Sexual harassment, so-called hostile environment sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape continue to be conflated as indicated by a the complaint of 16 Yale students to the Dept. Of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (the OCR) and the public responses to said complaint.
As dissident feminist Wendy Kaminer points out the group’s complaint
“reportedly includes testimony about sexual assaults, but the hostile-environment charge against the university rests as well on a litany of complaints about offensive exercises of First Amendment freedoms. A December 2010 draft complaint letter, obtained by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), focuses on these “incidents”: In 2006, a group of frat boys chant “No means yes, yes means anal” outside the Yale Women’s Center. In 2010, a group of fraternity pledges repeat this obnoxious chant outside a first-year women’s dorm. In 2008, pledges surround the Women’s Center holding signs saying, “We love Yale sluts.” In 2009, Yale students publish a report listing the names and addresses of first-year women and estimating the number of beers “it would take to have sex with them.”
It is these public incidents that have engaged the public’s attention and brought forth a condemnation of sexual harassment/assault by Vice President Biden. But what some call sexual harassment boils down in the dankprofessor terms as obnoxious and offensive behavior. And the terms used are of import since offensive and obnoxious behavior are constitutionally protected and university sexual harassment codes, particularly of the hostile environment genre, may impinge on constitutionally protected speech.
For example, take the “Yale Sluts” sign which was held up by a group of Zeta Psi Fraternity members in front of the Yale Women’s Center and then the circulation of this imagery in the wider campus community. In response to this incident the Women’s Center called for “an overhaul of the University’s sexual-harassment and assault education policies, increased regulation of fraternities, disciplinary actions against Zeta Psi members…” The Center’s board indicated they will continue in their ongoing quest to end the “fraternity-sponsored or enabled sexual harassment, assault and rape” they had observed on campus.
So putting it in rather blunt terms condemning the Zeta Psi actions as offensive is not enough; the problem according to the Women’s Center is that the Zeta Psi members are rape enablers. And the dankprofessor surmises that those who assert that the actions of the Zeta Psi members are constitutionally protected, they too are at risk of being labeled as rape enablers.
What was and is needed at Yale is some form of conflict resolution between fraternities and women’s organizations. But based on my information in the three years since the 2008 incident, there has been no communication at Yale between Zeta Psi and organizations such as the Women’s Center.
Name-calling whether it be sluts or rape enablers is puerile. The basic problem at Yale is one of civility. The problem of civility will not be ameliorated by taking this situation into an adversarial legal system, and using the media as a means of demonizing the “other side”.
It took Gloria Allred, the queen of muckraking lawyers, to effectively bring the media and legal lynch mobs together in Los Angeles. It occurred in the context of her hosting former actress Charlotte Lewis at a Hollywood news conference so that Lewis could announce that she had been sexually assaulted by Roman Polanski in France in the 1980s. Why such was announced at this time was not made clear? And Gloria Allred would not allow her to entertain any questions so clarity could not be pursued. Of course, why Allred would not allow her to take questions was also not clear? And even why Allred was there representing Lewis was also not clear? And why Lewis ended up in Los Angeles and not in Paris to make her announcement was also not clear? If she was interested in pursuing justice in terms of what Polanski supposedly did to her, shouldn’t she be in Paris talking to the relevant French authorities. But instead she ends up talking to LA District attorney Steve Cooley who is spending much of his time attempting to prosecute and persecute Roman Polanski while running for the Attorney General of California.
But Allred and Lewis and possibly Cooley apparently accomplished their goal of having the media in tens of thousands of news sources repeat Lewis’s unsupported assertions over and over again that Polanski is a recividistic sexual predator. As for Cooley’s goals, such a media circus might help to persuade the Swiss authorities to send Polanski back to Hollywood with a Hollywood ending orchestrated by Cooley.
Even though Lewis’s staged performance in LA is now over and Lewis’s drama coach Allred is temporarily on the sidelines, there is little doubt that their beat will go on; the court of public opinion continues to be open for the unrestrained trashing of Polanski. However, if one looks carefully enough one can find voices of temperance and sanity in this deluge, check out an article in the Guardian by Robert Harris and a blog post by Novalis Lore. They are not of the Allred genre but they are of the genre that will not contribute to the feeding frenzies and public degradation ceremonies that are so predominant in today’s mediated world.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education(FIRE) in a news release, April 7, 2010, charges that Duke University in a recently implemented sexual misconduct policy has rendered students as unwitting rapists and removed protections for students accused of sexual misconduct. The entirety of the FIRE news release appears at the end of this post and by clicking here one can read the entirety of the Duke sexual misconduct policy.
The dankprofessor views this new sexual misconduct policy as both draconian and authoritarian. The policy attempts to regulate the most intimate aspects of student lives. The major rationale given for such intrusion into the private lives of Duke students is that the policy attempts to insure that all sexual interaction between students is ‘absolutely’ consensual. The irony is that the policy has been applied to Duke students without their consent. There was no vote taken by Duke students authorizing this policy. The policy is being imposed on Duke students by the powers that be at Duke. In essence, Duke administrators and their confreres come off as authoritarian adults disciplining their children.
The utter hypocrisy of the creators of this policy is apparent. They argue that this policy in essence functions to upgrade the principle of consent and to sexually protect Duke students. If such be the case, then why do the creators and implementors of this policy exempt themselves? Why aren’t all Duke administrators, staff members, and faculty also beneficiaries of this policy? Aren’t they deserving of the same protections granted to Duke students? Aren’t these policies applied to Duke students with the hope that students will apply these approved practices throughout their lives?
