Two very strident commentaries today, in two major newspapers, grappling over the question: Was the arrest of acclaimed filmmaker Roman Polanski an appropriate exercise of justice – or a case of prosecutorial overreach?
Steve Lopez of The Los Angeles Times has been studying the case file in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office. And he wishes others would do the same.
“I wish the renowned legal scholars Harvey Weinstein and Debra Winger, to name just two of Polanski's defenders, were here with me now. I'd like to invite Martin Scorsese, as well, along with David Lynch, who have put their names on a petition calling for Polanski to be freed immediately. What, because he won an Oscar? Would they speak up for a sex offender who hadn't? To hear these people tell it, you'd think Polanski was the victim rather than the teenager…I'd like to show all these great luminaries the testimony from Polanski's underage victim, as well as Polanski's admission of guilt. Then I'd like to ask whether, if the victim were their daughter, they'd be so cavalier about a crime that was originally charged as sodomy and rape before Polanski agreed to a plea bargain. Would they still support Polanski's wish to remain on the lam living the life of a king, despite the fact that he skipped the U.S. in 1977 before he was sentenced?”
Arguing for the other side in the New York Times is author Robert Harris, an author and Polanski friend who said he felt “physically sick” when he heard the news of the director’s arrest.
“His past did not bother me, any more (presumably) than it did the three French presidents with whom he has had private dinners, or the hundreds of actors and technicians who have worked with him since 1977, or the fans who come up to him in the streets of Paris for his autograph… If Mr. Polanski is such a physical danger and moral affront to civilized society that he must be locked up, even at the age of 76, why was he not picked up earlier, when he was 66, or 56 – or even 46? It would not have been hard to grab him at his home: his name is on the doorbell…(the victim) Ms. Geimer wants it dropped, to shield her family from distress, and Mr. Polanski’s own young children, to whom he is a doting father, want him home. He is no threat to the public. The original judicial procedure was undeniably murky. So cui bono, as the Romans used to say – who benefits?”
Tell us what you think…