Workers Hammer No. 233
Polish judge denies extradition to US
Defend Roman Polanski!
The following article is adapted from Workers Vanguard no 1079, 27 November 2015.
On 30 October, a judge in the Polish city of Krakow slapped down the latest attempt by American authorities to drag renowned film director Roman Polanski back to a California prison. In 1977, a Los Angeles court convicted Polanski on the charge of having sex with a minor and sent him down for six weeks of “psychiatric observation” in a California state prison. When the Los Angeles judge reneged on the original plea bargain deal and threatened to return him to prison, Polanski fled to Europe, where he has remained ever since. For four decades the American injustice system has pursued its vendetta, continuing to stretch its long arm towards Polanski’s throat.
Describing the extradition request as “obviously unlawful”, Judge Dariusz Mazur asserted, “I do not find any logical, rational explanation as to why the U.S. is pursuing the extradition” (Warsaw Voice, 2 November 2015). Mazur also took aim at the original proceedings, stating: “The judge (in California) had no reason to move back from the [plea bargain] agreement.” Even Polanski’s supposed victim, Samantha Geimer praised the latest ruling: “I believe they did the right thing and made the right decision given all the facts”, she told NBC News (31 October 2015).
Five years ago, a court in Switzerland likewise struck down a US extradition request for Polanski, who has dual French and Polish citizenship. After his arrest in Zurich in late 2009, Polanski was held in prison for two months and subjected to further months of house arrest before a judge ruled against the deportation order. That arrest came on the heels of the 2008 documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, which exposed the original frame-up, including revealing evidence of collusion between the judge and the prosecution.
As Marxists, we oppose the bourgeois state enforcing “decency” through the criminal code. Reactionary “age of consent” and “statutory rape” laws conflate consensual sex with the violent crime of rape. In determining whether an act is rape or not, the guiding principle should be effective consent — nothing more than mutual agreement and understanding as opposed to coercion. Laws criminalising consensual relationships aim to strengthen the bourgeois state’s regimentation of the population and to impose abstinence and guilt on youth while locking up adults who “deviate” from the sexual “norms” that the ruling class hypocritically tries to foist on the masses. We say: Government out of the bedroom!
Any notion that Polanski plied an innocent teen with champagne and Quaaludes during a photo shoot and then raped her was destroyed in court. It was shown that the 13-year-old Geimer, who was sexually experienced and had been “experimenting” with Quaaludes since the age of ten or eleven, was eager to consort with the director at a Hollywood photo shoot. Geimer subsequently acknowledged that she did not object to Polanski’s behaviour at the time. In 2013 she wrote: “I ran into the two-headed monster of the California criminal justice system and its corrupt players, whose lust for publicity overwhelmed their concern with justice.”
In our 1978 article “Stop the Puritan Witchhunt Against Roman Polanski!” (Workers Vanguard no 192, 10 February 1978; reprinted in “Hands off Roman Polanski!”, Workers Hammer no 209, Winter 2009-2010) we wrote: “Sexual and social life in southern California, with its thriving drug culture and troupes of precocious sexually active groupies hanging about the fringes of the entertainment industry, produces thousands of ‘aspiring actresses’
like the one Polanski had the misfortune to run into. Regardless of what one thinks of the scene as a whole, its all-too-obvious reality makes absurd [Judge] Rittenband’s attempts to force rigid morality of the Victorian era into LA freeways and bedrooms.”
Noting that “official repression and enforced standards of sexual activity have brought oppression and pain throughout history”, our article continued:
“All those laws which define ‘sex crimes’ in America today are fundamentally aimed at glorifying and propping up the obscene and repressive prison of the family, for centuries the main institution for the oppression of women and children....
“[Polanski’s] prosecution, like the furore over ‘kiddie porn’, feeds into the sanctimonious ‘Save Our Children’ crusade epitomised by Anita Bryant’s anti-homosexual witch hunt — a reactionary offensive which hides behind the ‘innocence’ of children to enforce bourgeois morality through the vindictive persecution of ‘deviants’.”
What triggered the US government’s latest attempt to have Polanski arrested was his appearance as an invited guest at the ceremonial opening in October 2014 of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. As a young boy in the Jewish ghetto of Krakow, Polanski survived Hitler’s Holocaust. Currently he is filming in Poland an account of the Dreyfus affair, the frame-up of a Jewish officer in the French army in the 1890s, which served as a litmus test for the socialist movement internationally at the time.
While the Polish prosecutor’s office announced on 27 November that it would not exercise its right to appeal Mazur’s ruling, the US vendetta against Polanski is likely not over. Los Angeles district attorney Jackie Lacey has vowed to continue pursuing him. Furthermore, only days before the court ruling, the anti-immigrant Catholic-clericalist Law and Justice Party came to power in Polish elections. Its leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, an overt anti-Muslim and anti-Russian bigot, highlighted his support for Polanski’s extradition during the election campaign, while his new minister of justice, Zbigniew Ziobro, ranted, “paedophilia is an evil that must be pursued”. Such statements are no surprise from this party which includes open anti-Jewish racists like Minister of Defence Antoni Macierewicz.
Lamentably, retrograde views are not a monopoly of the reactionary right. Down the years, we Spartacists have been the target of many leftists because of our defence of Polanski. The vendetta against Polanski has brought together many social-democratic leftists and others who piously decry totalitarian Stalinism while similarly echoing the bigoted social values of oppressive capitalist society and promoting interference of the capitalist state in people’s lives.
One example in Britain is the “libertarian communist” group around the website libcom.org, which has made it a point to go after the Spartacist League for our consistent defence of Polanski. Falsely describing him as a “convicted child rapist”, they accuse us of “sexist, pro-child abuse, rape-denying views” (libcom.org, 11 February 2014). It likewise denounces our defence of the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) against puritanical persecution by the bourgeois state. In the eyes of the state and its amen corner in the left and gay rights milieus, NAMBLA’s crime is its advocacy of the sexual rights of youth, including in relationships with older men.
The fact that ostensibly anti-state “libertarian communists” champion the Victorian moral strictures of the church and sections of the capitalist ruling class speaks volumes. It is a measure of their proximity to bourgeois “family values” hypocrisy and their great distance from the class line, let alone from the remotest concept of real human freedom. Free love? Perhaps, but only if you’re over the age of 18 and it’s sanctioned by the state. In September a 14-year-old boy from the north of England was placed on a police “sex offenders” database, which is to haunt him for at least ten years, for sexting a nude photo of himself to a girl his age. Jeremy Forrest, a teacher, was recently released after serving two years in prison for having had a romantic relationship with a 15-year-old student (see “Teacher jailed in puritanical anti-sex witch hunt”, Workers Hammer no 223, Summer 2013). In a communist society, where the state and the family have withered away, young (and old) people will have the freedom to engage in whatever form of sexual relationship they want.
Our defence of Polanski is part of our struggle to forge a Leninist party that will act as a tribune of the people, able to react, as Lenin put it in What is to be done?, “to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects”. If the capitalist state can get away with railroading Polanski, all the easier for it to go after the nameless, faceless thousands who end up imprisoned or placed on a “sex offenders” list because they came up against the wrong side of bourgeois morality.