Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No free passes

It's not exactly a secret that Roman Polanski was arrested on a 32-year-old rape charge this past week. It's also not exactly a secret that he's guilty, or that he was convicted.

People are blogging/editorialing/etc-ing their brains out, the results ranging from "He's Roman Polanski! An ARTIST!" to "Um, he raped someone; why didn't he serve a sentence?!" Needless to say, I'm on the latter end of the spectrum.

If you're going to argue that Polanski wasn't guilty, or that he didn't know what he was doing, or that since the survivor just wants everything over so she can live her life so we should let the dude, go, or anything like that, this ain't the place for you (and how the hell did you even find this blog anyway?).

So much that I agree with and believe has already been said. However, there was one point that I think needs to be said again, one that I've recently discussed with friends.

If you've experienced personal tragedies, you do not get a free pass to do whatever the fuck you want.

I'm well aware of Polanski's personal tragedies (I do not count "exile" to France to be a tragedy; comprehensive health care AND French food?! And no jail time?! Not exile). He survived the Krakow ghetto, and his parents were put in concentrations camps. That's awful. The Holocaust? It sucked. And I'm not saying that because I'm trying to minimize it (helLO, I'm JEWISH), but because I could go on and on about how it was an atrocity, but you'll get bored because you already know.

His wife and unborn child were murdered by Charles Manson's crew. I'm familiar with the case because of my morbid fascination with murder cases. It was awful.

But these tragedies do not give you a free pass to rape someone. What, does his victim now have permission to murder someone? Does that mean that anything Polanski does that's unlawful shall be excused because man, his life totally sucked? Does he get a freebie to destroy someone's life because, well, he made some awesome movies?

PLEASE, people. Think of the absurdity here.

While it's completely okay to struggle with appreciating someone's accomplishments, mourning their losses, but still being disgusted with their behavior and holding them responsible, it is not at all okay to make excuses.

Roman Polanski survived the Holocaust while losing family members; his wife and child were brutally murdered. He's managed to create some critically acclaimed films. And he raped someone. He raped a child. She did not consent; she said no. It wasn't even one of those so-called "gray area" cases. Real, horrible, no-ignoring-it rape.

But, you know, it's TOTALLY unfair to arrest the guy and hold him responsible for what he did. Remember, bad things happened to him, so he can do bad things.

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