Justice delayed

I have nothing to add to this post at Salon by Kate Harding. As she reminds us repeatedly, Roman Polanski raped a child, pled guilty to it, and then fled the country. The whole thing is worth reading, and serves as a handy rebuttal to the recent outpouring of Polanski apologia.

It is indeed confusing to go from it to another column juxtaposed just below on Salon's main page, which holds that the most just outcome would be for everyone to drop the case. In it, Mary Elizabeth Williams argues that pressing charges against sexual attackers often causes additional trauma to the victims. From this, she comes to the following very perplexing conclusion:
I want to leave Roman Polanski’s victim alone. I don’t want to make her the official spokesperson for sexual victimhood, or relive a life-changing horror. I don't want to presume what's best, when I don't have to live with her nightmares. For Polanski to live out his days scot-free in European ease feels wrong and unfair. It makes a whole lot of us uncomfortable. But I’d rather live with my own revulsion at his actions than carry out some rote exercise in feel-good amends if it means any measure of ease and peace for his victim. I believe her when she says, “It was the media that ruined my life.” And I don’t want to be in the same boat with the man who raped her.
What kind of addled claptrap is this? Since when is prosecuting people for crimes they've committed, and in fact pled guilty, an "exercise in feel-good amends"?

Argue that we, as a society, should treat sexual assault victims with more care, and I will applaud your perspective and agree with your concern. By all means, let us take steps to insure that women who are raped are treated with the utmost respect and kindness. But it is the most ludicrous and offensive moral blindness to conflate those who would demand justice for the victim (and, indeed, for society in general, which has an interest in seeing its laws enforced, no matter the wealth, talent and connections of the violators), even over her objections, and the man who raped her in the first place.


  1. I have never understood this rush to defend Polanski. One can make an argument that Ingrid Bergman might have suffered unduly from closed American minds. Polanski has benefited unduly from overly open elite minds. Thanks for pointing to the Kate Harding article - very satisfying to read.

    There's a bit of a class thing, isn't there? Polanski is talented, an artist that appeals to high art sensibilities, and very wealthy. I wonder if that doesn't have a lot to do with people willing to pass off what he does as evidence of sophistication rather than predation.

    And yes - people seeing this as a mere psychodrama are definitely losing sight of the fact that this is a matter of justice.

  2. I'm amused that Luc Besson is one of the few rational voices in the film community in favor of Polanski's arrest.