October 5, 2009

Roman Polanski's Defenders

Hatched by Movie Badger

Lately I've been obsessively reading about people's reactions to Roman Polanski.

Not about Polanski himself; I could never understand how someone could say, "I think I'll rape a child now." But I also know that as a decent human being, I'll never understand it, so it's not worthwhile to try.* I've known for a long time that evil people will do evil things, and I don't consider that interesting so much as a sad fact of reality that I'm powerless to change. I try not to think too much about such things because, well, I'm powerless to change them and they make me sad.

But what I am interested in are his apologists. Now, raping a child is one of the least defensible things imaginable, so it's fascinating to see the tortured rationalizations people will come up with to defend it. Of course any possible defense is trumped by pointing out that he raped a child, and is so obviously trumped by this that it's baffling to see people offering defenses at all:

  • "The judge was going to give him a harsher sentence than he originally expected." It still would have been far too lenient for a child rapist.
  • "But his wife was murdered and his mother died in the Holocaust." So you're saying anyone who's gone through tragedy gets free license to rape children?
  • "That was 30 years ago." So child rape is okay as long as the pedophile rapist can evade justice long enough?
  • "He's been punished enough." So 30 years of living like a king in Europe is a reasonable punishment for raping a child?
  • "The victim wants to move on with her life." I'm sure she does, after all the horrific psychological effects of being raped as a child. Are you saying that makes raping a child okay?

Of course all his defenders are carefully tip-toeing to avoid saying the obvious reason why they're defending him: They don't believe that either laws or standards of human decency should apply to the rich and famous. Do you really think they'd be trotting out these pathetic excuses if Roman Polanski was, say, a Catholic priest instead of an Academy Award winning director?

Scumbags like Whoopi Goldberg, Woody Allen, Wes Anderson, and Alexander Payne see themselves as a modern aristocracy, and believe that laws and morality are for the little people. When a feudal lord abuses a serf/peasant/slave, it might be seen as mildly distasteful, but certainly not worth making a big deal out of. I mean, it's not like the child he raped was someone important.

And that's the essence of their point of view. Normal humans aren't worth anything. Only the glitterati matter. Keep that in mind if you ever consider giving any of these terrible people** any of your money.

On the bright side, there aren't a whole lot of names on that list. There are few that I recognize, and even fewer that I respect. (Or more accurately, there are zero that I respect, since I can't respect anyone who condones child-rape. But there aren't a whole lot I respected before finding out that they're pedophile-apologists.) Certainly a sense of entitlement is rampant among celebrities. But at least it's nice to know that for the overwhelming majority, it doesn't extend to believing it's okay for celebrities to rape children.

* I know there are some decent people who are capable of understanding what makes monsters tick. I'm glad those people exist so they can advance the sciences of abnormal psychology and law enforcement. But I'm not one of them.

** If anyone knows of a more updated list, please link to it.

Hatched by Movie Badger on this day, October 5, 2009, at the time of 12:07 AM

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» Explaining Polanskiites from Big Lizards
In Dennis Prager's Townhall column today, he asks the most obvious and urgent question about the Roman Polanski crisis, the same point noted by Movie Badger in a previous Lizardian post: How is one to explain the film world's conscience?... [Read More]

Tracked on October 6, 2009 5:58 PM


The following hissed in response by: Ken Hahn

I can only guess that the Hollywood elite are defending Polanski out of self preservation. The only way this makes sense is if the defenders are really thinking, "wait a minute, if they're gonna throw Polanski in jail for that, what are they gonna do to me if they ever find out what I did?"

The above hissed in response by: Ken Hahn [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 4, 2009 12:41 PM

The following hissed in response by: MikeR

Probably it's worth commenting on Polanski's own defense: The judges and everyone also want to f___ little girls. Lovely. And of course, he's right - it is pretty normal for grown men to have sexual desire for 13-year-old girls. It is not a sign of deviancy; it is very common and I think normal. [Most mothers don't seem to know this, though they did when I was younger.]
What is not normal is failing to take into account that there is a victim involved. We call it statutory rape for a reason: The child is too young to understand the tremendous consequences that can follow from sexual relations. The adult is taking advantage of that, fulfilling his (otherwise normal) desire at the expense of a victim. He may not necessarily be a pervert, but he certainly is cruel, insensitive and evil.
On top of that, of course, is the fact that this case sounds like a rape rape - with an unwilling victim. But it would be a vicious crime either way.

The above hissed in response by: MikeR [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 5, 2009 9:44 AM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

What is weird are he people who are not part of the "ruling class" but still insist on defending the rights of the rich and famous. There is a severe psychological dysfunction in that.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 5, 2009 11:49 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Alas, I must take issue with you (as does, I suspect, Movie Badger himself... who must remain anonymous for good and sufficient reasons): I do not believe that "it is pretty normal for grown men to have sexual desire for 13-year-old girls."

It's not unheard of; but it's not commonplace, either. Certainly I have no desire whatsoever for young teenaged girls -- nada, zip.

I don't find women attractive until they're at least in their thirties; younger than that, and I just cannot see them as adults. (I was attracted to teenaged girls when I was a teenager myself, of course.)

In my mid-20s, I had a girlfriend who was 19; it really put me off of May-December romances (which that really wasn't -- more like May-June) because she acted, well, kind of childish (I kept thinking of the Steely Dan song "Hey Nineteen"). I'm old enough that, had I a daughter, she would likely be in her mid-twenties; I don't find that sexually attractive.

(Huh, I just realized: That annoying nineteen year old I went with for six months or so while I was in my mid-twenties... well, she would be in her early forties now! I can't even begin to imagine.)

I do not believe that most forty-somethings are particularly attracted even to sixteen year olds; and I utterly reject the notion they're attracted to thirteen year olds. I'm not saying it's wrong for a forty-something to be attracted to a young teen (unless he acts on it), but it is unusual.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 5, 2009 12:22 PM

The following hissed in response by: MikeR

Dafydd, I suspect you are unusual and I am the norm. Though I'm willing to admit that thirteen is a little young, there are exceptional thirteen-year-olds who look very attractive. And I'm pretty sure you're completely wrong about most middle-aged guys and sixteen year old girls.
Perhaps I'm just shallow: We're not discussing personality here, but just up-front attraction.
Survey, anyone?

If Dafydd is wrong on average, and I think he is, this confusion skews a lot of the discussion on this subject.

Slight change of subject: Recall that in many older societies marriages between middle-aged men and young girls were entirely common, and not considered wrong. It was quite okay to desire a young girl, as long as you were willing to marry her. Of course, there the parents of the girl were probably the matchmakers rather than the girl herself. I believe that many Americans think this horrible and immoral (see comments about Mohammed) - but I don't know why. Are they objecting to the perversion involved, according to Dafydd's view of things (and, to my mind, ignoring the reality of most men's feelings)? Or is it that the girl herself is not the decision maker, but rather her parents? That's certainly a personal freedom issue. On the other hand, I think parents arranging marriages was probably common in years past anyhow.

By the way, I'm just reminded of a Mad Magazine picture I saw when I was a teenager: You know when you're middle-aged when - you're sexually attracted to your friends' daughters.

The above hissed in response by: MikeR [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 5, 2009 2:45 PM

The following hissed in response by: BigLeeH

Here is a comment I made on the previous Polanski thread. I've pulled it up since it will pass for an entry in MikeR's survey.

I think you are being too hard on Polanski. He has part of a point. I think most men, if they are totally honest, have to admit that the natural male impulses do not always respect the "age of consent" and underage girls are often sexier than any dispassionately rational person would want them to be. For most men, empathy is a sufficient brake on our actions -- the realization that we might harm the young lady takes most of the fun out of the prospect -- but for other men, there need to be laws.

It is precisely because we understand an impulse that we think to pass a law against acting on it. We generally don't pass laws against things we can't imagine anybody actually wanting to do. There's a bit of a paradox there, actually. How do you convict someone of deliberately doing something that nobody would ever deliberately do?

But Polanski is on shakier ground on killing. I think most of us can empathize with killers, too. Our inner beasts are beastly, after all. I expect, for instance, that I speak for many men who have daughters in confessing that, at some primal level of which I am not altogether proud, I would enjoy feeling the crunch that Polanski's larynx made as it was crushed beneath my thumbs.

The above hissed in response by: BigLeeH [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 5, 2009 3:25 PM

The following hissed in response by: MikeR

Thanks, BigLeeH. I missed your comment earlier; had I seen it, I could have skipped mine. But I would be interested in seeing a survey.

The above hissed in response by: MikeR [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 5, 2009 7:04 PM

The following hissed in response by: slarrow

Perhaps a little late (boat's left the harbor given the timestamp), but here's how I always framed this.

Is being sexually attracted to a 14-year-old girl legitimate? Of course; ask a 14-year-old boy. At that age, a young woman has entered puberty, her body is changing to bear children, and her sexual characteristics are developing forthwith. Attraction is legitimate.

Is sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl legitimate? Usually, hell no. We have all kinds of rules that constrain sexual activity (often for the protection of women, come to that), and one of them has to do with age, especially when the other partner is an adult. Activity is restricted.

Now, let's lower the age. Is being sexually attracted to an 8-year-old girl legitimate? No, and hell no. A pre-pubescent girl is not biologically prepared for childbearing and hasn't developed any of the physical signs that trigger normal sexual attraction. It should go without saying (but must be said, alas), that sexual activity with the 8-year-old is also extremely out of bounds.

Thus lies the distinction between pedophilia and ephebophilia (or possibly hebephilia.) It has to do with the legitimacy of the attraction which ought to have some impact on the punishment. For instance, I've thought of it like this: if a 21-year-old man has sex with your 14-year-old daughter, you beat the crap out of him. If a 21-year-old man has sex with your 8-year-old daughter, you cut his testicles off. Understanding these distinctions is very important in the proper administration of justice.

The above hissed in response by: slarrow [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 8, 2009 8:30 AM

The following hissed in response by: MikeR

Think I agree with starrow on this. All my comments were for girls that had visibly reached puberty. Someone who desires an 8-year-old needs a doctor.

The above hissed in response by: MikeR [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 8, 2009 3:10 PM

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