WaPo TV critic Tom Shales [file photo] has come up with a creative new defense of Roman Polanski: Hollywood thirteen-year olds aren't really thirteen.
NB reader FT pointed us to an online exchange between a reader and Shales today that included this [emphasis added]:
Tom Shales: Hello, Dunn Loring, I didn't want to sign off without trying to answer your question. I didn't realize I had written a column defending Roman Polanski and minimized his crime - are you sure it was me? I mean, I? There is, apparently, more to this crime than it would seem, and it may sound like a hollow defense, but in Hollywood I am not sure a 13-year-old is really a 13-year-old.
As reader FT observed: "So according to Shales, it's OK to rape a 13 year-old if she's from California, apparently because they grow up faster there."
For that matter, judging by the victim's grand jury testimony, what Polanski did might well have been "rape-rape" even by Whoopi Goldberg's standards, and regardless of the victim's age.
But leave it to Shales to join the liberal wagon-circling around one of their own.
Note: this isn't the first time Shales has risen to Polanski's defense. Last year he wrote a sympathetic review of a movie that characterized the prosecution of Polanski as a "perversion of justice."
And now for some comic relief: In the same response in which he made his suggestion that Polanski should be let off the hook because Hollywood 13-year olds are different, Shales wrote [emphasis added]:
I am a critic, I don't have to be "fair and balanced" and critize every faction equally. I swear to you I do not do it on ideological or political grounds, not consciously.
As Tim Graham of MRC/NB has documented, "Shales has betrayed a liberal bias . . . for a long time." Guess it must all be unconscious ;-)