French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévi is back to explain why Roman Polanski ought to be released from prison already. Add this one to the long list of Polanski defenses: Polanski is a human!

Lévi writes for the Huffington Post:

Time is passing. And Roman Polanski is still in prison, goes to bed and wakes up in prison, sees his wife one hour a week in the visiting room of a prison—-all while his 11 and 16-year-old children, when they have the courage to go to school, have to confront the gaze of friends who have heard at home that the dad of the little Polanskis, the man everyone fluttered around vicariously via their children, the parent of a student that they were exhilarated to recognize on TV the night of the Césars, was ultimately a criminal, a rapist, a sodomite, a pedophile.

Roman Polanski, the argument goes, is just like you and me. He has a life! A wife! Children! A César award! Okay—-maybe Roman Polanski isn’t the ideal stand-in for the Rapist Everyman. But film accolades aside, Lévi’s point is that Polanski has been a very visible and productive member of society in both his professional and personal life. The implication is that happily married men can’t simultaneously be criminals, good fathers can’t also be rapists, and international award-winners can’t find the time to prey on children.

Our tendency to strictly separate the categories of “rapist” and “human” is something we’re going to have to deal with again and again once we really start dealing with sexual assaults and the people who commit most of them—-people with lives, wives, and children, if not Polanski’s fame and fortune. It’s not going to be easy to expand our idea of “rapist” to encompass otherwise upstanding members of society, but I think the continued media attention on Polanski’s case will help us get there. If the public is willing to believe that one of the most celebrated film directors in the world is capable of rape, maybe they’ll also be willing to consider less sensationalized rape cases with an open mind.

Photo via Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary, Wikipedia Commons