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Roman Polanski is a Rape-Rapist

*Disclaimer:* This article describes sexual violence that may be triggering to some readers. 

Roman_polanski

Quick poll: what word or phrase would you use to describe the act of inviting a 13-year-old girl to your friend's mansion, giving her champagne and quaaludes, and then penetrating her anally and vaginally while she protests and drifts in and out of consciousness? I'm guessing a lot of you would categorize those acts as rape. Some of you might actually not be able to form words for that sort of thing, because you're too sick to your stomach imagining such a thing happening to your child or the child of a loved one. 

Now let's say you're Whoopi Goldberg. Well, then I guess your answer is something like, "it wasn't 'rape-rape.'" Interesting.

Yesterday on The View, Whoopi, Joy Behar, Sherri Shephard and Guest Idiot Du Jour Melissa Gilbert discussed the "controversy" surrounding the international warrant issued against film director Roman Polanski, which the Swiss government saw fit to act upon this past weekend when Polanski went there to accept an award. The air quotes around controversy are in place because it completely baffles me that the above mentioned actions would ever create any sort of gray area regarding how to classify the crimes for which Polanski fled the country in 1978*.

To further render me almost speechless, the only true voice of reason in this entire discussion was Sherri Shephard. Normally, Sherri Shephard makes me want to kill my television, so I'm like, you know, "up is down! Left is right! Cats and dogs living together!" But even that mindfuck doesn't compare to this "rape-rape" shenanigan.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, and to touch upon what Whoopi seemed to be trying to clarify for us yokels at home who want to go around calling "rape" willy-nilly every time some eccentric European cinematic genius has sex with a 13-year-old, the lesser charge to which Polanski formally pled guilty was having sex with a minor. Yes, Whoopi, we get that. However, if we took that same crime, changing the name "Roman Polanski" to "Joe Rapist," and maybe moved the venue of the crime out of Jack Nicholson's mansion, I believe the gray area gets a bit more high contrast for most objective observers.

When a 44-year-old man offers to take photographs of a 13-year-old aspiring model for a spread in French Vogue, provides her with champagne and quaaludes, and then performs oral, vaginal and anal sex on her, I'd venture a guess that most of us don't even ask whether that girl said, "no" (though it bears repeating that, in the case of this victim, Samantha Geimer has maintained for 30 years that she did). We don't ask that question because whether she protested or not, what happened is as clear as black and white to most of us. A little girl was raped. With all the famous Hollywood stars removed from that story, what you have isn't a Hot Topic on The View, because there's no controversy worth discussing there. What you have is a heinous crime that happens to far too many girls. What you have is a violent act, the violence of which has only just begun for the victim once the perpetrator has finished forcing himself on her. What you have is plain, black-and-white rape, if you're the sort of person who feels there are degrees of rape (which I'm not). I guess you could also call it "rape-rape," if that's the term you prefer, Whoopi.

A lot of apologetic rhetoric was bandied about by Goldberg, Behar and Gilbert during this segment. Yes, Roman Polanski had a rough life. A survivor of the Holocaust, Polanski also lost his wife Sharon Tate in the brutal Manson slayings in 1969. Those are horrors I would not see visited upon anyone, even a rapist. But that doesn't make it okay to rape 13-year-old girls. There was some discussion about his films, though at least they agreed (however much of it was lip-service), that making great art doesn't excuse one from heinous crimes.

But let's just be fucking real for a minute. It obviously does, because the French government has been willing to dismiss the crimes of its adopted son Polanski for years, simply because he makes great films. People don't want to believe that famous people are capable of infamous crimes, because we hold them up as something more than us, as something better. Famous people who commit crimes aren't criminals! They're eccentric! tortured artists! I can't believe for a second that someone with different credentials from Polanski's, even with the same traumatic past, would be given us pass like Whoopi seems to want to give Polanski. 

Look, I am all for separating the art from the artist. I think Rosemary's Baby is, to this day, one of the best horror films of all time. I wept at The Pianist and thought it deserved the Academy Award it won. Even so, I would trade the existence of both those movies to see justice served in this case. I'd trade a lot more for it to have never happened.

