Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The Roman Polanski Case – I am Shocked and Angry!

I am unbelievably irritated, shocked and angry as a result of the Roman Polanski affair. No, I am not angry with the Swiss authorities for arresting him or with the US authorities for wanting to have him extradited to face charges over what he did more than thirty years ago. What upsets me is the enormous groundswell of support available to Polanski even though he had pleaded guilty to the very serious charges levelled against him three decades ago and has been a fugitive from justice ever since. The victim is supposed to be a thirteen year old girl, who could have been twenty five. Since when did it become acceptable to have sex without consent with a thirteen year old who could have been twenty five? Why should Polanski receive a different form of justice merely because he is a brilliant movie director?

French authorities have expressed solidarity with Roman Polanski and are ‘outraged’ over the arrest. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has said that he hopes US authorities will respect Polanski's rights "and that the affair will come to a favorable resolution. Swiss filmmaker Christian Frei says he feels deeply ashamed of what his government has done. The Swiss Association of Directors has called the arrest "a grotesque judicial farce and a monstrous cultural scandal". The Bulgarian Director-Designate of Unesco, Irina Bokova, has declared that "Polanski is a world renowned intellectual... even though I am not aware of any details, this is shocking." Well, if Bokova is not aware of the details, she ought to keep her mouth shut. If you want details of what exactly Polanski did, you will find them in this article in the Independent.

American Film producer Harvery Weinstein writes in the Independent that Polanski has served his time and must be freed. Has he indeed? It is true that a plea bargain was agreed between Polanski and the US Judge in 1977, but Polanski jumped bail and fled the US before the court proceedings were complete, an act which makes him a fugitive from justice.

Even if it had been consensual sex, Polanski’s action would have made him guilty of ‘statutory rape’ since the victim was only 13. The jurisprudence behind ‘statutory rape’ is based on the assumption that a child under the age of fifteen or sixteen is incapable of consent and so even consensual sex amounts to rape. So why on earth should there be so much sympathy for a man who plied a thirteen year with champagne and drugs and sodomised her?

What about the feelings of the victim who had earlier filed a civil suit against Polanski and settled it for an undisclosed amount? The victim, Samantha Gailey, now known as Samantha Geimer, says she could do without all this attention. Samantha understandably wants the charges dropped. Unfortunately, in a criminal matter like this, the wishes of the victim do not count. When you commit a criminal offence, you are breaching the laws of the state and so criminal cases are always fought between the state and the person accused of the offence. The victim has very little say in the prosecution of the case. Even if the victim of a crime does not want to bring charges, the state may still do so.

6 comments:

flY oN thE WaLl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zubin said...

Fantastic Vinod - totally concur. Been airing the same view here for a while! This undermines faith in the rule of law - it insidiously suggests that some people really above the law!

Sheila said...

Absolutely. I totally agree.

Sujatha said...

I've been steaming about this too over the past few days. It's absolutely horrifying that supposedly rational, intelligent people can say the things they are saying. You should read Kate Harding's article in Salon.

Winnowed said...

Zubin, Sheila, Sujata, thanks for the feedback. Sujata, I read Kate Harding's article in Salon. It's brilliant: http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2009/09/28/polanski_arrest/

Winnowed said...

The first comment on this post got deleted on account of a quirk in this blog. Happens once in a while and I have no closer to finding out why that happens. Apologies to that commentator.