Tuesday, September 29, 2009

To Catch a Thief

It's a beautiful day and I don't want to go negative, but I have to say something about Roman Polanski and his defenders.

Having grown up with this story, and never hearing of Mr. Polanski claiming innocence, I have always assumed that Polanski escaped justice in the rape case involving a thirteen-year-old girl.

I find it loathesome that many are defending him as an artist, as if that should stop him from having to plead, strike a deal or apologize to the person he wronged.

There's really no point in focusing on Mr. Polanski's sad personal story. If he were a character in a play, maybe. But in real life the focus should be equally shared by the other person in this drama. If the then thirteen-year-old has now forgiven her exploiter, that's her business. And why is it okay to publicly identify her? Leave her alone.

However, the ramifications of publicity and lack of justice have also affected our culture. I'm talking about those who would side with a grown man in his forties giving drugs to and having sex with a 13-year-old person.

Who would defend children against these predatory jerks? She may have forgiven him, but it was still wrong of him to have done it. I think Polanski should be a real man and stand in a court.

The exploitation of youngsters has to stop. The damage done to a person at such a critical time changes them forever. What of her dreams and aspirations? Are these not of equal merit?

Why is it to okay to abuse some people while others are protected by wealth and connections? Is it all right to lie and lure people to their own enslavement, a la the sex trade, for example? No way. Yet there are those who have no sympathy for naive people being taken advantage of. It's as if they think "well, that'd never happen to me, so what do I care?" That's selfish and wrong. By not identifying with the wronged, a person identifies with the exploiter. It's like the jerk in "The Accused" who didn't rape the Jodie Foster character but stood there cheering the others on.

Women who don't condemn this Polanski's actions and others like him see themselves as better than their sisters--or blindly turn an eye--as the Mackenzie Phillips story allegedly seems to have unfolded. Lucky and hard-hearted is more like it. Men who support him identify themselves as clear as day.

And I can see that now. But as a thirteen year old I would not have; heck, as a seventeen or eighteen year old I still couldn't. Just because some people act more mature or seem physically mature at that age, does not make them so. Emotional development can take years into adulthood. And kids with disabilities or "invisible" differences in respect to the neurotypical world, like Aspergers, are even more at risk.

It's hard enough getting to adulthood with self-esteem intact without having to accept the abuse or advances of those who should know better.

And so, as an adult, I say the law must protect young people and allow them their awkward innocence, their precociousness, but never cross the line and treat them as one might an adult. There was no consent.

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