(Updated 10/01 12:29 EDT)
In all the controversy over what to do about fugitive film director Roman Polanski, currently in Switzerland awaiting possible extradition to the United States to face a thirty-year-old rape charge in California, the one moment that stands out for me is the reaction of French filmmaker Luc Besson, as quoted in the London Daily Telegraph:
The French director Luc Besson refused to sign the petition calling for Polanski’s release.
He said: "I have a lot of affection for him, he is a man that I like very much but nobody should be above the law. I don’t know the details of this case, but I think that when you don’t show up for trial, you are taking a risk."
"Nobody should be above the law": That’s just straightforward common sense from Besson, the man behind Subway, La Femme Nikita, The Professional, The Fifth Element, Taxi, Unleashed, The Transporter, Taken, etc.
One might well feel sympathy for Polanski and hope that the California legal system would ultimately go somewhat easy on him, but he should have to face the authorities as anyone else would be required to do. Calling for his release, as numerous Hollywood figures have done, is entirely the wrong thing. The principle of equality before the law is the bedrock of a good society, and we undermine it only at great peril.
Update (10/01/09, 12:29 p.m. EDT): Writer-director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma, Reaper, Zack and Miri Make a Porno), certainy no prude, agrees with Besson:
Via @JoeyFace42 "Please don’t be one of those FREE POLANSKI people" Look, I dig ROSEMARY’S BABY; but rape’s rape. Do the crime, do the time.
–S. T. Karnick