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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Genius is no Excuse for Evil

Roman Polanski is a film genius. He's a director of rare quality. He's also a criminal that three decades ago committed a horrible crime. Before being adjudicated for that crime, he fled the country to another country (France) that wouldn't extradite him back here. He's lived in France since in a fairly comfortable lifestyle. Movie making has logistical problems because he can only make movies in certain countries, but he's never short on Hollywood stars who are pleased to work with him. His genius overrides the heinous nature of his crimes.

I saw the Pianist and I loved it. I can't even remember now if I knew it was directed by Polanski and I certainly don't know if I put the moral consequences of that together. I do, however, know that anyone that helped him make a movie or watched any of his movies, contributed to the moral outrage that Polanski perpetrated on society at large.

It's important to note that Sharon Tate was Polanski's wife when she was killed by Charles Manson and his followers. So, his crime is as much Manson's responsibility as his own. I am not excusing what Polanski did but I am saying that he wouldn't have committed the rape of a thirteen year old had his own wife not been brutally killed. That should put into perspective just how gruesome the Manson killings were. They not only took lives directly but helped to create evil elsewhere on top of it.

Polanski's case is also a microcosm of how we treat celebrity and time. We wouldn't be having this discussion if Roman Polanski was a nobody. In fact, if Roman Polanski was a nobody, he wouldn't have escaped to France. He wouldn't have been given bail thirty years ago. As such, he wouldn't have been given a chance to escape.

There are those that say that the crime is so old that we need to forget about it. He's nearly eighty. The victim is grown up, has made peace with it, and doesn't want to revisit the situation. Of course, that's only so because of what he did subsequent to the crime. It's not as though he's spent the better part of the last three decades in jail and we are all debating whether to let him out of jail early. Instead, he escaped and went on living his life in relative normalcy for the last three decades. The crime is long past because he refused to face justice when it first occurred. Are we now to excuse it because his own actions have made the crime dated?

The thorniest issue here is the victim. She's moved on and she's forgiven him. It's not fair to open up those wounds. It's not something that anyone can simply dismiss. That said, it's not acceptable that a vicious child rapist can get away with this for so long. Delayed justice is still justice. Roman Polanski drugged and then brutally raped a thirteen year old when he was 44. No amount of genius should ever excuse that and he must finally face justice, long overdue.


Anonymous said...

What of Polanski's allegation that the Judge canceled his plea agreement after he served some time and then left the country?

Anonymous said...

Roman "Collar" Polanski. Put a Roman Collar on him and he would merit a different judgment. Or would he?
The world of Hollywood has a different concept of right and wrong. Its inhabitants impose their Sharia on the world through film and the fawning adulators. It will be fun to watch this dance play out.
And Letterman. And Chacko. And Funny Mae and Freddie Mac executive compensation.

Keep pulling off the scabs of the world.