I was watching a television show last week, and, once again, until he dies in a shootout, a criminal gets away with murder (literally) because of diplomatic immunity. Infuriating! Diplomatic immunity (or at least the Hollywood clichÃ© of diplomatic immunity) may very well be the single most misrepresented concept in all of film and television. And talk about chicken vs. the egg! I wonder which came first: has Hollywood so misrepresented the concept that the general public no longer understands how it truly works, or did the general public’s misunderstanding result in Hollywood’s misrepresentation?
So for those of you who don’t understand how it works, here’s the lowdown. Just because somebody is a diplomat does not mean they can break our nation’s laws willynilly. Diplomatic immunity is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. Diplomatic immunity means that the person in question is to be treated as subject to the laws of his or her home country. So a diplomat would not receive diplomatic immunity on any charge that is also illegal in his or her homeland. Diplomatic immunity only applys to those crimes in our country not illegal in the person’s own nation.
Writers, please get it right. Accuracy will make for better stories, and maybe the public will be educated in the process.