Are conservatives and liberals really aligned on Polanski?

I recently pointed out a New York Times article that totally whitewashed the Polanski case as a simple case of underage sex. E.J. Graff agrees, and had this to say in the Boston Globe today:

A New York Times story this week compared Polanski’s rape with the consensual (if discomfiting) cross-generational affair in Woody Allen’s movie Manhattan.’’ The article suggested that Polanski’s arrest brings “some sharp reminders that, when it comes to adult sex with the under age, things have changed’’ – and that today’s outrage arises from less “permissive’’ mores.

She goes on to describe the horror of what Polanski was actually charged with. Then:

Society does take rape more seriously now than it once did, but it is not because of – as the The Times article suggested – “a family-values revival.’’ It is because of feminism.

As pleased as I have been with the hand-holding between self-professsed liberals and conservatives who agree Polanski must face some kind of justice, I have to admit I’ve been wondering cynically: if Polanski’s victim had been twenty-eight instead of thirteen, would conservatives be so concerned? Conservatives don’t have a bad record on hating child molesters (well, at least those who prey on other people’s kids) or on caring what happens to kids generally. They do have a pretty poor record when it comes to women’s rights.

I’m trying to think of a single time an adult woman has accused a male celebrity of rape, and the right-wing conservatives came out in support of her right to pursue justice. Anybody?


  1. Scarlett says

    Ummm… Well, there was Fatty Arbuckle, who murdered (mansluaghtered? is that a word?) and possibly raped a startlet. He was aquitted after evidence was either never collected or ‘disappeared’ but public opinion, including the media, was so against him that he hardly worked again.

    For those of you who don’t know your Hollywood history, I’ll leave you to ponder just how far back I had to go to think of that case.

    I think if you’re rich and famous, or at least a rich and famous MAN, there’s this idea that somehow you aren’t accountable for your actions. At least, not the ones which reflect badly on you. Polanski being a critically accliamed director? THAT, of course, he IS accountable for.

  2. Anemone says

    Was Arbuckle actually guilty, or was he just railroaded out for other reasons? I’m trying to remember what I’ve read, but it’s very dim in my mind.

    I can’t think of any examples of an adult woman coming forward and the right wing supporting her, but then I don’t pay much attention to the right wing. How did they react to Desiree Washington?

  3. The Other Patrick says

    I think you’re right. Many people (more on the conservative side) still have the feeling that if you get raped, you did something to deserve it. Either you talked to the wrong guy, didn’t watch out for drugs being slipped into your drink, wore slutty clothing – something.

    Only with kids, they aren’t fully capable of making good choices (to them), so they’re excused from the mistake and only then is rape really, really bad.

  4. Scarlett says

    The books on Hollywood history that I’ve read mostly say he was guilty (or at least most likely, on account that he WAS actually aquitted) but the wiki entry says railroaded to make an example of people leading lives that Will Hayes considered indecent. Being a total bookwork, I’m more inclined to believe my beloved collection of paper-and-spine, but that’s just me.

    Who was Desiree Washington again? The name rings a bell

  5. says

    I have to admit, I’ve got nothing. That said, I think Rod Dreher has been doing a great job covering this, including the aspect you bring up…the victim’s age is NOT the biggest factor here.

    I will make no claims that conservatives have a great track record on women’s rights. But I think some are trying, lately…and I’ll take progress if I can get it.

  6. says

    @Scarlett and Anemone: assuming it wasn’t political, was Arbuckle blacklisted for being a rapist, or for murdering someone? Conservatives and liberals have always agreed murder is bad and people who commit it are wrong. It’s rape where you get arguments like, “Well, now, wait a second, I can see how a nice young man might get confused/driven mad with lust…” and not everyone thinks it’s worth the state’s time and money to pursue.

    @The Other Patrick, and clearly a lot of self-professed liberals think the same way, at least in Hollywood.

    @Anemone, if memory serves, she didn’t get dragged through dirt quite as much as some sexual assault plaintiffs have been. I can’t remember a particular conservative/liberal divide with that one, so while I don’t recall conservatives supporting her right to pursue justice, maybe that’s because there was no need for it. Despite what Tyson fans wanted to believe, she had a case, and it proceeded unhindered.

    @Spartakos: I agree about Dreher. And I AM hopeful that this will bridge a gap, and maybe serve as a template for bridging others in the future. That’s why I put off talking about this for a bit: I feel it needed to be asked before the dinner cooled, but not so quickly that it looked like reflexive cynicism.

    And on that note, I realize most people will assume I’m a liberal because I am concerned about equality, but for what it’s worth, I dislike both the Republican and Democrat philosophy and if I had to support an established party, I’d pick the pro-choice wing of Libertarian.

