The arrest of Roman Polanski

(Note 10:15 p.m. Sept. 29: Dimitri K. suggests that conservatives are indulging in an unfair desire to punish Polanski as a way of striking back at a nihilist society, and I reply.)

(Note: In the ensuing discussion about the case, I take back what I said in the initial entry.)

I was stunned to read in Monday’s paper that Roman Polanski, 76 years old, was, with the connivance of U.S. authorities, tricked into being arrested in Switzerland for the 32 year old offense of raping a 13 year old girl, so that he could be returned to the U.S. for trial. Who ever heard of a crime—other than murder—being pursued over so many years? I thought all crimes—other than murder—have a statute of limitations.

This is appalling. What is America now—the Javert Nation?

Anne Applebaum writes about it in the Washington Post.

- end of initial entry -

Christopher C. writes:

Shocked at your post.

The best response I’ve seen so far is from the comment thread on that lawyer’s gossip site, Above the Law, which just so happens to catch the ignorance, tone, and spirit of your post:

Comment # 20:

“The crime is pretty darn old—from 32 years ago. Isn’t it time to give it a rest?”

Totally. It had only been 15 years when they caught Adolf Eichmann in Argentina—but 32 is a lot longer!

“His victim takes a fairly forgiving attitude towards Polanski.”

Then she can forgo a civil lawsuit. (Also, lots of victims of domestic abuse “forgive” their abuser—so I guess we shouldn’t prosecute those, either.)

“Polanski claims that ‘there was no premeditation and that ‘it was something that just happened.’”

I “just happened” to swipe a twenty-dollar bill off my co-worker’s desk. So it’s not theft!

“Doesn’t the government have better things to do?”

Than enforce laws?

“Questions have been raised regarding the propriety of the original prosecution.”

If only there were means in the legal system to challenge the propriety of the prosecution—aside from direct appeals, two additional layers of habeas challenges (state and federal), and requests for executive clemency or commutation.

But no, seriously, he should get to stay in France and eat wine and cheese and make movies.

LA replies:

The comment which you think is so spot on is filled with inanities. Someone who can’t discuss the Polanski case without comparing Polanski to Adolf Eichmann is the very definition of an intellectual mediocrity. I’m shocked that you would consider this an apropos point.

In New York State until three years ago there was a five year statute of limitations on rape. Then it was removed.

In California as of 2007 and presumably still today has a 10 year statute of limitations on rape. How then can Polanski be pursued? I suppose it’s because statute of limitations refers to the amount of time between the commission of the crime and the indictment. Polanski had already been arrested and charged and was in the middle of his trial when he fled, because he feared that a deal that had been made whereby he wouldn’t serve jail time had been abrogated. So (I’m assuming) the statute of limitations is irrelevant here.

Still, 32 years have passed. He committed one offense. He’s lived half his life in exile. He’s 76 years old. To keep pursuing him like this is sick. I don’t think that this pursuit is an expression of justice. I think it’s an expression of the power of feminism.

Jonathan W. writes:

You are correct that the statute of limitations is inapplicable here. Since Polanski had already pled guilty, which is equivalent to a conviction, the statute of limitations doesn’t apply. Also, in many jurisdictions (although I am unsure about California specifically), intentionally fleeing the jurisdiction tolls the statute until the fugitive returns to the jurisdiction where the crime was committed.

Charles T. writes:

I had to read the initial post twice. I could not believe you were posting this. This is the first very serious disagreement I have had with your postings. Polanski is the sick one here. I recently read the victim’s very detailed story of what happened—I regret I cannot find it at this point. It is a gut wrenching tale of serious mistakes made by her parents and of Polanski’s predatory behavior and actions towards her. The story makes clear this was not something that just happened—it plays out over several days time. This little girl was his prey.

No mercy for Polanski. He is a predator. Rape is an incredibly serious crime—and Polanski should pay for it.

