Roman Polanski and WTF

If my subject heading doesn't make it clear, this post and its link are potentially triggery.

So, I'm in Vail, and the Sirens conference is about to start, and I know I'm supposed to be writing a post about how beautiful it is here, but there's only one thing I find myself able to blog about today, because of how deeply it pisses me off. It pisses me off so deeply that... *speechlessness* ...I can barely type.

Since the news broke on Sunday of Roman Polanski's arrest for a rape he committed 32 years ago, I have grown more and more stupefied by the public's response. Yes, I agree it was a while ago. Yes, I agree it's strange that they apprehended him now, after all this time. But it's not strange because they shouldn't have apprehended him. It's strange because they should have apprehended him a long time ago.

The man made some fantastic movies and clearly he's loved by many people. Newsflash: lots of people who do criminal, awful things also happen to be talented, charming, likable, lovable. In what galaxy does anything about Roman Polanski's personal qualities remove his liability for raping someone? In what galaxy does the passage of time change what happened? The reason so much time has passed is because 32 years ago, after he pleaded guilty to rape, HE RAN AWAY, and no one followed. And to those who insist that he's served his time because he's suffered... the mind boggles. First, find me someone who hasn't suffered, and after that, I invite you to notice that he hasn't served any time. That's the whole point.

Thank you to Kate Harding for this reminder that Roman Polanski raped a girl. She was 13 years old, below the age of consent, and by the way, SHE DIDN'T CONSENT. She repeatedly asked him to stop. He didn't stop. And nothing changes that.

ETA 10/2 11:32am: I have been informed that Roman Polanski did serve some small time before he fled. I apologize for the misinformation. My point still holds. He did not serve hard time, and at the heart of my anger is how lightly everyone seems to be treating rape.


Anonymous said…

Malinda Lo said…
Word! You are so right.
Anonymous said…
oh come on Kristin - it's not like he had sex with an non-consenting 13 year old! Oh, wait... hang on...

Thanks for this.
A BIG thanks, Kristin.

I switch on the tv and everyone seems to agree with a looovely and free-man Polansky.
How they dare? He commited a crime, he must PAY.
That's all.

Now i see with new eyes many stars (actors, directors...)i used to like.
Cause they excuse the rapist, they even say it was nothing.

Poor child.
And, yes, WTF.
Unknown said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Agreed on every syllable.

Here's the way a friend of mine put it yesterday, and I don't think I could say it any better:

Dear everyone who thinks that a lifetime of Parisian luxury, wealth and critical acclaim has been punishment enough for Roman Polanski, after he drugged and raped a 13 year old girl in 1977 and then fled prosecution:

Please do the world a favor. When you wake up tomorrow, just be the exact opposite of what you have been so far in your life. Because everything about you is incorrect.


Unknown said…
If you go to, in the middle of the 9-29-09 podcast, they do an interview Marina Zenovich who did a movie called Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired. I would make some comments (didn't finish the interview yesterday because a co-worker interrupted me) about the interview, but just want to say that he did serve some time in jail and it is sad that this case wasn't handled differently. If you find time, it is a great and informative interview (and TBTL is a great podcast, as well). I haven't checked out the movie, but hope to in the future.

If I remember correctly, Polanski served less than two months for the rape of a 13 yo girl and fled when he learned that he might have to serve hard time.

If that's not an outrage, nothing is.

And frankly, if he wasn't a fugitive from justice, he wouldn't have stayed away from countries with good extradition treaties with the US for the past 32 years.
Amy said…
Thank you, Kristin. I was beginning to question my sanity - did someone suddenly decide that rape wasn't a crime?

I do feel very badly for the victim - how much she & her family has to go through every time this story makes the news. But I don't think she's doing rape victims any favors by speaking out that Polanski should not be punished. That's all we need -- rapists thinking that just maybe, it CAN be all right to commit a crime. And if you can stay hidden long enough, you don't need to go to jail!

What a horrid mess!
Unknown said…
I *absolutely* agree with you and you are both articulate and awesome when you're ragin'. He needs to serve time for the crime.

That said, I've read several press releases in the past couple days where the victim has requested - nay, nearly begged - to have all of this dropped. She's even gone so far as to write a letter to the D.A. (I believe - I'm going off memory), asking that the case be dropped. Her argument is two-fold: 1) she feels that the media is exploiting her, recalling in detail what happened to her for their own purposes, and 2) the drudging up of this case has affected her husband, her children, and herself...they've moved on but we have not.

So I do feel like there is a conundrum here. Doesn't this bring into question the victim's rights? Does she have a right to release him? Should we, if she has?

I just bring this up. I think he is a criminal of the worst sort and how this has all played out sickens me.
Unknown said…
@Pr. Lehmann-- I only brought it up because of Kristin's comment:

"First, find me someone who hasn't suffered, and after that, I invite you to notice that he hasn't served any time. That's the whole point."

The interview and movie I menioned previously talks about that sentence and the case.
Debby said…
No words can describe how angry it makes me that people defend him. Truly, wtf.
Carla said…
THANK YOU! The general reaction to this is mind-boggling. The fact that he's a rich, powerful and admired *man* seems to be his greatest claim to forgiveness, and the fact that many people buy this bogus logic drives me up the wall. Artistic achievement does not excuse rape.
He's not a man, except in the loosest form of the word. A real man would never drug and rape a 13 year old girl.

What he did is subhuman at best. And there's really no "best" in this scenario.
Talent and fame shouldn't erase what is acceptable in society and should never excuse harming a child.
MadelineH said…
Bravo! Thank you for your post on this horrible incident.
Kristin Cashore said…
Laura, I agree it's a total mess for the victim, and I'm not sure where to go with that, either. It's a good question.

Regarding the petition signed by Woody Allen, Scorsese, etc., my friend brought up this quote from actress Alison Arngrim, as reported by the NYTimes: "If Roman Polanski were a Catholic priest or a Republican senator, would these people feel the same way?" Thought that was interesting.
Kristin Cashore said…
PS -- thanks for your comments, everyone. When the whole world seems to be disagreeing with you, you start to think you're the crazy one. It's nice to have some solidarity against the madness.
Rosanne said…
I could not agree more Kristin. It is unbelievable to me that people are actually defending him. His art has nothing to do with the fact that he committed a crime. The things that famous people get away with or are excused for is mind-boggling.
Artemis Grey said…
I got your back on this one Kristin. We just had a case not too long ago where I live where a guy wrote an apology letter to a girl he raped twenty-some years ago while attending our local university. He was arrested and there was some argument because it had been so long and, well, he APOLOGIZED. Right, whatever. He also went on to have a successful career while his victim dropped out of college and has lived with the trauma every day since. I have no mercy for someone like that. None.
Anonymous said…
Please make it official Sign the petition to show your support for extradition of Polanski

My name doesn't matter, but here I am:
ibpurpledragon said…
Accepting responsibility for your actions is the mark of an adult. It is apparent that Polanski has never progressed beyond the point of infantile immediate gratification. Perhaps he has suffered regardless of his suffering, should he pay for his crime, Hell Yes!
MelissaKeaster said…
First of all, the girl was a child. Her consent is almost irrelevant because she was a child. Either way, according to the law, what he did was RAPE.

Second of all, why shouldn't Roman Polansky suffer for what he did? That girl has probably suffered everyday since that awful incident. What is the world coming to if power and prestige and celebrity status exempt a person from paying for his crimes? Does that give anyone on OK Magazine's A-list the right to commit whatever atrocity they wish without fear of retribution? *shudder* Indeed, I hope not.
JillinPC said…
Hear Hear!

I won't add anything except to say, what if it had been a 13 year old boy? Would that bring into perspective that a 13 year old can't consent?
Unknown said…
To Laura: I rather appreciate the argument made in Salon
on Monday regarding the wishes of the victim. The gist of it being that, as much as we empathize the victim: "for good or ill, the justice system doesn't work on behalf of victims; it works on behalf of justice." And this whole business is now about a felon evading the justice system.
Jessica said…
You are really, really awesome. And thank you so much for not describing it as "had sex with". Rape != sex.
Anonymous said…
I agree with you...

I said that exact thing: WTF to my dad when I saw that on the news.
tinkandalissa said…
Ugh! I am SO glad that others feel the same way! It is absolutely ludicrous that this SOB thinks he can get away with this crime - and essentially has - for all these years! It's obvious he's been avoiding being penalized since he hasn't set foot in the US since then. The part that kills me the most is that the victim herself said that she didn't want to see him prosecuted since she accepted a settlement from him all those years ago. Oh, ok. That makes it better. There was a cash settlement. I'm sorry, but that is NOT ok.
I have a serious problem with how easy rapists get away with little more than a slap on the hand. This is just another example. I had a friend who volunteered for a local rape crisis center in the town I am living in and the stories are UNREAL. Argh! Get's me so mad. Ok. I wont keep going, but I really really could...
Anonymous said…
This whole thing is beyond belief and creepy. There's no excuse for rape. DUH.
And the victim wants him not to be prosecuted because of the attention directed at her family. Which of course wouldn't be happening if Roman Polanski hadn't raped her. It's just another way he has abused her and scarred her for life. And now her children as well.
AndrewsMommom said…
I just finished reading this:
before I came over to your blog Kristin.

WTF indeed.
Anonymous said…
Wow, this is mind-blowing. I can't believe he got away with it for so long. Even more so, I can't believe I've lived my life never hearing about it.
I'm actually incredulous it took this long to arrest him. It's not like he's been in hiding. Just another example of different standards for celebrities.

I wonder if those who are championing Polanski would agree to a global pardon for all rapists. No? Then shut up.
Loredan Avery said…
Couldn't have put it better.
Michele said…
I am so sick of people trying to say it was consensual sex. Hello, the fist time someone says no it becomes rape. And them lets bring up her age she was 13 years old, she wasn't old enough to consent. And let's discuss her Mom, she brought her daughter to his house knowing full well what went on at those parties. In my opinion her Mom is guilty too.
Melissa S. said…
I couldn't agree with you more - I have been outraged by the outpouring of support for Polanski. How nice WOODY ALLEN and HARRISON FORD that you find him to be a phenomenal director, a true artiste, etc. That doesn't change the fact that he RAPED a CHILD and should answer for that crime. What is wrong with these people?!
Rebecca Herman said…
you are so right! I am so annoyed by all the people defending him. Thanks for posting this.
Anonymous said…
I completely agree. I couldn't have said it any better.

Caro said…
I agree completely. I simply don't get it at all.

So not only is he a rapist and a coward, but he is a cheap bastard as well. I was reading this article just before seeing your post about how he has not even paid his *agreed* settlement to the victim.

I mean, seriously, he couldn't cough up the 500K he agreed to pay?
RobinPS said…
Agreed completely.

I felt the same way after the ridiculous amount of coverage and homage to Michael Jackson when he died, as well. Though MJ was never "officially" convicted of molestation in SEVERAL cases, I think the public conveniently forgot that the man was repeatedly accused of harming children.

Polanski, however, admitted it, was convicted of it, and then ran. He should face the punishment for it. Period.
edmunddruilhet said…
Its not about roman Polanski, its about this case being used to green light child rapist, it will be used to excuse others on trial for raping children. Lawyers will site this case and use it saying look Polanski got off, why not my client. This is how case law works. What part of protecting little girls do you not understand? Here are the facts. She was 13, a child read the case files, He drugged her with Quaaludes, Champaign, then still had to rape her, this is in her own words. Yes he Anally raped her for 2 Hours. He has 4 Charges that were pleaded down to Unlawful sex charge. Get your facts read words of the victim at the time of the trial. and before she was paid off. He fled and has been a fugitive from justice for over 30 years. This is not enough for this Pedophiles, he has to insult us fathers by asking us to validate his sick demonic behavior. Let me say this, its time for all good people to stand for the mothers of all life, Yes little girls become women, and all life comes from them. If we don’t protect them what will happen?
Pedophiles have no shame, but arrogant just like Pedophile Polanski. If I must stand alone, so be it.
 There’s 2 of everything. 2 Eyes, to feet and a light and a dark. Be sure when you insult the good or God in people, the people who are insulted will come together and expose the darkness. Raping children is the darkest thing anyone can do. Wake up and have some integrity, if not for yourself then for your children. It’s not about Roman Polanski.
Anonymous said…
Reading your words made my spirit filled with hope....hope that this world's morals aren't decaying as I thought. It is so wonderful to see that the media and it's influence cannot touch our inner compass on right and wrong.
marie Rutkoski said…
I agree completely.

Sometimes I think that those who would dismiss or forgive him are less influenced by his artistic status and more by the murder of his wife and him being a Jewish child in WWII (I can't tell you how angry it makes me that his explanation for fleeing the country was that he couldn't face being in prison again, because of memories of the Krakow Ghetto and Auschwitz. So, RP, you have bad memories of being brutally victimized? How about not visiting it on other people?).

Laura's question is a very interesting one (Hi, Laura! *waves*). I have to agree with Geraldine Ferraro on this one: "...victims cannot “forgive” the rapist. The criminal justice system is meant to protect all of us."
Marie Rutkoski said…
Obviously, I don't agree with people who would defend RP on those grounds (his personal tragedies). I'm just trying to figure out the craziness behind his defenses, which seem to be:

"He's a great artist."
"It was so long ago."
"She forgave him."
"He's suffered since."
"He suffered before."
Anonymous said…
I just ordered Graceling from the library! =)
Anonymous said…
That case reminds me so much of this comic strip:

I totally agree with you...I just don't see how rapists should get away withouyt a lifetime sentance or how murders can get away without a death penalty! Some of them only serve two-friggin'-years!!!

also, the being able to sue for spilling coffee n yourself...that's got to go...
Anonymous said…
lol...forgot to sign...

Really awesome book, btw; I'm not even to the 150th page and I'm totally immersed in it! I'll try to get Fire when it comes out, but the nearest B.A.M. is pretty far away...

-Rennar (for this and the above posts)
Anchama said…
No entiendo muy bien el inglés, hace años que no lo practico.
Pero desde aqui, agradecerte el maravilloso libro que has escrito "Graceling" que me ha encantado.
Espero que sigas escribiendo y traigan a España tus libros porque a partir de ahora seré fan tuya.
Un saludo.

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