He risks extradition to the United States for an episode that happened years ago...And he fled! That's why time has passed. He's avoided the jurisdiction. It's not as if prosecutors let the case go stale.
...and whose principal plaintiff...Plaintiff! You might talk like that in France, but here in America, that's the language of torts. And we are talking about crime.
... repeatedly and emphatically declares she has put it behind her and abandoned any wish for legal proceedings.And how much money was she paid to settle the case? What were the terms of the settlement? Do you approve — as a general rule to be applied to all — of dropping criminal charges whenever the victim has been moved to closure? It is the nature of criminal law that it is a crime against the people, and not merely a wrong against the victim. Do you argue against that, philosopher? Why? Give reasons! Your assertions are not enough — philosopher.
Seventy-six years old...Yes, he's that old because he fled and because he was protected in other countries that apparently did not take rape so seriously, at least not when it was committed by a great artist.
... a survivor of Nazism and of Stalinist persecutions in Poland...If a life of suffering excuses crimes, many, maybe most, of our criminals would escape prison. Wouldn't the Nazis themselves have cried about their own suffering in the years preceding their rise to power? Philosopher, do you approve — as a general rule to be applied to all — that those who have suffered earlier in their lives should not be punished for the serious, violent crimes that they commit? Explain, in abstract terms that meet the standards of the discipline of philosophy, why you think this is so.
Roman Polanski risks spending the rest of his life in jail for deeds which would be beyond the statute-of-limitations in Europe.We have statutes of limitations here in America too. Do yours absolve fugitives? Philosopher, do you absolve fugitives who succeed in evading capture while a period of years passes? Would you do that for everyone? For Nazis? Explain your reasons in terms that meet the standards of the discipline of philosophy, so we can judge.
We ask the Swiss courts to free him immediately and not to turn this ingenious filmmaker into a martyr of a politico-legal imbroglio that is unworthy of two democracies like Switzerland and the United States. Good sense, as well as honor, require it.Do you assert that an artist ought to receive special treatment? Would an ingenious Nazi deserve to live out his life in peace? What does the special treatment of artists have to do with democracy? Explain what ingeniousness, filmmaking, and democracy have to do with your proposed rule.
Bernard-Henri Lévy, you present yourself as a philosopher. I would like to honor philosophy. Back up your petition with a philosophical argument that we can understand and critique.
IN THE COMMENTS: Peter Hoh said:
So in Bernard-Henri Lévy's world, there are common terrorists. One must presume that some other terrorists are uncommon. Perhaps some are extraordinary. I wonder how one can tell the difference?Surely, the 9/11 attacks were uncommon. In fact, they were ingenious.
Let's not forget what the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen said on September 17, 2001:
... Stockhausen... called the attack on the World Trade Center ''the greatest work of art that is possible in the whole cosmos.'' Extending the analogy, he spoke of human minds achieving ''something in one act'' that ''we couldn't even dream of in music,'' in which ''people practice like crazy for 10 years, totally fanatically, for a concert, and then die.'' Just imagine, he added: ''You have people who are so concentrated on one performance, and then 5,000 people are dispatched into eternity, in a single moment. I couldn't do that. In comparison with that, we're nothing as composers.''So, Bernard-Henri Lévy, by your standard, we should leave Osama Bin Laden alone?