AUTHOR’S NOTE: There’s someone important in my life who will turn thirteen within the next year. The furor over Roman Polanski’s arrest for the decades-old sexual assault of a thirteen-year-old girl triggered an unsettling thought: How would I explain this “controversy” to an innocent young person who might be confused why anyone would be defending Polanski—let alone Hollywood celebrities and foreign dignitaries? This is my imperfect attempt.
You’ve made it: You’re finally a teenager. Right now, you’re probably texting your friends about what to do this weekend. You can’t wait to get your braces off. You get annoyed when your parents freak out about what you’re up to, or the type of music on your iPod. You’re anxious about the impending onset of high school, but you act unfazed. You’re keenly aware of the changes your body is experiencing, and may be worried about what other kids think of you. Don’t worry; they’re just as self-conscious as you are. Maybe you’ve just had your first kiss. Perhaps you’re considering getting involved in your church youth group, or trying out for the softball team, or seeking out the perfect gift for your best friend’s upcoming Bat Mitzvah. Thirteen can be a tough age sometimes. You don’t really feel like a little kid anymore, but you’re still three years away from being able to drive and can’t yet make big decisions for yourself. It’s a year of major transition, occasional awkwardness, and a bunch of social concerns that may feel all-consuming right now. These, too, shall pass.
If you follow the news—which is probably a good habit to start forming—you may have heard about a controversy that’s getting a lot of attention in both the political and pop culture media. A film director named Roman Polanski has been arrested overseas for a crime he committed more than 30 years ago. Adults on television are arguing over whether or not this man, who’s now about the same age as your grandparents, should go to prison for a crime he committed way back then. What did he do, and why does it matter? The details aren’t pleasant. You may want to ask your parents if they think it’s appropriate for you to continue reading about this. If they say it’s okay, I’d invite you to consider the facts below.
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