The dankprofessor feels that he knows why these policies are not applied to Duke constituencies beyond students. Such non-application occurs because administrators, faculty and others would not tolerate being treated like children, would not tolerate having their sex lives governed by self-serving authoritarians. In the area of sexual civil liberties Duke students deserve the same basic rights as their so-called superiors.
The dankprofessor hopes that Duke faculty and administrators stand up for the rights of their students. Too much abuse has gone at Duke. Too many authoritarians have already hurt too many innocent Duke students in their zealous quest for so-called justice.
“Duke’s new sexual misconduct policy could have been written by Mike Nifong,” said FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley. “Members of the men’s basketball team could be punished for consensual sexual activity simply because they are ‘perceived’ as more powerful than other students after winning the national championship. Students who engage in sexual behavior after a few beers could be found guilty of sexual misconduct towards each other. This is not just illogical and impractical, but insane. Given its experience during the lacrosse team rape hoax, Duke, of all schools, should know better than to institute such unjust rules about sexual misconduct.”
The new policy was introduced at the beginning of the school year with fanfare from the Duke Women’s Center—the same center that apologized for excluding pro-life students from event space in a case FIRE won last month. Women’s Center Director Ada Gregory was quoted in Duke’s student newspaper The Chronicle justifying the new policy, saying, “The higher [the] IQ, the more manipulative they are, the more cunning they are … imagine the sex offenders we have here at Duke—cream of the crop.” (In a follow-up letter to The Chronicle, Gregory claimed that the quote was inaccurate and did not reflect her views, but stood by her analysis that campuses like Duke are likely to harbor smarter sex offenders who are better able to outwit investigators.)
Duke’s vastly overbroad definition of non-consensual sex puts nearly every student at risk of being found guilty of sexual misconduct. Students are said to be able to unintentionally coerce others into sexual activity through “perceived power differentials,” which could include otherwise unremarkable and consensual liaisons between a varsity athlete and an average student, a senior and a freshman, or a student government member and a non-member.
Further, students are said to be unable to consent to sexual behavior when “intoxicated,” regardless of their level of intoxication. Duke has turned mutually consensual sexual conduct, which might merely be poorly considered, into a punishable act. Adding to the confusion, if both parties are intoxicated at all, both are guilty of sexual misconduct, since neither can officially give consent. North Carolina law does not support this definition of consent.
“Of course, there is no way that everyone who was intoxicated during sexual activity, let alone ‘perceived’ as more powerful, is going to be charged with sexual misconduct,” said Adam Kissel, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program. “Add to that the provision about an unintentional atmosphere of coercion, and anyone can see that Duke’s policy is impossible to rationalize or to fairly and equitably enforce. As a result, this policy effectively trivializes real sexual misconduct, which is a gravely serious crime.”
The new policy even makes reporting of so-called sexual misconduct mandatory for any Duke employee who becomes aware of it, regardless of the wishes of the alleged victim.
Furthermore, Duke has made fair enforcement of the sexual misconduct policy even more difficult by establishing different procedures and even a different “jury” to judge sexual misconduct complaints. For instance, sexual misconduct charges are judged by two faculty or staff members and only one student, but all other offenses are judged by a panel of three students and two faculty or staff members. Duke fails to explain why a jury with a majority of one’s peers is necessary for charges like assault or theft but not sexual misconduct.
Other problems in the sexual misconduct policy, detailed in FIRE’s letter to Duke President Richard Brodhead of March 4, include giving the complainant more rights than the accused, requiring the results of a hearing to be kept secret in perpetuity even if one is found not guilty or is falsely accused, and allowing anonymous and third-party reporting so that the student may never be able to face his or her accuser.
FIRE wrote, “As a private university, Duke is not obliged to agree with the authors of the Bill of Rights about the value of the right to face one’s accuser. Nevertheless, Duke ignores their wisdom at the peril of its own students and reputation.” Duke has declined to respond to FIRE’s letter in writing.
“More than any other school in the nation,” Shibley said, “Duke should be aware that its students deserve the best possible rules and procedures for ensuring that rape and sexual misconduct charges are judged fairly. Sexual misconduct is a serious offense. Duke students deserve a policy under which true offenders will be punished but the innocent have nothing to fear.”
FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, due process, freedom of expression, academic freedom, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty on campuses across America can be viewed at thefire.org.
Tell Duke University to give its students the protections they deserve. Write to President Brodhead here.
Richard H. Brodhead, President, Duke University: 919-684-2424 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 919-684-2424 end_of_the_skype_highlighting; email@example.com
The blog Shakesville periodically publishes material on the plight of Roman Polanski by guest bloggers or by one of their regular bloggers. No matter who the blogger is on Shakesville you can be assured that Polanski always represents for them the ultimate societal enemy. Anyone who deviates from their anti-Polanski party line is considered to be scum, to be a rape apologist.
So it is not surprising that their most recent anti-Polanski rant focuses on Johnny Depp who recently made some very public comments calling for the freeing of Roman Polanski. And emerging out of the Shakesville closet is a blogger going under the name mschicklet.
Johnny Depp wants us all to know that Roman Polanski is no longer a threat. You see, Mr. Depp seems to think that Polanski is no longer capable of raping someone, because he is in his 70s and has a wife and children. So, there you go, nothing to worry about. We can all sit back, relax, and join the “Free Polanski” crowd.
Depp doesn’t say that Polanski is incapable of rape but for some 20 plus years he has been living a pretty sedate life- married with children and engaging in filmmaking and more filmmaking. Such is the gist of Depp’s comments- that Polanski’s freedom does not represent a risk to society.
