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Surviving the Holocaust Does Not Mean You’re Allowed to Rape Anyone

Dear Roman Polanski, So, I heard about that whole "you being arrested in Switzerland" thing. I know you’re really suffering right now from all the indignities of having to be in prison for a crime you confessed to committing, but … Read More

By / September 29, 2009

Dear Roman Polanski,

So, I heard about that whole "you being arrested in Switzerland" thing. I know you’re really suffering right now from all the indignities of having to be in prison for a crime you confessed to committing, but it’s really sweet of all your celebrity friends to take time out of their busy avoiding-the-paparazzi-on-Robertson-Boulevard schedules to sign petitions insisting that you be released. A lot of what they say is true: The Pianist and Rosemary’s Baby were great films. You’ve given a lot to the world through your art. However, in addition to directing some of the most legendary films in Hollywood history, you also raped and sodomized a thirteen-year-old girl. I don’t even think we need to bother with that "allegedly" part, since you pleaded guilty to the crime just before you left the country and settled into a non-exile exile in the country of your birth, France.

I understand that you’ve been through a lot, Roman. You managed to escape from the Krakow Ghetto as a child. You lost your mother and many other family members in the Holocaust. Once you managed to achieve success in Hollywood, your pregnant wife Sharon Tate was randomly and cruelly murdered by members of Charles Manson’s cult. No one would begrudge you retiring from the business, living out the rest of your life in a quiet country house and becoming a hermit of Salinger-like proportions. No one would judge you for getting lots of therapy to work through the years of hardship and trauma that you endured. But rather than turn inward or find a positive way to channel your pain into art, you chose to project your hurt onto someone else. You drugged and raped a girl who was barely into her teens.

Surviving the Holocaust does not give you permission to rape someone. I don’t want to diminish what you or anyone else went through during that horrible time in our world’s history, but by sexually brutalizing this young girl you have passed cruelty and hurt down to another innocent person who did not deserve it. Look at all the people – Elie Wiesel is an obvious example – who have used their experiences during the Shoah as inspiration to work for peace and to advocate for other communities facing genocide. You could have risen above what happened to you and become a better person, but you chose not to. Having lived a hard life does not make what you did any more OK. Being famous does not make it OK. Being beloved by celebrities does not make it OK. Being an Oscar winner does not make it OK.

Yom Kippur has already passed, Roman. But it’s not too late to atone for what you did.

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