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John Passant

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October 2009



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Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

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Polanski and the indefensible

Thirty two years ago Roman Polanski raped a 13 year old girl.  He got her drunk, gave her drugs and then had sex with her.

Originally charged with rape and sodomy, Polanski struck a bargain with US prosecutors and pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, implying there was something consensual about the relationship. 

First, under US (and Australian) law a 13 year old cannot consent to sex with a 44 year old. Second, the power imbalance means there can be no consent. Add in drugs and alcohol and any idea of agreement is a fiction.  

The girl, Samantha Geimer, (or Gailey as she was then),  gave evidence at the time that she resisted Polanski.

Polanski’s life has been hell. Some of his family died in the concentration camps. He evaded the Nazis. The Manson Family killed his pregnant wife.

So?  These matters go to motivation and sentencing, not to guilt.

The European political elite (especially in France and Poland) have defended Polanski.  They are applying pressure to have Polanski released and the charges dropped.

The cultural left have also supported Polanski.  Why all this high level support?

Well evidently Polanski has made some good films.  

This supposedly counterbalances his crime.

The ruling class (and the cultural elite who hang off the parasites of profit) live lives divorced from the reality the rest of us experience. They make the rules for us to follow. 

Many of them think as a consequence that the rules don’t apply to them.  When they get caught out (usually when they diddle other rich people) they often get kid glove treatment. (Polanski in magnificent exile was one example of that, until recently.) 

Sometimes there has to be a sacrificial lamb to convince the lower orders  the rules are applied fairly. Bernie Madoff fits that bill (while the banks and bilious bonus bilking brainiacs on Wall Street get trillions from us for their ‘market’, never moral, failures.)

There may have been problems with the investigative and judicial processes that led to Polanski’s conviction. So?

Let Polanski argue his case in person in the US. If needs be,  begin the process again, without a plea bargain and with the original rape and sodomy and other charges in place.

Indeed I suspect (but cannot prove) that in the recent tax dispute between the US and Switzerland about 52,000 possible tax evading US customers of the Swiss UBS bank there might have been some discussions about Polanski.  But I don’t know.

It might help explain why after all these years Polanski is now being pursued.

Or perhaps, as others have argued, the reason is that Polanski’s defence lawyers taunted the California Justice system that he hadn’t been arrested because the whole rotten case would fall apart and the DA snapped. 

Some will argue in favour of Polanski with sophisticated sophistries about justice and crime under capitalism. Tosh. 

If any working class man had done what Polanski did there would have been no plea bargain and the sentence upon conviction would likely have been in double figures.

If the alleged rapist had been black then the likelihood of conviction would have been even higher and the sentence even longer.

The difference in treatment reflects the divisions in our class-ridden society. 

Rape is rape. Why should a rich filmmaker be treated any differently to a working class man?



Comment from bollverk
Time October 4, 2009 at 9:19 pm

First: if a 13 year old has sex with a 13 year old, there can be consent, yes? The 18 year limit is an artificial barrier created on the ground of weird victorian morals.
If you say there cannot be consent if under a certain age, you basically say that these people have no free choice whatsoever. Why should a 13 year old be able to consent to purchase some candy (while under the pressure of advertising) but not be able to consent to sex? Maybe she even consented to taking drugs, as probably Polanski took them with her.

Second and more important: Why was that girl there in the first place? Where THE FUCK was her mother? She was a person trying to make her child famous and she must have known what these wild filmmakers were up to at that time. At best the behavior of the mother could be described as negligent.

The issue is not workers vs. rich people, the issue is artificial and baseless concepts about sex and drugs.

Comment from John
Time October 5, 2009 at 6:31 am

Thanks bollverk.

I said that the law says that a 13 year old cannot consent to sex with an adult. But given the power imbalance and the use of drugs, there can be no consent. I think this would be true irrespective of age.

Of course the issue is rich against working people. That is how justice is administered. It explains why Polanski hasn’t been pursued for 32 years. One question then becomes why now.

Sometimes the ruling class eat one of their own if they transgress against the rest of them, and sometimes it is a show to convince us the law is applied evenly.

Even access to justice is determined in the main by the size of your wallet, as Polanski will show in his legal battles against this.

I agree that under capitalism laws around sex and drugs have been manufactured to control the working class. But saying that is not giving a licence to a 44 year old man to rape a 13 year old girl.

Comment from Graham Young
Time October 5, 2009 at 11:29 am

Well said John. I’ve been disgusted at all the famous types defending the indefensible. Given his status in society, and his obvious talents, more should be demanded of Polanski rather than less.

You talk about a working class guy in the same position. Imagine if he had been a priest. You wouldn’t have been able to break into print on the matter because the space would be so crowded with talking heads calling for an execution of sorts. The double-standard stinks.

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