LA replies:

I do not know the details of the crime, I’ve read a few stories in the last couple of days. I did read, I think in the NY Post, that there was an agreement in which Polanski understood he would not face jail time, but then the case was given to a different judge who would give jail time, and that was when Polanski fled the country. Now if there was an agreement that involved no jail time, the crime itself could not have been of the gravest nature, certainly not of a nature that he should still be pursued across the world 32 years later. My response to this is based purely on the amount of time that has elapsed. 32 years! Isn’t there a point when you say, let it go?

Other than in cases of murder, and of Nazi crimes against humanity, I’ve never heard of a person being pursued and arrested for a crime 32 years later.

David B. writes:

There is a brief account of the Polanski case in a book I have titled, “The D.A.” It is about the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, published in 1996.

After the grand jury indictment, the girl’s mother decided she did not want her daughter subjected to a trial. She hired a politically influential attorney who talked to the district attorney. An offer was made to Polanski to plead guilty to statutory rape, with the heavier counts dismissed, and the sentence is “open,” which means left to the judge to decide.

The prosecutor wanted to go to trial, but the “front office” negotiated a plea bargain. Polanski accepted the offer and plead guilty to felony statutory rape. On the day before sentencing, Polanski fled the country for France. He has not returned.

My view is that Polanski should be brought back for the case to be dealt with. I don’t think Polanski will receive much, if any, prison time.

LA replies:

So the charge for which he’s wanted to statutory rape. Do you pursue a man for 32 years across the ocean for statutory rape?

James P. writes:

You wrote:

“Do you pursue a man for 32 years across the ocean for statutory rape?”

Yes. Why should a child rapist dodge his well-deserved penalties just because he has the resources to escape to another country? He “lived his life in exile”? Come on, the guy was in France, being lionized by fellow liberals, not living in obscure poverty in some Third World hell-hole.

“I think it’s an expression of the power of feminism.”

Just the opposite, it is the feminists like Anne Applebaum who are most anxious to get him off the hook.

This article sums it up well.

James P. continues:

More feminists who take Polanski’s side: Whoopi Goldberg and the women at The View.

I wonder if they’d have the same attitude if the perpetrator in question was a Republican senator who ran away to France to escape justice?

Tom writes:

Just so you know, the charge to which Polanski pled guilty amounts to statutory rape, but what he actually committed and what he was originally charged with was forcible rape, sodomy, lewd and lascivious acts upon a child under 14 (essentially child molestation) and furnishing controlled substances to a minor. He drugged a 13 year old girl with champagne and quaaludes, held her down, and raped her vaginally, orally, and anally, while she pleaded with him to stop. You can read the grand jury testimony here, here, and here.

Also, he pled guilty, but fled before sentence was imposed (not during a trial), which prevents the statute of limitations from tolling. In addition, a judge has the discretion to refuse a plea agreement that is not in the interests of justice. If Polanski had that much of a problem with the judge, the answer under our system of laws is appeal, not absconding the jurisdiction.

Finally, Ms. Applebaum’s husband is a Polish government official who has been lobbying in his official capacity for Mr. Polanski’s release and for leniency, a conflict of interest she failed to disclose. Based on what I described above, you can see that her column was riddled with inaccuracies.

LA replies:

I didn’t know about these specifics until now.

Laura Wood writes:

“Do you pursue a man for 32 years across the ocean for statutory rape?”

It’s an outrage that Polanski fled and he should have been pursued to the end of his life. I have no sympathy for the man. He raped a 13-year-old and stole her innocence. Her life was permanently changed.

Sage McLaughlin writes:

Your assumptions about the seriousness of what Polanski did are way off. He drugged then forcibly sodomized a 13-year-old while she struggled in spite of the effects of the chemical he had given her, then fled from the law. A jail-free plea agreement should never have been on the table at all. It was a vicious, heinous, and pre-meditated crime, not some minor transgression that “just happened,” and it certainly wasn’t some statutory situation either. Pursuing this man to the ends of the earth, even 32 years on, may be a lot of things. Maybe you could argue around the margins of what the appropriate way to handle it is now. But given the full-bore brutality and evil of the offense, and given that he is a fugitive from justice (which fully erases any claim to a statute of limitations) “sick” doesn’t come to mind as a fair description of our keen interest in seeing justice done.

No, he’s not a Nazi, but you have even stated in the past that violent rapes should be considered capital offenses. Well, here’s a pre-meditated one against a child. Statute of limitations? No sale.

LA replies:

Again, I was not aware until today of the extent of what he did to the girl. And, yes, I have argued that violent, aggravated rape should be a capital offense. And if it were a capital offense, then there should be no statute of limitations, just as there is none for murder. And though the statute of limitations is irrelevant here because he’s a fugitive from justice, the seriousness of the crime nevertheless has an effect on one’s view of the lengths to which society should go to apprehend the wanted criminal. So I take back what I said earlier.

Sage McLaughlin writes:

You’re a true man of the West, and I do mean that sincerely.

LA replies:

Thank you. I feel like President Kennedy when, after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, his popularity went up instead of down.

Alan G. writes:

The court transcripts describing the victim’s account of the event to which I assume Charles T. was referring can be read here.

The account describes a forcible rape, though he is wanted for statutory rape for the reasons another reader described. What I’m finding particularly irritating about the passionate outpourings of support from Hollywood celebrities & the French government is that they are not content to leave it at that; rather, they keep citing the fact that he’s already suffered in his life due to the murder of his wife/death of his family in the Holocaust or that he is a great artist as though that has any relevance here or grants him a pass.

Based on the charges he was convicted on (i.e. not forcible rape), I do not believe it is appropriate to give him a long sentence. But you won’t catch me giving him a standing ovation, as happened at the Oscars a few years ago, or giving quotes to the press about the plight of this “great man” as French officials & his morally bankrupt fellow celebrities are doing.

Emily B. writes:

I tend to agree with you about what would have been going on had the facts of Polanski been as you said: he committed statutory rape and the intense hunt indicated feminism run amok.

But now you have the true story and I ask, why do so many people defend this man? I am presuming that they know the true story as well and, yet, still defend him. I cannot for the life of me understand this.

Somewhat related, but for me, the Game discussion, followed by Annie Le’s death and the vicious comments by Gamers about her, (and Asian men) at the blog of Half Sigma, followed now by Roman Polanski’s arrest have crystallized something for me: I never really believed misogyny was real until now. Way back in my teens I rejected that there was such a thing because every time I heard it, it was used against beliefs, and the people that held those beliefs, that I shared. [LA replies: What were Gamers saying about Annie Le, and what were their ostensible reasons?]

During the Game discussion, a song lyric came to me over and over again:

Women seem wicked
When you’re unwanted

It’s from The Doors, “People are Strange,” and I never felt the truth of that lyric until I came across the Gamers and that discussion; I took the lyricist’s word that this was true. The Annie Le comments were shocking in their misogyny (She’s a bitch, the only question was how much of one? And, oh yeah, she was probably having an affair and when a few quit believing this, then perhaps she was being blackmailed for some horrible thing).

Is the outlook of Polanski’s defenders at all related? I don’t know and I’m sure it is not for the feminist defenders. It seems to be related somewhat because I have felt that for a lot of these types of men, women are just sex objects whose value, as you said, comes from the arousal they elicit in men. I have been shocked in my life to find that I can talk about a sex crime and experience a white, educated man shrugging his shoulders and responding that it is no big deal. It is always a liberal, though in cyberspace, there are Rightist gamers. Whenever you have a judge show extreme leniency towards a sex criminal, they’re always liberal men, though sometimes, a liberal woman will do so, too.

Like with Polanski defenders, I suspect that the rare, though liberal, female judge is lenient for different reasons that the liberal male judge.

I welcome your thoughts on this phenomenon that this case has brought forth.

LA replies:

I won’t be able to, right away.

LA writes:

I just wanted to add this. Prior to today, if I had been given a multiple choice test on the Polanski case, this would have been the sum total of my knowledge about it: that Polanski committed rape (or statutory rape) on a young girl at Jack Nicholson’s house by plying her with drugs and drink, and that he then fled the country.

