Time to Face the Music

I'd like to give my 2 pence on the Roman Polanski affair. For those unfamiliar see this for an account of his recent arrest and this for the transcripts of the trial in the 70s.

The facts are as followed: (For a more complete time-line see this)

  • Roman Polanski was arrested in 1977
  • Polanski pleads guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor
  • Guilty plea was part of a deal to have 5 other charges dropped
  • Deal meant being sentenced to time already served
  • A Judge rejects the agreement and issues 50 year sentence
  • Polanski flees the country
  • Polanski is arrested in Switzerland September 2009

For the purposes of my argument I'm going to look at the incident in 1977 as a regular assault rather than one of child rape as I don't want to lose any perspective because of knee-jerk emotional reactions. The way I see it is this. A man was arrested and pleaded guilty to a crime and he should face sentencing for that crime. I think it was right that he was arrested and he should be extradited and held accountable.

Case For The Defence

People who disagree have several arguments which I'd like to address:

The Judge in 1977 reneged on a deal he had made.
This does seem odd. I don't know if that was legal and/or legit or the reasons behind it and I probably never will. I can understand why such a situation would make him flee, it's perfectly understandable. In my view however that doesn't mean he should never have to face sentencing if apprehended in the future.

The victim wants to drop the charges against him.
(link) Good for her, she is trying to move on and put it all behind her. I don't know if it's because she has forgiven him or just wants the whole affair to be confined to the history books. Either way, I don't see the relevance to his arrest, he should still be brought to trial and the presiding Judge should consider the opinion of the victim and act on it as they see fit. The victim's forgiveness is not a "get out of jail free card".

Film festivals the world over have always permitted works to be shown and for filmmakers to present them freely and safely.
I don't know if I should even take this seriously or not but hey, the likes of Salman Rushdie and Martin Scorsese think it's a valid point so here goes.

The freedom and safety of which they speak, I am quite sure, is supposed to be the freedom and safety to show any film they have made, regardless of how politically or morally controversial it may be perceived to be. This should not be taken as some sort of immunity blanket. How dare you take something intended to protect the freedom of expression that allows you all to go about your business in safety and twist it for selfish needs. I can't describe how appalling I find this argument.

I am amazed at the amount of support that the above petition has generated and the high profile backing he has received. I am, however, not surprised by the public backlash said support has received.

"I know it wasn't rape-rape. I think it was something else, but I don't believe it was rape-rape."

- Whoopie Goldberg

To conclude my opinion on the matter I would say that I believe he should be extradited and be made accountable for his actions. If a Judge decides that taking into account the history of the case, the wishes of the victim to drop the charges, and the support he has received from some of his peers warrants a sentence of time already served or the dismissal of the charges altogether then so be it, but he should stand up and be counted either way.