Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wanted, Desired, Caught

In case you were nervous that 2009 was going to close without a big "Hollywood Values vs. Reg'ler Amrrrrc'n Values" dustup in the media, worry not. Roman Polanski has been arrested:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/09/27/zurich.roman.polanski.arrested/index.html

Short version, for the younger readers: Polanski plead guilty to a statutory rape charge in the 1970s (the girl in question was 13, drugs and alcohol were involved). So goes the story, he'd worked out a plea-agreement with the judge and prosecutors by which he'd recieve a time-served sentence for 1 charge of unlawful intercourse. Polanski claims to have discovered that the judge - who's since passed away and was the subject of ethical complaints relating to this case for decades - was apparently planning to "surprise" the media-sensation trial by reneging and hitting him with a much more serious sentence. The director's response was to skip bail and flee America for France, who's extradition treaties with the U.S. do not cover the laws he's accused of breaking. That was more than 30 years ago. Polanski has continued to work steadily, recieving an Oscar for "The Pianist" recently, and has sought return to the U.S. on several occasions either by requesting a mistrial or a dismissal. He's been joined in those requests by his then-victim, who has said she wants the ordeal to be done with. However, the Los Angeles prosecutor's office has remained steadfast in saying that if he enters the U.S. they plan to arrest him and put him on trail again, this time for fleeing the original sentence.

Yesterday, Polanski entered Switzerland - which evidently DOES have the proper extradition treaties with the U.S. - to attend a retrospective of his work at the Zurich Film Festival. Swiss police were waiting at the airport, having recieved a request for arrest from U.S. authorities to assist them, and arrested him for the outstanding charges. He is now detained, awaiting the outcome of extradition deliberations. He is allowed to appeal the arrest in Switzerland, but a likely outcome as of this moment is him being sent back to the U.S. to face whatever is waiting. The third player in this, France, is already coming to his defense and chastising the Swiss government.

Unless the French manage to "roll" the Swiss on this one, this becomes a BIG deal. People have been waiting to "have this one out" for a long time; and the image of a guilty statutory-rapist living luxuriously abroad (in France no less!!!) whilst The Industry largely campaigns for his release and rewards him with Oscars has made this case a favorite whipping-boy for the media-critic arm of the "values voters" contingent. Set aside, for a moment, your personal feelings about the case and just think about that particular firestorm-in-waiting. You think this event isn't a GODSEND to them? They get to "fight" 'liberal' Hollywood AND 'godless' Europe. Nancy Grace is salivating like a rapid bassett hound as we speak...

Should be interesting.

8 comments:

lightbunny said...

I can't wait to see Fox News's take on this. Especially considering that Glenn Beck RAPED AND MURDERED A YOUNG GIRL IN 1990.

Anonymous said...

This is going to be a powder keg, sit back and wait for John Stewart to make fun of it I guess is the best course of action.

Euler d'Moogle said...

Wow. I'm really of two minds of this hand. On the one, my knee jerk reaction is the "Law and Order, Let's get him no matter what" default I go to, but on the other.... 30+ years is a long time. At some point you've got to let go. That's why many crimes have statutes of limitation. At some point all reasonable people have moved on would rather not relive those events. For statutory rape 30+ years in the past where the victim no longer wants to revisit the issue, yea, I'd say drop it. If she still wanted to "make him pay", that would be a different matter.....

Alex Howard said...

Giving that another bump for google, huh, lightbunny? Jesus, I mean, I hate the man, but he's a spineless two-face liar, not a rapist/murderer. Perfectly harmless, although his rhetoric isn't.

Anyhow, I'm interested to see how this plays out. I think France will bail old Roman out. It's really a very interesting issue. I mean, we've always known that celebrities catch breaks when it comes to the Justice System, but Roman Polanski fleeing the country really is really something too obvious in its violation of law to ignore. That's the real trouble at dispute here, not that he raped a 13 year old girl, but that he didn't stick around to get slapped on the wrist for it.

I wonder if Obama will get embroiled in this affair. If France steps in to save Polanski, then Obama might feel pressure to confront Sarkozy. I hope he manages to skirt this. There's almost no "safe" avenue here, that I see.

Bob said...

Alex-
"I wonder if Obama will get embroiled in this affair. If France steps in to save Polanski, then Obama might feel pressure to confront Sarkozy. I hope he manages to skirt this. There's almost no "safe" avenue here, that I see."

There's an emerging-as-we-speak school of thought that says The Administration is ALREADY in on this; that the Swiss nabbed Polanski for the U.S. (so that Obama etc. can score an easy "values voter" brownie-point) in exchange for the U.S. not going too nuts over all the crap thats going to come out of the UBS Swiss Bank investigations.

Vincent said...

In the Australian media, a lot of the commentators have been saying that the timing of Polanski's arrest "makes no sense", given that there have been previous opportunities to arrest him and given that his offence occurred 30 years ago.

I agree that it makes no sense. But just because it makes no sense, doesn't mean it isn't just, if you know what I mean.

When you rape someone and then skip bail, that's a major offence, and there shouldn't be one rule for rich people who can afford to flee and live it up in France, and a different rule for the rest of us who would wind up in jail if we did the same crime.

And I wouldn't call Polanski's crime 'statutory rape', I would call it 'rape'. The girl was drugged and sodomized. That's not rape by virtue of her age, that's just plain RAPE.

Bob said...

Vincent-
I think we more or less agree, but let me clarify one point here; since technically we're both "off" the official terminology here.

Whatever Polanski did or didn't do (the original arrest had three seperate charges) the only charge that ultimately made it to trial was "Unlawful Sexual Conduct With a Minor." Legally, that's the charge he skipped bail on, and that's the charge he'll be tried on if he's extradited here. Based on the girl's testimony, it sounds pretty clear that he'd be charge-able as a rapist no matter WHAT age she was, but that's not how they made the case.

Also, while it's innevitable that this will become a "class-warfare" thing - i.e. "one rule for the rich, one rule for the poor" - I honestly think that the reflexive defenses that Polanski inspires from so many in his own industry and other areas has more to do with his talent than his wealth; they believe that his artistic contributions to world cinema are positive-enough marks in his favor to earn some measure of leniency. Fairly or not, if someone caught Michael Bay with a teenager tomorrow, most of the "film people" arguing most vociferously for Polanski would be saying "fry him!" I don't exactly "agree," but I understand the sentiment...

Nixou said...

"The director's response was to skip bail and flee America for France, who's extradition treaties with the U.S. do not cover the laws he's accused of breaking."

It's not a matter of extradition treaties: Polanski is a french citizen, and France does not extrade its own citizens, period, since its state is supposed to protect its citizens (yeah, even rapists). The good news is, any non-french citizen who commited a crime in the US and is not about to be executed when he comes back (because EU regulations forbid its states to produce a death penalty, even indirectly) is fair game when he is in France, so le Gai Päris is not about to become a haven to every and any american priest or politician who has a taste for unwilling underage kids.