Roman Polanski and the Contradictions in Us All

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DaveyD-leather-225Everyone is talking about the arrest of   ‘famed’ director Roman Polanski as he entered Switzerland the other day to attend an award show where he was being honored. He was arrested for being a fugitive on the run from the United States and is likely to be sent back to face charges for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl 30 years ago.  Polanski is best known for directing films like ‘Chinatown’ and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. After he fled the country, he continued to shine by directing films like  The Pianist which won him a couple of Academy Awards, the Ninth Gate and Tess to name a few. 

Personally I shed no tears for Polanski. The crime he committed was heinous crime where there is no forgiveness.  As far as I’m concerned our government along with the rich and powerful in Hollywood gave Polanski a pass. He was given a wink and a nod when he fled to France. People somehow found a way to humanize him and make him a sympathetic  figure of sorts by noting how his beloved wife Sharon Tate was killed by Charles Manson. Hence him raping a 13 year old was somehow a result of that trauma.

For me, its hard not to look at Polanski supposedly escaping the US Justice system while that same justice system managed to track down and persecute Black Panthers and others who were part of the freedom struggle, all over the world.  It didn’t matter if any of those figures had experienced personal tragedies like seeing a loved one shot and killed by police. It didn’t matter that they themselves had been traumatized by oppression. At the time Polanski committed this rape, Panthers were being mercilessly hunted down by the FBI via their destructive cointel-pro program which among other things instructed agents to run all sorts psychological mind games on their BP targets.

Over the years we’ve seen local prosecutors be granted all sorts of resources to go after these freedom fighters 30 years after the fact even though the crimes they were accused of were highly disputable and in many instances dubious. Perhaps  government officials should’ve spent time and energy offering million dollar bounties for his return the way they did Asaata Shakur. Perhaps time should’ve been spent  securing Congressional proclamations of condemnation or making his extradition to the US a precondition to  a normalized or improved relationship between us and France.  We seem to have no problem insisting on such things at tax payer expense when it came to seeking out  Black and Brown folks fighting against injustice heaped upon our communities. 

Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski

What I find most disturbing is that after all these years what may have triggered Polanski’s arrest was him criticizing and accusing the LA District attorney’s office of gross misconduct. From the way it sounds, it appears that all it took to go after and finally get a seemingly untouchable Polanski arrested was a bruised ego. For 30 years the US Justice system could not grab hold of Polanski because he was hiding out in the south of France or the Swiss Alps. Suddenly he raises his voice against the state and they found a way to get him. Swiss Alps be damned.

This saga spells out a couple of things. Lesson #1– speak out against the state rightly or wrongly, and it is likely to hit back. There are lots of freedom fighters languishing in jails as political prisoners who clearly understand this lesson.

Lesson #2-, which I hope did not go over everybody’s head, is understanding the full scope and wide breadth of discretion that prosecutors seem to have when it comes to tackling crime. From what I can tell, there are no new laws in Switzerland that just sprung up allowing Polanski to finally be arrested. They were always in place, but for some reason even though Polanski had been to Zurich numerous times and even had a nice home over there, our government, in particular the LA district attorney just didn’t seem to have the political will or wherewithal to bring Polanski, a man who raped a 13-year-old to justice. That speaks volumes.

Y’all should marinate on that for a while. While you do that, ask yourself why the Pookies and Ray Rays of our community are doing 10 year bids after vigoriously being persecuted for non-violent crimes and drug addictions and white collar criminals who pillage and plunder you into taking substances are still free except for handful. Think about that while our prosecutors can’t find ways to bring brutalizing cops to justice but will suspend your license and issue an arrest warrant that they will hungrily pursue for unpaid tickets.

Yes, we know there are double standards, but we should not dismiss them and say ‘Oh well that’s how they be’ or ‘Oh well that’s how they do us-what else is knew?‘. My point here is that we should be well aware that there is lots of latitude and hence this should embolden us to fight even harder for people’s freedoms and to fight even harder to bring those who egregiously wronged us to justice. It should be more than obvious that no prosecutor’s hands are tied when it comes to doing what they feel needs to be done.

With that being said, we should also look at the contradictions within Hollywood. Here’s a town that is infamous for social persecutions and ostracization of ‘wrong doers’ and people who stepped on the wrong toes. Everyone knows that there are simply certain buttons you don’t push and certain people you don’t piss off least you suffer serious social and economic consequences. Hollywood is small town and stepping on toes is easy to do with dire consequences, unless you’re Roman Polanski who raped a 13-year-old..Now, call someone a pejorative name like ‘Faggot’ as did actor Isiah Washington and you can find yourself banished with your peers loudly condemning you. Not only will they condemn, many might not even work with you.

Unless your name is Mel Gibson and you are titan in your own right, you best not even think about saying or doing anything that is deemed anti-Semitic. You are likely to not be receiving any Academy Awards. You are likely not to be praised and forget about getting funding for your next film.

When you are a Polanski, you can get your esteemed colleagues coming to your aid petitioning the Swiss government and even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for your immediate release. You can have your fellow colleagues likes actress Debra Winger go before the world and declare your persecution and date with justice is a Philistine-like act.

When your a Polanski you can be spared a Bill O’reilly like tirade or a Glenn Beck tea party inspired witch hunt. Be Van Jones and curse at a Republican and its gloves our off and the pressure won’t let up until you leave town. Be Roman Polanski and we won’t have deep investigations trying to connect the dots..

Woody Allen

Woody Allen

And lets not get it twisted, Polanski not the only one who has done wrong or has raised serious questions in this regard. We still show love and admiration for film director Woody Allen, even though he was accused by his former partner Mia Farrow of molesting her seven year old daughter and as we all know he eventually wound up marrying his ‘step daughter’ Soon-Yi Previn. Allen is still admired and held up as being a pillar in the film industry.

I was tempted to ask the rhetorical question would any of us work for a director who raped a 13-year-old girl?  Would any of us work for someone who was accused of molestation and married his step daughter?  I was gonna ask that until I remembered  many of us would have no qualms in embracing Polanski and Allen. We would embrace them the same way we embrace accused molester R. Kelly. You remember him,  the guy who sings those dope songs like ‘Still I can Fly’ and ‘Step in the Name of Love’ ?  You remember R.Kelly the guy who somehow beat the charges levied against him, but there was no denying it was him in an underground widely watched x-rated video getting kinky and peeing on an underage girl? But hell if we can love Elvis Presley  who was with Priscilla at 14 and Jerry Lee Lewis who was with his cousin when she was 13,  I guess why trip off Polanski,  Allen and R Kelly right?  Our tolerance of such actions and activities says a lot about us as a society…At the very least it says we talk a good game about loving our children, but at the end of the day we do very little to protect them, especially if there’s money to be made.

Aaaah yes..ya gotta love the contradictions in us all….

Something to ponder

-Davey D-

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Comments

  1. That case was a bit complicated. There was a lot of drama created by the judge in that case and its not just a straight forward issue of the cat ran away from his sentence.

    Make no mistake, I am not excusing him at all. He wasn’t wrongly accused. He has admitted his guilt and, to the best of my knowledge, dated other underage girls openly. He should definitely do his time; he doesn’t even think anything is wrong with that. I just didn’t think this piece showed all of the facts.

    Peace and blessings

    Sketch.

    • Are there other facts that make what he did not a blatant contradiction on our parts.. Its quite simple.. He raped a 13 year old-thats a crime that goes on far too often in this country and around the world.. Was he mentally disturbed? He was traumatized? Not sure.. Asd you pointed out he dated other underage girls.. Whats disturbing is societal support for him while we blast others.. QWe hated Michael Vick but love Polanski.. We love R. kelly but disown Issiah washington??

  2. The invisible elephant in this article is Michael Jackson, who I believe was framed/extorted by (drum roll please) the LA district attorney’s office! (Along with the mafia and other rogues in the music biz). Yes, the double standard rolls deep.

  3. Also, I believe Michael Vick served the time he was sentenced for and he should be able to live his life. I think far too often in this country ex-cons have to carry the burden of a crime committed long after they have served their time. He should be allowed to live his life.

    I am not a supporter of Polanski. He should serve his time for his crime. What I was saying about all of the facts not being there was that he actually took a plea bargain that was offered. He was intending on serving a sentence handed down by the court and that plea bargain was tampered with to create a public drama by the judge. It wasn’t as straight forward as the dude fled the country when he was charged.

    I must add, accusations do not equal guilt. You brought in the Woody Allen case in which he was accused of sexual misconduct with Mia Farrow’s 7 year old daughter during the custody proceedings. This was never a criminal case and that judge did that information inconclusive. Quirkitude mentioned Michael Jackson who would fall in the same boat, except Woody Allen had never been charged with sexual misconduct.

  4. Okay wait a minute. First of all, are you trying to say that when someone gets called on their queerbaiting bullshit, that that is racist? And are you also trying to say that the Jews control Hollywood?

    I give credit to everything else you said, but both of those things, that’s a big problem to me.

  5. Here is the little girl’s actual testimony at the time:
    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2008/0610081polanski1.html

  6. Life isn`t fair and justice ain`t blind! I like your Isiah Washington reference juxtaposed with Hollywood`s treatment of Woody Allen/Polanski. Props on the Asaatta reference even if COINTELPRO comparison is taking it a little deep for me. You were on fire tho!

  7. the difference between MJ & Polanski??? MJ was accused – he was an easy target and he was vilified by the WORLD. Polanski admitted guilt and due to improper meddling by the sentencing judge, he managed to evade judgment all this time. Polanski isn’t denying the charges – he is of the position that he is impervious to our laws. I practice criminal law in NY and I see COUNTLESS defendants go to jail for “quality of life crimes”. Meanwhile, people who sexually abuse fellow humans, who beat their spouses, abuse their children – the DA’s office is usually willing to plea bargain and get rid of the case with minimal prosecution. So the bottom line is that when someone is wealthy and creates great movies that ENTERTAIN us, we are willing to be more forgiving and ignore the victimization that takes place – speaks volumes of our misanthropy and utter contempt for each other

  8. I yelled and screamed when you said R. Kelly’s name. Finally, a brother who is willing to stand up and say that sh-t is unacceptable. We as African-Americans must stop protecting our wrong ones no matter what they do. I will never buy another R. Kelly cd and I will never purchase another R. Kelly concert ticket. That, is how I say, “no, I don’t like it.”

  9. Davey, Sad fact, I was asked to speak at a Juvenile detention Center (jail). I spoke to the kids and more importantly listened to them. Seems there were quite a few who were there as sex offenders. Their crime? Having sex with 15, 16 or even 17 year old girls. The age of the prisoners who had sex with the girls?
    15, 16, 17.
    That’s right they are labeled sex offenders for having sex with their girlfriends and were the same age or in some cases YOUNGER than their girlfriends.
    So my amount of sympathy for Polanski/Woody/Kelly/ whoever is a big fat zero. My heart does hurt for those poor, mostly Black (and all too broke to pay for justice in the form of oily, high priced lawyers) kids I met that day. Peace, Ernie

  10. @Ernie Paniccioli

    Good heads up with the juvenile issues. It’s hard to believe (not really) the amount of support shown to the likes of a Polanski or an R.Kelly. It reeks of a Bizarro over Superman scenario…

  11. Davey, thanks for speaking out. I have been appalled at and disgusted by the outpouring of support for Polanski, and you are absolutely on regarding inconsistent enforcement & prosecution.

    Another issue with the juveniles: criminalizing of teen sex workers. Lots of these kids are homeless & runaways, and feel they have no resources to survive on the streets but their bodies. Police too often arrest the kids but leave the child-molesting johns alone. Our society’s most vulnerable labeled as criminals and while the more powerful walk away.

  12. e-scribblah says:

    my .02: Polanski is a great director but unfortunately also a pedophile. Ever see Chinatown? it’s about a creepy old man who fathers a child by his daughter. However, this case is a bit of a witch hunt, fueled by an obvious political agenda. The victim has said she wants to move on with her life. Still, if they can go after Weather Underground, SLA, Panthers, Brotherhood of Eternal Love, etc., decades after the fact, why shouldn’t Polanski get the same treatment? Bottom line is, it’s not cool to rape anyone, much less an underage girl, yet there are troubling aspects to how the prosecution has handled its case.

  13. e-scribblah says:

    just as an addendum, the facts are that polanski pled guilty, was sentenced to 90 days in jail. he did 42 days, was evaluated by a mental health specialist and paroled. the judge disagreed, decided to reinstate the sentence, and asked polanski to submit to voluntary deportation. instead of turning himself back in and serving the other 48 days, polanski fled the country. in the meantime, he has paid $500k to the victim, who has forgiven him and said she lives a normal adult life.

    so regardless of how outraged we may be at polanski’s crime several decades after the fact, technically this whole issue is over less than 2 months in jail which polanski has yet to serve. just to put things in perspective.

    i dont think this excuses the crime, but c’mon… this is just one of those things which gets beaten to death for the sake of sensationalism and headlines. bottom line is this case is really really old.

    i dont think there’s any link to Assata Shakur or cointelpro. its not even remotely connected. polanski’s case wasnt even political until he started speaking on the US court system 25 years after the fact. that’s when they said, let’s go after him.

    these facts get omitted in a lot of the accounts i’ve read. it’s also interesting to note that on this issue, Davey-d is essentially in ideological agreement with the Christian right, who see Polanski as a symbol of the evils of liberal thought.

    i’m personally more offended by the CURRENT republican sex scandals which to me shows moral hypocrisy at its worst.

    as for R Kelly and Mike Vick, i think R Kelly got off easy, considering what he did.

    as for Vick, i can see both sides. on one hand, he will never be forgiven by animal rights activists. on the other hand, we should give him a chance to redeem himself, and he has paid his dues.

  14. stunning

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