Roman Polanski — Special Treatment For Celebrities?
Roman Polanski is an awarded and revered film director who showed up at a film festival in Zurich Switzerland to receive a lifetime achievement award. He was taken into Swiss police custody on a 31 year old American arrest warrant, issued then for him having sex with an underage (13) year old girl.
This is the link to the Wikipedia biography.
This is the link to a meticulous collection of newspaper quotes put together by a (then) third year law student.
Let’s take a clear look at the psychology and social cultural wrinkles. This man was convicted of his crime and found guilty and even had a psychiatric evaluation which lasted only 42 days instead of a legally mandated 90. I haven’t got a copy of it, but the fact he was released from custody appears to mean that the two psychiatrists who examined him did not think he was a dangerous sexual predator. All men fantasize at least sometimes about underage girls. If not, we would not have grownup girls dressing up like little girls (commonplace in men’s clubs, lap dance places, etc.) let alone cheerleaders with short skirts. The difference comes when a powerful male takes action. The description of the incident, from “Samantha” the victim is that he had a deal with her mother to do a private shoot for French Vogue. She got uncomfortable when he asked her to undress in front of him.
He gave her a “Quaalude,” methaqualone also known in some countries as “Mandrax (with the addition of a little Benadryl or “diphenhydramine”),” still an occasional drug of abuse in the United States, but especially popular in South Africa. It is a sedative and “muscle relaxer” and such. This barbiturate, originally synthesized in India to later become popular throughout the world, was originally supposed to be “safer” than comparable drugs (we have lived long enough to have heard that one before) and has gone, like all the others of its kind, from allegedly helpful pharmaceutical to recreational ritual, usually for pretty young kids. (Mind you, the kids call this “experimentation” even though there are no ethical review committees, nobody wearing a white coat, and nobody collecting data.)
A man who gives this to an underage girl is at least making her very sleepy, and would be diminishing her will to resist; thus, dominating her. Guilty of using a “help” to facilitate a statutory rape. He is reported to have committed “various sex acts” subsequently.
Polanski was born in Paris in 1933 and is 3/4 or so Jewish, so we are dealing with a tough scenario of Holocaust survival. He has arguably had some serious life challenges, like not having been there when his then-wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by the Mansons. However, I can personally testify that the prisons are full of people who had tough lives and do not have the means or lifestyle possibilities to go to different countries to escape prosecution.
Samantha, the victim, is a married mother of two who says she has suffered more than enough personally from her obviously unchosen involvement in this, has gone on the public record as forgiving him, and wants what I believe to be the healthiest thing she could want. She wants to get on with her life.
As for Polanski, what is the U.S. really trying to do via the Swiss authorities? The man showed up in Zurich for a lifetime achievement award. Perhaps, since we know he has to be a person of significant ego, he has already suffered a singular punishment. His early, allegedly “brilliant” films had grotesque subjects, like Rosemary’s Baby. He acts in other people’s films and as far as I can figure from critics and such his subsequent film production, abroad after his legal troubles, never came close to matching the success, either artistic or financial, of his other work. Clearly he did something very wrong, and should be punished, but this should be done in a way that does not worsen the life of the victim, a factor nobody has discussed. We are, in effect, punishing him for showing up in Switzerland for an award, when he should have stood in France or Poland or something. I don’t know if he has been a model citizen in Europe or still believes that being a fairly clever director gives you the right to assert male power and break the law, victimizing an innocent. Even the American system has given him at least one “stay” of imprisonment to work on a movie. Our system has let him plead his case in America through American lawyers while he is safe abroad. People who are not celebrities, with a certain amount of money, cannot and do not do this. Our system is not anywhere near as egalitaritarian as the Founding Fathers seem to have had in mind. He should not be free in America, not after the path he has chosen. Being (maybe) a good director does not give him extra civil rights. The world has to know this, I think, but nobody more should be hurt by this man who, at least at one point, seemed to believe he was entitled to cause pain to at least one innocent.
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