Man, you don’t want to get on Cokie Roberts’ bad side. During a Web roundtable discussion for Sunday’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos, the esteemed political analyst weighed in on the ongoing firestorm over director Roman Polanski’s recent arrest with this blunt assessment: “Roman Polanski is a criminal. You know, he drugged and raped and sodomized a child. And then was a fugitive from justice. As far as I’m concerned, just take him out back and shoot him.” Even assuming she didn’t mean her comments to be taken literally, there’s something jarring about hearing the words “take him out back and shoot him” come out of the mouth of a regular NPR commentator—let alone one with a chipper name like Cokie.
In the wake of Polanski’s arrest in connection with his 1978 conviction for unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old, opinion has been sharply divided between those who sympathize with the director, citing his artistic achievements, his own tragic past as a Holocaust survivor, and his decades of exile, and those who believe he should finally face the punishment he deserves for his crimes. Polanski’s victim, Samantha Geimer, has stated that, after all these years, she’d like to see the case against him dropped entirely. Roberts, though, is having none of that. Some would say her call to “take him out back and shoot him” goes too far—we’re a nation governed by laws, not vigilantes. Then again, her unvarnished anger clearly speaks to the sense of deep moral outrage and disgust so many of us feel toward Polanski and his defenders.
What do you think? Is Roberts’ Charles Bronson-style take on the Polanski case too extreme? Or does it strike an emotional chord with you?