It is true that it is fishy that the Swiss authorities have suddenly decided to arrest a man who a) has a home in their country, and b) has been going in and out of Switzerland for years and the authorities could have easily detained him on one of his many visits to the country since the U.S. made an international search request for Polanski in 2005. Their decision may or may not have something to do with Swiss efforts to suck up to the Obama administration or the U.S. government’s pressure on Switzerland to make its banking system more open to the IRS.
It is also fishy that Los Angeles’s politically ambitious DA, Steve Cooley, has suddenly decided to take up this sad case, and pursue a fugitive who apparently would not have jumped bail if a publicity-obsessed, criminally unethical L.A. judge had not broken a plea-bargain agreement. (See the excellent documentary Polanski – Wanted and Desired for a devastating reexamination of the whole affair).
That said, drugging a 13-year-old girl and then sleeping with her “consensually” is a very serious crime. (It is not statutory rape in its most absurd form as when an 18-year-old sleeps with his 17-year-old girlfriend.) It is a serious crime no matter how talented or famous an artist you happen to be or how much you’ve suffered in your life and regardless the general decadence of the age or your social circle.
So is jumping bail after you have been convicted of a crime.
The French don’t understand this because the French Republic is not yet a genuinely democratic society: It accords (pseudo) aristocratic privilege to famous artists.
(Poland objects to Polanski’s arrest for different reasons, out of nationalism and because Poland’s leaders are profoundly and justly angry with the United States for our disloyalty and ingratitude for Polish support in the war on terror.)
In America we generally do not forgive and forget a serious crime just because a criminal is good looking or well-born or well-connected (unless he is a member of the Kennedy clan) or because he has endured a terrible childhood.
We take the law seriously and work hard to apply it equally So it must be for the brilliant Roman Polanski (who has arguably never faced up to the reality of his crime or apologized for it).
That doesn’t mean that the courts shouldn’t show compassion and mercy once Polanski has been brought back to the United States but it does mean that he should be brought to justice.
– Jonathan Foreman reviewed movies for the New York Post from 1998 to 2004.