. I don't get why people on either side of the Polanski issue are so hepped over this "moral cause" when it's just one trivial Lolita event in a world of the oppression of women. Shows more than anything how fat, dumb and mindless Americans are to devote so much attention to celebrity instead of reality.

Andra8888 said...

@Pickpocket
I hope you are being sarcastic. I can definitely tell you why I am worked up about it. Yes, I believe that a rapist should be punished and I believe that someone who openly uses his fame, talent, and money to flee justice should be held accountable. But what I am most worked up about is the message it gives to rape victims and potential rape victims.

Most rape survivors don't report their rapes. I for one did not report my rape because I did not want to be the one on trial. I did not want to be called a liar, that the rape was really consensual. I did not want to be told it was my fault. I did not want to be told that being raped was not that big of a deal. I did not want to go through the trial only to see the rapists not be punished. Reading about the Polanski fiasco makes me believe that my deepest fears were correct.

Here we have a rich and famous 40 year-old director drugging and orally, vaginally, and anally raping a 13 year-old girl, and people are arguing that she seduced him, it was not rape-rape, it was her mother's fault, she wasn't even a virgin, the judge was a meany when he was not going to approve of time-served + probation(!), Polanski was the victim because he couldn't come back to the U.S. after he raped a girl and then fled to escape sentencing, etc. This is pretty much the most clearcut case of rape imaginable. If we let such a high profile case of rape go unpunished, if we make excuses for a rapist who flaunts his desire for "f--king young girls," what does that say to female (and male) victims everywhere? I believe that it tells them even the clearest case of rape won't be brought to justice and if they report a rape where the circumstances are not so clear, they will be laughed out of court.

If we let Polanski off the hook, how can we expect rape victims to report rapes? How can any of us have faith in the system and feel safe? This is a case that will affect all of us.

alice said...

Thank you, Dorothy Snarker. Thank you for posting an eloquent rebuttal to the preposterous 'defenses' of Polanski. Thank you for linking to people who share this (seeminly minority) view, since I'd only seen Kate Harding's before now. [I know Kevin Smith tweeted his non-support of Polanski, but haven't heard of many others.)

And most especially, thank you for not using the victim's name. One thing that I wish more people agreed upon is that if she wants to stay out of all of this, she should really have that right. After dealing with the publicity of this for 30+ years, she should be able to opt out if she so chooses.

As for the anonymous who's been posting a bunch - thank you for making me think about how some of this rhetoric could sound to someone in your situation. The nature of his crime is relevant (this isn't a traffic ticket that he walked out on), but there's a difference between appreciating the nature of the crime and launching into cries of 'how devastating.' FWIW, I don't think that this post gets into that territory but other coverage (the View, especially), has definitely gone there.

Lastly, thank you FrannyMae, for filling in the gaps in my legal knowledge. Legal basics would have been MUCH more helpful in high school than the 7th repetition of the American Revolution!

the crustybastard said...

FrannyMae said: Don't high schools teach this anymore? Yikes...Some of the comments posted here are just unbelievable.

God, I know. I've been facepalming my way through this thread, too.

I really shouldn't be able to muster any surprise at how many American are willing to show off how little they know about their own system of law and government.

If you can show some ID, you can vote or serve on a jury, because American democracy has come to mean little more than the unfettered right to inflict one's ignorance on one's countryment as far and wide, and as frequently as possible.

America, fuck yeah!

delurk said...

I agree with everything you said, and thank you for saying it, Dorothy. And for those women who have defended Polanski - women I admire(d) - I must admit I admire them a little less now.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you completely. Thank you so much.

Lisa said...

sad. how can so many people think that any amount of talent can let a person get away with this crime?

FrannyMae said...

Thanks for the compliment, Big Shamu and others--I do enjoy teaching. Maybe in my next job (I'm currently looking) I'll get a full-time gig.

In the meantime let's thank Dorothy for providing the forum for an interesting exchange of views.

not only but also said...

