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Dozy bint of the week
Not pro-Muslim, but a dozy bint nevertheless. Anne Applebaum fails to get to the core of the Polanski affair:
Of all nations, why was it Switzerland -- the country that traditionally guarded the secret bank accounts of international criminals and corrupt dictators -- that finally decided to arrest Roman Polanski? There must be some deeper story here, because by any reckoning the decision was bizarre -- though not nearly as bizarre as the fact that a U.S. judge wants to keep pursuing this case after so many decades.
Here are some of the facts: Polanski's crime -- statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl -- was committed in 1977. The girl, now 45, has said more than once that she forgives him, that she can live with the memory, that she does not want him to be put back in court or in jail, and that a new trial will hurt her husband and children. There is evidence of judicial misconduct in the original trial. There is evidence that Polanski did not know her real age. Polanski, who panicked and fled the U.S. during that trial, has been pursued by this case for 30 years, during which time he has never returned to America, has never returned to the United Kingdom., has avoided many other countries, and has never been convicted of anything else. He did commit a crime, but he has paid for the crime in many, many ways: In notoriety, in lawyers' fees, in professional stigma. He could not return to Los Angeles to receive his recent Oscar. He cannot visit Hollywood to direct or cast a film.
He can be blamed, it is true, for his original, panicky decision to flee. But for this decision I see mitigating circumstances, not least an understandable fear of irrational punishment. Polanski's mother died in Auschwitz. His father survived Mauthausen. He himself survived the Krakow ghetto, and later emigrated from communist Poland. His pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered in 1969 by the followers of Charles Manson, though for a time Polanski himself was a suspect.
I am certain there are many who will harrumph that, following this arrest, justice was done at last. But Polanski is 76. To put him on trial or keep him in jail does not serve society in general or his victim in particular. Nor does it prove the doggedness and earnestness of the American legal system. If he weren't famous, I bet no one would bother with him at all.
It is difficult to know where to begin dissecting this nonsense. I thought Anne Applebaum, author of Gulag, was a good egg. I also thought she was a feminist, but perhaps she's one of those feminists who swoon over any man perceived to be in some way anti-American.
First, "statutory rape" was the plea bargain. Polanski's actual crime was to drug and rape a child, who pleaded with him to stop. His age, the time elapsed since the crime, his traumatic experiences and his alleged genius are completely irrelevant.
As to the claim, made much of in the media, that the victim has “forgiven” Polanski, two points. First, rape victims need to let go, or they will spend their lives consumed with hate. She wants to put her ordeal behind her, which is understandable. But that doesn’t make it any less of a crime. Second, she is not the only voice that matters – rape is an offence against civilised society, not just against the victim. The law should be impersonal.
A victim of burglary may feel that the burglar should be hanged. Should her feelings have legal effect? So if a rape victim thinks her rapist should get away with it, that is equally irrelevant.
Forgiveness has no place in a legal system. The idea that it should, like the idea that we should be lenient with child rapists, is more than a little Islamic. It would be interesting to see if the apologists for Polanski are also apologists for Islam.