Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Polanski and the Burqa

Most of you may know that Swiss law enforcement authorities recently arrested Oscar-winning film director Roman Polanski for an outstanding U.S. arrest warrant. Apparently Mr. Polanski pleaded guilty more than 30 years ago for having illicit sex with a 13-year-old girl, which is considered rape. He was offered a plea agreement, according to press accounts, but the judge reportedly reneged after agreeing, and Polanski was looking at serious jail time. So the director, in good movie drama, fled the country and has lived in France since then and has been a frequent visitor to many European countries. According to a NYT op-ed piece by a Polanski friend, Polanski dined with three French presidents and has lived a life unmolested by French political and law enforcement officials for decades. According to a Slate "Explainer" article, France and the United States have an extradition agreement in which both countries must agree about extraditing fugitives. The Americans wanted Polanski, but the French dissented, hence the man's freedom in France.

Now I will make no judgments about this case. But here's what comes to mind: the French, including the nation's current president, have no problem granting freedom and privilege to a man who "drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl in the home of actor Jack Nicholson" (says Slate), yet the president of the country may declare, with little public dissent, that a woman who wears a burqa is not welcome in France because the burqa is a symbol of a woman's repression. So just to be clear, rape of a girl, then, has no negative symbolism? And if there is such symbolism, then its life expectancy is rather short and, in fact, rushed along nicely by a rapist's association with the arts and that whole aura that the creative types seem to have? Is this what we may infer from this French quandary? To recap: a child rapist is welcome in France to live, work, sign autographs, and dine at high levels, but a woman who dresses like the mother of Jesus (God bless mother and son) will be told that there's no room at the inn.

Ok, now back to important stuff. Gotta look up stuff about the value of eating raw foods, like carrots and almonds.

5 Comments:

OpenID misspecs said...

How true!

They've never been ashamed of their double standards, have they?

9/30/2009 4:20 AM  
Blogger Meg said...

thank you for pointing this out. Katha Pollitt has an excellent op-ed about this as well in today's Chicago Tribune (not about the burqa but about women's rights in general):

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-oped1002rapeoct02,0,1600577.story

10/02/2009 10:37 AM  
OpenID rickshawdiaries said...

Salaams,

Good points.

I find it insane that so many people seem to be overlooking the fact that he plead guilty to raping a 13 year old girl. However long a period has passed since he fled, he should serve his time just like any other person would be expected to.

From 'Unforgivable Roman Polanski' in the UK's Guardian:

http://ow.ly/sqR2

"I, along with every other US citizen, stand to benefit from this case. If Polanski does finally serve his sentence, it will be a message to all of us that sexual assault is not tolerated, and that no one is above the law – not even those of us who happen to have directed Chinatown."

See also Jezebel's article on Chris Rock's comments to Jay Leno - in the US it seems to fall to comedians to speak truth to power.

http://ow.ly/sqS9

Warmly,
Baraka

10/02/2009 4:14 PM  
Blogger fromclay said...

Thanks for the leads to the other articles. I read them both and they're well grounded. Be well.

10/03/2009 2:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two more interesting articles on the matter:

- http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/04/weekinreview/04kimmelman.html?ref=weekinreview&pagewanted=all

- http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/09/world/europe/09france.html?_r=1&ref=world

10/08/2009 2:43 PM  

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