Roman Polanski in Swiss jail

Rob asked me last night, “So what do you think about the Polanski thing.”

And I told him … for about 15 passionately animated minutes before he could get a word slid in edgewise.

It’s stunning, isn’t it? The way people have conveniently glossed over the reason the man is being held by Swiss authorities. Roman Polanski had been a convicted fugitive for over thirty years. He skipped out on his sentencing after admitting fault in having sex with a 13-year-old girl because he feared his sweetheart sentencing deal wasn’t going to work out as his lawyers had led him to believe it would. So at 44 years of age, he scurried off to the safety of France – a country that cannot extradite its own citizens – and has carried on with his career and penchant for much younger woman (though none as young as 13 again – apparently he learned that lesson), collecting awards and accolades and making lots of money. His victim, on the other hand, had to endure the regular media feeding frenzy whenever the case surfaced, enduring – among other things – the curious man made “Lolita” idea. You know that one. The patently absurd notion that little girls seductively entice old men into molesting them.

I don’t understand the sympathy Polanski evokes. Okay, maybe I can see where it comes from. People feel sorry for him because his mother was killed by Nazi’s and his pregnant wife was murdered by Manson followers, but Michael Jackson was beaten regularly by his dad, and we don’t seem to think it was okay for him to diddle little boys (and officially – Jackson was never found guilty in a court of law. Polanski has never denied doing a 13 year girl.) But in our twisted society, it’s okay for older men to force themselves on young teen and pre-teen girls under the pretext that the girls gave consent (something Polanski’s victim still maintains she never did).

I taught middle school for seventeen years. 13 year olds mostly. And let me assure you, they are not the tiniest bit interested in men old enough to be their fathers, nor are they worldly enough or smart enough to give actual consent. Teenagers have not changed since you and I were just 13. They may have access to technology that we didn’t but they are not wiser. They are still too trusting and very impulsive. They are not as worldly as they like to think they are (any more than we were). But wait a minute. I am talking about the teens that we were. Because Polanski’s victim is 45 years old today and is the peer of many of the people who read here. She and I were 13 years old in 1977.

Polanski committed a crime. Whether he was or wasn’t going to get a sweet plea deal is beside the point. He ran. He forfeited his rights to be treated as anything other than a convicted criminal trying to evade punishment. Letting him go now because the crime is so old and he’s been free so long is just another example of how inequitable our judicial system is. Rich, famous, well-connected people live under one set of rules and the average person goes to jail or are executed despite being innocent like that father in Texas.

Roman Polanski is a child rapist. He is not a victim. He has not been punished in any way by his years on the run. He is not being unfairly targeted. He does not deserve to be set free simply because his crime is three decades old. By that logic decrepit and senile old men who were forced to serve as guards in Nazi concentration camps should be left to their golden years in whatever country they lied their way into after the war because the Holocaust was twice as long ago as Polanski’s raping of a little girl.

Not sure which was my favorite part. The “it wasn’t rape… rape”, the insinuation that Europeans are cool with the idea of 13 and 14-year-old girls being molested by old men or the way it ended with blaming the mother. It certainly hit all the stereo-typing associated with sexual abuse – it’s victims and perpetrators.