There were two comments on my posting yesterday that dealt with pedophile film director Roman Polanski. The first was from my friend, Mike Box, an attorney, who made the point - quite well - that rich criminals often have better outcomes in the American legal system than their poor counterparts. Reed Smith responded to the blog posting and Mike's comment with the following:
"After reading Mr. Box's comment I have to wonder. We all now know your opinion, I want to know your prediction. Will justice be served and Polanski get your fair deal of ten years, or is Mr. Box right and "the rich never swing"
Mike Box and I have a great deal in common. We are both old, exceedingly cynical, and are steeped in a knowledge of how things work that comes from a lifetime of experience. Unfortunately for society in general and young children in particular, Mike is right. The rich in America never swing. Oh there may be oddball exceptions, like when a judge in Arkansas found Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton guilty of drunk driving despite her dream team of high priced lawyers, but generally the rule stands.
One big advantage that the rich have over the rest of us is the ability to get their own version of the story out through their influential friends and a fawning media. That was happening in spades this week with the Polanski travesty. I noted yesterday that directors Pedro Almodovar, Martin Scorcese, and Woody Allen had collectively "demanded" that Polanski be released from his Swiss prison cell.
Now the noise from Hollywood is getting even goofier. Whoopi Goldberg has been quoted as saying that the incident that happened thirty-two years ago wasn't really a rape-rape! Seriously! So there are degrees of rape - even when a forty-three-year-old man has intercourse with a thirteen-year-old girl who doesn't want to do it? So that really isn't a rape-rape? What the fuck-fuck is it then?
Debra Winger minimized the sex crime as a "three-decades-old case that is dead but for minor technicalities. "We stand by him and await his release and his next masterpiece." In other words, the washed-up actress is available for any role that Polanksi might throw her way. Harvey Weinstein, a big-time movie maker in Hollywood referred to Polanski as a "humanist" who was a victim of a "miscarriage of justice". Are you listening, Roman? Weinstein is itching to fund one of your future masterpieces.
But, hey, that's how things work in Hollywood, America.
Roman Polanski's second wife, Sharon Tate, and several of her friends were killed by the Manson family in 1969. Today her sister, Debra, described her former brother-in-law as "brilliant" and stated that she feared he could not get a fair trial in the United States. She went on to say that Polanski did not forcibly have sex with the girl, and that it was a "consensual matter".
The girl described it differently back in the day. She said that he invited her into the hot tub of a major Hollywood star, gave her part of a Quaalude and some bubbly champagne, and then had sex with her against her will. But let's say, just for purposes of discussion, that she did not object - in fact, let's say that she eagerly consented. Just how does a thirteen-year-old "consent" to have sex with a forty-three-year-old pervert? Answer: A child cannot consent to have sex with an adult - ever! Say it with me, Debra: "A child cannot consent to have sex with an adult!"
And before we let Hollywood canonize Roman Polanski, let's not forget that he also committed the crime of fleeing the country in order to avoid prosecution. He jumped bail!
Poor Americans who have sex with children and get caught go to jail, often for long periods of time, and when they get out they are placed on sex-offender lists and tracked for the rest of their lives by an outraged society. Polanski, and apparently much of Hollywood, feels that he is better than the rest of us and special rules should apply.
Reed, this is the country that Mike Box and I inherited from our folks. Some things have gotten better during our watch, but much remains to be done. My hope is that you and your generation pick up the torch and lead our descendants on into a bright and glorious future - one in which the rich do swing, just like the rest of us mere mortals.
I am very proud of you.
P.S. Now let's hear from Mike!