Barack Obama? Really?

So, Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, and everyone who argued that it isn’t political can just shut up. I mean really – giving the Peace Prize to a President who hasn’t even been sitting a year? What has he done so far? Plus, they had to nominate him by Feb. 1st. That was only two weeks in to his presidency. What actual reasons did they have for his nomination, much less the award, besides that they like him?

This is stupid.

You should check out the summary at Foreign Policy. It’s pretty funny! Here’s an excerpt:

This is the most aspirational Nobel Prize in the history of an award that was about the politics of hope long before the president. In fact, the citation of the Nobel Committee indicates that this is the first time in the history of this nutty award that a recipient has been chosen almost solely based on what the grey eminences in Oslo hope he will do at some point ahead. They wrote: “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future.”

Ah, now I get it, it’s become the Nobel Hope Prize.

…It’s as if a freshman tailback were handed the Heisman Trophy as he ran onto the playing field along with a hearty pat on the back and the explanation that he’d been selected to encourage him to have a great year to come.


You might think it’s a toy, but it’s real! It’s a real pygmy baby hippo, posing like a master of adorableness! I love it! Click on the photo for more info about the sweetheart.

Roman Polanski

(Warning: this is a sad and angry post, not a fun and happy one.)

As most of you know, Roman Polanski was apprehended last week in Switzerland, and the US and Switzerland are currently working things out to extradite him to the US so he can serve the time he owes for both raping a child and skipping out before sentencing. This is good, right? Uncontroversial, right? Child rapists and runners should feel justice, right?

Apparently it’s not so clear as all that. Over the last week or so I have been absolutely appalled at how many people have spoken out to defend Polanski. It is shameful to live in a world where the rape of a child can be seen as a gray area. Some are saying it wasn’t “rape-rape” (Whoopi Goldberg), but that makes me afraid. Here’s why – there are three different and sufficient ways in which the act was rape. Three. Let me break them down for you:

1. The girl was drunk and drugged (from champagne and drugs Polanski gave her) and so could not have consented, even if the next two were not also true.

2. The girl was 13 years old. Three years under the age of consent in CA at the time, and five years under the age of consent now. She was thirteen, and so could not consent.

3. She said no. She said no repeatedly, pleadingly, and fearfully. She said no, so she explicitly did not consent.

There is no gray area here. And the French presses (and public?) are withdrawing their support of Polanski now that it has become clear that it was not just a consensual act that prudish Americans criminalized (which leads to the question of why they in France think a 43 year old having “consensual” sex with a 13 year old is no biggie, but anyway). In fact, if you were to try and create a scenario where the rape apologists who say things like “She asked for it!” and “She probably just regretted it the morning after” – if you tried to create a scenario where even they would admit “Yeah, that was definitely rape, no question!” you’d probably create one like this. The layers of non-consent are so thick, you’d think they’d make the issue very clear.

But no. To Hollywood, what’s more important it that Polanski is one of them. He makes great films! He’s an artiste! Read Melissa McEwan’s fantastic piece On Polanski for a brilliant take-down of this argument. Here’s a taste:

They make an exception for Polanski for the same reason exceptions have been for other famous, artistic men…: Because geniuses get special dispensation.

Because there’s only one Roman Polanski.

So goes the breathless defense of the artiste, while the flipside of that particular coin, because thirteen-year-old girls are a dime a dozen, goes unspoken.

One of my other favorite writers, Kate Harding, wrote a similarly fantastic piece for titled, simply enough, Reminder: Roman Polanski Raped a Child. It’s great. She exposes the arguments that say that Polanski has suffered enough for the ridiculous apologism they are. Did you know that people are saying that because Polanski’s wife was murdered by Manson we shouldn’t arrest him? As a commenter on Shakesville put it, you don’t get a “rape one child free” card if your wife is murdered! Or that his parents died in Auschwitz, so hasn’t he suffered enough? As if unspeakable tragedy in your life gives you free reign to victimize others! But even they don’t stoop so low as those (Anne Applebaum, I’m looking at you!) who claim that hes suffered enough already because he couldn’t pick up his Oscar in person!

I feel like the world has lost its mind, and all my worst fears about it have been confirmed. But then I learned that Harding’s piec has received hundreds of thousands of hits and re-tweets and links, and she’s been flooded with appreciative emails, and I think:

Maybe not the world. Maybe there’s still hope.