Close Encounters with the Third Grade: The Sequel

Anne Applebaum feels sorry for Roman Polanski.

Anne Applebaum feels sorry for poor, poor Roman Polanski. How could he have known that the 13-year-old wasn’t actually 18?

Applbaum doesn’t mention either Polanski’s plying the victim with drugs or the fact that, even in her drugged state, she said “No,” but Kate Harding mentions it for her.  Sisterhood is powerful.

One other fact that Applebaum skips but Harding mentions:  Applebaum is married to the Polish Foreign Minister, who is lobbying for Polanski’s release.

It’s actually a sort of relief to know that Applebaum had a private motive for writing what she wrote; otherwise you’d have to question her sanity.  On the other hand, in a well-functioning journalistic world, the egregious failure to disclose a direct conflict of interest would end her journalistic career.  That world is not, however to be confused with the actual world.

Footnote Applebaum does raise an interesting point:  what persuaded the Swiss authorities to nail Polanski now?  Apparently he’s been in and out of Switzerland for years.  Maybe they figured if they gave us a rapist we wouldn’t bother them about all the crooked bankers.   I say, “No dice.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

9 thoughts on “Close Encounters with the Third Grade: The Sequel”

  1. Why now? I was wondering exactly that while watching MSNBC at lunch today.

    Apparently what happened is that Polanski was pulled out and had his passport checked at the border this trip. The way MSNBC explained it is that the EU doesn't check all passports for crossings on interior borders. Because they did check Polanski this time, the Swiss Government was officially aware of his presence in the country and had to take him into custody.

  2. One commentator suggested that this might be at least partially due to the events of the last year or so, pursuant to the release of the documentary ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED ( According to this commentator (heard on NPR, and sorry I don't know her name), Polanski's attorney filed some new request in the case, which might have 'reactivated' the case, which had been effectively lying dormant. I don't know enough to argue for any side in this, but that documentary does bring up some aspects of the whole case (extreme bias and possible corruption on the part of the judge, miscarriage of legal proceedings), of Polanski's life history and mental/emotional state at the time, and some other factors, that make a strong case for things not being so cut and dried against Polanski. There had been a plea deal agreed to early in the case, under which Polanski spent some time in jail (I think 46 days, but not sure), and on which the judge reneged, which led to Polanski leaving the country. Obviously, violation of a child is unquestionably criminal and horrible. Were there not some questions as to whether or not Polanski was aware of the girl's actual age, and what the situation was? Hard to defend, in any case, but the movie and much of the testimony in it did give food for thought. Short quote from one comment on it at imdb:

    "He came from a world in which evil had taken away his parents, in which he found his mission without any of the things that most of us would take for granted…How easy for a world consumed by gossip and innuendo to transform the man into a monster."

    So, is/was he a monster? Whatever the facts, truth or feelings, I hope there will be real justice done, hard as that is.

  3. A commenter on CNN (Campbell Brown show, the one who wasn't Jeffrey Toobin) tonight said that the LA Attorney was responding to motions from Polanski's lawyers that the case be dropped as the County had not seriously pursued Polanski. So they seriously pursued.

  4. I'm quite astounded at the number of people speaking out in support of a child rapist. Then again, most of those folks are of the same social class as Polanski. In their gilded world, the mere fact that poor Roman has not been allowed on US soil to cast and/or direct a film in 30+ years is punishment enough. It's as if these people really do believe the law is something to be heeded only be their lessers. I really do *hate* these people.

  5. A quibble, Lady Catherine. A judge cannot "renege" on a plea agreement because a judge is not a party to the agreement. A judge can either accept or reject such an agreement, which is between the defendant and the prosecutor. I haven't seen the documentary and haven't watched the case closely, but my understanding is that the alleged judicial misconduct, if it was misconduct, occurred after Polanski pled guilty. In other words, the misconduct had no impact on Polanski's decision to plead guilty. At that point, the solution was pretty simple: bring in a new judge to handle the sentencing.

    I really resent this notion being advanced by Polanski's defenders that fleeing was justified because our criminal legal system is "broken." Our system is not perfect, but to the extent it's broken, it's broken for the poorest among us, for those who have to rely upon overworked and underqualified public defenders. Any of the arguments that millionaire Roman Polanski had concerning the fairness of the proceedings could have been advanced in the California appellate courts 30 years ago. Again, perhaps poor Roman was being railroaded by an overaggresive prosecutor and an anti-Hollywood judge. I don't know enough about the case. While I don't have complete confidence in our courts, I have enough confidence in the courts that I must reject the idea that it's proper for someone with the resources to "opt out" if he thinks he isn't getting the breaks.

  6. Dennis, Switzerland isn't a member of the EU although it is a Schengen state. However, that doesn't really touch on the Polanski case.

    Polanksi's regular trips to Switzerland were normally to his property in Gstaad, and private. However, the trip during which he was arrested was to attend a film festival at which he was to be honoured for his work, and his attendance had been heavily publicised in order to gain attention and attendees. This pretty much took away the Swiss authorities' option to say "we didn't know he was here" if they failed to arrest him.

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