On being “brain-dead” and lacking “a moral compass”

My esteemed colleague Kevin Slane sounds off on the Polanski affair in today’s issue of the Daily Cardinal. Kevin, I love ya, but this column is problematic on several levels.

First, Kevin’s central argument is little more than a straight regurgitation of the popular anti-Polanski position, one shared (as I posted yesterday) by such cuddly neo-fascists as Jean-Marie Le Pen; I’m particularly disheartened to see Kevin play the “he nearly got probation for raping a 13-year-old girl!” card, when Kevin must know all too well (as it seems he did a bit of research, at least) that rape was not the charge to which Polanski plead guilty. Obviously rape is a horrible crime and if he were found guilty of it, I’d be all for a considerable stay in the slammer for the director of Knife in the Water and Repulsion; but that just ain’t how the American legal system functions, my man. Criminals are often guilty of a plethora of sins against humanity or whatever, but that’s not necessarily what lands them in prison; it’s what the prosecution can successfully stick to the defendant that does put them away for a while. Polanski’s trial was conducted within the boundaries of this same legal system, and yet he’s an exception to the whole “law and order” thing just because he has an air of celebrity-exceptionalism about him? Please. What’s the difference between Hollywood elites pushing for Polanski to be made into a supposed exception to the rule and those who are calling for Polanski to be tossed into an American prison, effectively making him an exception to another type of rule, that is, the proper implementation of our own legal codes?

Kevin also (cynically) compares Polanski to Gary Glitter. Kevin ought to know that this comparison is absolutely absurd. Glitter was not only a repeat offender, he was convicted each of those times, including convictions after 2005, which was when he fled the UK for Vietnam.  Kevin says he doesn’t understand how “such a double standard” could exist, but it’s clear that these two men and their crimes have little if anything in common.

Finally, Kevin takes a predictable yet disappointing shot at Woody Allen in the concluding paragraph of the column, because it was clearly necessary to do so. Kevin refers to WA as “a man who should be familiar with inappropriate relationships with his own children”… huh? Is Kevin alluding to Allen’s stepdaughter, Soon-Yi Previn, to whom he is still married today and who is now 38-years-old? Allen might’ve been “creepy” by conventional standards once upon a time, but hey, c’est l’amour.

In short, Kevin relies upon too many played-out arguments and self-righteously demagogic tactics to contribute anything new to the conversation about the Polanski affair. Yes, this situation has a very definite moral dimension to it; that said, it is first and foremost a legal predicament, one that ought to be resolved according to the law. There remains much to be said about Polanski’s trial (though there’s little to say about his life since the trial, apart from speaking of the remarkable body of work he’s produced since his guilty plea), but as far as the moral dimension is concerned, people are repeating themselves ad nauseum simply because it’s a much easier thing to take a position on.

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3 Responses to “On being “brain-dead” and lacking “a moral compass””

  1. Kevin Says:

    All right, he wasn’t convicted of rape, but he did sign court documents saying he drugged a 13-year-old with quaaludes, then performed oral sex, intercourse and sodomy on her. The official charge was not rape, as part of his plea deal, but considering to what he signed, I’d consider it as much.

    Now, I know there is the argument about the rogue judge, and that by reneging on Polanski’s plea deal, Polanski deserved a second chance. But I look at it as overdue justice. He wasn’t even going to receive jail time for this? In what way is that fair? I have a ton of homework due at 12 so I can’t give a long response, other than to say that while I can see some of the arguments on the other side, and I wish I had had more space to cover them, I stand by my statements.

    • Dan Sullivan Says:

      Thanks for writing in, Kevin. I guess my point is only that so many people seem unwilling or unable to separate the moral dimension of Polanski’s crime from the legal dimension, which is really what his recent arrest is all about… to ignore what happened at Polanski’s joke of a trial amounts to a kind of historical revisionism, and it’s just as bad as ignoring what Polanski may or may not have done. I have no clue what RP’s fate should be nor do I care all that much, but I admit I find it rather ridiculous that anyone still gives a shit about bringing such a benign public figure (and gifted artist) to “justice” for an all-around mess he was involved in over 30 years ago.

  2. Kevin Says:

    By the way, here’s the actual court testimony for Polanski and the witness. Highlights include: Polanski admitting that he knew she was 13, and the graphic, awful description of the rape.

    Polanski’s plea: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2009/0928091polanskiplea1.html

    Girl’s testimony: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/polanskicover1.html

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