One of Roman Polanski's supporters, French cultural minister Frédéric Mitterrand, admitted in 2005 to paying for sex with youthful "boys." But now people are outraged, so he's making a spectacular attempt to change his story. It's not terribly convincing.
In his 2005 autobiography, The Bad Life, Mitterrand writes of his misadventures in Thailand, where he gave into his desires and "got into the habit of paying for boys," something he called an "abominable spectacle." From his book:
All the rituals of this market of youths, this slave market, excite me enormously. The light is bad, the music gets on your nerves, the shows sinister. But it pleases me beyond reason. The profusion of attractive and immediately available boys puts me into a state of desire that I no longer need to hide or check. Money and sex, I am at the heart of my system.
The French and its powerbrokers never seemed that perturbed by Mitterrand's book. In fact, President Sarkozy invited him into the Cabinet just this June. But then Mitterand went and defended Polanski, whose arrest he described as "absolutely horrifying," and now people are fighting mad.
Everyone from Socialists to the right-wing National Front are calling for his head. Socialist party spokesman Benoit Hamon even went so far to say he was "violently shocked."
Mitterand originally attempted a nonchalant response to all justifiable hand-wringing, but, sensing that the calls for resignations would only grow, appeared on television last night to backpedal in the most spectacular way.
First, he insisted that his autobiographical book's neither novel, nor memoir, but "a way to tell a life story that resembles mine a lot." Um, okay. As for the "young boys" over which he salivated, Mitterand has a - um — novel explanation for that, too: he was being colloquial and always calls men "boys" and if you don't believe him, you're a homophobe, or something:
Yes, I had [sexual] relations with young men, but one cannot confuse pedophilia with homosexuality.
Oh, don't worry, we won't. We will, however, express our mystification over your ability to parse what appears to be a damning confession into literary device. We'll also wonder why you called the trysts "mistakes, but not a crime" when you've described the point of your book as ""was to not lie and, above all, not to lie to myself."
Honorable mention to Sarkozy's party, whose spokesman tried to chalk the fervor up to pure politics: "The Socialists are now on the same ground as the extreme right, it's incredible. One is not obliged to use private life for political ends."