Except, wait a minute. The second man who raped me had a wife and children. Every single day, I am blindsided by anxiety attacks brought on by the memory of his scent, his voice, even the sound of his name. Memory is a fickle thing, but I remember what he did to me. He raped me. While he was married. While his two young daughters were sleeping in the next bedroom.
But, Mr. Depp says there’s no way a man with a wife and children would do such a thing. No way someone who’s married for 20+ years, who kisses his daughters goodnight and tucks them into bed, could possibly rape anyone. So, does that mean my experience means nothing? Does that mean it really didn’t happen?
He doesn’t say that no married man with children could do such a thing, but dealing with Roman Polanski in a marital context, Depp says Roman Polanski has not done such a thing.
I take issue with the fact that Johnny Depp is using his privilege to minimize and even deny the horrific events that so many victims have been forced to endure. And, after reading the Survivor Thread and listening to the stories of other rape victims in tear-filled counseling groups, I know my story isn’t all that rare.
Depp is using his privilege? What privilege? Speaking out for or against Polanski is not a privilege, it is a right. He is no more privileged than the dankprofessor, and as far as I know my privileges are quite pesdestrian. And Johnny Depp has not attempted to deny or minimize the horrors experienced by many victims of rape.
Because, as we’ve learned, that’s the thing about rapists. They rape people. A wedding band doesn’t stop them, nor does the fact that they have children. Nor does their age. Denying this, as Mr. Depp is doing, silences rape victims. And, really, haven’t victims already been silenced enough?
Well, mschicklet attributes a whole lot of power to Depp. He’s just an actor, mschicklet, he has the power to silence no one. Now, maybe I am missing something, but mschicklet says that Depp is silencing rape victims and mschicklet is a rape victim and she has not been silenced. OK, I know that victims of violence, rape or otherwise, respond differently to their victimage, but her prior paragraph she indicates that all rape victims respond in the same manner. Note that I was more restrained, I said “many” rape victims. But mschicklet stereotypes rape victims. For example, not all rape victims want Polanski to be imprisoned.
In addition to trying to be the final word on what a rapist is or is not, Johnny Depp also wants to know why Polanski was arrested. “Why now?” he asks. Why is this coming up now? Because Polanski fled the country for 30 years and refused to serve his time. By asking “Why now?” Mr. Depp is focusing responsibility on the wrong people – the people who want our justice system to do its job. Instead, he should be holding Polanski accountable. Mr. Depp’s words absolutely scream, “Poor him! Poor guy! Let him go! Leave him alone!” What sort of a society do we live in if so many people feel the need to defend and protect a rapist? If this isn’t rape culture, then I don’t know what is.
I do not believe that for a second that people who are defending Polanski are defending him because they have a need to protect a rapist. I defend Polanski not out of some psychological need relating to rape but rather the belief that Polanski has been treated unfairly and he has been punished enough. Whatever the circumstances were with with Samantha Geimer, Polanski cannot just be reduced to a rapist. The complexities of this man are immense. Few people in this world have gone thru the sort of horrific events that Roman Polanski has gone thru- a survivor of the Holocaust whose mother was gassed to death and a survivor of his wife’s mutilation and murder by the Manson gang. mschicklet is distressed that people cannot open themselves to the horror associated with rape while at the same time she seems clueless as to the horrors experienced by Polanski.
And she continues-
And ever since the arrest of Polanski, that’s what I’ve seen from such a large portion of Hollywood and society in general. I’ve seen some of the most respected actors and filmmakers in Hollywood defend someone who doesn’t deserve it. Either they deny that he is a rapist, deny that he ever was a rapist, or blame us for not letting the rapist go. I wish Johnny Depp realized that by adding his name to the long list of rape apologists, he not helping the situation – he is hurting so many people who are now faced with the cold truth that one less person is on their side.
It must be nice to live in the fantasy world that Johnny Depp lives in. In fact, I remember when I had similar beliefs. Men with children are safe, I would think to myself, in large part because that’s what my mother taught me. It wasn’t until I was raped that I finally realized how wrong I had been. But it shouldn’t take something like that to “wake us up.” We shouldn’t have to wake up in the first place.
Unfortunately, mischicklet lives in a kind of fantasy world. She rants on about rape victims, but if rape victims are so important to her she engages in a giant psychological feat when she never mentions Polanski’s so-called rape victim. She must know that Samantha Geimer wants Polanski to go free; she must know at the latest judicial hearing Geimer was represented by an attorney who argued for Polanski’s freedom. mschicklet chooses not to ACKNOWLEDGE a person she considers to be a rape victim. What utter callousness!
And as for concern for safety which mschicklet mentions, I share her concern. But my concern for safety entails being protected from persons such as mschicklet, persons who seem to embrace a form of vigilante justice, persons who give full vent to their anger, persons whose self-righteousness seem to know no limit. And as for safety and Roman Polanski, I personally believe that those people who believe that Polanski represents a clear and present danger to society are in a state of delusion.
And as for her comment about our culture being a rape culture, such a notion has some merit. But support for a rape culture has nothing to do with defending or opposing Roman Polanski. Evidence that we are living in a rape culture is that “we” support sending persons to prison in which rape is often supported not only by inmates but also by prison guards. The fact we can’t protect persons from rape who we send away to prison so we can be protected from being raped is quite damning!!
