I’m reminded about an off-color joke about a tourist travelling along the coast of Greece. At a picturesque cafe overlooking the Aegean Sea, he talks with an old man and asks him his name. The old man responds, “See that bridge? I built that bridge with my own two hands, but am I known in the village as Ioannes the bridge builder? No. See that house? I have lived there and raised crops there my whole life, but am I known in the village as Ioannes the farmer? No. I have given much of my money away to the poor and needy, but am I known in the village as Ioannes the philanthropist? No. But get drunk one night and be caught screwing a goat…”

No, he didn’t screw a goat, but can anyone deny that Roman Polanski raped Samantha Gailey (now Geimer) when she was only 13 years old? I can’t, and yet Whoopi Goldberg lives in a world where it wasn’t “rape-rape,” whatever that is. Even Polanski himself confessed to plying her with alcohol and drugs before raping her.

As part of his plea bargain, Polanski pled guilty to a reduced charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor rather than the original harsher charges. The court ordered him to complete a 90-day psychiatric evaluation in prison, but he was granted time to finish his current project. I’m guessing that was the 1979 film Tess. He eventually served 42 days in prison before being released. Then in February of 1978, Polanski fled the U.S. for London after having heard that the judge over his case was considering more prison time and deportation for him.

Since his flight, Polanski has lived in Europe and directed nine more films. His case has not been dismissed, even though both his lawyer and Samantha Geimer filed motions to dismiss it early in 2009. Then on September 26, 2009, Polanski was arrested in Switzerland by the Swiss police on the outstanding 1978 arrest warrant from the United States. The U.S. must now make a formal appeal for extradition from Switzerland to bring him back to the United States for trial.

I haven’t seen any of Polanski’s movies, and I don’t find Polanski’s arrest or even Polanski himself to be all that interesting. But I do find the response to Polanski’s arrest to be very interesting, particularly those people who are trying to dismiss the rape, either because it happened so long ago, or because Polanski’s work is so good. Jon Henley, writing in The Guardian, does a good job of summing up the attitudes of people, particularly the French, who support Polanski:

Meanwhile, a large group of French actors and cinematographers including Fanny Ardant, Pierre Jolivet, Jean-Jacques Beineix and Bertrand Tavernier have signed an angry petition calling for Polanski’s “immediate liberation”, considering it “inadmissible” that “an international cultural event paying homage to one of the greatest of contemporary cineastes” should be turned into “a police trap”. Polanski, said their petition – organised by Thierry Frémaux, director of the Cannes film festival – is “a French citizen, an artist of international renown, and is now threatened with extradition. That extradition . . . would deprive him of his liberty. We demand that he be freed immediately.”

France, acknowledges Edouard Waintrop, a veteran French critic who now programmes the Fribourg film festival, certainly has a longstanding tradition, dating back to the 19th century, of treating artists differently. “There’s the notion of art for art’s sake,” he says, “a certain leeway that’s always allowed to the creative artist. In the 19th century it was elevated into an ideology. It’s true we have a rather different vision of artistic licence – and, come to that, of licence in love.” Agnès Poirier, a London-based French film critic and writer, agrees that “we are prepared to forgive artists a lot more than we are prepared to forgive ordinary mortals”. Cocteau’s celebrated 1943 testimony at the trial of Genet and the writer’s subsequent presidential pardon, Poirier says, are a perfect demonstration of the notion that “in France, creative genius can usually get away with a great deal”.

Maybe that’s the way it is in France, but it’s not the way it ever should be in a nation dedicated to the notion that we are all equal under the law. Neither his critically-acclaimed films nor his many Oscars can, or should, confer to Polanski absolution for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. But I’m just a simple American without the sophistication of the French.

Then there’s another thing. My niece–a girl my wife and I have parented for the better part of two years–just turned 13 years old. If any man tried to do to her what Polanski did to Geimer, I’d probably be serving time in prison for his murder. If you believe Roman Polanski deserves leniency, take a long look at the beloved young teens in your life, and ask yourself, “What if it were my child?” To me the man isn’t Roman Polanski, the acclaimed film director. Instead he will always be Roman Polanski, the child rapist who tried to get away with it.

This is an article in the series A Look Into Islam.

If you haven’t considered it already, it is well worth looking at how Islam promotes the treatment of women. There is a theme of modesty that runs through Islam, and you can see it in the way Muslim women dress. There is nothing wrong with the concept of modesty, and I’m a believer in modesty for both men and women, but there is a darker aspect of female modesty as it is practiced in Islam that is not often explained. Here is something recently spoken by Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali in Australia:

But in the event of adultery, the responsibility falls 90 per cent of the time with women. Why? Because the woman possesses the weapon of seduction. She is the one who takes her clothes off, cuts them short, acts flirtatious, puts on make-up and powder, and goes on the streets dallying. She is the one wearing a short dress, lifting it up, lowering it down, then a look, then a smile, then a word, then a greeting, then a chat, then a date, then a meeting, then a crime, then Long Bay Jail, then comes a merciless judge who gives you 65 years.

But the whole disaster, who started it? The Al-Rafihi scholar says in one of his literary works, he says: If I come across a crime of rape – kidnap and violation of honour – I would discipline the man and teach him a lesson in morals, and I would order the woman be arrested and jailed for life.

