Paul Jacob

Roman Polanski and Barack Obama: One is a rapist and the other awinner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Could any two men be more different? And yet they are similarly blessed — with a certain kind of attention.

The moist eyeballs and loud applause come from their respectivesupporters . . . two groups not all that dissimilar. And the manner ofthat attention says a whole lot about what it means to be human.

Through a Special Lens
The story was big newslast week. Filmmaker Polanski trekked to Switzerland to accept anaward, but was waylaid at the airport, nabbed for a crime to which hehad pled guilty decades earlier. He had fled the U.S. before sentencingand been on the lam for 30 years. In the interim he had made a numberof movies, some quite renowned.

But the rape charge was still there, and a recent documentary aboutthe case had spurred the interest of his California prosecutors. Theydecided that his freedom in Europe was a slap in the face, a badexample. So they went after him.

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That was merely interesting. What followed was fascinating.Hollywood folk from Ms. Debra Winger and Mr. Woody Allen to the greatHarvey Weinstein were appalled that an important artist would behounded so. A petition of protest made the rounds. Whoopi Goldberg went so far as to say that the charge to which Polanski pled guilty wasn’t “rape rape.”

True, sorta. He pled guilty to having sexual relations with a minor.Yes, there is a difference between forcible sexual relations and suchrelations declared unlawful because of age differences. But this is notthe case upon which to hang the extremely dubious case againststatutory rape laws. The court documents in the Polanski rape case showthat what the man actually did was “rape rape,” to useWhoopi-ese. Polanski plied a 13-year-old girl with drugs and alcoholand continued his course even after she told him “no.”

I am pretty sure neither feminism nor common sense has undergone amajor transformation, downgrading rape from crime to “no-no” on thegrounds that “no” doesn’t always mean “no.”

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.