So a Canadian study has found that “people who buy sex are no more violent than the general population, and any legislation about prostitution should not be based on the incorrect belief that all johns are abusive”, says a Simon Fraser University sociologist researching the subject.
Chris Atchison surveyed more than 1,000 johns between June 2008 and April 2009 for his controversial study, entitled Johns’ Voice.
Based on about 1,000 anonymous online responses and 24 in-depth interviews, Atchison concluded that johns do not appear to be any more aggressive than the rest of the population and should therefore not be painted as uniformly evil.
He said 1.9 per cent reported having hit, pushed or physically attacked a prostitute, one per cent reported having raped or sexually assaulted a prostitute and 1.7 per cent reported having robbed a prostitute.
“The question becomes, ‘How different are sex buyers from any other member of the population?’” said Atchison.
OK, the dankprofessor must have been pretty naïve- I didn’t know that people believed that men who patronized sex workers were more violent than men who did not. I guess this is on the same level of the idea that pornography causes male viewers to go out and rape. Of course, everyone knows that pornography overwhelmingly causes men to stay home and masturbate. But then again masturbation is a form of self-abuse. So I guess one just can’t get away from the idea that sex is harmful to self and if not to self then to others.
But there is more as reported in the Vancouver Sun
The study drew strong criticism from some quarters.
“It’s an outrageous study and it really works towards normalizing sexual assault,” said Aurea Flynn of the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter.
“I’m really angry about the emphasis on the compassion for johns that the study provides and I’m very concerned about its impact on the continued normalization of prostitution in Canada because I believe prostitution is violence against women.”
Flynn was particularly angered by what she called the demonizing of a marginalized population that is often forced into the sex trade due to a lack of options.
Atchison said 79.9 per cent of johns surveyed wanted prostitution legalized for “altruistic reasons,” such as to protect prostitutes with health and safety regulations.
But Flynn said: “I believe that is the johns wanting to protect themselves from contracting diseases, which they are very afraid of.
“If they really wanted to help women, they’d be fighting for better welfare rates, universal child care, universal education and job skills training.”
She believes the legalization of prostitution would increase human trafficking and the exploitation of women.
The Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter — which defines prostitution itself as an act of violence — actively campaigns for its abolition.
And so it goes- prostitution is violence even though it be consensual sex. But what the dankprofessor has learned in this short blog posting is that money is the ultimate arbiter. Consensual sex turns into violence if you add a financial component. The money does the talking. So the dankprofessor’s advice to men who want to play it safe- empty your pockets before engaging in any kind of sexual fraternization.
OK, one more note- Aurea Flynn of the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter says she is really angry regarding the results of the study. She fears that people may become more empathetic toward johns. As for my empathy, I can feel Ms. Flynn’s anger. I suggest she take her anger home and in the privacy of her home, she relax and try to get some relief.
I encourage any one who wishes to have a fuller understanding of rape and its long term and short term consequences to read Samskara’s presentation and analysis of her rape. In the context of her rape experience, Samskara explains why the so-called facts presented by Samantha Geimer, the alleged rape victim of Roman Polanski, leads her to conclude that Geimer was not a victim of forcible rape.
This is a must read for anyone seriously interested in the Polanski case and rape in general. I hope readers circulate this so it might come to the attention of Polanski and/or his legal defenders.
Sometimes comments come into the dankprofessor blog which I feel merit attention as a full fledged post. Here is a comment from Samskara on Polanski Defenders and Rape Baiting which is now published as a post-
I’ll relate a story I read and heard on Russian actress/model Olga Kurylenko (“Hitman” and “Quantum of Solace”). While in Russia, standing in a food line with her mother, a man noticed her and wanted to photograph her. He said he was an ‘agent’, however, given the Russian underground trade in sex slaves to Thailand and other places, Mrs. Kurylenko (Olga’s mother) refused to believe that this guy was on the up-and-up. So she decided to accompany Olga to this ‘meeting’. It turned out that he was in fact, a bonafide photographer with international connections into the modeling business. Olga, with her mother by her side, signed the contract and lo and behold, she’s a model.
The reason I’m telling this story? Well ever since that day until Olga turned 21, Mrs. Kurylenko accompanied Olga wherever she went, all over the world, no matter where it was. As a Russian scientist, Mrs. Kurylenko knew the money Olga was making was significant and could make a difference as to her daughter’s future. The one thing that Mrs. Kurylenko didn’t do, was allow Olga to go off on her own with anyone until she came of age.
How does this relate to Roman and his story? Plenty. I still say, how much of this whole thing is to be blamed solely on the mother? All of it. What mother allows their young daughter to go off with a man known for his proclivities for liking young-er women? Only a mother who plainly has an ulterior motive. As a woman, I have the right to say this. I have the right to question where Mrs. Gailey’s ethics were. I don’t believe in morals. They’re for those who ascribe to some kind of religious system of believe. I don’t. I’m more in line of a left-of-liberal leaning humanist. While I agree with the fact that as sexual beings we should be able to do whatever we want in terms of our bedrooms, I also believe that there should be an effort to protrect those who may be vulnerable in our culture. But in this case, there was no ‘vulnerable’ little creature to protect. And anyone who doesn’t understand that Geimer was already sexually mature, don’t see the larger picture. And for those who think that it’s ‘okay’ to state things like “if it where your 13 year-old daughter, you’d think differently…” They’re just blowing shit up their own asses. If I had a 13 year-old daughter, I certainly would not be sending her off with someone I didn’t even know that well. Like Olga Kurylenko, I would want to be there to protect my daughter, not send her off to fend for herself.
