03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

"Barely a Crime?" - An Answer to a Polanski Apologist

"How do you plead?"
"Barely Guilty."
"Barely Guilty?"
"Um, yeah. Because the crime I'm accused of committing in California is barely a crime in some places in Europe, I'd like to plead Barely Guilty here."
"So then you're pleading guilty..."
"Yes, but barely."

That's how the scene in court might play out if Jeff Norman's legal logic reigned. Norman wrote in his latest blog, "The offense for which Polanski's extradition from Switzerland is sought is barely considered a crime in Europe, where the age of consent is as low as 13." Barely considered a crime. If it weren't such a creepy statement it would be laughable.

Norman starts out his invective, aimed at all of us who think Polanski should be brought to justice, with a quote from the California Court of Appeals: "Fundamental fairness and justice in our criminal justice system are far more important than the conviction and sentence of any one individual." Fine. Agreed. But I prefer this quote from the 77 page decision, "Even in light of our fundamental concern about the misconduct that has been alleged here with significant evidentiary support, flight was not Polanski's only option. It was not even his best option." And then they denied Polanski's motion for dismissal. Wow, those judges are like "prisoners who beat child molesters." (see below)

Yes, Norman claims that any of us who disagree with him are "demonstrating the same lack of self-esteem as prisoners who beat up child molesters." Let's forget for a second the disturbing insult to you and me, because I'm still struggling with the assertion that said prisoners beat up child molesters because they don't like themselves. What?

The other bizarre assertion in that tortured paragraph is that we're all "hyperventilating... as if the sexual abuse of minors were not already sufficiently condemned by our society." So, is Norman saying that because as a society we don't approve of child abuse, that's enough and we should let Polanski off the hook? By that logic, since society already disapproves of terrorism we should let the so-called "Undie-Bomber" go free. Because we already disapprove enough.

Norman also says, "Regardless of how one feels about Polanski or his confessed/alleged crimes, guilt or innocence should be determined by actual evidence, not mere perception." Can't argue with that. Though it doesn't seem to jive with Jeff's statement in the same article that "judicial misconduct [in the 1977 case is] now accepted as virtual fact." Is "virtual fact" different than "perception," Jeff? Or am I just "pathetic?" (See below)

Here, Norman hurls my favorite insult in the piece: "Just because a lot of pathetic people need to dwell on the director's supposed indecency to make themselves feel decent in comparison, doesn't mean that normal evidentiary standards should be abandoned in the Polanski matter. Unlike certain judges and prosecutors, Polanski nowadays poses no threat to anybody."

Where to start. Well, earlier in the piece he concedes that Polanski admitted to "unlawful sexual intercourse," which I guess, according to Jeff, is "supposed" indecency. You might disagree and think that unlawful sexual intercourse - in this case, sex with a 13 year old girl - is actual indecency, but that would make you "pathetic." It also means that you somehow think that "normal evidentiary standards should be abandoned." Though, we can trust Norman when he tells us, unequivocally, that "Polanski nowadays poses no threat to anybody." Of course Mr. Norman himself doesn't provide any evidence to back up that assertion.

Last I checked, that's one of those big reasons for a judicial system, to make the determination as to whether someone is a threat to society. Another is punishment. We rely on that system, Jeff, because sex crimes are so often clandestine in nature. How many parishioners have been shocked by the revelations of their priest, who also seemed to pose no threat to anybody?

But Jeff Norman is barely a lawyer and he said Polanski committed barely a crime and isn't nearly as dangerous as prosecutors and judges. And if you don't agree with him it's just because you need to feel decent. Pathetic.

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