Now, I'm in no way part of the Polanski lynch-mob, but these Hollywood petitions are down-right crazy. Some real house-of-cards shit. Ignoring the fact that they really have no legal or moral standing to speak of, they're filled with shaky arguments and logical fallacies that wouldn't fly on a High School debate team. This petition, drafted by writer-philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, and signed by the likes of Steven Soderbergh, Neil Jordan, Sam Mendes, Taylor Hackdord, and Mike Nichols, makes some rather incredible claims:
"Apprehended like a common terrorist Saturday evening, September 26, as he came to receive a prize for his entire body of work, Roman Polanski now sleeps in prison."Oh, the humanity! It's of course un-clear exactly what Lévy means by 'apprehended like a common terrorist' (as opposed to, what, an uncommon terrorist?) --- does Mssr. Lévy mean he was subject to waterboarding and other 'enhanced interrogation' methods? Is he implying that he was arrested without formal charges (a blatant distortion)? It's un-clear exactly what Mssr. Lévy means by this phrase, except for the fact that he means to guilt you into sympathizing with a rapist by using non-sequiturs (what one may call a 'strawman' argument). If an officer of the law can take a citizen of this country away in hand-cuffs just because the individual game them lip (doesn't that count as being treated like a terrorist, too?), then I don't really find the handling of Polanski's case to be un-just in any way. Surely this country is filled to the brim with un-just arrests every year, from simple drug possession to, um, being black in the vicinity of a police officer, so getting worked up over the arresting of an admitted child rapist strikes me as a bit... odd.
"He risks extradition to the United States for an episode that happened years ago and whose principal plaintiff repeatedly and emphatically declares she has put it behind her and abandoned any wish for legal proceedings."Right, 'cept if we acquiesced to the victims wishes in every case, we would have a revenge system as opposed to a justice system. I suppose if Ms. Geimer were crying for Polanski to be put in front of the firing squad, Mssr. Lévy wouldn't take her opinion into consideration while attempting to exonerate Polanski.
"Seventy-six years old, a survivor of Nazism and of Stalinist persecutions in Poland, Roman Polanski risks spending the rest of his life in jail for deeds which would be beyond the statute-of-limitations in Europe."Then he should have raped the girl in Europe. What a putz!
"We ask the Swiss courts to free him immediately and not to turn this ingenious filmmaker into a martyr of a politico-legal imbroglio that is unworthy of two democracies like Switzerland and the United States. Good sense, as well as honor, require it."At this point, Lévy is just trying to confuse you with a load of gibberish. Don't ask me what the phrase "martyr of a politico-legal imbroglio" means, and certainly don't ask Lévy. And I'm not sure how arresting a fugitive is somehow "unworthy" of the United States, or any other sovereign nation. But such concerns are trifle, no?
But that other petition, this one drafted by France’s Société des Auteurs, is so full of holes it makes Lévy's case seem air-tight. This petition has been graced with the presence of such signatories as Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Pedro Almodóvar, Wes Anderson, Wong Kar Wai, among many more, and while it's not as outwardly batshit crazy as the Lévy petition it's just as fundamentally illogical.
"We have learned the astonishing news of Roman Polanski’s arrest by the Swiss police on September 26th, upon arrival in Zurich (Switzerland) while on his way to a film festival where he was due to receive an award for his career in filmmaking.
His arrest follows an American arrest warrant dating from 1978 against the filmmaker, in a case of morals.
Filmmakers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision. It seems inadmissible to them that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers, is used by the police to apprehend him."
The astonishing news of Polanski's arrest. Yes, I too was astonished that Polanski, who more or less was going to get off scott-free for a very serious crime (one you or I would have no doubt been locked up without a moment's hesitation for), was dumb/arrogant/drunk enough to travel to a country that has extradition to the United States, because he just had to receive yet another award (remember when he didn't come to the Academy Awards for fear of being arrested? Going to Switzerland was every bit as dangerous). Many people use the fact that he fled the country as proof-positive of Polanski's scumbaggery, but I honestly have a hard time blaming him for his instincts of self-preservation. But, still, the dude was dumb enough to go to Switzerland, which has an extradition agreement with the United States, and expect to not be arrested (doesn't he ask his travel agent about these things?). Now, I understand that he had indeed gone back and forth over the years, but talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth.
Hey now, wait a minute! Switzerland is a netural terriroty, man! That means they don't take sides:
"By their extraterritorial nature, film festivals the world over have always permitted works to be shown and for filmmakers to present them freely and safely, even when certain States opposed this.
The arrest of Roman Polanski in a neutral country, where he assumed he could travel without hindrance, undermines this tradition: it opens the way for actions of which no-one [sic] can know the effects."
So film festivals and their patrons are granted diplomatic immunity? News to me. And I love how the the Société des Auteurs makes it out like the United States government is in opposition to the film festival itself, instead of just arresting a criminal that they have been trying to arrest for 30 odd years.
But the real kicker is that the Société des Auteurs is using the fact that Switzerland is a neutral country as a defense of Polanski. Perhaps they don't realize that neutrality is a term that refers strictly to warfare, which really doesn't have anything to do with extradition, now does it?
"Roman Polanski is a French citizen, a renown [sic] and international artist now facing extradition. This extradition, if it takes place, will be heavy in consequences and will take away his freedom."
File this one under "DUH".
"Filmmakers, actors, producers and technicians everyone involved in international filmmaking want him to know that he has their support and friendship.
On September 16th, 2009, Mr. Charles Rivkin, the US Ambassador to France, received French artists and intellectuals at the embassy. He presented to them the new Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the embassy, Ms Judith Baroody. In perfect French she lauded the Franco-American friendship and recommended the development of cultural relations between our two countries.
If only in the name of this friendship between our two countries, we demand the immediate release of Roman Polanski."
Read: Let Polanski go or it's war, muthafuckaz!
OK, maybe it's not quite that extreme --- but surely that last sentence is going for intimidation, which is just plain ridiculous. All I can say is that, if the Frenchies wants to make a mountain of this mole-hill, I say: have fun.
But more upsetting to me than these idiotic petitions is the artists, many of whom I have nothing but respect for (and some of whom taught me how to love movies in the first place), condoning such idiocy. I know, this is the part where I'm supposed to say, "And I'll never see another so-and-so movie as long as I live" and, no, that's not what I'm trying to say at all. Just as Polanski's hideous act doesn't prevent me from enjoying his work, neither does Scorsese, Anderson, Wong, Almodóvar, or Allen condoning said hideous act going to prevent me from enjoying their work (and, make no mistake, signing these petitions is nothing short of condoning). But I can only imagine what on earth compelled them to sign these petitions, and what exactly it is about rape that they don't have a problem with.