In a culture that embraces the absurd and the sick, like the American’s do (I’m Canadian), I think it’s ridiculous that most of the condemnation is coming from the US. They’re professing to be this ‘hard-done-by’ nation, yet they love ruling over the world when it comes to global law. And Roman Polanski is not a whipping boy for all that is wrong with the US. Their lawmakers are. And considering that they have worse REAL pedophiles within their own government like those of the C-Street band who believe it’s perectly okay to rape a six year-old and confess it and have it called a ‘power enhancing experience’, but to break with their bretheren is punishable by death, that’s whacked up to me
I am tired of how too many persons end their arguments against freedom for Polanski with comments/questions of the following genre.
‘If you had a 13 year old daughter who was raped, would you just let it go? Allow the rapist to go free? Rape is rape.’
“Rape is rape” but rape is not rape. One rape does not equal another rape and one rapist does not equal another rapist, etc., etc. It never has and never will. We are not dealing with robots in the courtroom- one could also say that one judge or lawyer does not equal another judge or lawyer.
But when Polanski is seen as not being treated like another accused criminal, people go wild. A case can be made for Polanski having more lenient treatment than others. Of course, too many readers, not all, see defenders of Polanski as just rape apologists- end of discussion for them.
Or I can say that we are not seeing celebrity justice here but rather celebrity injustice.
Or I can say how about laying off Polanski with all the degrading rhetoric when you know both his wife was murdered and mutilated by the Manson gang and his mother was murdered by the Nazi gang. Should a person who has survived such atrocities be treated like any other person? Or really getting into the absurd should Polanski be treated like any other person whose wife and mother was murdered?
Bottom line just for Polanski- justice for Polanski is letting him go now. Justice for Ms. Gemier is to let him go now.
Such, of course, has no implications for other so-called similar cases. And even referring to similar cases here is problematic.
And what I would want as a father of a 13 year old daughter who had sex with Polanski after the daughter’s mother gave permission for her to go off somewhere to be photographed by a celebrity? I can’t answer the question, an inane and irrelevant question.
Enough is enough. Polanski has suffered and suffered and suffered…
Larry King did a segment on Roman Polanski on January 6. Following is the transcript of that segment. King lost his mind when he interviewed Sharon Tate’s sister, Debra, and stated to Debra that Roman murdered her sister. It’s in the transcript, read it! And there is as whole lot more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roman was already an established film director. Everybody knew him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the Roman Polanski.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The future was hit, he thought. And then everything just collapsed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn’t perceive having intercourse with a 13-year-old girl as against the law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact of Polanski leaving the country seems to have eclipsed what happened to the system of justice?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was a clip from the HBO documentary “Roman Polanski, Wanted And Desired.” Polanski, the 76-year-old movie director still a wanted man. He pled guilty in August of 1967 to having unlawful sex with a then 13-year-old girl. He was 43 at the time. Prosecutors in LA dropped the charges in exchange for a guilty plea. He fled the United States before sentencing and is currently in Switzerland under house arrest.
Polanski’s victim, Samantha Geimer, was on the show in 2003, and here is what she had to say then about Polanski and his possible jail time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: In retrospect, would you have been upset at the plea bargain to time served? In other words, Roman Polanski goes free after 45 days?
SAMANTHA GEIMER, SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY POLANSKI: We were — everybody was really comfortable with that.
KING: Your mother was happy with it?
GEIMER: I never even asked him to be put in jail.
KING: Your father was happy with it?
GEIMER: I don’t know about that. I didn’t talk with him about it.
KING: You don’t think he deserved more time in jail.
GEIMER: No, and the publicity was so traumatic and horrible that his punishment was secondary to just getting this whole thing to stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Others will join us later. We begin with Lawrence Silver. Larry is the attorney for Samantha Geimer, Polanski’s rape victim. He and his client want the case against Roman Polanski dismissed. What happened in court today?
LAWRENCE SILVER, ATTORNEY FOR POLANSKI’S VICTIM: What happened today was that Polanski asked that, consistent with what the court of appeal had suggested in their December decision, that he be sentenced in absentia, and that will allow a hearing on the allegations pretty well established by the documentary that there was judicious, as well as prosecutorial impropriety.
KING: So they’re asking — they sentence him to a year, tow years, three years, whatever, while he is not there.
SILVER: To sentence him absentia. One of the arguments, I suspect, is that he’s already been sentenced and that this judge should merely confirm the sentence which was reached.
KING: What did this judge rule today?
SILVER: He ordered briefing on the issue and set a hearing for January 22nd.
KING: What does your client want?
SILVER: My client wants the case over. She has been enduring 32 years of relatively intense press coverage and interference with an effort to put this behind her and get it behind her. After 32 years, I think she is entitled to that.
KING: Since she is the victim, why isn’t she almost automatically acquiesced to? Don’t they listen to her?
SILVER: Apparently not.
KING: Do you make an argument?
SILVER: I have argued before the trial court and the court of appeal that the matter should be dismissed. He was supposed to be sentenced to time served, then the judge changed his mind, frankly, because of concerns of how the press would view him. And then, as a result, Polanski fled. And it’s been just a long period of time for her to endure and her family to endure the pendancy of this case.
Had it been someone else, perhaps, it would have been gone and forgotten, probably except by her, but not because of the great publicity that this case seems to engender.
KING: Legally, Larry, what do you think is going to happen? SILVER: Well, the court of appeals is very strong about the fact that there ought to be a prompt and quick resolution of the matter. And the court of appeals was also strong that there ought to be a full hearing. And this plea or request to be sentenced in absentia should result in a hearing. And then the court can decide what to do as a result of what is clearly judicial impropriety, as well as prosecutorial impropriety.
