What happened is part of the public record, so there’s no reason to be unclear or misinformed about the nature of the crime and subsequent events. This includes the victim’s stated wish — repeatedly, later — that legal action not be continued, but also the actual facts of the crime, which was a one hundred percent real rape of a drugged 13 year-old. So, now. Who’s going to cover themselves in glory?
Thus far, I think Robert Harris is winning with “I am shocked that any man of 76, whether distinguished or not, should have been treated in such a fashion” and “One of the reasons I’m absolutely shocked and stunned by his arrest is that we have worked together extensively in Switzerland, where he has a home … “. (And he dresses so well! And The Pianist is such an affecting film!) Close behind is French Minister of Culture Frederic Mitterrand, who “strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them”. Like Neddy at EOAW I don’t believe there’s anything more to these defenses than “He’s one of us”. But it’s early days yet. For instance, coming up fast now on the outside is Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post, who says the arrest is “outrageous” in part because,
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. 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.
See, you or I might think that not going back to the U.S. or U.K. is an action Polanski took in order to make sure that, having raped a minor and fled the country, he would not be rearrested. But you or I would be wrong. In fact these are punishments that Polanski has suffered. But tiens, it was a long time ago. Puritanical Americans simply do not have the enlightened attitude toward wine at the dinner table, quaaludes, and child rape that the Europeans do. In Ireland, for instance, there are quite a number of seventy-odd year old men (and even older) who spent their youth ministering to children and raping them — some of their victims have been able to forgive them, and many want never to speak of those events again, so why all the legal fuss? Perhaps that’s a bad example. Ireland isn’t really a European country.
In any event, I look forward to more detailed explanations of who the Real Victim is here, and more fine-grained elaboration of the criteria — other than “marvelous dinner guest” — for being issued a Get Out of Child Rape Free card.