By Margaret Hedderman
When does justice become irrelevant? Is justice simply a synonym for revenge? Would jail time “cure” Roman Polanski? Or has thirty-three years in exile from the United States taught him a lesson? Does not committing (or confessing to) a single crime since 1977 make extradition redundant?
Why is Roman Polanski different from the pedophile next door? Is it because of art? Chinatown. Rosemary’s Baby. The Pianist. Or because his films have garnered over 200 million dollars in the worldwide box office? Or is it because of his Oscar, BAFTAs, Palm D’Or, and countless other awards? His mother died in a Nazi concentration camp. His wife was murdered by the Manson Family. Do we feel sorry for him? And if so, should we? Since when does pity affect our appreciation of art – our regard for the law?
What should we value more: art or justice? Is Polanski yet another example of the law relentlessly persecuting the arts? Is he a modern-day Voltaire, Wilde, or even… Socrates? Or is he a fugitive who has mastered the art of entertaining our otherwise meaningless lives for two hours? Would we rather Polanski in jail or on set creating escapism? Do we value art for art’s sake or the enjoyment we receive from it?
Why is it important to consider these questions? Why can’t this be black or white? How does this case test our value systems? Where do I stand on it? How should I know? It’s all Roman to me.