Gary S. writes:

Mr. Auster: Ordinarily you wait to comment on an issue until you’ve done at least enough research to have a passing familiarity with the most basic facts. With the Roman Polanski matter, however, you may have written a bit prematurely. Here’s a Salon piece from earlier this year, ostensibly on the 2008 documentary, “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.”

Salon, of course, is no friend to conservatives, and the author, Bill Wyman (no relation to the Stones’ ex-bassist), appears reliably liberal on any number of matters. But he is unsparing in his view that Polanski,

(i) having pled guilty to a lesser charge of “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor” (when the original charges included rape and sodomy), and then

(ii) having fled the jurisdiction after the presiding judge allowed him to go to Europe to make a movie—which Wyman calls “an option the L.A. courts system, one suspects, affords few other accused child rapists, then or now”—

is chiefly to blame for his situation, at least as it stood this past February. At that time, an L.A. County Superior Court judge ruled that if Polanski wished to challenge his conviction—again, one imposed as a result of the plea bargain to which he agreed—he could not do so in absentia, but would have to return to the U.S., turn himself in and make his case in front of the Superior Court. Not to overstate the obvious, but if the case has lingered for over 30 years, that’s because Polanski chose to flee rather than accept a sentence. No one should properly attribute the case’s lengthy tenure to either the Spirit of Javert or the “power of feminism.”

Since I now see that you’ve retracted your previous postings on this topic, and have admitted that you knew very few of the relevant details of the case before your first few posts, I won’t flog a dead horse. (If you want to see some very fine commentary on l’affaire Polanski, I refer you to Patterico’s Pontifications, Its proprietor is an Assistant District Attorney for L.A. County, and an apparent conservative, besides.)

We all make mistakes, and it appears that you own up to yours, promptly and without rancor. By and large, I find your site one of the most compelling I read on a regular basis.

Dimitri K. writes:

Strange as it is, we think similar on this matter. I wanted to write a letter to your blog, then hesitated, because thought you would not approve it. But after reading your post I decided I need to support you.

What also amazes me, is the severity of punishment for this, say, not deadly crime. Sure, Polanski is a pervert. But if the girl occasionally appeared to be little older, there would be no crime at all. As is after some age the girl immediately transforms from a child to a whore.

I think, that the desire for brutal punishments indicate that modern conservatives are losing the argument and are desperate to enforce their view at rare occasions when it is possible. My opinion is that secular conservatism is doomed. Without having any solid principles or rules, secular conservatives have to rely only on criminal laws. But when they have a chance, they apply that law with full strength, to compensate for general frustration.

There was a joke in Russia in 19th century: “The severity of Russian law is compensated for by its non-obligatory character.” Here it is vice versa, the non-obligatory character of our moral norms are compensated by severity of punishment.

LA replies:

You’ve raised complex issues here, it will be a challenge to sort them out.

First, I agree with your general point, that given the nihilism of modern society, when conservatives have the chance, they sometimes tend to overcompensate by expressing a desire for brutal punishments. (Something liberals do, too; it’s called anarcho-tyranny.)

But the question is, is this particular situation a good example of your general point? Is conservatives’ support for the arrest of Polanski 32 years after his crime, and their strongly indignant response to Polanski’s defenders, a way of striking back at the general nihilism of our society by seeking excessively brutal punishments? Or does it express a simple, righteous desire for justice?

Let us remember that he is wanted, not just for the plea-bargained charge of statutory rape, but for being a fugitive from justice. He had gotten the D.A. to lower the charge significantly, probably with the help of his celebrity status, and then, in the middle of the proceeding, not liking the way things were going for him, he fled the country. (Also, as reported in today’s New York Daily News [see below], the Los Angeles DA has not been actively pursuing Polanski in recent years, but when his lawyer recently said publicly that the LA prosecutor was no longer pursuing him, the DA took that as a challenge and decided to go after him. The LA prosecutor disputes that report.)

