Is Roman Polanski Worth the Time and Money?

| by Reason Foundation

As noted in today's links,
film director Roman Polanski was arrested over the weekend in Zurich
and is being held in Switzerland pending an extradition request from
the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

In 1978, Polanski pled guilty to unlawful sex with a minor
(a 13-year-old girl who he gave drugs and booze to and who
testified she had repeatedly said no during the act) and then skipped
out of the country before his sentencing. For details and context
surrounding the Polansky case, read Bill Wyman's eviscerating review of the 2008 documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired. Wyman
argues convincingly that the film whitewashes the details of the rape
and is essentially an apologia for the famous director. Which means the
film is of a piece with much of the media's treatment of Polanski
(typically as a deeply troubled but ultimately misunderstood sprite;see
image, for example).

The Los Angeles Times has published
a strange piece attacking California's justice system for bothering to
go after Polanski in times of fiscal crisis:

With the
state Legislature forced to make dramatic cuts in the prison budget and
a three-judge federal panel having recently ordered California
lawmakers to release as many as 40,000 inmates in response to the
scandalous overcrowding of the California state prison system, it seems
like an especially inauspicious time for the L.A. County district
attorney's office to be spending some of our few remaining tax dollars
seeing if it can finally, after all these years, put Roman Polanski
behind bars.

Whole thing here.
This strikes me as an incredibly lame argument (indeed, it's simply
the inverse of the old Washington monument ploy, when the feds respond
to any potential cut in revenue by claiming they will have to shut down
the Washington monument first) and one predicated upon an overriding
empathy for an artiste who is perceived as having been unfairly hounded
into self-imposed exile due to uptight bourgeois morality. I'm curious
as to whether the LA Times would be similarly disposed if the guilty party had been, say, a Catholic priest? Or whether, as Patterico notes, the Times would describe a priest who had pled guilty merely as "accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl," as the Times just did in a headline?

are arguments against continuing to pursue Polanski, not least of which
is the fact that he made a civil settlement with his now-middle-aged
victim who has publicly forgiven him. So some measure of restitution
has been acheived. But the idea that California is in a budget crisis
surely isn't a legitimate reason to forego legal action against a
non-consensual crime.