Why, Rafihi? He says, because if she hadn’t left the meat uncovered, the cat wouldn’t have snatched it. If you take a kilo of meat, and you don’t put it in the fridge, or in the pot, or in the kitchen, but you put in on a plate and placed it outside in the yard. Then you have a fight with the neighbour because his cats ate the meat. Then (inaudible). Right or not?

If one puts uncovered meat out in the street, or on the footpath, or in the garden, or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, then the cats come and eat it, is it the fault of the cat or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem! If it was covered the cat wouldn’t have. It would have circled around it and circled around it, then given up and gone.

If she was in her room, in her house, wearing her hijab, being chaste, the disasters wouldn’t have happened. The woman possesses the weapon of seduction and temptation. That’s why Satan says about the woman, “You are half a soldier. You are my messenger to achieve my needs. You are the last weapon I would use to smash the head of the finest of men. There are a few men that I use a lot of things with, but they never heed me. But you? Oh, you are my best weapon.”

I’ve heard of the dating scene referred as “the meat market,” but I’ve never before heard anyone seriously compare women to meat. This attitude about women as expressed by Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali is offensive to women because it demeans them as so much meat and as Satan’s servants just because they have female bodies, and it is offensive to men because it assumes that we are impulse-driven animals with no control.

I am of the opinion that a woman’s dress or undress does not grant permission to the cats men around to rape her, no more than leaving your keys in your car gives people permission to steal it. Both acts may put ideas into people’s heads, but rape and theft are wrong. Period. I don’t accept the excuse of “she asked for it by the way she was dressed.” That only applies if people have no self-control. If men are merely cats or other dumb animals, then we can expect mindless instinct, and we put animals like that on leashes or in cages. But I am not a mindless beast with undisciplined appetites, and I resent that anyone would view me that way.

What happens when the “uncovered meat” is pounced on by the “cats” in Islam? Why, it’s time to punish the meat. (Hat tip, Captain Ed) After all, as al-Hilali said, she’s 90% responsible:

A Saudi court has sentenced a gang rape victim to 90 lashes of the whip because she was alone in a car with a man to whom she was not married.

The sentence was passed at the end of a trial in which the al- Qateef high criminal court convicted four Saudis convicted of the rape, sentencing them to prison terms and a total of 2,230 lashes.

The four, all married, were sentenced respectively to five years and 1,000 lashes, four years and 800 lashes, four years and 350 lashes, and one year and 80 lashes.

Notice that one of the rapists only gets 80 lashes for his act, while she gets 90 for the crime of being alone in a car with someone to whom she’s not married. Oh, and that guy gets 90 lashes for the crime of sitting in the car with her. There is nothing she could do that would have justified the gang rape by the others, even if they saw her give a naked lap lambada to the other guy in the car.

The end of the article talks about the woman’s husband and family appealing the punishments. I fear for her life because of the common practice of “honor killings” in Islam. Honor killing typically is when a male relative kills a woman or girl for bringing shame to the family. This can happen if the female is raped, dates someone the family doesn’t like, or marries outside of the faith. Here are a few reported instances of honor killing as posted on Little Green Footballs: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7].

Rape is difficult to prove in Sharia law since it requires multiple witnesses, and a woman’s testimony is worth only half of a man’s testimony. And the idea that a woman is not equal to a man carries over in inheritance laws as well. If a man dies childless, his sister inherits only half of his estate. But if she dies childless, then the brother inherits all of her estate. And in the case of siblings, a son’s share is equal to that of two daughters’. [Qur'an, 4:11]

I guess it sucks to be a Muslim woman. Legally, you are half a man. Financially, you inherit less than a man. And morally, you are a tool of Satan, and rape is 90% your fault just for being female. But at least you can expect to find love in marriage.

Well, maybe.

A Muslim man may be married to four wives at the same time. But the fun doesn’t stop there. The Ornithophobe catalogued some other acceptable forms of marriage in Islam. I quote from her article:

Nikah Misyar, the Traveller’s Marriage, is an option practiced under Sharia law in Muslim countries. In this arrangement, a man and woman are legally ‘married’ but the man has no responsibilities to this wife. He may visit her, in her parents’ home, at any time he wishes. But he owes her no financial responsibility, no home of her own. He may contract such a marriage irrespective of other, traditional marriages he has made. The first, second, third, and fourth wives do not have to approve of the Misyar bride; they do not even have to be informed that the misyar marriage has occurred.

My search of the web has turned up numerous people looking to contract such ‘marriages’ all over the globe. It has also turned up something more interesting: the opinions of Muslims the world over. It seems that ‘no respectable woman would consent to such a marriage.’ Most often, Misyar marriages are a last, desperate hope for widows, spinsters, and girls living in abject poverty. Often they are hoping the misyar marriage will somehow become a real one.

But wait! It gets better!

Nikah Mut’ah is a temporary marriage! In this arrangement, a couple agrees to marry, but with a fixed termination point. The husband has no obligations to provide for the wife, or live with her. A maximum of four temporary wives can be taken, in addition to the maximum four true wives under Islamic law.

The apparent purpose of both these forms of “marriage” is to allow men to copulate with women, without responsibility (beyond the financial support of offspring, that is) and without the sin of Zina, fornication.

All in all, why would women remain in Islam when they are treated as they are? Oh, that’s right — leaving Islam is punishable by death.

It sucks to be treated like a slab of meat, uncovered or not.