Now, I know that’s a pretty incendiary title for a blog. And let me assure you all, I will one day visit Switzerland. I’m not saying ‘fuck you’ to the Swiss people, who like any other country of people are probably, for the most part, a great people. I am however saying that, to use a colloquialism and say the total dick move of luring director Roman Polanski in for a lifetime achievement award and then basically arresting him for extradition to the U.S. is not only questionable but risky as well.
In researching this blog I stumbled upon this link to the Smoking Gun website back from circa 2002 when court testimony in the original trial became publicly available.
I read through the site’s summary, which was disturbing enough, and then
attempted to go through the actual documents linked therein. Those however I
found it to be a bit too much.
However, maybe that is good.
Until reading the above I had, probably like many of you, only known of the original case in a roundabout fashion. News is like weather, to quote Mickey Knox, often affecting us from afar.
Especially Hollywood news.
Polanski is a FANTASTIC filmmaker, with The Tenant, Rosemary’s Baby and The Ninth Gate especially occupying places in my heart and imagination. I had found his movies when I was much younger and as such considerably before I’d learned of the allegations against him. Of course when we are that far removed from tragic or heinous events they tend to affect us less, especially when pertaining to people whose art we’ve grown to love previously*. After reading through alleged victim Samantha Geimer’s testimony I found it hard to juxtapose how I felt about Polanski’s art with the kind of crime he was being accused of. But that is the nature of art and the artist, especially someone like Polanski who answers the call of ‘Artist’ in every way. The work they produce is a part of their psyche made tangible to others, and when it agrees with us we feel inclined to believe we now ‘know’ what that person is really about.
However, if there is one thing I’ve learned for sure during my time on Earth it is that none of us are exactly what others think we are. Not entirely, and not even to ourselves.
But does reading up on these alleged events that took place more than thirty years ago change how I feel about the fact that the Swiss government, a famously neutral government no less, basically used a cheap bait and switch tactic to grab a 76 year old man on foreign chargers over three decades old and hold him for extradition and potential rest-of-his-life-imprisonment?
Nope. Again, fuck you Switzerland.
Part of the reason why I say this is because it’s been so long and even the alleged victim has, on any occasion anyone gives her a chance to voice her opinion, vehemently stated that she does not want Polanski to go to jail, let alone have all this shit drudged up again, creating a disruptive and I’d imagine extremely painful and uncomfortable media circus for a middle-aged Mother of three. (see link below)
If Mrs. Geimer does not want Polanski to go through what awaits him in the hands of the law then the second part of my reaction rests on the fact that realistically what the director is being held and threatened with punishment for now isn’t his initial crime. No. This is all about the egg he painted on the face of the U.S. govenment’s law enforcement when he fled what we consider justice. And to that I say while I do not think sex offenders should go unpunished, this is not a case of a sex offender being ‘taken off the streets’. This is national publicity stoking revenge, plain and simple.
If this had happened twenty years ago, maybe even ten I guess it might be a little easier to chalk it up to justice. But consider this. According to a local Los Angeles policeman who called in and spoke on L.A.’s NPR’s ‘Airtalk’ program the other night, what people do not realize is that, allegedly, the initial plea bargain Polanski copped to was renegged only after a psychological profile flagged him as a ‘Predator’. Fine. Where was this profile before the trial reached the stages where plea bargaining arose? And finally, does that profile become null and void now that so much time has passed and no new allegations have arisen?
We could talk about this all night and some of you will agree with me and others will think I’m an asshole, the same way they feel punishment is always due. The fact of the matter is, no matter how you feel about what happened on that night in 1977 there is a reason why ‘justice’ is not delivered by any old myriad of third parties. Crimes need victims and their punishments should be about healing, both the victims and the perpetrators**. If Samantha Geimer has healed and forgiven Polanski, and he himself is no longer a threat, well then I know of several world governments that need to put national pride and politics aside and seriously think about what good to anyone putting a 76 year old man in jail for what could conceivably be the rest of his life would do anyone involved.
Bu that’s just my opinion.
* I’m sure somewhere there is someone who, when Robert Blake was accused of killing his wife, stood up and shouted at the tv news broadcaster delivering the news, “He couldnt’a, he was at my house! He’s there right now! Call me, ah, him!!!”
** Something a country with a prison population of ~ 2.3 Million (among an ~ 300 million overall population)*** and a recidivism rate of (within three years of release) 67%**** clearly would disagree with me on.
*** From: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933722.html
**** From: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933722.html