We don’t know what sentence the judge in 1978 would have given Polanski—since the charge had been lowered to statutory rape, I suppose it wouldn’t have been more than a couple of years. Of course, if he had been charged and convicted for what the girl told the grand jury he actually did,—preying on her, plying her with Quaaludes (or at least a Quaalude) and alcohol, and committing forcible, or at least non-consensual, vaginal intercourse, non-consensual anal sodomy, and non-consensual oral sodomy—he could have gone away for a long time.

Perhaps we can resolve the issue this way. If the actual crime (not just the plea bargained charge) had been statutory rape, meaning, if there had been no coercion or physical force, but the girl was under the age of consent, then I don’t think that conservatives would be particularly desiring the arrest of the man 32 years later. However, because the actual underlying facts were not just statutory rape, but forcible rape and sodomy, combined with the use of drugs and the predatory behavior, conservatives are saying that this man committed a very serious crime, that he fled the country to avoid even a reduced sentence for a lighter charge, and that justice demands that he be made at last to pay his debt to society.

So, as it appears to me, the pro-punishment commenters in this discussion are not enacting the “frustrated conservative” syndrome of seeking excessively brutal punishment as a way of getting back at liberal society. They are expressing an honest desire for justice.

LA continues:

Also, as for the girls’ age, maybe she looked 14 or 15 instead of 13. But did she look 16, which according to the article at Salon was the age of consent in California at the time?

LA continues:

From today’s Daily News:

Director Roman Polanski’s boastful lawyer triggered arrest: report

It’s all his fault.

Director Roman Polanski, sitting in a Swiss jail fighting extradition to California, brought the law down on himself by taunting prosecutors in court papers, it was reported Monday.

In paperwork filed as part of his bid to get 31-year-old rape charges dropped, Polanski’s lawyers said the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office wasn’t really trying to hunt him down.

Bad move.

The Los Angeles Times reported that this claim “caught the eye” of prosecutors and prompted them to plot an end to Polanski’s three decades as a fugitive.

But the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office contends it has been trying to nab the filmmaker since he fled 30 years ago—including once in Israel as recently as 2007.

Prosecutors released a list Monday detailing their efforts to nab the director since 1978. They sought arrest warrants for Polanski in England, Thailand and France, they said. Today’s

Dimitri replies:

I understand, there are mixed feelings about that. There is a desire for justice, and some retaliation too. Sometimes retaliation is justified. I am not against punishment, but it seems to me a little bit over the top.

Christopher C. writes:

You and your commenters seem to have talked it through quite well.

But I write to add something about “exile.” From what I read online (Wikipedia mostly), he was born in Paris, France in 1933; his parents moved back to Poland in ‘36. I’ll elide the terrible events of his childhood. As a young man, his chosen profession was film and arts. In his twenties he moved to France. He must have spent some time in England too because he made a few films there. Then, in his thirties, Hollywood, and more admittably horrible suffering. Then, at 43, his crime and soon after, escape (really, it was an escape; he fled the jurisdiction) to London and then Paris. France never extradited him in part either because, he was all along, or at some point he became, a French citizen—not surprising given that he was born and spend some of his most productive years there.

So saying Polanski’s “lived half his life in exile” is a bit rich. It’s like if I had to move to Boston.

Charles T. writes:

I found the article I mentioned in my earlier post. The details in this story are what provoked my rage against Polanski. This is something that simply cannot be forgiven. He hunted this little girl like she was prey. According to the article on the day of the rape—she tried to distance herself physically from Polanski when she realized—far too late—she was in a situation she would never have dreamed of initiating. She protested and Polanski persisted. She submitted out of fear.

Her parents acted stupidly. There was a trust placed in this man which eventually allowed him to have uncontrolled access to the young girl. There are very few people, even those I know well, who I would leave my children with. Unbelievable.

One other thing. You backtracked today when you found out more of the details. Instead of attacking back at those of us who disagreed with you, you admitted that you did not have all the facts. You have my respect for that.

