Can We Still Trust Anne Applebaum? Her Irrational Defense of Polanski

By now, there have been scores of terrific comments on the Polanski controversy. But perhaps the best single line was offered on it by Jay Leno. “It’s not as if he committed a real crime,” Leno said, “like colorizing a black and white movie.”  That comment reveals the mindset of the Hollywood elite, for whom anal rape of a 13-year-old drugged with Quaaludes is something to be forgiven. This is especially true  when committed by a celebrated director whose status as a Holocaust survivor offers him lifetime protection from having to pay for his own criminal behavior.

The usually astute Anne Applebaum, whose columns on political matters and the crimes of Communism are second to none, also joined in on behalf of Polanski’s defense. Writing in a Washington Post blog, Applebaum offered the following unique set of defenses: First, there “is evidence of judicial misconduct.” Since she wrote that line, however, new information has been released that indicates the testimony offered in last year’s documentary about Polanski, which for many people proved judicial misconduct, has been withdrawn by the talking head, the L.A. prosecutor in charge of the Polanski judicial misconduct allegations.

An article by attorney Marcia Clark (of the O.J. prosecution) on The Daily Beast reveals that the former prosecutor, David Wells, lied on camera when he said he had advised the judge on what course to take in order to send Polanski back to prison. “It never happened,” Wells said, and that statement undermines the heart of Polanski’s legal appeal. Wells said the director told him to make that statement, that the film would never air in the United States, and that “it made a better story if I said I’d told the judge what to do.”

Second, Applebaum argues that Polanski has already paid for his crime in many ways. He did not know the girl’s real age (a great excuse that reveals only the stupidity of those who repeat it). He has legal fees. He has suffered “professional stigma” and cannot return to the United States. What great suffering! The man jet sets around the world, is lionized by his own community of film world acolytes -- who hardly show that he has suffered any stigma at all -- earns a fortune for widely acclaimed films, and we are supposed to now see him as a victim.