Polanski and Priests

Thomas Reese, the famed Jesuit priest and scholar, compares Roman Polanski’s plight to that of priests in the Catholic Church.

“Imagine if the Knight of Columbus decided to give an award to a pedophile priest who had fled the country to avoid prison. The outcry would be universal. Victim groups would demand the award be withdrawn and that the organization apologize. Religion reporters would be on the case with the encouragement of their editors. Editorial writers and columnist would denounce the knights as another example of the insensitivity of the Catholic Church to sexual abuse.

“And they would all be correct. And I would join them.

“But why is there not similar outrage directed at the film industry for giving an award to Roman Polanski, who not only confessed to statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl but fled the country prior to sentencing? Why have film critics and the rest of the media ignored this case for 31 years? He even received an Academy award in 2003. Are the high priests of the entertainment industry immune to criticism?”

Reese’s post inspired a lot of spirited reaction, as you can see from the comments section.

Harvey Weinstein, directors and actors and others have called for Polanski’s release. The Los Angeles Times’ Patrick Goldstein outlines a compelling argument — the timing, the possible judicial misconduct of the past, the use of scarce resources, his victim’s forgiveness — of why he has already paid his price.  But a Goldstein points out, in the blogosphere and in many political circles, it’s hard to see the campaign to free Polanski as being characterized as anything other than a double standard for Hollywood excess.

Also: Britain’s the Guardian reports on rumors that Polanski is being used as a “sacrificial lamb” by the Swiss to appease the U.S. as its investigates tax evasion involving UBS.

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