Something wildly unexpected happened the other day: Film director Roman Polanski was taken into custody in Switzerland for his rape of a 13-year-old girl at Jack Nicholson's house in 1977. The grand jury transcript is stomach-turning. His victim, Samantha Gailey, said the director plied her with champagne and drugs and asked her to remove her clothes for pictures in a hot tub. Polanski then had sex with her despite her resistance and requests to be taken home. He pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of sex with a minor, but fearing a prison term, he fled the country.
Now something utterly expected is happening: Morally bankrupt libertines in Hollywood and other artistic banana republics are rushing to Polanski's defense.
Welcome to the world of Roman Polanski, Child Rapist/Victim.
Has-been actress Debra Winger joined the first line of ludicrous defense, since she was president of the jury of the Zurich Film Festival, where Polanski was headed to receive a lifetime achievement award when he was apprehended. Let's hope Winger is never allowed to serve on a real jury. She simply doesn't care about Polanski's guilt. He is a filmmaker and an artist, and for this crowd anything and everything goes.
Winger denounced Swiss authorities for their "philistine collusion" in arresting Polanski, and then whined that "this fledgling festival has been unfairly exploited, and whenever this happens the whole art world suffers." Of Polanski, she declared with a flourish: "We stand by and await his release and his next masterwork."
The Huffington Post, the Internet's most infamous hangout for deranged celebrities, carried a series of pathetic Polanski defenses. Winning the Artists Are Above The Law Award was an ambitious film critic named Kim Morgan, who grotesquely channeled the Winger vibe: "I've always contended that Polanski has depicted women with complication, humanity, ugliness and most important, empathy. Polanski is an artist, an acute observer of life's darkness and absurdities on the level of Dostoevsky or Nietzsche."
Yes, that Polanski was so full of empathy as he ignored the little girl repeatedly saying "No" while he molested her.
She then wrote, "I write this not to defend statutory rape, I write this to study the visions of a troubled, talented human being, a human being who has gone through real horror himself and a human being who also happens to be one of the greatest filmmakers alive." But she also said she opposed his arrest. She was defending a rapist -- but not statutory rape, see.
An even bigger lout is Miramax studio boss Harvey Weinstein, who organized a petition of filmmakers to demand freedom for Polanski: "Whatever you think about the so-called crime, Polanski has served his time." (He served 42 days before he skipped out on sentencing.) Polanski is not only excused because he is an "artist," he is a "humanist" and even a "scapegoat." Weinstein supported a documentary last year arguing that the real injustice came not from the rape, but from the oppression of Polanski by his prosecutors/persecutors in Los Angeles.
Weinstein compounded the foolishness by circulating a petition of famous directors who've joined the protest. Amazingly, the list includes Woody Allen, another famous dirty old man in Hollywood, who scandalously carried on a sexual relationship with an adopted stepdaughter 34 years his junior, and then married her.
Then there's Whoopi Goldberg, whose defense of Polanski on ABC's "The View" was that "it wasn't rape-rape," since he pleaded guilty to sex with a minor. Earth to Whoopi: It was statutory rape. It was non-consensual. Goldberg claimed everybody needed to wait for facts, even though the facts of the rape are crystal clear, as is the justice this man tried to evade. None of that matters to her.
Amoral Goldberg also trotted out the "Europe favors pedophilia" defense: "We're a different kind of society. We see things differently. The world sees 13-year-olds and 14-year-olds -- in the rest of Europe, they are seen, often times (as adults) ... I do know that not everybody agrees with the way we see things."
She has a point there. In France, the culture minister is outraged: "Scary America ... has just shown its face."
For his part, Polanski was always mystified that anyone cared about his hideous, felonious behavior. He thought everyone wanted to do what he did, as he proclaimed in an interview with novelist Martin Amis in 1979: "If I had killed somebody, it wouldn't have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But ... f---ing, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to f--- young girls. Juries want to f--- young girls. Everyone wants to f--- young girls!"
But as more than one Catholic leader has observed, what if his name were Father Roman Polanski? Oh, then they'd all be singing a different tune, wouldn't they? Hypocrites.