Roman Polanski may be an Oscar-winning brilliant film maker, but he’s also a fugitive from justice, an infamous child rapist who jumped bail and fled to France in 1978 to avoid the consequences of his 1977 rape of a 13-year-old in Los Angeles. Polanski was arrested on Saturday in Zurich on the grounds of the 31-year-old arrest warrant.
It didn’t take long for the Polanski defenders to crawl out of the woodwork. Take Patrick Goldstein, pop culture columnist for the Los Angeles Times, who quickly penned a piece published Sunday afternoon decrying Polanski’s arrest by Swiss authorities.
Apparently, Goldstein is of the opinion that Polanski has suffered enough for his crimes, and the Los Angeles prosecutors should not be spending precious taxpayer money (a phrase which, in reference to California, causes much mental angst) chasing a 76-year-old man around the globe.
Goldstein tugged at readers’ heartstrings by pointing out Polanski’s brushes with the most depraved of the 20th century’s murderers: Polanski was a fugitive from the Nazis as a child and wife was killed by followers of Charles Manson.
What’s more, Goldstein complained, as a result of his flight from justice, Polanski undoubtedly paid a high price in his career achievement, was barred from entering the United States and other countries due to extradition issues, and all of this despite his victim’s public forgiveness.
Polanski is portrayed by Goldstein, eloquently, as a misunderstood genius. But neither being misunderstood nor a genius erases any individual’s equality before the bar of justice.
A great moral wrong has been committed by Roman Polanski. The innocence of a child was destroyed – and though this child grew to forgive her attacker, that speaks more to the morality of the victim than the criminal.
And this brings us to the most salient point: No matter what tragedy suffered by Polanski in his life, he is still a criminal in the eyes of the law. No matter what sacrifices made or penance paid, Roman Polanski broke the law. Justice cannot be satisfied by forgiveness, and while forgiveness is a beautiful, moral virtue, justice has yet to be served to Polanski.
The Los Angeles Times, through Goldstein, would have its readers believe otherwise.
The blind scales of justice have been unbalanced for more than thirty years in this case. Those of us who love the rule of law hope that they will not remain that way for much longer, and those of us who track the media’s leftward bias hope Goldstein is in a distinct minority of journalists to pardon Polanski’s criminal behavior.