And now, for some real outrage. The Swiss government has decided to not extradite Roman Polanski so he can finally face justice for his rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977. He is now a free man. Though “free” is kind of relative considering the majority of his “imprisonment” was being confined to his luxury Swiss ski chalet and grounds. We should all be so lucky.
This puts a sad, sickening end to the spectacle that has been the Free Polanski movement. His supporters are no doubt thrilled, but what are they really thrilled about? That a very rich, very successful, very acclaimed, very entitled man was able to – again – evade justice that is long overdue? This is something to cheer about?
That Roman Polanski is talented has never been the issue. He is talented. “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Chinatown,” “The Pianist” – great films. But talent is not a get out of jail free card. Much discussion has been made around this case (and others) about what responsibility an artist has. As an artist, your greatest responsibility is to make great art. But as a human being, your responsibility is to be good to other human beings. Not all great artists are great human beings, obviously.
Professionally, brilliant. Personally, abhorrent.
While we may quibble some on what being a good human being means, I think we can all safely agree that raping a 13-year-old girl – no matter if it was in the 70s and everyone was doing it, no matter if she had had sex before, no matter if you directed “Chinatown,” no matter if you had a tragic personal life – is not being good to other human beings.
So what, then, is the great injustice of finally facing justice? That he doesn’t want to? That he is too talented to? That he has earned the right not to? Fail, fail, faility fail.
The Internet is often a place it fueled by outrage (that and terrible, terrible spelling). With the click of a button we can register our unwavering anger about anything: two wars, an ongoing oil spill, whether “The Daily Show” is sexist, LeBron James, the iPhone 4 reception problems, how an octopus could be better at predicting the World Cup than every veteran sports analysts, whether a movie where a lesbian sleeps with a man can be good. So much so that we can fall into outrage fatigue. What are we protesting? How many petitions do I have to sign? Will I really need to learn a new chant?
But I hope, most sincerely, that in our exhaustion at everything that is wrong with the world, we can still muster enough righteous indignation to realize that never letting justice be served in a case where a man admitted to drugging and raping a child is wrong. Because that, that is an outrage.