The only true controversy, as I see it, involves the wishes of the victim in this case. Geimer wants the charges dismissed. However, the reason for that desire has almost nothing to do with wanting to protect a great artist and far more with wanting to end the 30 years of media scrutiny she's had to endure since Polanski raped her. The media continues to hound her, partially because of this problem we have as a society with the notion that the people we put on the pedestal of celebrity can let us down and do horrible things. It is precisely because so many people cannot separate the art from the artist that so many people, like Goldberg, cannot call a rape a rape in this case. 

I deeply empathize with Geimer for wanting this to go away. I also maintain the somewhat controversial position that it is neither a survivor's duty nor her responsibility to see her assailant is legally punished, because—as is clear from the case of Geimer—the judicial process so often leads to further revictimization by the court and the media. But I also strongly believe, as a society, that we have a responsibility to hold people accountable for their crimes, no matter what their credentials, how horrifying their past, or how famous they are. And part of that responsibility involves not dancing around with phrases like "gray areas" and "rape-rape."

(*Because Polanski holds French citizenship and the French government is not legally obligated to extradite its own citizens, he has remained safe from extradition for the last 30 years, traveling only in countries he was certain would not extradite him.)







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Comments

Siobhan

THANK YOU! I was getting a little stabby watching The View yesterday. It's called statuatory rape for a reason. I hate that ths guy gets lauded by Hollywood and recieves a standing ovation at the Oscars. Which he couldn't attend without getting arrested but they just gloss over that part. I hope he finally gets what he deserves.

Marmite Breath

Thank you. This was very well written.

Erin

Well said. I have been wondering why so many people seem to be ignoring the basic logic you discussed here. Thanks for this.

tonya

"...making great art doesn't excuse one from heinous crimes."

Thank you! This is exactly the way I felt about Michael Jackson as well.

She Likes Purple

This was incredibly well-written. I'm blown away.

I really like your point about most of his supporters misusing the "separate the art from the man!" argument. I can appreciate a great film/song/book regardless the personal life of the creator, but I would still expect him/her to be held accountable for their actions. Saying he should be excused BECAUSE of his art is not separating but tragically blurring the two.

Laura

THANK YOU! This is exactly how I feel. And the fact that he continues to get away with it is just because he is a celebrity is stupid. Have people ignored the fact that he chose to move to France *specifically* because of their lack of extradition treaty with the U.S. and travel only to countries that won't extradite him. He's been evading the law for over 30 years. He is guilty. Plain and simple. He is a coward.

jodifur

Great post, amazingly well written, and I agree 100%.

He doesn't get a pass b/c he was a great film maker, and a rape is ALWAYS A RAPE WHOOPI.

BaltimoreGal

Amber, once again you do the victims of crime a huge justice by speaking TRUTH in the face of a lot of double-talk and inanity.

I don't get how Whoopi Goldberg keeps making excuses for celebrities if they've had troubled pasts. There's a huge difference between being troubled and taking part in an acts of violence toward others. And make no mistake, people, that what Roman Polanski did was a violent act. Toward a child, no less.

PLUS he evaded prosecution and he should be punished for that if nothing else. Even if his victim wants the other charges dropped, you do not get to escape justice because you don't agree with what most of the world agrees is a crime.

Redneck Mommy

I just can't get past the fact she was 13. My daughter is 13.

I hope justice is finally served and Geimer can finally move on and find some semblance of peace from this nightmare she found herself trapped in long ago.

Renee

So so glad I'm not the only one made furious by Whoopi's remarks yesterday. I watch The View for the train wreck, but yesterday I felt like I was watching a train homicide. Whoopi should know better. I too saw what she was TRYING to do (don't say rape unless the allegations say rape, so as to avoid slander suits, etc.) but she was absolutely fighting the wrong battle.

Fairly Odd Mother

I so agree with this: "Even so, I would trade the existence of both those movies to see justice served in this case." I don't think there is a single "arteest" who has done something horrible that I couldn't do without if it meant erasing the "horrible" from history (Michael Jackson & even his Thriller walk included, and CERTAINLY Roman Pulanski's movies included). It's shocking to hear ppl sticking up for him.

lori

AMEN. amen amen amen. Well written, well reasoned, excellent post.

I hadn't heard this news until The Boy told me about it on Sunday. He was almost sympathizing with Polanski and gave all of these same excuses (horrible things in his past etc.) and added in the "had to live in exile" at which point I lost it. This led to a 15 minute diatribe about how no matter what the circumstances, a 13 year old can never give consent to intercourse (this was before I heard the specifics of the actual event and now I need to go throw up).

