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9/29/2009
DEFENDING POLANSKI: ‘IT’S NOT RAPE-RAPE’
CATEGORY: Culture, Ethics

Every once and a while, an issue jumps up and really shows the moral chasm that separates the right and the left.

Whether it’s Teri Schiavo or the cop killer Mumia, or AIM founder and convicted murderer of FBI agents Leonard Pelitier, there are some matters that bring out in the starkest relief imaginable, the great liberal/conservative divide on questions of simple, basic morality that seem so self-evident to conservatives but a mystery to liberals.

The Roman Polanski case highlights this difference in spades.

The reaction on the left to what should be a non-controversial case of a child rapist finally being forced to face the music for his horrific crime has been nothing short of astonishing. I suppose we should be used to this kind of moral blindness from people who invented the phrase “If it feels good - do it,” but for the life of me, it is boggling my mind that the Hollywood left - and their fellow travelers around the country - are singing the praises of this “artist” while excusing the bestial actions of a man who lured a 13 year old girl into disrobing to take pictures, drugged her, and then savagely raped her.

But weighed against his “accomplishments?” Tis a pittance, a non-event, or, as Whoopie Goldberg put it, “It wasn’t a “rape” rape.” That kind of sophistry deserves its own award from the Academy.

A couple of good links; first, from Allahpundit who is as discombobulated as I am about the reaction from liberals:

Needless to say, this reminds me of the left’s umbrage at conservatives daring to bring up Chappaquiddick after Teddy died. Yeah, he left a woman to drown and then made jokes about it afterwards; he was for universal health care, though, wasn’t he? Same with Polanski: Dare we deny the man who made “Chinatown” an occasional drugging and raping of a child? Sure, a kid gets traumatized for life, but on the other side of the scale: “Rosemary’s Baby.” It’d be sweet if the left could come up with some sort of mathematical formula by which we could tell whether an artist or liberal politician has exceeded his quotient of moral indulgence. I’m assuming “Chinatown” wasn’t so awesome that Polanski would be excused shooting a kid in the head at point-blank range, so evidently it’s “worth” less than that but more than a child-rape. Let’s figure out just how much of a liberal hero you have to be to get away with certain crimes.

Kate Harding writing in Salon:

Roman Polanski raped a child. No one, not even him, disputes that. Regardless of whatever legal misconduct might have gone on during his trial, the man admitted to unlawful sex with a minor. But the Polanski apologism we’re seeing now has been heating up since “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” the 2008 documentary about Polanski’s fight to get the conviction dismissed. Writing in Salon, Bill Wyman criticized the documentary’s whitewashing of Polanksi’s crimes last February, after Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza ruled that if the director wanted to challenge the conviction, he’d need to turn himself in to U.S. authorities and let the justice system sort it out. “Fugitives don’t get to dictate the terms of their case … Polanski deserves to have any potential legal folderol investigated, of course. But the fact that Espinoza had to state the obvious is testimony to the ways in which the documentary, and much of the media coverage the director has received in recent months, are bizarrely skewed.”The reporting on Polanski’s arrest has been every bit as “bizarrely skewed,” if not more so. Roman Polanski may be a great director, an old man, a husband, a father, a friend to many powerful people, and even the target of some questionable legal shenanigans. He may very well be no threat to society at this point. He may even be a good person on balance, whatever that means. But none of that changes the basic, undisputed fact: Roman Polanski raped a child. And rushing past that point to focus on the reasons why we should forgive him, pity him, respect him, admire him, support him, whatever, is absolutely twisted.

In addition to Goldberg’s dismissal of Polanski’s brutality with the cryptic defense that it really wasn’t “rape-rape,” there’s this from the Daily Mail.

In a statement, Mr Mitterand, a nephew of former President Francois Mitterand, said he learned of the arrest ‘with astonishment’ and that he regretted ‘in the strongest way that a new ordeal has been inflicted on someone who has already gone through so much’.

Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the arrest was a ‘bit sinister’…

The Zurich Film Festival jury accused Switzerland of ‘philistine collusion’.

‘The case is three decades old and is all but dead but for minor technicalities. We stand by and wait for his release and his next masterwork,’ said jury president Debra Winger.

Other members of the film industry, including Italian actress Monica Bellucci, French actress Fanny Ardant, president of the Cannes film festival Gilles Jacob and Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai issued a petition demanding his immediate release.

I will never watch “Officer and a Gentleman” again and not look at Winger as lower than a slug.

