In a painfully thoughtful piece, Hollywood insider Roger L. Simon looks at the Roman Polanski case, and concludes that he is a metaphor for Hollywood:

Look, Polanski is weak like the rest of us. But in the end, there is something about him that is a metaphor for Hollywood – despite that he has been exiled from here these many years. A tremendously talented man, he is the emblem of special pleading.

I agree with Roger that what the man did was indefensible.

you don’t fool around with thirteen year old girls.

Exactly. Still, the thirteen year old girl is now middle aged, and she doesn’t think he should go to prison. Not that it’s her decision, of course. But the victims are normally taken into account at sentencing, and I’m not altogether sure that there ever was a sentence. There seems to have been a plea bargain, but the sentencing judge didn’t go along with it.

In December, Polanski asked a Los Angeles court to dismiss the 1977 case because of alleged judicial and prosecutorial misconduct. He said his rights were violated in part because the judge presiding over the case at the time reneged on a plea agreement.
His California lawyers claim an HBO documentary, “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” revealed a pattern of misconduct and improper communications between the court and prosecutors. They asked in a July court filing that the Los Angeles district attorney’s office be disqualified from participating in the case, which is currently under appeal.
Polanski’s lawyers claim that the since-deceased judge presiding over the case was improperly influenced by prosecutors and wanted Polanski jailed until he voluntarily agreed to leave the country. The director served 42 days in jail for a “diagnostic study” before he was scheduled to be sentenced.
Plea Bargain
Under the plea bargain, the time Polanski served should have been his entire sentence, his lawyers argued.
California Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza said in February that Polanski must come to the U.S. to get a hearing on his request. Espinoza ruled that Polanski’s absence forfeited his right to consideration of the facts and circumstances that led him to flee the country.

It’s not entirely clear to me that Polanski will in fact be extradited. If he isn’t, and if we look at the big picture, perhaps that’s the best result. He’s 76, and maybe he should just die abroad rather than return to prison in the United States.
There’s hardly honor in a life spent on the lam.
By way of full disclosure, I like Polanski’s films, but I do not defend his crimes against the girl in any way. What he did was reprehensible.
However, the cynic in me wonders why the Obama Justice Department would seek his extradition right now. For cripes sake, the case is 32 years old. What gives? Might he have failed to contribute to the Obama campaign? Or am I not allowed to ask? The conservative Polish government (headed by an outspokenly anti-gay politician) has been lobbying to get the charges dropped, and President Barack Obama is no friend of his government.
But that’s completely cynical and highly speculative thinking on my part. Besides, it’s wrong to question the motives of a Justice Department which would never allow politics to influence prosecutorial decisions.
MORE: I like Megan McArdle’s take on this:

If the girl had been 15 or 16, I think many of us would rightly say, “let it go, already”. But she was thirteen. He plied her with champagne and Quaaludes. And he knew how old she was. Ick (warning: link has a pretty graphic description of anal rape.)

Via Glenn Reynolds, who also quotes reader Michael McElwee:

Isn’t it obvious this arrest – out of nowhere – is a political move by Obama’s minders?
What better to keep Greta and America distracted for a week or so?

Any ideas on what might this be a distraction from?
Another different child sex scandal, perhaps? What? There’s more than one?
Forgive my macabre speculation, but perhaps the plan is to drag Polanski back, then pardon him and make him the nation’s Pedophile Czar.
(Experience counts, right?)
MORE: While I was trying to be funny when I cited the above post about Kevin Jennings, I sincerely hope the anti-gay comments to this earlier post on the subject do not represent conservatism. (Sorry, but helping a troubled gay teen is not “pedophilia.”)
AND MORE: In a very thoughtful post, Joy McCann suggests that there is a middle ground:

…there exists a middle ground between those who want to give Polanski a pass, and those whose attitude is “hang him high.” And that would be for Polanski to come back to Los Angeles and receive a reasonably light sentence. I know that saying this will get both sides mad at me, but it is the only way to balance justice against mercy — a need that Shakespeare expressed in The Merchant of Venice, which (ironically) featured a grasping Jewish character demanding justice in the form of capital punishment of a debtor via a “pound of flesh.” The ethnicities have switched, but the tension between justice and mercy remain the same, and both are critical to a humane society that nonetheless enjoys, for the most part, the freedom that goes along with “equality under the law.”

Read it all.
After several days of this, I am beginning to suspect that this might very well have been a distraction, and I am beginning to regret having said anything about it at all. Because, if it is intended as a distraction, I played along.
And I don’t like playing along.