If ever you wanted to gain an insight into the power imbalance that underpinned this crime (and so many like it) you just need to read the victim's rendering of the word "cuddliness" for cunnilingus. He's a pederist who drugged and raped a defenseless child who was asking for her mother. Like many pederists, he may have a steady day job and he even might be quite good at it. But he's a pederist and a rapist and should face justice. And it seems very likely that he will. Jack Nicholson seems to be staying very quiet....

dc said...

Yes, we do not know the thinking behind the petition signing of these women that many of us admire for their work. Perhaps those who have ways of contacting them, fansites etc. might want to consider challenging them to explain their decision.

Marie said...

Thank.
You.
I'm French, and the reaction of the French government, and all these "artists" who were "shocked" about all this and wanted him to be released is just BULLSHIT.
Im quite ashamed, I wish people would just shut up and realise that no one is above the law, that is all.
Great post, eloquent and very true indeed.

Mary said...

A couple months ago I watched a documentary about this whole horrific episode. I wondered then as I do now if a court tried this case today would he have gotten out of the country so easily? Also, would the mother have had some criminal charges slapped on her as well since she used her daughter as a pawn to get in with Polanski? Regardless of the details, No means No, yo.

Anonymous said...

Mary, you just hit the bulls eye twice. There's no doubt that if this happened today instead of 32 years ago, the mother would be facing charges and Child Welfare would be involved.

If you read the pre-sentencing report, there's an undercurrent of "boys will be boys" concerning Polanski. The official who wrote it was far more solicitous of the perpetrator than the victim.

Probably the most sickening aspect, though, is Anjelica Houston's testimony. She wasn't there when Polanski and the girl arrived at the house (that was someone else who actually drank champagne with them both), but she did interrupt the sexual activity by knocking on the bedroom door. She's incredibly casual about all this and cavalier about the girl--"Well, she could have been 25". I call bullshit. I'm sure both she and Nicholson knew about Polanski's preference for underage girls and they just didn't care. Talk about being an enabler.

Anonymous said...

I am so fucking dissapointed in the human race right now. I mean, I think it should be noted that whole of the hollywood MALE elite has run round in support of this man. Call them progressive in as many different adjectives as you want but this case of 'patriachy' should be a real wake up call. I actually cried tears when I read about the support for Polanski. I can't even finnish what I want to say properly. As a victim of sexual abuse I can tell you (famous directors) no matter how big or clever the world tells you that you are, commiting a sexual act on a human being against her will is a gross atrocity and can NEVER be commended. AND should be punnished. I don't think that Polanski should be killed or caused pain, because I don't feel that two wrongs make a right, but he should be brought to the right kind of justice. THIS justice, that he's been avoiding for decades because he KNOWS he's wrong. Whatever that means. And he's not that inspired a director.

barbarellaisbi said...

thank you for the post. felt like i should comment, considering some of the comments made. i appreciate your blog and your opinion. it is clear to me that you believe in social justice and that warms my heart.

betseyb said...

Dorothy, thank you so much for a wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

yes, she was raped.
But it is often forgotten that we are talking about a child, who was left to her own devices by her own mother, and who admitted to having had sex with her boyfriend only a short time before that.
The question thus has to be asked, in what kind of an environment this child was living and who is really to blame.

As for Polanski - I do think that he is/has been trying to escape his responsibility. I do not condone at all what he has done but I fear that a fair trial is out of the question.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 1:51 am

You're blaming a woman, living under heavy patriarchal societal influence, for the child's rape? Uh huh. *headdesk*

Becky said...

Quite. Bloody. Right.

ysubassoon said...

Anonymous,

Since you purport to know me so well the following should not be news to you. I am in training to become a RAINN volunteer for the online hotline. As such, I and thousands of current volunteers receive information about how rape victims process rape and how many report it and how many don't and why. Rape is a common crime; since one is commited every 2.5 minutes in the US, plenty of statistics and firsthand information are available. If it wasn't, no one who counsels rape victims, be they hotline volunteers, psychiatrists, counselors, therapists, psychologists, or yes, even meditation teachers, would be able to do their job and not a single victim would ever have been able to recover from it and move on.

