In today's Chicago Tribune, columnist John Kass takes on the case of director Roman Polanski, who is currently in a Swiss jail awaiting extradition to the U.S., to be punished for his 1977 statutory rape conviction. Kass's kicker is that the sactimonious Hollywood types pleading for Polanski's release are showing how little they think of us, their audience.
I wrote a piece about Polanski the last time this kicked up, in 2003, when he won the Oscar for his movie The Pianist. It contains many details of the case that are omitted in most accounts.
In 2003, Polanski’s defenders noted that his film contained elements of his own traumatic childhood as a Jew in Nazi-occupied Poland. Polanski was imprisoned at Auschwitz and his mother died there. Stories about Polanski invariably also mention that in 1969 his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, was brutally murdered by the Charles Manson cult.
Yes, very bad things have happened to Roman Polanski in his life. Apparently, he has always viewed the rape incident more as something bad that happened to him than as something bad he did. In defending himself against the charges, Polanski often claimed that his 13-year-old victim was a "Lolita" who "knew all about sex and drugs." After he fled he told a BBC reporter, "I've been tortured by this for a year and that's enough."
Like Kass, I have no sympathy for Polanski and feel nothing but contempt for those who defend him.