Tuesday, September 29, 2009

When in California, Do as the Romans Do

That is, flee from justice and go live in France (or as it was known to the Romans, Gaul)

As in, you’ve got a lot of Gaul raping a young girl, confessing to it, escaping punishment, and then being all indignant when your crime catches up with you more than thirty years later. Yes, I know it’s spelled “gall” in this context. I like my way better.

Granted, it’s not surprising that Roman Polanski doesn’t want to go to jail – nobody really does, right? So his indignation, feigned, righteous or otherwise is at least understandable even if he’s generally contemptible. What’s harder to understand is the reaction from people around the world who are extremely upset that he’s finally being (possibly) asked to pay for his crimes by (maybe) serving his sentence. From CNN.com:

“French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he hoped authorities would respect Polanski's rights "and that the affair (will) come to a favorable resolution," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.”
Which rights are those – his rights to rape and sodomize a 13-year-old girl or his right to flee the country rather than serve his sentence for that crime (to which he pled guilty)? No, monsieur, I do not respect those rights and I hope US and Swiss authorities don’t, either.

The French culture and communications minister, Frederic Mitterrand, said he "learned with astonishment" of Polanski's arrest. He expressed solidarity with Polanski's family and said "he wants to remind everyone that Roman Polanski benefits from great general esteem" and has "exceptional artistic creation and human qualities."

Mais, oui, monsieur, he very much has the, how do you say, je ne c’est quoi? He also repeatedly put his penis into a girl who, according to her testimony, did not consent to it, and wasn’t old enough to legally do so, regardless. That quality, I’m afraid, is not at all exceptional or artistic. Or particularly human.

“"He's a brilliant guy, and he made a little mistake 32 years ago. What a shame for Switzerland," said photographer Otto Weisser, a friend of Polanski.”
A little mistake, Otto? Really? No, it wasn’t a mistake, it was a little girl. And he raped her. The only shame for Switzerland is that they let the man come and go so many times before, and even own a home there, without arresting him. Presumably because they weren’t formally asked by US authorities to do so, so it’s not egregiously shameful (unless they were, and they didn’t, in which case it is).
The Polish Filmmakers Association posted a letter on its Web site Monday from the European Film Academy secretariat that protested "the arbitrary treatment of one of the world's most outstanding film directors."
Arbitrary? What’s arbitrary about arresting a man convicted of rape?

I could go on posting and being offended at the support this monumental cockroach has received, but I think I’ve made my point. If nothing else, it’s proof that the US isn’t unique in its hero-worship. Yes, OJ Simpson clearly killed his ex-wife and her friend Ron Goldman. But even before he was acquitted of criminal wrongdoing, the level of support he received was in inverse proportion to the preponderance of evidence against him. He was a celebrity, a popular figure of sports stadium and screen, and to so very many people that meant he could do no wrong. Or, even if he did do wrong, he shouldn’t really get in trouble for it. Evidently Europe has the same weakness for famous people and their “little mistakes” like rape or murder. Pardonez moi! Did I rape you repeatedly? Zut alors!

I know it’s popular in US culture to bash the French. I’m not entirely sure why, frankly. A hundred and fifty years before we saved their butts from the rampaging Hun and Nazi hordes, they supported our fledgling nation’s bid for independence. Anybody care to guess where the treaty was signed that formally ended the American Revolution and established the US as a free and independent country? Yeah, it was Paris. Oh, and they also sold us roughly a quarter our country for a song. So I try not to be a France-hater – they’ve done more for us than probably any other single country, Great Britain included (unless you go back to colonial days, when obviously GB played a pretty pivotal role. But they also burned down the White House in 1814. France never did that. They just gave us Lady Liberty). So, as funny as it is when Willie on the Simpsons calls them cheese-eating surrender monkeys, I do my best to hold France in reasonably high esteem. But it’s hard when the French upper crust rushes to the defense of a scumbag like Polanski.

And worst of all, fie on Roman Polanski for making me agree with Lindsay Lohan about pretty much anything at all. She posted the following comment on the blog of Perez Hilton:

“Roman Polanski drugged & raped a 13 year old, so how can people be asking for his release? That's insane, pedoman belongs in prison”
Yeah, I don’t know how I ended up on the Perez Hilton blog, either. Blame Google.

Anyway, that’s all a long-winded way of saying, “Shame on Roman Polanski for running away like a 13-year-old girl about to be raped by an older man. Shame on France for embracing him and allowing him to escape justice. And shame on every apologist who’s somehow trying to make this scofflaw look like the good guy.”

Also, if you’d rather read a much better treatise on why Polanski’s undeserving of our sympathy, check out Salon.com’s article by Kate Harding. Or, if you'd prefer, you could read Swiss-hating Polanski-apologist Joan Z. Shore's attempt to rouse the rabble into a boycott of all things Swiss over their heinous treatment of this poor, mistreated and ultimately misunderstood man. I'd like to believe that her article is satire, but I'm afraid it's more likely she's just a dumbass.