Shame on Polanski Apologists, But Thanks for Demonstrating How Far We Still Have to Go

By Lisa Bennett, NOW Communications Director

Have Hollywood and the media gone mad? Why are these communities expressing almost universal support for director Roman Polanski, who admitted raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and then ran from the law? The Today Show has brought on guests to speak on Polanski’s behalf, like his agent and his former sister-in-law, but failed to follow up those interviews with someone who supports Polanski finally answering for his crime.

Even Whoopi Goldberg, a longtime supporter of feminist issues, said on The View: “It wasn’t rape-rape.” This seems to be the position of many in Hollywood and the media — that this was consensual sex, so it’s really just statutory rape, which isn’t so bad. And the girl didn’t look 13, after all. And Polanski spent time in jail, so he did his time (a whole 42 days). And the opportunistic, ambitious district attorney and judge were just out to get him. And wasn’t the girl’s mom a pushy stage mother who would pimp her daughter out for fame? And the U.S. is such an uptight society compared to freewheeling France, which welcomed Polanski after he fled. And have we mentioned that Polanski’s a brilliant director who won an Academy Award?

Enough with the excuses and diversions. Guess what? Rich, talented people break the law, too. They even rape girls who say No. And when they do, they should go to jail for more than 42 days, and if they don’t like it, too bad — they shouldn’t flee the country. ABC News has posted extensive excerpts from the girl’s testimony before the grand jury. Read this and tell me what happened that day wasn’t rape.

And no, it doesn’t matter that the woman, now in her mid-40s, has found a way to forgive Polanski. Survivors of rape need to do this in order to go on with their lives. It does not mean a crime wasn’t committed or that justice has been served when it hasn’t.

The media need to take a step back and start reporting on this case in a more objective way. Stop thinking of Polanski as someone you admire, as a great artist with lots of famous friends. Report on the details of the crime. Maybe even interview some experts on sexual assault. And to all those folks in Hollywood: you sure sound jaded and heartless. What if this happened to your daughter? Would you want someone to say that your daughter wasn’t “rape”-raped?

Update: NOW President Terry O’Neill is speaking out about this case. O’Neill has been quoted on CNN.com and in The Washington Times.

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