KING: When come back, Larry Silver will be joined by Debra Tate, Roman Polanski’s former sister in law, the sister of Sharon Tate, brutally murdered that night. Don’t go away.
KING: Joining Lawrence Silver with us now is Debra Tate, Roman Polanski’s former sister in law, the sister of the late Sharon Tate. On a persona note, I knew Sharon Tate. I had interviewed her a couple of months before her tragic murder. What do you want to see happen?
DEBRA TATE, FMR. SISTER IN LAW OF ROMAN POLANSKI: I would like to see this whole thing go away. I think that there has been a lot of time that has passed and we need to bring it to an end.
KING: Have you ever talked to Roman Polanski?
TATE: I have.
KING: How can you have a civil conversation with someone who so brutally murdered your sister?
TATE: Roman didn’t murder my sister.
KING: I’m sorry. When the fact that he would have this terrible thing happen to him after the death of your sister, to once again focus you into the public light. That’s what I meant.
TATE: I don’t have any problems with Roman whatsoever. The actions that he took back then has logic that doesn’t necessarily play out by the law, in my opinion. There are extenuating circumstances to this whole thing that have to do with legal improprieties. That is much bigger to me than the original offense.
KING: Did your sister love him?
KING: And he loved her.
KING: How was he doing when you spoke to him?
TATE: He was very concerned. He was very humble. He — you know, he thinks that this is a tragic situation. Now he sees it a little differently perhaps. And that is purely my take on things. He didn’t say it verbatim, but I could hear it in his voice. KING: Was there an age difference between Sharon and Roman?
TATE: Yes, there was.
KING: How much?
TATE: Ten years.
KING: That’s light by his standards, because he’s been married to his current wife for 21 years. I believe he met her when he was 15.
TATE: Fifteen, 16 Years old.
KING: He had a romantic relationship with Nastassja Kinski when she was 15.
TATE: That’s correct.
KING: You think he has an attraction for younger women?
TATE: I think in France it’s a normal way of life. It’s very well known that it’s a right of passage. Younger women with older men, older women with younger men.
KING: Do you understand why people might not look favorably on it?
TATE: I absolutely do understand. I am a victim’s rights advocate, and I deal with a lot of women that have truly been raped. I do understand it completely.
But this is just slightly different. And it’s not up to me to bring that to public light. But there are circumstances that make it ever so slightly different than a full rape.
KING: Do you know Samantha Geimer, Larry’s client?
TATE: I have never met her. Never.
KING: What do you make of her feelings?
TATE: Her feelings I absolutely understand, 100 percent. She’s a mother. She’s got her own children. This has got to put her, at this point in time, in a very uncomfortable position at best. And I think that it’s very inappropriate on behalf of the LA DA’s office, who I work with often, to pursue this case, especially in this fiscal climate. Perhaps there is an end we can reach without spending two million dollars on a trial, which is what it would usually cost.
KING: Why do you think they are so intent on this, Lawrence?
SILVER: It’s hard to figure. The prior prosecutor in the case certainly, Roger Gunson (ph), a really a wonderful human being, was quite understanding of the desire of my client and her family to end this thing, even back in 1977. And that intelligence hasn’t passed on.
KING: Where were you the night Sharon was killed?
TATE: I was supposed to be at Sharon’s house. But a phone call, circumstances changed, and I stayed at my mother’s home.
KING: You never get over that.
TATE: Never. Actually, I’ve never — I get victimized in way or another over and over and over again.
KING: Did you talk to Roman soon after that?
TATE: Absolutely. Roman and I remained very close for many, many years. We still are. I flew to London and testified in her majesty’s high court against “Conde Nast Magazine.” He won that. I went to Paris and spent some time with them. It’s like time lapsed.
KING: Does she have a happy marriage now?
TATE: He has a wonderful wife, happy marriage. Beautiful, bright, brilliant children.
Amis interviewed Polanski in 1979 in Paris and comments on Polanski’s current situation.
There is a blogging group called themselves the astute bloggers, but from what I have read by them, whatever they have to offer it is not astuteness. Here is their “take: on Roman Polanski being transferred from a Swiss jail to his Swiss chalet-
INSTEAD OF RELAXING IN A CHALET IN GSTAAD, POLANSKI DESERVES JUSTICE.
LET’S SEND HIM TO PRISON WHERE OTHER INMATES CAN DO TO HIM WHAT HE DID TO THAT 13 YEAR OLD GIRL
Well, even if the above comment is not astute, it is unadulterated honest bigotry. Or to put it in other terms, it is blatant hatemongering. Or in modern day lingo, it’s Polanski haters unplugged.
And for those who still believe in civility , let us not forget that Polanski was in that Swiss jail not for punishment but rather as a detainee. We detain detainees not for the sake of punishment. Polanski was detained in jail and now is detained in his chalet.
The fact that the chalet is a very hospitable environment is really beside the point. Unfortunately, what is the point to all too many Americans is that jails for detainees, the presumed innocent, should be like New York City’s Riker’s Island, an island where the presumed innocent are punished and degraded on an everyday basis.
Riker’s Island and other similar institutions in America and around the world indicate the game will remain the same. It means that those calling themselves astute create insitutions that have more rapists exiting than entering.
The dankprofessoer knows where rape is going on and it is not in a plush Swiss chalet but rather in our jails and prisons.