The tendency to excuse bad (or horrible or horrific) behavior because of hardships in the perpetrator's life has got to end. As has the tendency to excuse the famous for their horrific behavior.

We need to keep being horrified by both the actions and the glossing over of the actions.

Kiki

Thank you! There is just no way that the argument in defense of Roman Polanski holds any water.

First, just because he pled guilty to statutory rape doesn't mean that what he DID was statutory rape. The crime that you described was absolutely and indisputably rape-rape. Thank you for pointing this out!

Second, even if the circumstances had been different and it had "just" been statutory rape, there's a reason that statutory rape laws exist. If a child is 13, she is unable to give consent for a sexual act. The power imbalance involved and her own immaturity make consent an impossibility. Sex with a 13-year-old girl is rape period, and what Roman Polanski did was an especially disgusting case of it.

DianaCLT

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!

I am so baffled by our society. Michael Jackson, Roman Polanski, James Brown, Chris Brown, Pete Townshend, Michael Vick...just a few of the names that come to mind when I want to, once again scream, "WTF?!?!?"

Being a great athlete/dancer/actor/producer/musician/what have you does NOT excuse your behavior. I cried at The Pianist and trembled in fear at Rosemary's Baby. Would my life have been incomplete without those films? NO. I used to love Thriller, the Moonwalk, etc. Would I feel a hole in my history without their existence? NO.

I am sick and tired of the public (and WHOOPI) giving these people a pass from their sick fantasies and acts just because they "entertain" or have a "real gift." What was their gift to their victims? The dogs, wives and girlfriends that have been beaten; the kids and adults that have been sexually assaulted - what was the gift they received? Humiliation, invasion of privacy, personal violation, and - undoubtedly - pain so deep I cannot fathom, every time their abuser received another award or praise. It's fucking wrong. Pure and simple.

Corina

I can't believe that there are those out there who seek to defend him. He pled guilty. He needs to serve time. He is a rapist. Justice needs to be served. Just because you possess talent does not excuse crimes or bad behavior. Thank you so much for writing this.

Jane

Great post. Completely agree.

What saddens me additionally is that so many WOMEN are making apologies for this guy, esp. in the "she was asking for it" type vein.

When will women stop this insanity?

Julie @ The Mom Slant

Thank you.

It horrifies me how relatively lenient sentences (and attitudes) can be toward those who've committed crimes against children.

Amy

Amen. It sickens me that there is even a question of right and wrong in some minds over this issue. I don't care if he's Mozart, Picasso, and Michelangelo all wrapped up in one body. I don't care what happened to him as a child. Neither his past nor his artistic merit excuse what he did. Period.

kaelak

Amen, sister!

Someone needs to make a movie about how this a-hole's actions affect the 13 year old girl he raped and donate all the proceeds to a security force for Geimer to keep everyone from getting all up in her grill.

I hate these double standards, especially around horrific crimes like Polanski's. Argh.

Heidi

sometimes i love you, snarky amber. like right now.

good on you for calling whoopi out.

Ariel

My husband didn't even KNOW about this.
He walked into the room to see the headline and was SHOCKED.
He knew him as the guy who made the Pianist.
And now he wants to know why the hell A RAPIST was free to make the movie in the first place.

Noelle

Really amazing post. Good for you on pointing out the double standards and the victim blaming. I'm sick of it.

jennifer

Agree, agree, agree. I've been extremely frustrated the past few days by people who want to gloss over the facts of what happened. Besides that, I am enraged when people in places like Afghanistan and Indonesia refuse to take seriously the damage of rape upon a woman. How much more enraged should we be that people in U.S. are doing the same thing?

Debbie

There's another reason why Gremier wants it to go away: she has already received a cash settlement.
http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/09/29/crimesider/entry5349005.shtml

Regardless of that, he raped her. That's rape. Rape apologists make me pissy, especially those who are FEMALE. But then, those would probably be the same females who wouldn't consider themselves feminists. Probably their chauvinism gets in the way!

JAR

I am so disappointed to hear that Whoopi Goldberg, who has made a career of speaking her mind, bowed down to Hollywood and called this freak anything less than a Rapist, and a Child Rapist at that. No art deserves the sacrifice of a 13-year old child.