LA writes:

Christopher Roach, continuing his five year long psychotic obsession with me, has now stepped to a new stage of Auster obsession: he’s signed on to the anti-Semitic theory of Lawrence Auster, which says that none of my positions are what they seem, that every position I take is “really” motivated by my agenda to advance the Jews over gentile whites:

A commenter at his site, Minos, writes:

29 Sep 2009 at 5:40 am

It’s been weird seeing all of these people come to Polanski’s defense in the last couple days. There appears to be a strong Jewish component to it—maybe that’s because of the industry he’s in. But a little bit ago even Larry Auster came out scolding the people who want to bring this guy back and make him pay for what he did. Like he should get a pass for child rape because he’s old or he was in the Warsaw ghetto when he was a child.

And Roach replies:

29 Sep 2009 at 6:59 am

“even Larry Auster”? Larry makes every unprincipled exception and weird deviation from traditionalist conservatism on account of his loyalty to his coethnics, even when they do something like this!

See? My initial position in this thread, of protesting the arrest of Polanski because 32 years had passed since his crime, was not taken by me for the reasons I gave, but for a hidden reason of defending any Jewish person because he’s Jewish. Everything else I say, all my arguments, is a front for that. So how will Roach react to my changing my position on finding out what Polanski’s crime consisted of? Somehow he will have to find a way to interpret that as also part of the hidden Jewish agenda.

By the way, Roach is a regular contributor at the website of the anti-Semite Taki.

LA continues:

I just looked at Taki’s Magazine and Roach is no longer listed among their contributors.

September 30

Dimitri writes:

So, there is also a Jewish dimension in this story. I did not know that.

What if antisemites have their own hidden agenda? For example, how dare a Jew (old, ugly, perverted but rich and famous, as are all of them) having sex with the young pretty white girl, who they consider to be theirs by right? They would gladly do it themselves, but she preferred the film director.

And people like you, who want to be fair to everybody, are caught inside the fight.

Mark Richardson writes from Australia:

Lawrence, it’s late here (midnight) and I’m about to go to bed, but I wanted as a courtesy to let you know that a reader (Henry Burke, whom I know nothing about) has left a couple of hostile comments about you at Oz Conservative, which I’ve replied to briefly. They’re at the end of this thread.

LA replies:

Thanks for coming to my defense. I don’t know what people are so exersized about. My position was very simply that I had never heard of someone being pursued for 32 years for any crime other than murder or war crimes, and I was appalled at the initial news of the arrest. After I learned what he had actually done, I retracted my original objection.

There is Auster derangement out there, Mark. See my comment about Christopher Roach, who said I was protesting the arrest of Polanski because I was siding with a fellow ethnic!

James P. writes:

Dmitri says,

“What also amazes me, is the severity of punishment for this, say, not deadly crime.”

What punishment? He hasn’t been punished at all yet, and that he should be punished is the whole point! It is not unduly “severe” or “over the top” to insist that someone who fled the country be brought to justice. He is the one who created the long time gap between sentencing and punishment, not the State of California. If he’d served his time back in the 1970s as he should have, this would all be over and long forgotten by now.

“Sure, Polanski is a pervert. But if the girl occasionally appeared to be little older, there would be no crime at all.”

Is Dmitri arguing that statutory rape should not be a crime? Just try arguing that a girl “looked older,” and see how far that gets you with the judge and the prosecutors if you’re not rich and famous.

Moreover, drugging someone before performing sex acts on them is rape regardless of how old or young they are.

“I think, that the desire for brutal punishments indicate that modern conservatives are losing the argument and are desperate to enforce their view at rare occasions when it is possible.”

Who is calling for “brutal” or “excessive” punishment? I think Polanski should receive the punishment that the State of California prescribes for the crimes he admits he committed. What’s brutal or excessive about that? What is “desperate” about insisting that the law should be enforced as written?

“My opinion is that secular conservatism is doomed. Without having any solid principles or rules, secular conservatives have to rely only on criminal laws.”

If you don’t believe that the law consists of a set of meaningful rules that can be applied to a particular set of facts, and that some actions—such as what Polanski did—do not accord with those rules, then you are not much of a conservative in your approach to the law.

What is getting a lot of conservatives exercised is the unprincipled liberal approach to the case; Hollywood and the media clearly think that “one of them” should not be punished, and that they and the groups they designate should be exempt from the strictures of law and morality. I think there is a need to hold liberals’ feet in the fire and make them obey the law just like everybody else.

Morgan writes from England:

I notice the Hollywood luvvies seem to want Polanski’s crime forgotten about because of the passage of time.

What is their attitude to 90yr-old semi-senile alleged Ukranian war criminals?

Just asking, like …

Polanski should consider himself lucky it wasn’t my little girl he sodomised.

October 1

Rick Darby writes:

Just so there is no misunderstanding:

Regarding your quotation of Chris Roach’s comment about you, I assume you look at his blog from time to time. I commented on his latest posting (nothing to do with l’affaire Polanski). At the time I wrote my comment, I was completely unaware of what he had written about you, and the attitude that suggests on his part.

He has now greatly disappointed me. Roach often has insightful things to say, and can express himself with minimal verbiage, a rare thing among bloggers. I should have sensed something wrong when he appeared on Taki’s nutty site, but he didn’t stay there as a contributor for long, and I probably figured he had been naïve but then rumbled what Taki was about.

I’m considering taking Chris Roach off my blog roll, but I do include a disclaimer on my site that I do not necessarily agree with what is said even on other recommended sites. For the moment I’m inclined to leave him on the blog roll, and let readers sift his expressed ideas for themselves, as they do mine.

LA repliesL

I wasn’t aware of your commenting at Roach’s site. And I don’t go there, except insofar as it turns up in my regular google e-mail alert.

Yes, Roach is intelligent. Also, interspersed with his bent-out-of-shape attacks on me, he frequently has approvingly quoted me and he obviously thinks highly of me. His being bent out of shape about me is a function of his thinking highly of me. Meaning, he’s nuts.

There had been hints of anti-Jewishness in some previous things he’s said against me, but I have no knowledge of his ever going to all-out, insane, Majority Rights-type anti-Semitism as he did here, saying that my initial protest of the arrest of Polanski, and the supposed complete violation of my traditionalist principles that it signified, were motivated by my supposed prime directive which is to come to the side of Jewish persons under all circumstances and regardless of all other considerations.

How does an intelligent person go down to such a depth of idiocy, that on one hand, he thinks I’m a smart, valuable writer, and on the other hand, he thinks that everything I write (including the things he agrees with) are really a false front concealing my ethnocentric Jewish agenda?

Also, when the Polanski story broke, for how many people would their first thought be, “Polanski is a Jew”? Most people, when they hear the name Polanski, think, Rosemary’s Baby, Sharon Tate, fugitive from U.S. justice in Europe. But Roach thought, “Jew. And Auster is a Jew. That’s it.”

As I’ve said before, I have some faculty of bringing out the worst in some people. I could compile an impressive list of individuals who have engaged in the very worst, off-the-chart behavior of their lives (that is, as writers), in things they said about me.

P.S. Similarly, a commenter a Randal Parker’s website two years ago said that my protest of the conviction of Lewis Libby was motivated by Libby’s Jewishness.

Rick Darby replies:

Incidentally, I haven’t paid much attention to Polanski for a long time (haven’t thought much of his films except Tess and Chinatown) and it didn’t occur to me that he was Jewish.

LA replies:

There you go.

And the same is true of me. If someone had asked me whether Polanski was Jewish, I would have said, “Well, I suppose his name sounds Jewish, and looking at a photo of him I guess he looks Jewish, and he’s a movie director. So he probably is Jewish.” But I wouldn’t have instantly known it it or had it in my thought. I didn’t even know about his and his family’s experience under the Nazis until the other day. I haven’t given the man two thoughts in decades.

LA continues:

Along with Rosemary’s Baby, the only other movie of Polanski’s that made a strong impression on me was Repulsion, with Catherine de Neuve, which I saw in Mexico City when I was 19 while on a trip through that country. I only remember the last shot in the movie, one of the most stunning and chilling things ever seen in a film.

Bill Carpenter writes:

His Macbeth with Jon Finch is the best film version ever.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 29, 2009 12:33 AM | Send

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