03 Oct 2009

30 Years After

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America has not changed all that much from the days when Hester Prynne won her letter. We are still the same nation of boobs and Babbitts and blue-nosed Puritans which nearly a century ago used to drive H.L. Mencken right up the wall.

Leftwing or rightwing, you’d think the typical member of the American commentariat just fell off the turnip truck and came stumbling down the highway pulling hayseeds out of his ears for all the weeping and wailing over the generation-ago naughtiness of Roman Polanski.

Both sides of the political spectrum are making the elementary error of confusing rape in the statutory sense resulting from the female being too young lawfully to provide consent with the kind of rape which is a grave crime of violence and a terrible violation of a person’s will and sovereignty of person.

Read the Grand Jury testimony (Part 1 Part 2) of the young lady (whose current privacy I propose to respect by referring to her as Dolores Haze) and one can easily perceive that it is a version of events particularly uncomplimentary to Mr. Polanski, collaboratively achieved by the prosecuting attorney and the sullen and inarticulate young woman who is bringing a complaint against him, while trying to put the best possible light upon her own conduct.

It requires only reading a little between the lines and paying attention to details to note that Miss Haze and her mother obviously sought out Mr. Polanski’s acquaintance with the young lady’s career advancement in mind. Her mother readily gave permission for her daughter to meet and to pose in private for Mr. Polanski.

Gosh, when an attractive young woman harboring entertainment industry ambitions agrees to “pose” alone and in private for a famous Hollywood director, is it possible to imagine that anyone involved would suppose for a minute that such a meeting could lead to hanky panky?

The famous director and the nymphette met twice for photography sessions featuring the young lady disrobing. When Miss Haze went with Mr. Polanski to Jack Nicholson’s house for the second photo session, even the simple people back where I grew up would have observed that they were not getting together to say the rosary.

Ex post facto protestations of reluctance aside, the philosopher is obliged to note that Miss Haze seems far from innocent and her overall behavior the opposite of unwilling. She was not a virgin at the time of her sexual encounter with Mr. Polanski. She had disrobed in front of him in private on two occasions. She implicitly recognized the social and convivial aspects of that private meeting at Jack Nicholson’s house by willingly drinking champagne with Mr. Polanski, and by sharing a Quaalude with him (which she identified for the uncertain director, who even consulted her about its likely effects on him).

After which festivities, Miss Haze willingly took off all her clothes, and hopped naked into a jacuzzi. Sexual activity ensued.

In her Grand Jury testimony, Miss Haze makes some effort to portray herself as startled and frightened by Mr. Polanski’s completely unexpected advances. To believe her testimony to be literally true requires supposing that the social connection between these two people was unrelated to the well-known Hollywood casting couch and to believe that anyone might meet an older man alone, drink and do drugs with him, disrobe for him, and hop naked into a jacuzzi while having no intentions of granting greater intimacies. If any particular editorialist actually believes that, I can only say, in the Irish manner: May God preserve your innocence!

The more cynical among us tend to suspect that, had some substantive career assistance (or even an appropriate gift) been forthcoming, no statutory rape complaint would ever have been lodged. Consequently, I tend to view the Polanski affair, not as an authentic case of rape, but as a payment dispute in which one side is able to whistle up the assistance of the criminal law.

Polanski, of course, was behaving unethically, using his fame and worldly position to obtain the sexual services of an indecently young girl, whom he evidently couldn’t, or wouldn’t, be able to repay with his patronage.

There is no doubt that the relations between Roman Polanski and Dolores Haze were against the law.

But, the “he drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl” narrative is wildly inaccurate and inflammatory. In reality, Polanski cynically had exploitative sex with a much younger girl when she made herself available, with dubious intentions of repaying her in the manner she expected. They drank and did drugs together. You can hardly accuse a man of drugging a victim into submission by sharing a drug with her.

The plea bargain arrangement made (Polanski would plead guilty unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, and be let off with the 42 days he served under psychiatric evaluation) indicates pretty clearly that the prosecutor took the same view of the Polanski case at the time that I do now. Polanski broke the law, doing something fairly shameful he ought not to have done, but it was not really rape at all. He deserved some legal penalty, but he did not deserve the gravest possible punishment.

What happened back in the 1970s is exactly the same thing which has happened again 30 years later. America’s psycho-sexual insanity was provoked by the Polanski affair the way a bull is provoked by a red flag. All the Christers and the wowsers began howling for Polanski’s blood, writing misleading hysterical jeremiads about drugging and raping poor little 13 year old maidens, and the next thing you knew, Judge Rittenband, who was sensitive to public opinion, expressed the intention of throwing out Polanski’s plea bargain, while keeping his guilty plea. Facing an exemplary penalty, Polanski wisely fled into exile.

The only things that seem to have changed in 30 years are: Roman Polanski has become a very old man and the middle-aged Dolores Haze says she has forgiven him. The American obsession with striking poses of self-righteousness has not changed, nor our intelligentsia’s penchant for inflaming mob opinion with misleading narratives.