I don’t understand it. The idea of defending Polanski in any way, shape, or form is so far beyond the realm of any conscious thought I might imagine that it enters the world of dreams - a place where the physical laws of gravity and reality simply don’t apply and strange, surreal images float in front of your mind’s eye causing you to wake up with a start. It is then that you heave a sigh of relief because it was only a dream and such things couldn’t happen in the waking world.

Not so with those on the left who are defending Polanski. There is a hole in their soul where conscience and empathy are usually found. There is no way to patch that hole, to fill it with a moral framework that would cause these lefties to react as any normal, rational, human being would react when faced with the choice of condemning a child rapist or excusing him.

As an historical aside, a similar state of mind infected America when John Brown went to the gallows in 1859 to die for his crimes. Here, northerners condemned his actions but sympathized with his cause. That reaction drew the same kind of astonishment from southerners that we feel today at the reaction on the left to Polanski’s arrest. In fact, it hurried the day when civil war became probable as the south felt that northerners didn’t care if slaves murdered their masters in their beds as long as it was done in the just cause of getting rid of the institution. They didn’t understand the north’s moral confusion and many felt that a great chasm had opened up between the two sides.

Obviously, Polanski is no John Brown. But I wanted to highlight the fact that such radical differences in moral outlook are really quite rare in American history until recently, since we all spring from pretty much the same general background and ancestry steeped in western traditions that are based on Christian principles of personal responsibility and right and wrong. It used to be extremely rare that Americans, as a group, didn’t generally agree on the Big Questions that define the moral parameters in society, while having a common framework to discuss these questions even if there are what used to be usually relatively minor disagreements over purpose and motivation.

But since this New Morality swept America in the 1960’s - a morality that posits the idea that we are moral creatures responsible only to ourselves and our instincts - such moral flights of fancy have become somewhat more common on the left these days but are still relatively rare.

Apparently, sometimes the hard wiring that is responsible for giving us a moral conscience breaks down and we get inexplicable breaks in our moral continuity like this. To me, this is as good an explanation as any for why there has been this cognitive dissonance on the part of some on the left when it comes to the Roman Polanski case.

By: Rick Moran at 6:40 am
26 Responses to “DEFENDING POLANSKI: ‘IT’S NOT RAPE-RAPE’”
  1. 1
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    7:42 am 

    John Brown went to the gallows in 1857 to die for his crimes.

    I believe you are transposing the date of the Dred Scott decision with John Brown’s execution; 1859 is the year you’re looking for.

    Ooops - right you are. And no, just got it wrong, didn’t transpose anything.

    ed.

  2. 2
    Ronald Earl Said:
    8:58 am 

    I read that the 13 year old girl’s parents want the case dismissed. They settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. Buy your justice.

    Don’t exactly remember where I read it today - might have been that Salon article I linked - but the idea that the woman herself wants the case dropped or her family is satisfied is beside the point. We should seek justice for its own sake and not due to the victim’s wishes or fears.

    Unrealistic? Impractical? The intellectual argument that this attitude represents an attempt at “perfect” justice doesn’t move me in this case. Polanski’s flight and subsequent 30 years of thumbing his nose at the system requires that he be brought back to face justice. It may be determined that all the mitigating factors being spouted by the left will come into play. But first and foremost, he must be returned so that the concept of “justice” is satisfied.

    ed.

  3. 3
    michael reynolds Said:
    9:07 am 

    Actually very few liberal pundits and no liberal pols as far as I can find, have written or spoken about Polanski. Nothing on Kos as far as I can find, nothing on TPM.

    Here’s one liberal who has written about it.

    Eugene Robinson:

    That is grotesque. In general, I agree with the European view that Americans tend to be prudish and hypocritical about sex. But a grown man drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl? That’s not remotely a close call. It’s wrong in any moral universe — and deserves harsher punishment than three decades of gilded exile.

    So who the hell are you even talking about? Deborah Winger? Seriously?

    You’re right down there in the gutter with Glenn Beck now Rick. And every bit as credible.

  4. 4
    busboy33 Said:
    9:27 am 

    I’ll not defend Polanski, nor do most people I know. Even if hypothetically everything the apologists argue is true (something I don’t believe), you still don’t get to skip out of the system. Its just not an option.

    But respectfully Schiavo hardly stands as a high-water mark for Conservatives. In the same way you use Mumia and Peltier as examples of Liberals acting “foolish” (my word, not yours), I would put the Schiavo debacle as a prime example of Conservatives embarassing themselves. I guess this gap of perception is what you’re talking about in the article.

  5. 5
    Super Channel Blog Said:
    9:34 am 

    My defining moment for Whoopi Goldberg just changed again.

    For me, Whoopi Goldberg is one of those celebrities whose off-screen behavior and lack of class overwhelms my appreciation for their body of work.