  7. says

    Dreher is an unrepentant, longtime sexist (“The Bride’s A Slut. They Call It Progress”), homophobic racist (his white-flight odyssey was documented by Alicublog over several months), and all-round hypocrite (Taxes are bad, the Free Market is wonderful, but why won’t the government subsidize my family’s lunch at the Smithsonian? whine was Epic) whose only virtue is opportunism – if that’s a virtue. He’s long been known to the Left Blogosphere for his attempts at being a sort of overtly-religious David Brooks, and is just as much of a weathercock as Bobo (his eternal quest for a more pure, sublime patriarchal religion drags out in public) as well as his culture-vulture shtick.

    If he’s against Polanski it’s because Polanski stands for Liberal Hollywood, Decadent Old Europe, and The Left; the true test would be him condemning Hiram Monserrate and other Republicans noted for sexual harassment and abuse but I’m not going to hold my breath.

    And Jennifer, do you really think that it’s okay for companies to poison our cats and kids for a buck, or hire and pay discriminatorily based on sex & race? Because that’s where Libertarianism and Conservativism intersect, and the problem is that the Democrat “philosophy” is in practice far too often indistinguishable from the Republican one because they’re all conservatives at bottom, conserving power to those who have power, and will remain so until we can accomplish the “better” part of “more and better Dems.”

  8. says

    Also, all the “pro-abortion Libertarians” I’ve met IRL are prochoice for two reasons: they’re against child support, and pregnant women are definitely gross and not hawt.

    Bastions of feminism, they are not.

  9. Anemone says

    I think Arbuckle was banned for the overall charge of being “immoral”, basically for partying too hard and making himself vulnerable to charges in the first place. It was during a period where legislators were trying to crack down on immorality in Hollywood films. Back then, films were considered business rather than art, and therefore subject to censorship. And that’s when they added a morality clause to actors’ contracts, too.

  10. says

    Hey, Bellatrtys, you need to re-read and get off your soapbox: I said if I HAD to support an established party, didn’t I? HAD to. As in “would never choose to, but at gunpoint might sputter something.” Jesus Christ, from that you leapt to the conclusion that I ardently support everything any Libertarian ever said?

    I am an anarchist. I’ve said this dozens of times, but that never goes well either because anarchy means so many different things and everyone always assumes they know all about it and therefore I believe [whatever they think anarchists believe from the latest movie they saw them in or whatever].

    There is no established party that doesn’t support hierarchical systems and the abuse they spawn, and therefore I support none of them.

  11. says

    Not trying to derail, but since I brought him up, I’d like to clarify.

    I never claimed Dreher was perfect; I don’t think I’ve agreed with any columnist or blogger 100% of the time. And in fact, I didn’t even speak as to his overall quality (though in general, I don’t mind admitting I like a lot of what he writes). I said I thought he had done a good job covering the Polanski situation, and I stand by that statement; if he’s getting a little extra enjoyment out of bashing Hollywood liberals, so be it…if you read his pieces, he is taking a strong and vocal stand against the rape of a young woman, AND against anyone trying to defend the rapist. I think that’s a good thing. He’s also spoken vocally against the Catholic church’s sexual abuse situation, which is not something you normally get from right-wing orthodox Christians. I’m willing to take these as “pluses”, and I’ll take them where I can get them.

    I’ve never read anything particularly sexist by him (I read the piece you linked, and while I feel he is a prude and not sex-pos, that’s something I can agree to disagree with him on; I didn’t get misogyny from it, though I will grant I’m not a woman and so privelege-bias applies). Most of the stuff by him I’ve read has been PRO-homosexual, and he has chastised conservatives for being anti-gay. I plan to look up the bit you mentioned regarding racism, but again, I haven’t seen anything racist by him. I’ve likewise never seen him be a “pro-capitalism/anti-tax” conservative…his book did not touch on those subjects at all.

    None of this is meant to imply that I think Dreher is a wonderful person who’s just misunderstood; I may in fact be the one who has misunderstood him. And I know he’s not without flaws…I myself don’t agree with his pseudo-luddite view of technology, his highly orthodox religious stance and religious close-mindedness, or his fairly elitist view of culture and society. But there are lots of people who I enjoy reading and who have done good work who I don’t agree with on everything…Leonard Pitts, Nicholas Kristoff, Walter Williams, Charles Krauthammer, and a fair number of bloggers. If I never praised anyone for doing the right thing unless they ALWAYS did the right thing, I would never praise anyone.

  12. chris mcewen says

    Scarlett, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle did not murder anyone! He was tried for manslaughter in a case that was highly flawed from the get go and was found innocent of the charge. There was in fact no evidence to link him at all to any crime and a lot of evidence of serious miscarriage of justice.
    He was implicated by a highly dubious person by the name of a Maud delmonte who advised the authorities that Virginia Rappe, the lady who became ill at his party and who died days later, said on her death bed that Arbuckle hurt her! It is also worth noting that the doctor attending to her testified on oath that she made no such statement. Also, the prosecution quickly realised that Maud Demont was so unreliable that they never called her as a witness. He was clearly rairoaded and was not helped by the yellow journalism of the day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *