There are certain things that we Americans tend to forgive.
And things that we don’t.
So, where does Roman Polanski fall? Hmmnn. I don’t think we, as a culture, are sure.
You’ve probably heard that he was arrested in Switzerland this week, for a sex crime with an underage girl dating back to the seventies. There seems to be an outpouring of sympathy for him, summarized here. What do you think? Where do you stand?
I live in Cincinnati, where the once appalling Pete Rose now finds sympathy for his plight and forgiveness for his gambling on baseball, although few are ready to forgive his lying. I watch baseball, where really good guys who took steroids are forgiven for that practice by some, but not for their having lied about it.
Televangelists. Politicians. Celebrities. There are so many who’ve committed publicly known indescretions, who’ve found forgiveness over time. But if there a few things we don’t seem to forgive, they include lying, and doing anything to kids, and taking responsibility or accepting accountability.
And then there’s Polanski. On one hand, the man committed a heinous crime and he has never paid the price. He’s never answered for his abuse of a young girl. He pled guilty. He ran.
On the other hand, there seems to be a sense among many that he’s paid his price already. He hasn’t been able to live in this country. He’s been publicly humiliated. Yes, he’s made some movies over the years, but not nearly as many as he could have were he not persona non grata.
As a father of three, it’s hard for me to imagine an adult being involved with a child fo 13. Further, it’s difficult for me to consider forgiveness when there doesn’t seem to have been contrition. Finally, Americans can often forgive someone who’s really sorry, but not someone who runs and doesn’t stand up.
For now, it’s a media firestorm and newsmagazine feature from several angles. Underneath it all, I hope that people of faith will use this occasion to consider the Savior’s words about forgiveness, justice and accountability, and consider where He would have us stand. And we should probably apply our standard to those closest to us rather than a filmmaker in Switzerland, a citizen of France, a fugitive of the United States and a focal point of tabloid fodder for at least the next few news cycles.
[Image provided by Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary]