I suppose we should keep the plight of Roman Polanski in perspective. There are worse things than being a child rapist. Like a child murderer. And Roman Polanski is not, to our knowledge, a child murderer.
But he is a child rapist. Which appears to be is fine in Europe. After all, he is a great artist. And what do great artists do, but rape children, apparently?
Washington Post Eugene Robinson captures nicely the Swiss decision not to extradite Polanski to the U.S. to answer for his crime of 33 years ago:
For Roman Polanski, the long, unspeakable nightmare of being confined to his three-story chalet in Gstaad, the luxury resort in the Swiss Alps, is finally over. The fugitive director is free once again to stroll into town, have a nice meal, maybe do a little shopping at the local Cartier, Hermes or Louis Vuitton boutiques.
Or he could just scurry like a rat into France or Poland, the two countries where he has citizenship — and where authorities have a long history of acting as if Polanski’s celebrity and talent somehow negate his sexual brutalization of a 13-year-old girl.
I’m betting on the rodent option, even though Swiss authorities are doing their best to convince Polanski that he can relax and enjoy the fondue without ever having to answer for his crimes. After all, they did force him to wear an electronic ankle bracelet for several whole months. The horror. The horror. After authorities announced Monday that they were denying the U.S. request to have Polanski extradited, one of the famed auteur’s lawyers called the decision “an enormous satisfaction and a great relief after the pain suffered by Roman Polanski and his family.” That statement should stand as the definitive textbook example of unmitigated gall.
The U.S. government should continue its pursuit. He ultimately may escape, as he has done for 33 long years. But he should at least live in the fear that a visit to the wrong country might land him in the American jail where he belongs.
And requesting extradition forces his protectors to go on the record defending a child rapist. Maybe a few of them will have a slightly harder time sleeping at night. It’s the least we can do for the woman who has spent the last 33 years living with what Polanski did: lured a 13-year-old to a friend’s home, filled her with drugs and alcohol, and then sexually assaulted her .