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13 Feedbacks on "30 Years After"

Grant

He shouldn’t have done it.
Her mom never should have let her anywhere near him.
She did the right thing in forgiving him.
Her dad should have shot him.
No one should condone actions like Polanski’s.
Next question?



Secular Apostate

Felon… check

Fugitive… check

Jail… check

Hester Prynne??? You’re joking, I hope.

And yes, I like his movies. So what?



Jim

There still remains the nagging fact that one party was an adult, and the other a child. Children are not able to make decisions regarding sexual activity, and we don’t expect them to….then or now. Polanski is a child rapist who fled justice.

I only ask that he be imprisoned for one day….or however long it takes for him to encounter the biggest, baddest fellow inmate in the shower……so that he may experience the helplessness that he imposed on his victim.



W. Kimbell

I have not followed this story as I have no interest in it. I have never been interested in Roman Polanski or his endeavors. I have, however, been interested in this blog and your writing. I stop by every day and have recommended your blog to friends of mine. Your rants against America’s “boobs and Babbitts and blue-nosed Puritans” are beginning to turn me off. Shades of Andrew Sullivan and LGF. There are more important things in life than a second rate film maker. Think about it. . . .



Maggie's Farm

Another point of view…

Another point of view re Polansky, from NYM:

I tend to view the Polanski affair, not as an authentic case of rape, but as a payment dispute in which one side is able to whistle up the assistance of the criminal law.



Trimegistus

If to be disgusted by Polanski raping a 13-year-old — even if she was pimped out by her mother at the time — makes me a boob, a Babbitt, or a wowser, then I will happily take my stand with the boobs, Babbitts, and wowsers.

Some things are simply WRONG. They are WRONG even if the circumstances were sordid, the victim complaisant, and the perpetrator a genius. It was WRONG thirty years ago and it remains WRONG today.



Stevo

What if he were Father Polanski?



JDZ

Oh, I agree it was wrong. But I obviously do not believe it really was rape. I don’t think it’s worth getting in a lather about 32 years later, and I don’t think it is worth extraditing and imprisoning anyone at this point, all these years later.



rufasrastasjohnsonbrown

So the slick willy defence.Wonder if you would do all these girations if it was your grandaughter 32 years later.How many times did the diddler get away with molesting little girls because as you suggest they were asking for it.



Daily Pundit » I’m Not Buying It….

[…] Never Yet Melted » 30 Years After What happened back in the 1970s is exactly the same thing which has happened again 30 years later. America’s psycho-sexual insanity was provoked by the Polanski affair the way a bull is provoked by a red flag. All the Christers and the wowsers began howling for Polanski’s blood, writing misleading hysterical jeremiads about drugging and raping poor little 13 year old maidens, and the next thing you knew, Judge Rittenband, who was sensitive to public opinion, expressed the intention of throwing out Polanski’s plea bargain, while keeping his guilty plea. Facing an exemplary penalty, Polanski wisely fled into exile. […]



J.S.Bridges

Just this, and then no more:

1) She was 13 years old – thus legally unable to give consent – and he knew it at the time (he admitted as much later, under oath). Further…

2) She testified that she told him “no” several times anyway, at several junctures.

3) In a plea bargain, he pled guilty to a single lesser charge in exchange for being jailed for 90 days for psychiatric evaluation. He served only 42 days, and was – improperly – released by the jail psychiatrist as “not a risk to the community.” The judge declared the intent to return him to serve the remaining 48 days – and to press him to “voluntarily exile himself.”

4) He thus still owes the court that 48 days of jail time – possibly plus a penalty for evading serving the rest of his agreed-upon sentence.

He is, in fact, a confessed felon and a fugitive from justice.

End of story.



JDZ

My impression is that Judge Rittenband was intending to respond to press coverage at the time by hitting Polanski with a major sentence, that he fled to avoid years in prison, not another 48 days.

Obviously Polanski is guilty of a crime, but 32 years have gone by. He is a very old man. The victim has long since forgiven him. Additionally, Polanski has made significant cultural contributions over many years, and has himself during his lifetime been a victim of far worse crimes. His mother died at Auschwitz. His father was imprisoned at Mathhausen. His pregnant wife was murdered by the Manson family. Is Polanski really the fugitive from US justice most worthy of extradition?



Billy Oblivion

The mother should be put in stocks for pimping out her daughter. Especially a second time.

Polanski is a felon and a fugitive. If nothing else he should be brought back to be sentenced and to serve whatever time the judge decides. Regardless of the initial crime, the fleeing is worth 2-5 alone IMO.

Polanski may not be the felon MOST worthy of extradition, but I’m not aware of any law that says we can only do one at a time. That there may be a cop killer in Mexico we can’t get our hands on, or a multiple murder in some other country that won’t extradite because we’ll kill them as they deserve.

Polanski’s fame shouldn’t shield him, nor should his political positions, and as for his movies, maybe they tell a little about what is going on in his head.



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