I noted with horror that Roman Polanski has a new film out that is, as usual, garnering rave reviews. Polanski is a perpetual burr under my metaphorical saddle, and when he is out of the spotlight I am a happier person. One of the early reviews, under the heading “About the director,” describes him this way:
“Roman Polanski is a Polish film director, producer, writer and actor. Having made films in Poland, Britain, France and the USA, he is considered one of the few truly international filmmakers.”
This leaves out what I would argue are the most important parts of his biography, namely that he is a child rapist and a fugitive from the law of the United States. He is also an ethics corrupter on a grand scale. When his name once again made its unwelcome intrusion on my senses, I recalled that one of the very first posts on Ethics Alarms, on Halloween of 2009, was inspired by Polanski. I read it again last night, and reflected on how the blog recently passed its 1,000,000th page view since its launch that same month. I like it, and not many people read it at the time. With a few small edits, I decided to post it again.
Here it is:
Ethics evolves. It isn’t that what is right and wrong actually changes, but that human beings gradually learn, sometimes so slowly it can hardly be detected. For example, slavery was always wrong, but for centuries very few people who weren’t slaves understood that fact. There was never anything immoral about being born gay and living accordingly, but it has taken all of the collected experience of civilization to make this dawn on most of society. While we are learning, and even after we have learned, there are always those who not only lag behind but who work actively to undo the ethical progress we have made. We assume these individuals will come from the ranks of ideological conservatives, misapplying valid concepts like respect for tradition, suspicion of change for change’s sake, and a reliance on consistent standards, making them slow to accept new wisdom . Sometimes, however, the people who try to make us forget what we know come from the left side of the political spectrum, misusing values such as tolerance, freedom, empathy and fairness in the process. This is especially true when it comes to the topic of sex. Liberals fought so long and well to break down the long-established taboos about sex that many of them lost the ability to comprehend that unethical conduct can involve sex in any way.
The most striking recent example is the bizarre defense of Roman Polanski, best known as the director of the horror classic, “Rosemary’s Baby.” Continue reading