Polanski Part II
by Louise Livesey // 30 September 2009, 09:08
It appears this week, and this story, will just keep causing disappointment after disappointment for us all... First Whoopi Goldberg comes out and say that Polanski didn't commit "rape-rape" in an interview on a US TV Chatshow. Goldberg (yes that one from the film of The Color Purple which y'know starts with something about child rape) says that "it was something else but it wasn't rape-rape". OK so here's the rub - it was a thirteen year old who he drugged with tranquilisers and alcohol and vaginally and anally raped. Goldberg - in what way is that not "rape" or "rape-rape" (I'm not sure what saying it twice means but, you know....)
Second up in the disappointment stakes is Michael Mansfield, QC who on Radio 4's morning programme today argued that Polanski should be treated "compassionately" and because his crime wasn't as bad as genocide in Guinea and Darfur it shouldn't be prosecuted. Yes the same Michael Mansfield who took on cases others wouldn't touch like the Guildford Four and Birmingham Seven, the Angry Brigade; the Orgreave miners; Stephen Lawrence's family; the Bloody Sunday families (yeah OK and some more dodgy ones like Michael Barrymore; Barry George and Mohamed al-Fayed). Don't believe me? Listen here at around 8.45am (give or take ten minutes I think).
Neither man here (Mansfield and an academic) mention that for crimes of rape, globally, prosecution and conviction rates are appallingly low and that in this saying this is an insubstantial or unworthy crime to follow through on is denigrating every single rape and child sexual abuse survivor in the world.
Update: Read this by Lauren at Feministe, this from Flip-Flopping Joy, this by Kate Harding at The Salon (in case anyone missed it) and (again in case you missed it) Kate Smurthwaite's piece at Cruella-blog for more insightful comment on this.