The response to Roman Polanski's arrest from people who put themselves on the forefront of many cultural, social and political issues, is unconscionable and mind-boggling.
The very same individuals who, between their red carpet appearances, can carry on with a seemingly genuine passion about human rights and social justice, have come out in defense of a child rapist and fugitive because he is one of their own. And, oh, a genius. One would imagine that with their gifts and privilege comes a greater responsibility for upholding the principles they appear to champion during their photo-ops, interviews, and lectures. One would be sorely mistaken.
Their duplicity offends every human sensibility that informs us about right and wrong. In essence, by protesting Polanski's arrest and probable extradition, the members of the cultural and political elites have sanctioned both child rape and the splendid notion that when you commit one, you can and should run from justice. The clear message they send is that the child victim, her fate, and the rule of law are less important than their ability to pursue their own interests and goals unencumbered by the pesky moral and legal obligations, which bind the rest of the human race. They have, effectively, elevated themselves above morality and law. And they appear surprised that the rest of us are appalled and do not approve.
Film producer Henning Molfenter, a member of the Zurich Film Festival jury, expressed his own outrage and that of his colleagues when he made a brave decision to boycott the festival and the Swiss: There is no way I'd go to Switzerland now. You can't watch films knowing Roman Polanski is sitting in a cell 5km away .
And I want to ask: But you could and you did watch movies and did lots of other fantastic things with the child rapist throughout all these years -- and that was OK?
The crème de la crème's massive and heated protest of Polanski's arrest is a slap in the face of every victim of child, but not only, sexual abuse and rape. The familiar dynamics of post-abuse denials, rationalizations, and re-traumatizing of the victim(s) are being played out on a world's stage right now, this time with actual actors and playwrights taking on roles written for them by their own compromised consciences (if they even have those).
Victims of sexual abuse, those who have been brave enough to come forward with their stories and confront their abusers, know this script very well:
Oh, he couldn't have done it! Are you sure this is what really happened? He is such a nice man, a pillar of the community, a good father, husband, artist, priest, what have you. Can you imagine him being a rapist? Of course not, I can't either. He doesn't look like a rapist and he is so charming! Well, what did she do to provoke it? She must have done something, you know it. She'd better have some solid proof if she wants to smear such a decent man. Better yet, she needs to keep the story to herself. It's for her own good. Just imagine, she can ruin not only his and his family life, but also her own. And what does she really want, coming forward with these outlandish accusations?
The particulars change, but the story, with its predictable development, is always the same. It no longer surprises, though it is no less inhumane and damaging. However, it is stunning and breathtaking, in a very bad way, to see it writ large, involving people who (some of them at least) pride themselves on possessing unusual insights into human nature.
Here are their names -- directors, producers, actors, politicians, American and European (the list is incomplete and will expand with time):
Woody Allen, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Martin Scorcese, David Lynch, Wong Kar Wai, Harmony Korine, Stephen Frears, Alexander Payne, Wim Wenders, Tilda Swinton, Pedro Almodovar, Harvey Weinstein, Penelope Cruz, Sam Mendes, Michael Mann, Darren Aronofsky, Terry Gilliam, Julian Schnabel, the Dardenne brothers, Ariel Dorfman, Costa Gavras, Walter Salles, Jonathan Demme, Monica Bellucci, Asia Argento, Henning Molfenter, Til Schweiger, Niki Reiser, Jan Kounen, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Salman Rushdie, Milan Kundera, Neil Jordan, Isabelle Adjani, Isabelle Huppert, Mike Nichols, Diane von Furstenberg, Paul Auster, Debra Winger, Whoopi Goldberg, Mia Farrow, Nastasja Kinsky, Izabella Cywińska, Jacek Bromski, Feliks Falk, Janusz Głowacki, Andrzej Jakimowski, Janusz Morgenstern, Krystyna Morgenstern, Agnieszka Odorowicz, Jerzy Skolimowski, Maciej Strzembosz, Małgorzata Szumowska, Krystyna Zachwatowicz, Andrzej Wajda, Krzyszof Zanussi, Dorota Stalinska, Lech Wałęsa, Radoslaw Sikorski.
For news reports and legal information about Polanski's case, go to Andrew Vachss' site The Zero.
P.S. Dedicated to Whoopi Goldberg et al: All Rape is Real Rape by Alice Vachss.