I quoted the meditation teacher because what she said was relevant to your situation. Nothing becomes forgiveable until it is part of your past, and it can't be past until you have talked about it enough in the present that it stops frightening or upsetting you. That goes for rape as well as anything else in life that tears people apart.

Before I go any further, I want to state that wanting to die is horrible, but that the choice you gave was between rape and death, not life and death. The healthy response would be that you would rather assume the emotional risk of trying to heal than give it all up to die.

Though I have no direct experience of rape myself, thankfully, something is happening now that parallels the Roman Polanski case and affects my family. When my brother was six years old, he began taking violin lessons from the wife of a man who was just indicted on over 50 counts of sexual assault with a minor for multiple rapes of his young female cello students, all of which started when they were around 13 years of age, and some of which continued into adulthood. The longest time period was six years. Four or five victims have come forward so far, and authorities suspect there might be many more because of the sophisticated way that he selected and coerced his victims. Joel Ferren and his wife came to our house several times for dinner, and it makes me sick that we ever let him get that close.

Joel used fame to lure his victims in in a similar way to Roman. He claimed, falsely, to be a cultural ambassador to France and a baron. He told the girls that he had property in France that they could visit, and that it was normal in France for older men there to have relationships with young girls. I heard these same stories from him myself when my family would come to my brother's recital. I was saved from the fate of his victims because I never believed his lies.

Joel wasn't famous, but he was smart enough to know that famous people, people with wealth and power, can find enough people to buy into their fame to protect them from just about anything. Including rape. There are plenty of examples available of the wanton abuse of power by the powerful, but the Roman Polanski case must have been the one closest to his heart.

Rape is rape, no matter who does it: a family member, a friend, a trusted teacher, a stranger, or a celebrity. Rape is rape, no matter who the victim is: you, a friend, a celebrity, or a nobody. NOW has a petition for people to sign who believe just that, and I hope you will sign it. They are also organizing protests at movie theaters around the country on October 11 regarding Roman Polanski. I will support them in my hometown, and I hope you will in yours. And though strangers we remain, I hope it doesn't need said: I remain where I started: on your side, trying to find ways to help you heal.

sharon kinsella said...

First of all, I stopped watching the View, which was a hoot, because of that Elizabeth. I sent the View a couple of letters stating that I would no longer watch because of the republican moron.

I started watching again while the moron was on maternity leave (her constantly reproducing distresses me to no end). Then Whoopi broke my heart. When I went to write the View they had taken down the email link. When I attempted, several times, to contact ABC's email, it was down. I hope other women are writing the message I had.

TechGirl said...

It is amazing that Hollywood wonders why most of America doesn't understand them. Roman has had 36 years to enjoy his freedom and be creative.

The real question is why didn't the Justice Department get him sooner. When the Right wing roasts the Hollywood crowd for protecting a rapist of children, it isn't too far from the truth.

Sad. Hopefully Obama doesn't pardon Roman. We shall see.

elle said...

amen and amen. all of that and more. karma never forgets.

gidgetgirl777 said...

Oh Ms. Snarker, you write it so well. I appreciate, respect and admire the film work of Roman Polanski, yet this does not mean that I would excuse his abuse of a young girl. Sex with a minor can never be consensual and no amount of passage of time can ameliorate the impact of this crime. I wonder if the signaturees of the afore mentioned petitions gave consideration to how they would feel if the abuse involved their daughter or son.

swannellc said...

whoopi's lost me. what he did was indefensible. he admitted to it and got a sweet deal, still couldnt hack it and fucked off to the havens of europe and his 'art'. well fuck that noise. thank you Ms Snarker for distilling my fermenting but incoherent thoughts on the subject. you rock. whoopi goldberg does not rock. she is defending the indefensible. no more View for me.