Johann Hari: So that's OK then. It's fine to abuse young girls, as long as you're a great film director

The Swiss government has admitted "national interests" may be a factor

Share
Related Topics

So now we know. If you are a 44-year-old man, you can drug and anally rape a terrified 13-year-old girl as she sobs, says "No, no, no," and pleads for her asthma medication – all according to the victim's sworn testimony – and face no punishment at all. You just have to meet two criteria – (a) you have to run away and stay away for a few decades; and (b) you need to direct some good films. If you do, not only will you walk free, there will be a huge campaign to protect you from the "witch-hunt" and you will be lauded as a hero.

Roman Polanski admitted his crime before he ran away and, for years afterwards, he boasted from exile that every man wanted to do what he did. He chuckled to one interviewer in 1979: "If I had killed somebody, it wouldn't have had so much appeal to the press, you see?

"But... fucking, you see... and the young girls. Judges want to fuck young girls. Juries want to fuck young girls. Everyone wants to fuck young girls!"

But this is not enough, it seems, for the Swiss government to return him to the US to face trial. They have found a legalistic loophole that enables them to let him go – while admitting "national interests" may be a factor. This may be a reference to pressure from neighbouring France to free their citizen. As a Swiss citizen, I think I can say without being offensive, we all remember the bargains Swiss governments have made in the past to preserve their "national interests". This is in a long tradition of helping criminals and calling it Swiss hard-headedness.

The campaign to release Polanski has leeched into the open a slew of attitudes I thought were defeated a generation ago. Whoopi Goldberg said it wasn't " rape rape".

Others hinted darkly that she wasn't a virgin. So if a 13-year-old has been abused before, she's fair game for all future rapists? The French philosopher Bernard Henri-Levi, who led the campaign, said a little bit of child molestation isn't his problem when Great Art is at stake. He wrote: "Am I repulsed by what he got up to? His behaviour is not my business. I'm concerned about his movies. I like The Pianist and Rosemary's Baby."

That's worth saying again – this campaign was led by a man who thinks the drugging and raping of a child is "not my business", when compared to a film about Satan inseminating Mia Farrow.

The novelist Robert Harris, who is a friend of Polanski's, said: "It strikes me as disgusting treatment." He wasn't talking about the child-rape. He was talking about the attempt to punish the child-rape. He said Polanski was being subjected to a "lynch mob"? Where is this lynch mob? All I can see are people patiently suggesting the law should be enforced and he should be given a fair and open trial. This is the opposite of a lynching: it is sober justice.

Do these defenders of Polanski understand what they are saying? Harris has four children. If a great film director drugs and rapes them tomorrow, will he call the police, or will he say it would be "disgusting" to do so? Would he say the police and prosecutors trying to protect his children were a "lynch mob"? If the rapist ran off, would he say that after three decades on the run (boasting about his crime) he should walk free?

Now the campaign has succeeded. So congratulations to Whoopi and Bernard and Robert: an unrepentant, bragging child-rapist won't face his day in court, thanks in part to you. Have fun at the victory party. But you may want to leave your daughters at home.





Follow Johann Hari on Twitter at www.twitter.com/johannhari101

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Technical Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £450pd

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Technical Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £450pd O...

Marketing Comms / Digital Marketing Specialist

Not Specified: Recruitment Genius: An exciting and rewarding role exists for a...

Search Engine Optimisation/ SEO Executive

£25000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Excellent opportun...

Junior Professional Services Consultant - SQL, Implementation

£30000 - £40000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading prov...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Well done Cheryl Cole for marrying after only three months

Grace Dent
Backbencher Ben Gummer is seeking to rename National Insurance  

So much for the Seven Principles that MPs are supposed to abide by

Andy McSmith
Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor