You know what’s really hard for me to write and/or think and/or read about? The Roman Polanski case. There have been many smart, praiseworthy explanations of why some dude should not get away with drugging and raping someone and subsequently fleeing the country. I agree with those discussions! Wholeheartedly! But every time I look at one of them – or try to write one, OH HEY GUARDIAN – I become a bitter, despairing harpy whose internal organs threaten to develop 197 spontaneous ulcers, dissolve, and emerge from her mouth as a spontaneous torrent of puke and gore. (Description! Literature!) Because you know what those smart, praiseworthy explanations remind me of? THE FACT THAT WE STILL FOR SOME GODFORSAKEN AWFUL REASON HAVE TO EXPLAIN THIS, GOD.
I mean: this is not specifically a feminist issue. This is not even specifically an anti-rape issue. This is an issue for a new group of political activists I am forming right now, which I am going to call People Who Don’t Think It’s Cool For Criminals To Just Opt Out Of Their Sentencing Because They’re Afraid Jail Would Be Kind Of A Bummer (PWDTICTJOOOTSBTAJWBKOAB, for short). It is, I am surprised and alarmed to discover, a fringe position! And lo, many a person has weighed in to talk about how awful and hysterical and unreasonable and mean PWDTICTJOOOTSBTAJWBKOABs are. Often with colorful comparisons!
And, you know? I might not be able to talk about Roman Polanski. But I can talk about these dudes allllll day. So: what do you support by not supporting Roman Polanski? Join us, as we enter the sophisticated, reasonable, and in all ways non-hysterical discourse of Roman Polanski defenders to find out!
#1: THE TERRORISTS
From noted political analyst Peter Fonda, we have this sobering thought: we, the people, should have been “celebrating the arrest of Osama bin Laden and not the arrest of Polanski.” Yes, it’s true! In what will no doubt go down as one of the darkest days in US history, authorities were informed of the precise locations of both Osama Bin Laden and Roman Polanski, and were aware that both dudes were just going to hang out and be totally arrestable for a while and they should maybe go check that out. BUT! They were too far away from each other! And there was only one Batman dude in charge of arresting notorious terrorists and/or criminals! Batman the dude in charge of arresting notorious terrorists and/or criminals WOULD HAVE TO CHOOSE. And then Maggie Gyllenhaal Roman Polanski got blowed up arrested and long story short Osama Bin Laden has half a face now and is even more evil and The Joker cackled his demonic cackle and was like TONIGHT YOU WILL BREAK YOUR ONE RULE and everybody was all, “ooh, acting” and WAIT. Actually, I made this all up! Because it turns out you can actually look for more than one notorious terrorist and/or criminal at a time. You can even find more than one of them! Because, basically – and I know this will shock you! – the justice system is not a gigantic game of Whack-a-Mole. NEXT!
#2: THE DEATH OF ALL ART, EVERYWHERE, FOREVER
Noted art philosopher Debra Winger has noted that arresting a dude what done a crime is an example of “philistine collustion,” and says that “this fledgling festival has been unfairly exploited and whenever this happens, the whole art world suffers.” Bernard-Henri Levy sniffs that Polanski was “apprehended like a common terrorist,” despite the fact that he is an “ingenious filmmaker.” A petition signed by a whole bunch of unexpectedly douchey folks plus Woody Allen (because that makes everyone involved look good) states that arresting a dude what done a crime “opens the way for actions of which no-one can know the effects.” For, you see, cinema is not merely a collection of still images presented at 24 frames per second, often with an accompanying soundtrack; it is a demon god that demands the blood of the innocent. If those involved can be held accountable for crimes, the entire industry will come to a screeching halt due to lack of human sacrifices! Oh, sure, you might think that Roman Polanski is sort of a unique case. But to you, I say: name one decent filmmaker who is NOT at risk of being arrested for fleeing justice following a guilty plea in a sexual assault trial! Name one! LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU.
Patrick Goldstein of the LA Times, in his classic piece on the incident, notes that Polanski “will always, till his death, be snubbed and stalked and confronted by people who think the price he has already paid isn’t enough.” Awww, sads! And, you know, that piece has gotten a lot of attention. But I think this lesser-known bit is actually my favorite: the life story of Polanski is a “tragedy,” because he “was a fugitive as a boy” – from Nazis! – “and is now a fugitive as an old man” – from people who want him to do the time for the criminal offense to which he pled guilty! Those are totally the same thing, right? I mean, they both made Polanski a fugitive! It would appear that Patrick Goldstein, aside from his many accomplishments as a writer, also has a degree from Godwin’s Law School.
#4: VIOLENT RACISM AND/OR MURDER
Two words: “lynch mob.” Because, you see, in the dark days of America’s recent past, white people liked to accuse black people of crimes and then put them through the court system, convict or not convict them according to the evidence, and then faithfully maintain a commitment to following the law in regards to sentencing. Oh, no, wait! They liked to TOTALLY MURDER THEM WITHOUT TRIAL AND OFTEN WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE THAT THEY HAD ACTUALLY COMMITTED THE THING OF WHICH THEY WERE ACCUSED! That is what “lynch mob” actually means! Which is why it’s used to imply contempt for a group and to convey that it is acting irrationally and with malicious, hateful intent! But, you know, I have read up on the subject, and one thing “lynch mob” typically does not denote is “people who strongly believe the law should not be circumvented in order to protect and maintain privilege.” The more you know, y’all.
#5: GLENN BECK
No, actually, on second thought, this is my favorite bit from the Patrick Goldstein piece: “In the coming weeks, the Polanski affair will no doubt become a tabloid sensation, with op-ed moralists” – heyyyy – “excitable bloggers” – oh, WHAT – “and the Glenn Becks of the world noisily weighing in.” Dudes! If you write anything about your opinions and beliefs concerning the case, you are basically Glenn Beck! Patrick Goldstein said so! In his… piece about… his opinions and beliefs concerning… OK. Let’s start fresh: if you are not Patrick Goldstein and write anything about your opinions and beliefs concerning the case, you are basically Glenn Beck! Luckily, Patrick Goldstein has already written the one piece that anyone anywhere is allowed to write without being compared to a ludicrously stupid and irresponsible demagogue.
And it’s in defense of Roman Polanski.