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.