A memorable conversation from Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 movie Rope:
Rupert Cadell: After all, murder is — or should be — an art. . . . And, as such, the privilege of committing it should be reserved for those few who are really superior individuals.I've seen many defenses of Polanski (see my previous post on two high-profile petitions for his release), and they typically argue that his greatness as a movie director makes it somehow wrong to imprison him upon his conviction for child rape.
Brandon Shaw: And the victims: inferior beings whose lives are unimportant anyway.
Rupert Cadell: Obviously. Now, mind you, I don't hold with the extremists who feel that there should be open season for murder all year round. No, personally, I would prefer to have . . . "Cut a Throat Week" . . . or, uh, "Strangulation Day". . . [transcript from IMDB]
Maybe they're right: Roman Polanski is a superior individual. Maybe his victim just didn't matter as much as he does.
Well, I really don't think so. But wait a minute — I could be wrong. After all, you and I might both be among the inferior beings. Maybe we should defer to those with more refined moral faculties.
Actually, I shouldn't even refer to what's "moral." It's a lowly concept, as you might remember from Brandon's speech in Rope:
The few who are privileged to commit murder . . . are those men of such intellectual and cultural superiority that they're above the traditional "moral" concepts. Good and evil, right and wrong, were invented for the ordinary, average man — the inferior man, because he needs them.Likewise, the petition signed by over 70 movie-industry figures (including Martin Scorsese and David Lynch) doesn't dwell on unimportant details like what Polanski actually did to the 13-year-old girl; it doesn't even refer to a victim at all. It tells you only what you need to know:
His arrest follows an American arrest warrant dating from 1978 against the filmmaker, in a case of morals.That's it — that's all the petition says about the nature of the allegations. Surely a mere case of morals doesn't provide a sufficient justification to punish a great man, does it?