Thursday, July 15, 2010

Forget it Jake, it's Stupidtown

Media Matters highlights a particularly head-hurting response to the recent non-resolution of the Roman Polanski underage sodomy case, this from WaPo's Richard Cohen

The Swiss got it right. Their refusal to extradite film director Roman Polanski to the United States on a 33-year-old sex charge is the proper dénouement for this mess of a case. There is no doubt that Polanski did what he did, which is have sex with a 13-year-old after plying her with booze. There is no doubt also that after all these years there is something stale about the case, not to mention a “victim,” Samantha Geimer, who has long ago forgiven her assailant and dearly wishes the whole thing would go away. So do I.

Cohen seems to be implying that the expectation of justice should be inversely proportional to the victim's ability to forgive. You don't have to be the Bad Lieutenant to think this is bullshit. A victim of rape or of racial assault wants to move on with their lives? Let the culprits go. An old man can't get over the kids playing in the neighborhood who broke his window? By Cohen's "logic" he gets to turn bad stickball into a capital offense.

Nor does it improve with the comparison of Polanski and Ezra Pound. Pound was "both a traitor and an anti-Semite"? Sure, but his treason consisted of making sporadically lively, mostly boring radio speeches for Mussolini. If he had been proven responsible for actual Allied troops dying, the Ezra Pound story would have had a very different ending. As for child rape, you did or you didn't. It's been pretty well proven that Polanski did.

It's also true that Polanski is a valuable artist. As it happens, he gave into the very devils that gave his work its most disturbing edge. For at least a few hours, he became Noah Cross. It would be nice if he would submit to at least symbolic punishment for it, as it seems unlikely he'd ever get the same sentence as a garbageman who drugged a thirteen-year-old for sex. But that won't happen.


susan said...

Although it's very beneficial for a victim of violent crime to forgive the perpetrator, the law against the crime itself is not a subjective matter. You're absolutely correct in your assessment.

Ben said...

Danke. This case isn't something I spend days and days thinking about, but that's the way it seems to me.