Debra Tate, sister of Roman Polanski's murdered wife, Sharon, went full-tilt Whoopi on the Today show this morning, arguing for the director's release. "It was rape, but it wasn't rape," she told Matt Lauer. Also, have you heard Polanski's brilliant?
Seriously, after Matt Lauer asks her what she can tell us about Polanski personally, as someone who's kept in touch with him over the years, the first words out of her mouth are, "Roman is a brilliant director." He's also a "philanthropist," a "humanitarian" and a "good guy," and wait, I don't know if I mentioned this yet, "He's brilliant as well."
You know, all of these things may very well true. Can I just point out that none of them rules out his also being a child rapist? As Bitch Ph.D.'s M. Leblanc said on Twitter yesterday, "I really am baffled by how hard people find it to accept that great artists can do terrible things. Where have you been for all of history?"
Lauer asks Tate what she'd say to those of us asking questions like that, and she tells us that back in the '70s, Polanski was in custody for 4 months — 4 months, 42 days, tomayto, tomahto — that the shrinks judged him not to be a pedophile*, and then, here it comes! "There's rape, and then there's rape." Actually, Debra, I think the legal term you're looking for is "rape-rape." (Ask Whoopi Goldberg about it.)
She continues, "It was determined that Roman did not forcibly have sex with this young woman." Really? Was that determined by someone other than Roman Polanski? 'Cause I sure haven't seen anything indicating it was. The charges involving issues of consent were dropped because he agreed to a plea bargain — you know, the one he skipped town before being sentenced for? But for all the talk about how the victim has forgiven him and doesn't want to see this drag out, I haven't heard anything about her saying, "He didn't put his penis in me while I said no. First in my vagina, then in my anus. After raping me orally. He actually did none of that! Sorry for the confusion!"
And yet, Tate assures us, "It was a consensual matter. I am a victim's advocate, and I know the difference." And that is where I lose any respect I might have had for Debra Tate (and also where my head explodes). First, as far as I know, she's an advocate for families like hers, who have lost loved ones to murder, not for rape victims. Second, even if she were an advocate for child rape survivors, her opinion would still be just that. As it is, I don't even have snark for someone who says, "I work with victims of violent crime, therefore I have special knowledge that allowed me to determine conclusively that this 13-year-old was lying when she said my ex-brother-in-law kept putting his penis in her, long after she said no." I just... yeah.
*No word on whether they would have called the forty-something man who went on to have a relationship with 15-year-old Nastassja Kinski an ephebophile, instead.