As we’ve been documenting here since Sunday, “Hollywood Self-Implodes over Polanski” as Roger L. Simon describes in his latest post. Of course, one doesn’t expect any sense of conventional morality from Tinseltown. But two previously well-respected authors who established their reps as moderate or (more or less ) conservative figures coming to grips with the Cold War have done a fair amount of damage to their reputations — at least for the moment — by attempting to defend Roman Polanski.
First up, Anne Applebaum, the author of the justly-celebrated Gulag, doubles down in her continued defense of Polanski, which you can read at Hot Air, along with Ed Morrissey’s response:
Applebaum crosses the line into some despicable territory here. She argues that once someone gets into a jacuzzi, regardless of their protestations and their refusals, that a girl is fair game for a rapist no matter what her age. No no longer means no if the shameless hussy leads on the poor, victimized male.
Meanwhile, Robert Harris, the author of two Cold War-oriented novels, Fatherland and Enigma, the former adapted to the small screen by HBO, the latter to the big screen, defends Polanski in the New York Times because of the director’s work in helping to craft an ultimately unproduced screenplay of another of Harris’s works:
I make no apology for feeling desperately sorry for him. The almost pornographic relish with which his critics are retelling the lurid details of the assault (strange behavior, one might think, for those who profess concern for the victim) makes it hard to consider the case rationally. Of course what happened cannot be excused, either legally or ethically.
But Ms. Geimer wants it dropped, to shield her family from distress, and Mr. Polanski’s own young children, to whom he is a doting father, want him home. He is no threat to the public. The original judicial procedure was undeniably murky. So cui bono, as the Romans used to say — who benefits?
America’s criminal justice system, which doesn’t take kindly to suspects fleeing to Europe, for one. A somewhat sympathetic piece by Jessica Grose linked to by Glenn Reynolds links today notes “the provocation that [Polanski] himself gave to prosecutors”:
In 1978, when he was brought to trial, Polanski fled because he believed the judge sentencing him was not going to accept the plea bargain he’d agreed to, a 90-day mental evaluation at Chico State Prison. In 2008, filmmaker Marina Zenovich—who had no prior relationship with Polanski—released a documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, that corroborated Polanski’s fear that his plea bargain wouldn’t have taken effect. Polanski tried to use the information presented in the film to get his case dismissed. Even the prosecutor from the original trial said in the documentary that he didn’t think the judge, who is now dead, had been fair to Polanski.
And for a while, it seemed as if Polanksi’s strategy might work. Earlier this year, a new judge was willing to consider dismissing the case against him. But first, he wanted Polanski to show up in court. Polanski, however, would not appear.
This is Polanski’s biggest problem: The judge’s terms were reasonable. He gave Polanski three months to surface in L.A. and even hinted that the director would probably not serve jail time if he appeared. And yet Polanski refused. From the point of view of prosecutors, Polanski practically dared them to act.
And after over 30 years of being a fugitive from justice, they did. Fatherland’s chief protagonist is a policeman doggedly investigating a series of crimes involving his colleagues, some of which date back to World War II; in real-life Harris wishes the repercussions of the most notorious acts of a friend would simply vanish.
On the other hand, in Hollywood, for some Cold War matters, the statute of limitations never expires.