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Roman Polanski's recent arrest for the 1977 rape of a 13-year-old has shocked many Europeans. The French foreign minister called the director's extradition "sinister." Polanski "is a man of such talent, recognised worldwide, recognised especially in the country where he was arrested," he said. "This is not nice at all." Rather than view the matter as a sexual assault of a minor as many Americans do (under U.S. law minors cannot "consent" to sex), many Europeans see this event as another example of American aggression or prudery. Columnists on both sides of the pond speculate on what got lost in translation.

  • 'The Hunt for Roman Polanski.' At the London Telegraph, David Gritten says it's hard for Europeans to understand why Polanski is being prosecuted when the sex was consensual. "She and Polanski agree that sex took place, and that it was consensual, though Polanski gave the girl champagne and a Quaalude to relax her."
  • 'Petty American Revenge, Plain and Simple,' Agnes Poirier writes at The Guardian: "There is a feeling in France that the US justice department is acting out some kind of prudish revenge against a great talent who never abided by American rules even when he was the most celebrated director in Hollywood."
  • The U.S. Should Take Its Cue From Europe, Marcin Sobczyk writes at The Wall Street Journal: "Maybe the United States should consider borrowing something from the Old World for a change (and we're asking no yield) - namely, the prescriptive periods known to continental European law systems that limit criminal liability."
  • Remember that Roman Polanski Raped a Child, Kate Harding writes at Salon. She is in awe that anyone can ignore such a fact:
Can we take a moment to think about all that, and about the fact that Polanski pled guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, before we start talking about what a victim he is? Because that would be great, and not nearly enough people seem to be doing it.The French press, for instance (at least according to the British press) is describing Polanski 'as the victim of a money-grabbing American mother and a publicity-hungry Californian judge.'
  • Maybe My American Mind is Too Unsophisticated to Understand, Megan McArdle sneers at The Atlantic:
    "You would think we'd busted him for unpaid parking tickets.  The guy drugged a thirteen year old girl in order to rape her.  Perhaps the French have some sophisticated, European point of view on these things that I, with my puritan ancestry, simply cannot rise to."
  • Sure, Blame the Victim, Scott Lemieux writes at The American Prospect. Lemieux is disgusted by European apologias for Polanski that argue "he was prosecuted for being a European roue just too sexually sophisticated for provincial Americans, not because he raped a 13-year old."

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