Dave Phillips has published an interesting essay on Polanski on his blog The Tenant of Chinatown. Phillips is one of the few analysts (possibly the only analyst) who has gone into a microanalysis of the sexual encounter between Polanski and Geimer in attempting to determine whether said encounter represents rape beyond ”statutory” rape.
Phillip’s analysis is heavily based on the grand jury testimony of Polanski and Geimer. Of course, relying on said testimony is problematic since there is no cross examination of witnesses testifying before a grand jury. Given that the allegations against Polanski never reached the adversarial stage since a plea bargain was reached due to the request of the Geimer’s family that she not be subjected to cross examination at a trial, it is likely that the specifics of this case will continue to remain clouded.
In his analyis, Phillips is concerned about the “real” motives of Geimer and her mother. Given his skepticism and critical acumen, the dankprofessor finds it somewhat surprising that he never speculates why Geimer has repeatedly insisted that she wants no part of a Polanski trial and has called for the charges against Polanski be dropped. Possibly, said insistence may be due to a fear that if she is subjected to cross examination loopholes in her original grand jury testimony may be discovered.
This is a comment from Grant on the blog Thoughtleader-
“I have run out of ways to say the same thing. I suspect that you may be a person for whom the law has always worked and worked well and hence you have great faith in it. I agree that it is the best system we have for handling crimes and disputes and in most cases it works very well indeed. However, when the fallability of the law presents itself, the law is outdated or the law is under the control of people who do not have its fair and logical elements foremost in their minds, the law becomes a very scary thing indeed. Where you once had justice you now have a system with massive power to abuse. I suggest you look north to the Zimbabwean trial of Roy Bennet for terrorism for a great example. There seems to be a widely held belief that this personal abuse side of the law was in evidence at the Polanski trial. As such I understand why he fled. You do not consider this to even be an option because for you the law is absolute, untaintable, especially in the free, democratic USA. I wish it were so. The possibility exists that Polanski fled because he raped a young girl and the judge was onto him. The possibility also exists that he fled because the legal system became a kangaroo court and he knew the signs better than most…”
I think that he understand the dilemmas that Polanski has faced re justice in LA. But I would hesitate in embracing his belief that the criminal justice system works in most cases.
The Emma Thompson scenario re Roman Polanski is getting more and more bizarre. As I indicated in a previous post, a number of feminist blogs and then the media in general reported that Thompson was to withdraw her name from a petition in support of Roman Polanski. Apparently Thompson indicated to a student at Exeter College where she was lecturing that her name would be withdrawn from the petition.
What the dankprofessor found to be strange was that there was no public statement by Thompson announcing said withdrawal. And to add to this strangeness, yesterday Thompson appeared on THE VIEW with an audience of a couple of million and said absolutely nothing about Polanski.
Such must have been disheartening to those avowed feminists who were very excited about Emma’s apparent withdrawal. But as the dankprofessor has previously stated such is contradictory with feminism since these people are looking up to a power figure for validation, and, in this particular case, looking up to a celebrity.
And what also disturbs the dankprofessor is not that Emma Thompson signed or not signed or changed her mind about signing a petition, but rather that she finds signing to be sufficent. Is it too much to expect the Emma Thompson make a public statement indicating her reasons for signing or not signing? Signing a petition is easy, explaining why one signed is not so easy. Are the anit-Polanski crusaders going to give a pass to Thomspson because she is a celebrity?
The sensational Sharon Tate blog reports on a Polanski 1974 Rolling Stone interview, “The Restoration of Roman Polanski” by Tom Burke, July 18, 1974.
Polanski’s recollections of SharonTate and his life with her merits the attention of any person who wishes to have an accurate understanding of Roman Polanski.
Later, when he does talk about Sharon this is what he says: “Meeting Sharon? When I hired her for ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’, of course. We got married in 1968. By the summer of ’69 she was very pregnant and I was very busy, working on a film script in London. It seemed best she went back to the house we rented in LA and I could stay on and finish the film and get back to LA as soon as I could. Everyday we would talk on the phone. When it rang one day, I thought it was her but it was my agent in LA. He was crying. My reaction first was, naturally, no reaction, stunned disbelief, I suppose you call it. Friends came to me quickly, I think we went out for a long walk, they called a doctor who gave me something, a shot and I slept. Then I took a plane to LA. You must understand, there is much which now I cannot recall, which I have blocked out of recollection. After the funeral, I stayed on in LA because I had the ludicrous notion that finding the murderer would somehow ease my grief. I worked very close with the police for a long time, who, I have got to tell you, were quite human and wonderful. I had no idea cops could be like this. Sharon’s parents worked with them too. Yes, I am still in touch with the Tates, naturally. What a question! I don’t think this is known: that just before the police found Manson and all of them, I offered a reward, $20,000 for public information leading to the arrest of the killers. It wasn’t collected, no. As soon as the police discovered Manson, I get the hell out of LA immediately, I could take no more, there was no more point to staying. I had begun then to accept Sharon’s death, which I’d never really done before, which is really all that matters to me about it all anymore, that she is gone. The worst started: I went to Switzerland and tried to ski and become very jet-set, the idea of work was impossible. Everybody kept saying to me, get to work immediately. Idiotic. Only Stanley Kubrick understood, he told me, ‘You cannot and must not work now.’ “
The reporter then writes: “It is clear he wishes to get up, to pace the room, break it up perhaps. but he remains quietly seated and purposefully motionless.”