    That wasn’t always true, but When she received her Oscar for Ghost in 1990 I was still a fan, but by the time she hosted the 2002 Academy Awards show and made sexual gestures with the microphone I realized that I wasn’t interested in her work anymore.

    It’s one thing to forgive Roman Polanski and consider that he is not the same man 32 years later. It’s another for Whoopi Goldberg to blame a 13 year-old victim. I think I’ll just shut off the TV when I see her from now on.

    http://superchannel.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/whoopi-goldberg-says-polanski-didnt-rape-rape-13-year-old-girl/

  6. 6
    Neo Said:
    9:38 am 

    Maybe operatives at the CIA could claim that they raped their al Qaeda prisoners .. oh .. didn’t they sort of rape the prisoners at abu Ghraib prison … and they took pictures, just like Roman Polanski did with the 13 year old.

    Now we have the proof that abu Ghraib prison really wasn’t that bad .. they were just trying to do their “Roman Polanski” thing.

  7. 7
    Surabaya Stew Said:
    10:16 am 

    At least one European conservative is defending Polanski. Todays LA Times:

    Former Polish President Lech Walesa called Polanski a “great person” and pleaded, “If he did this one sin, forgive him.

    Please tell me this is senility and not sincerity!

  8. 8
    Below The Beltway » Blog Archive » Just So We’re Clear; Roman Polanski Is A Pedophile Rapist Pinged With:
    10:59 am 

    [...] yet, the glitterati are defending this man, a fact which is disturbing on its own level: The idea of defending Polanski in any way, shape, or form is so far beyond the realm of any [...]

  9. 9
    Mike Giles Said:
    11:38 am 

    Sigh.

    Don’t you understand. There is one law for the “common herd” and another for the “elites”.

    Sort of like how climate change advocates travel around in private jets, lecturing the rest of us on shrinking our “carbon footprints”.

  10. 10
    Gayle Miller Said:
    12:15 pm 

    Neo, we don’t play that “moral equivalency” game here! Polanski is a pervert, pure and simple. He raped a 13-year old girl after first drugging her - and then the s.o.b. took pictures of her. His supporters seem to think that the 41 days he spent in jail are sufficient payment for this egregious violation, despite the fact that the average sentence for a rapist is 288 months in the slammer!

    Sure, the man is a genius. But equally sure, whether or not his victim agrees, he must be made to pay for his horrendous actions, if only to discourage other Hollywood perverts from doing likewise. If they won’t restrain their baser instincts out of moral beliefs, let them be restrained by fear of being imprisoned where they will become Bubba’s bitch for however long they are incarcerated - if they get off that easy!

  11. 11
    Richard bottoms Said:
    3:17 pm 

    I’m confused. When celebrities speak in support of green power and against global warming they are brainless fools who represent no one.

    When some of them speak up for Roman Polanski they are now the vanguard of opinion for all liberals everywhere. I think not.

    Polanski is slime. He’ll get his day in court finally. His own arrogance in stepping foot into Switzerland did him in.

  12. 12
    DoorHold Said:
    6:07 pm 

    People must be without morality to say let him go. Those same people, however, are the first to judge anyone WITH moral standards for THEIR every sin. If this were, say, an alternate universe, and it was Charlton Heston or Mel Gibson hiding from the law — Would those people be defending them? Would Whoopi say, “Now I know Mel didn’t RAPE rape that little girl?” F* no, she’d be calling for his castration.

  13. 13
    Mark Borzillo Said:
    9:47 pm 

    Spot on, Rick. The guy’s a cheap creep. The guy hasn’t paid for his crimes and needs to.

  14. 14
    Six Said:
    10:21 pm 

    Good point DoorHold. If you changed ‘Director Roman Polanski’ to ‘Father Roman Polanski’ I think you’d see quite a different reaction from the apologists.

  15. 15
    busboy33 Said:
    10:31 pm 

    I hadn’t heard anything about the Whoopi quote before the OP, and frankly I didn’t bother to click through on the link Rick provided because I figured him calling it “not rape rape” was just him being a smartass, and I’d get annoyed at his jackass commentary when it turned out probably obnoxious but ultimately benign. Readthng the comments got my curiosity up, so I found a link to the video to see it for myself.
    http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1320151605?bctid=42458619001

    Wow. Holy crap WOW. I contend that suspecting Rick of possibly being in one of his “hystronic hissy fit namecalling” moods is a legitimate and justified concern . . . this certainly wasn’t one of those (admittedly infrequent) times.

