Monday, September 28, 2009

Since When Do We Defend Child Rapists?

Excuse me, but I don’t care how many years have elapsed since you raped a 13-year-old, and I don’t care how talented a director you are or how old you are or how tragic your personal story may be. Rape is rape. It’s still a felony. And convictions are still convictions. We are a nation of laws, and laws related to felonies are important. And if you go on the lam to skip out on your sentencing I have no problem with your ass being thrown in jail when the law catches up with you 30 years later.

So, I happen to think Anne Applebaum is full of shit when she writes:
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.

Um, no, not really.

Just because someone has been on the lam for 30 years, or out of the reach of the long arm of United States law, doesn’t mean the law itself is unimportant. That’s the beauty of our system: no matter how much time has elapsed, right and wrong don’t change. If you’re convicted of a felony, you will serve your sentence. Unless you are pardoned or your conviction is overturned. That’s how these things work.

If it didn’t work this way, every wealthy person in the country would skip out on their sentencing and hole up in some French chateau until the public outrage has faded into memory and everyone is like, “bygones!” I don’t think so.

Applebaum goes on with this insanity:

Here are some of the facts: Polanski's crime -- statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl -- was committed in 1977. The girl, now 45, has said more than once that she forgives him, that she can live with the memory, that she does not want him to be put back in court or in jail, and that a new trial will hurt her husband and children.

That’s nice but this wasn’t a civil trial, it was a criminal trial. It was the People of the State of California v. Polanski, not Samantha Geimer. I lived in California in 1977. I was 15 years old. I was one of “the people.”

Plus, I’m not sure what this “new trial” thing is about. He’s already been tried and convicted. He used his wealth and connections to skip out on sentencing. Apparently, people who are Pulitzer Prize-winning authors and American Enterprise Institute fellows are okay with that. Frankly, I have a problem with it. Lady Justice wears a blindfold, remember?

Back to Anne:

There is evidence of judicial misconduct in the original trial. There is evidence that Polanski did not know her real age.

These are two important points. If proved, the latter would be considered during sentencing--the very part of the trial Polanski has evaded for 30 years. (However, the mere fact that Polanski required the victim's mother's permission to photograph her for French Vogue tells us he knew she was underage.) If there truly was judicial misconduct then appeal, baby, appeal.

Polanski, who panicked and fled the U.S. during that trial, has been pursued by this case for 30 years, during which time he has never returned to America, has never returned to the United Kingdom., has avoided many other countries, and has never been convicted of anything else.

Well, decisions have consequences. Sorry but I don’t feel sorry him on that count.

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.

Oh, boo fucking hoo. You rape a 13 year old and you can't collect your Oscar 25 years later! Oh, the horror. Well, truly that must be punishment enough.

What I want to know is, when did it become okay for a 45 year old man to have sex with a 13 year old girl? When the perpetrator had a compelling backstory? Made a movie we liked?

Sorry, I'm not buying it.