There's something about the arrest of Roman Polanski that -- even though it's about the 2,749th most important thing going on in the world right now -- makes it the most blog-and-talk-radio-worthy story in years, because it touches how we feel about crime and punishment, art and redemption, and of course how we feel about Hollywood...and France.
The initial word was that "the French" were up in arms over Polanski's arrest, and so of course people started thinking there they go again -- those weak-kneed, Godless, hedonistic (insert nasty adjective), um, French people. Except there's one problem: The stereotypes aren't true. The French are just like Americans. They have braindead public officials and celebrities, but the average person has a similar sense of justice to the majority of U.S. people -- and this has cut across the usual ideological divide -- who think that raping a 13-year-old girl is a just horrible crime, period:
Marie-Louise Fort, a French lawmaker in the Assembly who has sponsored anti-incest legislation, said in an interview that she was shocked that Mr. Polanski was attracting support from the political and artistic elite. “I don’t believe that public opinion is spontaneously supporting Mr. Polanski at all,” she said. “I believe that there is a distinction between the mediagenic class of artists and ordinary citizens that have a vision that is more simple.”