More Polanski Fail

by Shaker Faywray.

Hi Shakers, this is faywray. Liss has offered to let me turn a rambling I'm-about-to-explode e-mail I sent her into a guest post.

[Trigger warnings apply, especially for the external links.]

I found this article by Bernard-Henri Lévy (the creator of the original "Free Polanski" petition) on a French site the other day, and I wanted to translate some of it for you. Turns out the HuffPo has already taken care of that. It sickens me that the man gets a platform for the bile he is spewing.

In this new pile of utter bullshit, Mr. Lévy once more tries to educate the simple-minded on why arresting Roman Polanski should be a moral no-no. He should know. After all, his own website describes him as "dedicated to all struggles for human dignity."

For those who can bear to do so, let's have a look at some of his arguments. The gist of his text is that the way everyone is behaving in the Polanski affair is just shameful. He keeps repeating this word, over and over again, like he invented the anaphore.
Since we're at this point, since time is passing and everyone seems to find nothing wrong with the situation, since Roman Polanski's supporters are losing faith and, sometimes, are even starting to doubt [yay!], since the pack of gossipers have even succeeded, it seems, in convincing the French minister of culture that he spoke too hastily, and under the influence of emotion, though he only did his duty, I want to say again, once more, why this affair is shameful. [...] It is shameful to see the regulars of the global Café du Commerce [the French equivalent of bar-room politics], whose Pavlovian anti-Americanism never leaves them at a loss for words when lambasting America on any and everything, are suddenly silent, become gentle as lambs and, when it comes to Polanski, just repeat: "Ah, that's America... better not mess with American law... dura lex sed lex (the law is harsh, but it is the law)..."
Those people (who are they, anyway?) couldn't possibly have come to the conclusion that he should be extradited, could they? No, they are suddenly, inexplicably intimidated by America, that's it!
It is shameful to see the intellectuals, whose role should be to calm the frenzy and cool popular anger [elitism anyone?], ratchet up, like Michel Onfray in Libération, the moment when "the worst are full of passionate intensity" (Yeats) and to indulge, in the name of abused childhood, in the most obnoxious amalgams [Onfray had said that if you think a pedophile sex tourist should be punished, you simply cannot say otherwise about Polanski].
Right. Because Maude help us if the intellectuals aren't there to think for the masses. Also: I feel passionately about this issue. Does that make me one of "the worst"? Ouch.
[W]hy don't we hear these intellectuals denounce with equal ardor, the limitless outrage that is the martyrdom of child soldiers in Africa, or child slaves in Asia, or the hundreds of millions of children dead of hunger, according to the estimates of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), for the last...32 years?
You want to bash your peers for willful ignorance of other people's suffering? Go right ahead.

I have to ask though, what the FUCK has this got to do with Roman Polanski? Why is there something worse, something more important that punishing someone for something he did to another human being? Oh, that's because, like dignity and human rights, justice is only available in limited stock, and we can't be going around handing it out to just anyone, now, can we?
It is shameful to see Luc Besson rush to television, cloaked in ingenuous probity, inveigh against Polanski, like in the worst era of the McCarthyist witch hunts, and denounce his friend.
As a reminder, Luc Besson, when asked, basically said "I like him, but the law's the law."
It is shameful to keep repeating, like some are doing, that justice should be "equal for all" while, if there is indeed an "inequality," if there is a double standard, it is to the detriment, not to the advantage, of Polanski. I've tested it. Last October 2, on the NPR show On the Point, I confronted Geraldine Ferraro's refrain, which she repeated ad nauseum: "Polanski has had a lovely life; now, he has to pay." I sent out a challenge to listeners: "Show me a case, a single one, of an anonymous person, guilty of the same crime, who was tracked down thirty years after the fact." To this day, no one has found a single one.
Point utterly proven. People who haven't gotten caught are still free, so even those who are caught should go free.

One minor correction, though: If you have a look at the NPR's comment section for that show, there are actually several people on the first page who have found cases of a "nobody" being brought to justice 30 years later.

But if not for justice, why is Polanski being arrested now? According to Lévy:
[Y]ou had to be Polanski, you had to be an artist renown [sic] over the globe for an elected prosecutor, soon to embark on an electoral campaign and starved for publicity, to resurrect the case from oblivion, to which, even in the United States, popular wisdom relegates the very old case files of non-recidivist delinquents.
Non-recidivist meaning, in this case, never caught before or after. "Dating" a 15-year old two years prior is clearly something completely different.

Note how there is now a good thing called popular wisdom. Compare to popular anger above.
It is strange -- shameful, and strange -- to see how the same people who, intoxicated by suspicion and seeing conspiracies everywhere, spend their time investigating the secret agendas of the States, but do not seem at all bothered by the timing that is, undoubtedly, extremely bizarre...
'Cause the decent thing to do would be to uphold your prejudices against all logic. This reminds me of a comment he made on the above-mentioned radio show to a caller who said that he was wrong to say everybody had forgiven Polanski during the last 32 years - she for one had tried to "boycott" him. Lévy's reply: "At least she's consistent. My problem is those people who not only gave him awards...and who suddenly organize this man-hunt." We are allowed to believe a rapist should be arrested, but we have to prove that we had this opinion for 32 years for it to mean anything.
Because it is shameful, finally, that we can't, when we talk about his life, evoke his childhood in the ghetto, the death of his mother in Auschwitz, the murder of his young spouse, eviscerated along with the young child she was carrying, without the prayers [I disagree with this translation. The original said "braillards". French-speakers, correct me if I'm wrong, but that sounds like howler, as in howler monkey, a very disrespectful description, but at least he is consistent in this.] of the new popular justice crying, "Blackmail!': even for the most abominable serial killer, the prevailing "culture of excuse" jumps to scrutinize the difficult childhood, the broken family, the traumas -- but Roman Polanski would be the only person in the world under judicial jurisdiction not to have the right to any kind of attenuating circumstance...
Right, because people who mention his past suffering usually do so in an attempt to explain what "made him" rape a child.
Except they don't. They say he didn't, and besides, AUSCHWITZ. That is a very different line of argument, and Lévy fails to see the difference.

His closing statement:
I hardly know Roman Polanski. But I know that all those who, from close and from afar, join in this lynching will soon wake up, horrified by what they have done, ashamed.
I've run out of words. Using the imagery of typically racially motivated mob-violence to describe not protesting the lawful arrest of a fugitive child rapist?!

I wonder if Mr. Lévy has felt shame lately. The kind that is physical, the pressure in your head, the lack of oxygen in your lungs, the lava in your bowels. I don't think he has. I think shame, much like morals, is an abstract concept to him that can be used in sophisticated arguments. His concern is not even really about Mr. Polanski, just about the "inconsistency" he perceives in the whole affair.

To Mr. Bernard-Henri Lévy, luminary, I'd like to repeat what caller Andy from Ft. Myers, FL had to say on the NPR show:
I have to say [...] I agree with Bernard in that I'm surprised he hasn't been brought into custody sooner. Beyond that, I'm sorry, Bernard, you may be an intellectual, I have to say I think you're an [asshole].
Emphasis all mine.

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