Blogosphere “divided” over Polanski arrest


Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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22 Responses

  1. Yeah, I remarked earlier today at Popehat that pretty much the only people defending Polanski are cultural elites, usually with relatively close ties to the film industry. These people may tend to be left-of-center, but that ultimately has nothing to do with their reasons for being Polanski apologists. If you look at liberal blogs, you quickly find that they have pretty much every bit as big a problem with Polanski apologists as do right-of-center blogs. In fact, no one’s been tougher on that crowd of apologists than the feminists (and understandably so, I might add).

    There is, I should add, a third group, comprised almost entirely of civil libertarians like our own Freddie and several others, who have been emphasizing the importance of due process in this, but that’s a far cry from being a Polanski apologist, especially since they have the benefit of being right. I don’t think this group is even angry with the idea of Polanski being arrested – so far as I can tell, they just want to remind us that proper procedures need to be followed and that as such this shouldn’t result in Polanski getting thrown in prison for a very long period of time since there may well have been some shadiness going on between the judge and the prosecutor after the plea was entered but before sentencing. Which, again, has the benefit of being the correct position.Report

    • Will in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      As I said, the procedural questions surrounding the original arrest should be addressed. But the “just let him go” position is totally baffling.Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to Will says:

        Oh, totally. It just seemed worth pointing out that there was in fact one group that some might (incorrectly) see as being Polanski apologists but that are really a separate category. If one were trying to paint a picture of an ideologically divided blogosphere, one would need to lump this group in with the apologists, which would be very, very wrong.Report

  2. greginak says:

    So I think one conclusion is that the Washington Post isn’t fit for fish wrap except of Eugene Robinson. I looked on CNN , they had a sidebar that said “woody allen, others demand release of polansky”, which is pretty damn hilarious.Report

  3. M.Z. says:

    Perhaps enough is enough. This is the first I’ve heard of the guy. Reading Cohen’s piece, he drugged and got drunk a 13-year-old girl and took advantage of her. Perhaps someone from the right (or am I from the left) should say enough is enough. What is prison going to prove? What good is being attempted to be achieved? What he ended up pleading to was a misdemeanor. Supposedly he was to be sentenced time served when he fled. Let the case be over.Report

    • Will in reply to M.Z. says:

      In practical terms, I think sentencing Polanski would reaffirm the notion that no one – however famous or accomplished – is beyond the law. I also find the idea of a child rapist getting off scot-free morally abhorrent.Report

      • M.Z. in reply to Will says:

        It was a misdemeanor. Is it your intention to argue that the US should track and formally request extradition for all 20-plus-year-fugitives from misdemeanor charges?Report

        • Will in reply to M.Z. says:

          When possible, yes, I think we should extradite people who have fled the country after breaking our laws. I wouldn’t deploy the 101st Airborne to extract Polansky, but it’s not like having the Swiss arrest him for us massively taxes American resources.

          Also, repeating “it was a misdemeanor” ad nauseam doesn’t make Polansky’s crime any less heinous.Report

    • adolphus in reply to M.Z. says:

      You asked “What is prison going to prove?” Well, it might suggest to anyone thinking about drugging a 13 year old girl and forcibly performing oral sex on her, penetrating her vaginally, and sodomizing her, all without her consent, that the US justice system will hunt you down like the scumbag weasel you are even if it is almost 4o years later and you are in another country and even if you are an Oscar winning movie director.


      The child who doesn’t get raped will appreciate it, you think?Report

      • M.Z. in reply to adolphus says:

        If the State didn’t plea that down to a misdemeanor and release him for 90 days to finish a movie prior to sentencing that might have more truth to it. The theory of justice that states justice equals severity times duration until meted has been proven ineffective over and over again. Even the victim has said enough. The time to send any kind of message was 30 years ago.Report

        • Mark Thompson in reply to M.Z. says:

          Here’s the thing. I’ve got a big problem with people who take an extraordinarily generous plea deal skipping the country for their sentencing hearings just because they think that the judge is going to impose a tougher sentence than was agreed upon. That the judge’s hypothetical actions, if taken, may have been unethical is irrelevant – there’s this thing called the appeals process to handle that. And while that process is hardly perfect, someone who pleads guilty to a frankly heinous crime (whatever its punishment) has an absolute obligation to submit to that process. AFAIK, even if the judge had modified the sentence, Polanski was looking at perhaps a few weeks/months in jail for a crime to which he pled guilty and which had underlying facts centering around the forcible rape of a 13-year old girl – this is hardly the kind of miscarriage of justice that warrants fleeing to another country.

          That this occured 30+ years ago is to me irrelevant in this case – this is not a situation where the State is responsible for delaying justice or where the State failed to prosecute or anything of that sort. Instead, it’s a case where Polanski pled guilty and then fled the country before his sentencing hearing and then spent the next 30 years publicly flouting the Rule of Law, reinforcing the message that justice for the rich and famous is different from justice for the poor and downtrodden.

          As for the issue of “it’s been 30 years, let it go already,” I’d say that the one who isn’t letting this go is Polanski himself. The State did its due diligence in charging him and trying him quickly. He pled guilty. He has a responsibility to submit to the consequences of his guilty plea, just like any other defendant. Yet for thirty years, he has refused to accept those responsibilities, indeed going so far as to have his lawyers try to dismiss the charges without subjecting himself to the jurisdiction of the court in which he already pled guilty.Report

          • cyncialone in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            I am by no means an expert on California crim law, but I am a crim defense attorney in FL.
            Have a client being sued in several states including CA.
            Did some research with my CA counterpart for the case, but also looked up statutory rape cases during the 70’s and 80’s.
            Average sentence was 7 1/2 years for 63 cases – most cases involved incest rape. By no means a complete study, but from looking at old case records; Polanski had a better plea agreement, by far, than any other defendant reviewed. In fact, we could only find two other similar plea agreements for a similar crime in a ten year span.

            I have to say, Polanski’s original deal was a gift. I can find no record of someone receiving the “original” sentence of Polanski for the same crime. Mind you, Polanski negotiated down to a less severe crime than actually committed.
            In other words, people that touched young girls inappropriately received longer sentences than Polanski did for raping a young girl.Report

  4. Chris Dierkes says:

    Nicely put Will.Report

  5. Bob Cheeks says:

    Follow procedures, then hang him!Report

  6. Mike says:

    The usual hypocrisy from all over, as the intersection between those who want to let Polanski off and those who defend the Vatican’s shielding of pedophile priests is the empty set. (Or is this the sort of foolish consistency that Ralph Waldo used to go on about?)Report

  7. Rob says:

    Some people would likely excuse Adolf Hitler if he appeared today with the “well it was a long time ago” line, or “it won’t undo the crime and bring back the dead.”Report