    The best I can come up with for her was she started out with something that came from a “good” idea but came out poorly. Best case, she was trying to “correct” someone who said Polanski was a knife wielding Hannibal Lecter, and she was trying to keep the conversation on “the facts”.

    (I’m fantasizing a “best case excuse” for Whoopi here, so I’m deliberately remaining ignorant of the rest of the clip (before and after the above) so this doesn’t get any worse and I can just make up facts that help.)

    Unfortunately, the actual sounds she made, the ones that formed words and sentences, came out so horribly “off-tone” that she had to know as soon as she said it “wait . . . thsat didn’t sound right.”

    I have, in my life, said some really stupid things. Occasionally, they were because I was horribly, horribly drunk. Othertimes, in the haste to condense a long sentence or complex thought into something short and sweet I said something that was “grammatically correct” but was assured to be interpreted badly. The listener would (wrongly) assume I meant or implied something I absolutely didn’t mean. I wasn’t “wrong” in the sense of expressing a “wrong” or evil idea, but I was . . . clumsy in the way I expressed my fair, reasonable (and no doubt brilliant) thought.

    It happens. Usually, immediately after the background music screeches to a halt, crickets chirp as everybody stares at you, and once you reasize it was you who did something stupid you frantically replay the last 30 seconds in your mind. You know everybody mis-understood what you meant, and they’re over-reacting to something you didn’t mean.

    There are several ways of dealing with this emergency. If the gaffe was minor (”did you see that fu@k of chickens? I mean flock?”) you quickly correct yourself and/or laugh it off. Moderate to severe audio vomit usually requires an apology, or a retraction (with a laugh to lighten the problem up a bit), or a quick change of topic with a hasty retreat from the listeners shortly thereafter. Anything more intense is best dealt with buy slowly droneing on (about anything) while backing away slowly, palms open and facing the listeners. Do NOT turn your back

    Or, you could refuse to acknowledge your screw-up, refuse to give an inch, decide to go even FARTHER out on the gaffe scale to “make the point” (but really to prove you intended do it all along so it wasn’t a screw-up, not really), and proceed rapidly to dig yourself a deep, deep hole. The best part of this strategy is that it is fueled by failure. The more you dig, the worse it gets, so the faster and harder you dig.

    Whoopi’s in China by now. Even bending over backwards to give her the benefit of the doubt, that was one of the most jaw-droppingly insenitive, rude, offensive, STUPID, wrong, inexcusable things I’ve ever witnessed. She’s a stage performer, for Pete’s sake! How the hell could she so completely flake out like that?!?

    As a soon-to-be former fan of hers, there better be a serious, on-you-goddamn-knees, “Dear God I beg your forgiveness for what I have done” apology tomorrow or she and her sponsors can kiss my money goodbye from now on. I can’t believe I actually just saw that.

    Off-topic, but I’ve never seen The View before and I am impressed that despite how unbelievably volitile that topic/conversation, they all spoke calmly, respectfully, explained their thoughts (or tried to), listened, responded, the whole nine yards. No yelling, no histrionics, no interrupting, no cloud of noise, no personal insults, put-downs, snide comments. A real, honest, conversation addressing an idea or opinion. Just for a contrast I clicked on an old “Meet The Press podcast, to see how professional “journalists and thinkers” do it.

    Looks like I’m adding The View to The Daily Show on my “actual intelligent conversation and interviews” list. An afternoon talk show, and a comedy. This country is doomed.

  16. 16
    brooks Said:
    11:36 pm 

    sorry, rick. whoopi goldberg and deborah winger? really?

    i just don’t see the american left per se leaping to defend polanski here in the way you seem to imply. perhaps the argument could be made that this brand of reaction is a ‘leftist’ failing; but you haven’t made it.

  17. 17
    The Conflict Over Polanski’s Crime Pinged With:
    8:03 am 

    [...] disagree with my friend Rick Moran. The difference of opinion over whether Roman Polanski should serve his sentence for the crime he [...]

  18. 18
    Esme Squalor Said:
    10:13 am 

    re: the Kate Harding article you cite from Salon, which contains reference to an earlier Salon article attacking Roman Polanski

    Would that be the very same liberal, left-leaning, magazine with San Francisco based editor Joan Walsh? How then do you go on to state that there is a moral vacuum on “the left” when your own article contains evidence to refute this?

