Roman Polanski’s American Dream

It is hard to see any useful purpose in Switzerland's arrest of the filmmaker Roman Polanski for a 30-year-old crime committed in the US. But, while American justice may be populist and media-driven, the idea that the law should treat great artists differently – conspicuous in the outraged statements of Polanski's defenders - is fundamentally undemocratic.

NEW YORK – What purpose is Switzerland serving by jailing the renowned Franco-Polish film director Roman Polanski on a 30-year-old warrant? Arrested in 1977 for allegedly raping a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles, Polanski pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of having unlawful sex with a minor. In the belief that his judge, the late Laurence J. Rittenband, would renege on his promise to let Polanski go free after serving 42 days in a California prison, the director fled the United States in 1978 before his final sentence was announced.

Since then, the victim of Polanski’s sex crime, Samantha Geimer, publicly forgave him, and expressed her wish for the charges to be withdrawn. So the reason to pursue the case now can have nothing to do with the rights or feelings of the victim. Nor is Polanski, a married father of two children with no other criminal record, likely to repeat his offenses.

So the good of society is not served by forcing him to return to LA for a trial. Common sense would seem to leave no other conclusion than that his arrest – in a country that is obliged by treaty to extradite fugitives from US justice – serves no purpose at all.  

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/kDuROOO;
  1. China corruption Isaac Lawrence/Getty Images

    The Next Battle in China’s War on Corruption

    • Chinese President Xi Jinping knows well the threat that corruption poses to the authority of the Communist Party of China and the state it controls. 
    • But moving beyond Xi's anti-corruption purge to build robust and lasting anti-graft institutions will not be easy, owing to enduring opportunities for bureaucratic capture.
  2. Italy unemployed demonstration SalvatoreEsposito/Barcroftimages / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

    Putting Europe’s Long-Term Unemployed Back to Work

    Across the European Union, millions of people who are willing and able to work have been unemployed for a year or longer, at great cost to social cohesion and political stability. If the EU is serious about stopping the rise of populism, it will need to do more to ensure that labor markets are working for everyone.

  3. Latin America market Federico Parra/Getty Images

    A Belt and Road for the Americas?

    In a time of global uncertainty, a vision of “made in the Americas” prosperity provides a unifying agenda for the continent. If implemented, the US could reassert its historical leadership among a group of countries that share its fundamental values, as well as an interest in inclusive economic growth and rising living standards.

  4. Startup office Mladlen Antonov/Getty Images

    How Best to Promote Research and Development

    Clearly, there is something appealing about a start-up-based innovation strategy: it feels democratic, accessible, and so California. But it is definitely not the only way to boost research and development, or even the main way, and it is certainly not the way most major innovations in the US came about during the twentieth century.

  5. Trump Trade speech Bill Pugliano/Getty Images .

    Preparing for the Trump Trade Wars

    In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.