The backlash begins: French government easing off defense of Polanski

First the Times pulls the plunger on him, now suddenly the French are talking up law and order. Is there no one so Enlightened that they’ll defend this bail-skipping child-rapist? Besides Woody Allen, I mean.

Word on the street: Polanski’s next film is so good, the EU’s going to lower the age of consent to eight just for him.

After French politicians across the spectrum initially voiced strong unease over the arrest, a government spokesman modified the official line on Wednesday, saying that Polanski was “neither above nor below the law.”

“A judicial procedure is under way concerning a serious case, the rape of a minor, and the U.S. and Swiss justice systems are doing their work,” spokesman Luc Chatel told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

“On the other hand, there’s emotion, and we can understand the emotion stirred up by this belated arrest, more than 30 years after the events, and the method of the arrest,” he said…

Several French politicians, including members of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s own UMP party, have accused the government of elitism and acting in haste. Green Member of the European Parliament Daniel Cohn-Bendit said Mitterrand should have waited before more details of the case were known…

“Charges of raping a 13-year-old child, that’s not something trivial,” UMP parliamentarian Marc Laffineur said.

There are even sparks of righteousness flashing inside the film industry thanks to Luc Besson, who refused to sign the “free Polanski” petition on grounds that “nobody should be above the law” (and whose best film, The Professional, coincidentally deals with the uncomfortably intense relationship between an aging French criminal and a 12-year-old nymphet.) Exit question via Tom Maguire: Polanski’s legal team doesn’t seriously think Eric Holder’s going to go to bat for a child-rapist just because they hired a buddy of his, do they? The nerve of them. If they want our Attorney General to roll over for a convicted fugitive, they can go ahead and make a donation to the DNC just like everyone else.

Update: More backlash. “JUST FOR THE RECORD….RAPE IS RAPE.”

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