The Plank

Polanski's Defenders, Cont'd

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Unsurprisingly, the cinematic community has come out in strong support of Roman Polanski, typically invoking--like the French culture minister before them--his status as a great artist as if it granted him some form of legal immunity. Debra Winger, a judge at the film festival in Zurich that Polanski was planning to attend, called out the Swiss government for its "philistine collusion" in apprehending the fugitive, arguing that "This fledgling festival has been unfairly exploited and whenever this happens the whole art world suffers," which will doubtless come as news to a great number of nonsuffering art-worlders.

Whoopie Goldberg made the point (repeatedly) that this case is not about "rape rape," which is legally true--Polanski plea bargained the initial charges down to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor in exchange for his confession. But setting the legal mechanics aside, Polanski furnished a 13-year-old with alcohol and a quaalude, repeatedly pressed to take her clothes off, pursued her from room to room through the house despite her protestations that she wanted to go home, and ultimately had vaginal and anal intercourse with her, despite her having pleaded "no" every step of the way. (The Smoking Gun has the original, appalling court testimony here.) If this does not constitute "rape rape," I hope Goldberg will clarify what would.

Today, Martin Scorsese and David Lynch also added their names to those of sixty-odd other cinematic luminaries who've signed a petition calling for Polanski's immediate release. But the award for complete lack of self-awareness has to go to another new signee who placed his moral capital in such matters on the table today as well: Woody Allen.

Update: Commenter jhildner rightly points out that I should have clarified that my description of the crime, contra Goldberg, was based on the victim's grand jury testimony. I don't believe Polanski has ever contested it very vigorously--he said she agreed to the sex and added, charmingly, that she was "not unresponsive"--but I don't know which details, if any, Polanski had to confirm as part of his guilty plea.

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