I don't watch the View and I'm pretty sure I never will if this is what they're selling.

indycitygirl

Do the crime,do the time.I am so mad at this because RAPE IS RAPE!!!! I could care less how famous and talented he is blahblahblah,he sexually violated this 13 year old after he got her wasted!!! OMG,this just pisses me off.He also fled the country to avoid being arrested!?!?!?! WTF!!!I connot believe people are boo hooing Roman being arrested!!! I am stabby now...

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves)

I missed Whoopi's comments because I can't force myself to sit through an episode of The View. Good thing because if I had heard that rape-rape crapola I probably would have thrown my chair through the TV. WTF, Whoopi? For years it's bothered (and amazed) me that so many people seem to be willing to just pat Roman Polanski on the shoulder and have him wander into the French sunset. He is a rapist! A sick SOB who should be punished.

Kerry

Thank goodness I'm not the only one! The BBC did interviews with people in Zurich for the film festival he was supposed to attend when he was arrested, and they were all APPALLED that the Swiss government would do this, and how could they treat this great artist this way, and this was just American puritanism reaching across the world.

And I just wanted to reach into the TV and strangle these people and scream at them "he raped a child for the love of God!" I don't care how good his movies are or how bad his life has been, he raped a child. End of story, go straight to jail do not pass Go.

Katya

It's very simple. Doing something horrible does not diminish great art, and great art does not excuse doing something horrible. Seriously. That simple. Case closed.

I don't know what this fucker is so afraid of, anyway. Sorry to be graphic here, but you can rape an infant with a blunt object in this country and not even get a lifetime sentence. Our justice system only gives about half the shit it should about rape as a heinous crime when the chips are down. Fact. And it's sickening. So why don't you just stroll on back and get your four-years-after-fame-based-plea-bargaining sentence out of the way, Roman?

On a related note, I really wish people would stop mentioning Michael Jackson in all this. Let's be clear. He actually STOOD TRIAL and was not convicted, whereas this dickhead has been running away from trial for 30 years with the utmost of care cause he's guilty as shit and he knows it. I do think there's clearly a significant difference, so let's not slosh the haterade around quite to recklessly. It minimizes what's going on in this case.

Gunlaw

Writer of this post (Amber) should be arrested
What a load of rubbish ,suddenly everyone seems to know everything there is to know about law eh,lets light a big fire in the centre of the willage and burn him there,welcome back to dark ages.

Amalah

I actually saw comments yesterday that were essentially blaming the 13-year-old victim. Like, "yes, BUT...she already wasn't a virgin! she'd already taken drugs! her weirdo mother sent her there! she was hardly a saint!"

Um. Okay. AND????? Polanski gets a pass for raping damaged goods, or something?

GAH. I hate everyone.

coco loco

very well written post, i agree completely.
(and that's completely-completely, by the way, not that gray area completely)

holding polanski accountable for his CRIMES is not a return to the dark ages...having sex with 13 year old child is pre-historic, uncivilized id run amok. justice is the civilized thing to do, no matter how delayed.

...shana tova, polanski.


savia

This post is brilliant - some of the best writing I've seen on the topic. Thanks for writing it!

savia

This post is brilliant - some of the best writing I've seen on the topic. Thanks for writing it!

Bez

Gunlaw, STFU. I bet you wouldn't even dare some some sh*t like that to anyone's face. If so, feel free to post your address so my male friends and I can come to your house and give you a Polanski riding altho you won't have the privilege of being drugged up. You'll feel everything because scum like you deserve it. Then we'll see what's really "rubbish."

This man deserves to ROT IN JAIL. He's a monster. PERIOD. He better hope I don't see him one day walking in the street. I'm a rape victim and I swear on everything that I won't feel bad for taking someone (who deserves it) out of this world.

Karina in T.O

Thank you Amber. I've yelled at my television a few times this week because of this story! When Whoopi busted out 'it wasn't rape rape' I lost my mind in the middle of my living room with my hubs watching!!
The yelling went something like this "WTF??? So if it's not an all out battle of fists, teeth, nails and screaming it isn't RAPE, Whoopi?? He DRUGGED a 13 year old girl! She said NO! He raped her in every orifice! For a few moments in time Polanski was no different that that Philip Garrido monster!" HE TOOK SOMETHING THAT WAS NOT HIS! HE RAPED A CHILD. PERIOD!

My hubs was in shock at my outburst, in agreement mind you, but a bit in shock too.




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