Roman Polanski free? European cheers, and jeers
French and Polish officials praised the decision by Swiss authorities to free Polish filmmaker Roman Polanski. But some ordinary citizens and French elite said a different judicial standard is used for the rich and famous.
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When Polanski was detained last fall, European elites here initially filled the airwaves and discourse with outrage at what seemed American “puritanical” and petty bourgeoise morality in calling for Polanski to face charges after 30 years. But that wasn’t the whole story then, or now.Skip to next paragraph
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Ordinary opinion on the French blogosphere today is divided, measured, and occasionally ugly – expressing cynicism at a world of celebrity wealth and glamour, where crimes are not served, and justice is manipulated. One blogger wrote that if Polanski’s first name were Rashid or Mulud, he would be in jail today.
Typical was a comment on Liberation, the French newspaper, website: “This affair makes even more obvious that for the ‘rich and famous’ justice is different from what it is for ordinary people…”
Yet the divides and debates in France and elsewhere in Europe are taking place to a degree among intellectuals. One of Polanski’s biggest supporters in Paris is the philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, one of the first to inaugurate a petition for Polanski last year, and who today spoke to Polanski, later telling reporters, "I am overcome by joy! …I have just spoken to him; he is in the same state of mind as the millions of citizens who supported him. His feeling is that justice has been rendered to him."
Yet among some of the millions who are not as enthused as Mr. Levy is rival French philosopher Michel Onfray, who has also risen in popularity here, and wrote: “Because one is a film-maker or a minister, one should not submit to the same laws as everyone else? To sodomize a 13 years old girl after having made her drink – is it a crime, yes or no? That the victim renounced her charge after she was given a payoff doesn't change anything: justice is not the matter of the culprit or that of the victim, it is the matter of the magistrates.”
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