  19. 19
    ConservativeTM Said:
    2:57 pm 

    Only in a liberal’s twisted, sick mind could the drugging, rape and sodomizing of a 13 year-old girl not really be “rape-rape.” Would Whoopi’s definition of rape be different if this had happened to one of Obama’s daughters? Read more at: http://conservativetm.blogspot.com/2009/09/31-depraved.html

  20. 20
    Alex Said:
    4:08 pm 

    Liberals tend to always stick up for sexual minorities. Look at the countless number of celebrities who support homosexual acts. Its just a matter of timebefore these celebrities begin to tout their “Equality for ALL” slogan again! I mean seriously… we got all of these celebrities who not only defend homosexual behavior but are now defending pedosexual behavior! Consesnual sex with any minor is morally wrong. Consensual sex between siblings is morally wrong. Consensual sex between two sexes morally wrong. However, only one of these three lifestyles is being granted acceptance… its just a matter of time before the left becomes swayed even more to accept pedosexuals as they do with homosexuals. After all, why would a pedosexual “choose” to be one if they are going to suffer so much!?!? They are born pedosexual! Right people… just like homosexuals claim they are born that way. How did society become so gullible to think the moral compass can be so skewed for some but not all??? Those who were for homosexual marriage in California (Prop 8) were claiming “Equality for all”. Does the “all” mean pedosexuals too, or brother-sister relationships, bi-sexual bigamous relationships, and animal love relationships??? Crazy people… can’t wait to see another Alicia Silverstone commerical on FunnyorDie… but this time for defense of Roman Polanski!

  21. 21
    brooks Said:
    6:27 pm 

    Alex:

    great caricature of common right-wing idiocy on homosexuality! spot on, man. spot on! wow.

  22. 22
    pst314 Said:
    7:24 pm 

    “But since this New Morality swept America in the 1960’s….”

    Which reminds me of another evil: Back in the sixties it was far from uncommon for dopers to surreptitiously give drugs (marijuana, LSD, etc) to unsuspecting victims: After all, they were uptight straights who needed to have their minds expanded.

  23. 23
    Gary D Said:
    8:27 pm 

    Why are you equating Hollywood left with the majority of liberals?

    The Salon piece that you heavily use is by someone who is a feminist and at least a moderate liberal. ” She’s also a regular contributor to Salon.com’s feminist blog, Broadsheet, and recently published essays in the anthologies Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, and Feed Me!: Writers Dish About Food, Eating, Weight and Body Image. A graduate of University of Toronto and the MFA in writing program at Vermont College…”

    There is one other liberal quoted here who condemns the flakey Hollywood supporters.

  24. 24
    busboy33 Said:
    12:33 am 

    @pst314:

    Really? Far from uncommon, huh?

    Let’s see . . . population in 1965 was roughly 195 million . . .
    http://www.usi.edu/1965/retro/facts.asp
    . . . so if innocent people getting dosed was “far from uncommon”, that means that it was prevalent, right? It happened all the time? If 1% of the population was getting dosed secretly, that’s almost 2 million people. And that’s just 1 percent, which is certainly uncommon. So what’s “far from uncommon”? 10 percent (approx. 20 million people)? No, that’s still pretty uncommon. So it was more than 20 MILLION people that Teh Hippies slipped drugs to?

    Odd that kind of widespread mass dosings didn’t make the news, or were documented, or verified, or investigated, considering how massive those numbers are.

    Either that, or you are just talking out of your backside. Free advice: don’t eat candy on Halloween — it’s all got razor blades in it. Well, it is “far from uncommon” to find them. Maybe Teh Hippies did that too?

  25. 25
    CSM Said:
    12:15 pm 

    Please differentiate between the moronic ramblings of celebrities whose careers consist of mouthing other peoples words and liberals.

    I tend to the liberal political view. However, as a part of this view, I expect the government and its agencies to adhere to the law. In this case, good for the authorities to continue to chase Polanski over the years. While police may not be the brightest bulbs, they are tenacious.

    Polanski should be returned to the US and face the sentence for his crime and for jumping bail. If the authorities want to cut him a deal on his return because he is an old man, so be it.

    This idea of protecting Polanski because he is a talented film director is inane and stupid. That does not put him above the law.

    I also look forward to the same philosophy being used to investigate and prosecute those who instigated these latest wars and those who profiteered. Would it not be interesting to see an investigation into the last few chairs of Haliburton?

  26. 26
    Paul Prescod Said:
    8:52 am 

    So the left is morally bankrupt and in favor of Polanski and Salon is now a right-wing moral herald?

    This blog post disproves its own premise…which is quite a feat.

    Furthermore, the idea that elites are above the law has nothing to do with left versus right. It is simply elites versus the people. Look at how the right has decided that it would be “too political” to prosecute Bush administration officials for breaking American and international laws on torture.

    Even *if* you believe that what they did was not torture, then that should be determined in a court of law and not in the media. But elites (right and left) have a different legal system than the rest of us.

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