Roman goes on to say: “See I attempted for awhile there, before starting ‘Macbeth’, to become a hedonist, as the papers said we all were. Jesus, I hated the press for a long time after it, because, I swear this, although I already knew how the press exaggerates, especially in sensational matters, I could not believe what was being printed about Sharon! My God, ‘The Sharon Tate Orgies.’ Interviews given by people that Sharon and I never met! I swear I could not find one word of truth in any story printed about us anywhere, and I would not and could not lie about this fact! If there had been anything to any of that shit, I would admit it to you now. My God, it was, is, unbelievable. The murder was all a horrible mistake, you know. Manson’s people were after somebody else entirely, who’d been renting the house before us! What was actually going on there was this: Gibby Folger and Voyteck were staying in the house to keep Sharon company, we’d agreed on this, they were good friends and the place was big and it seemed a good idea since she was eight and half months pregnant. Gibby was working very hard as a social worker, getting up at dawn everyday to go to work in Watts and studying speed-reading at night. I was planning a film involving dolphins–’The Day of the Dolphin’–and Voyteck wanted very much to work in movies and was devoting lots of time to research on dolphins for me. Jay Sebring was another friend who came up often, but never stayed all night one night at the house. I was dying to finish work and get there; the last time I talked to Sharon, only hours before her murder, I told her I’d get there the following Monday even if work wasn’t finished. Things had been so perfect between us: we’d had some nice times in that LA house. Sharon would cook dinner for friends and after we’d all sit outside and look at the sky, the constellations, and talk about everything. Just quiet, pleasant evenings. Sharon and I would make plans, we had a wonderful future extensively mapped …”
The reporter closes this part of the interview adding: “Still he sits perfectly calm, though his eyes are such that it is uncomfortable to meet them.”
Although I support the efforts of Roman Polanski not to be extradited to the United Sates, I am also generally sympathetic to those who speak out against any differential treatment of celebrities.
Celebrityhood should not make celebrities qualified for any kind of special treatment.
But we all very well know that such is not the case in America. Too many Americans worship their stars. Some do so to such a degree that if anything bad happens to one of their heavenly bodies they become psychologically unglued. Such was recently demonstrated when Michael Jackson died; there was massive mourning throughout the United States, and a media frenzy that even surpassed the trials and tribulations of OJ Simpson.
And now we have Emma Thompson, an accomplished actress and humanitarian, who has caused many people on the feminist left to go into seizures of despair and heartbreak, particularly see the Jezebel and Shakesville blogs.
And what did Emma Thompson do that caused such distress- she signed the Bernard Henri Levy petition in support of freedom for Polanski. Here we have one actress and one signatory of the petition. But what we also have is too many feminists treating Thompson as being the Ultimate one. She is treated with adoration just as all “true” celebrities are treated. Her falling from her scared superior position has caused much suffering by her worshipers.
But according to the Shakseville blog, all has not been in vain-
Last week, a reader named Caitlin e-mailed Shakesville blogmistress Melissa McEwan — who had written about being heartbroken by Thompson’s decision to sign — with a proposal. Caitlin is a student at Exeter University, where Thompson was scheduled to speak last night, and knew she’d have the opportunity to meet the actor. In her e-mail, Caitlin wrote: “I have set up a petition online, in the hopes that I can hand her a list of names and comments next week from the online community (and my own university, hopefully) showing our dismay at her decision to sign the Roman Polanski petition.”
The petition got 410 signatures and numerous comments, which Caitlin brought to her meeting with Thompson last night. In a follow-up e-mail to Shakesville, Caitlin writes:
Emma did not have much time between meetings, but she gave me all of the time that she had. I asked her why she had signed the petition, and she explained about how well she knows Polanski, how terrible his life has been, and how forgiving the survivor of the rape all those years ago now is. She said she thought the intentions of the judge were unclear, as were the intentions of those who arrested him recently. She told me that a lot of her friends had rung her up asking her to sign the petition, so there had been a certain amount of pressure. She said that she had already been thinking a lot about the petition, as others had expressed their dismay at her signing it.
I handed her our petition and the comments. She read them both through thoroughly, and came back to me. She said, while she supported Polanski as a friend, a crime is a crime. I don’t know whether she had realised the extent of Polanski’s crime, but she is now fully aware. She will remove her name from the petition – in fact, she said she would call today and sort it out. Even though, she stressed, Polanski has had some truly terrible experiences in his lifetime, experiences that we couldn’t even imagine and which should not be taken out of the equation, she agreed that she could not put her name to a petition asking for his release.
Assuming that she will be true to her word, her name will be removed in the very near future. Hopefully the press will pick up on it.
She left me with this, to pass on to everyone who has signed the petition/raised awareness of this issue: “Know that I will remove my name because of you, and all of the good work that you have been doing. I have read your petition. I have heard you. And I will listen.”
If she follows through, hooray for Thompson — and either way, hooray for Caitlin, who had the guts to use a brief meeting with a celebrity to do what many of us have wanted to over the last month: Ask what the fuck went through her head before she signed. And it sounds like the usual — he’s suffered, he’s charming, the victim wants it dropped, judicial shenanigans, all the cool kids are signing — minus any thought of what he actually did to the victim in 1977, before fleeing the country. Lévy conveniently left any mention about that out of his petition, but Caitlin did not. And that information is rather crucial to making a decision about whether to call for leaving poor old Polanski alone. I’ve been wondering the whole time how many of his supporters have taken a good look at it, and how many just got a phone call saying, “It’s a witch hunt — sign this” and agreed.
Here’s hoping not only that Thompson makes that call, but that her change of heart gets enough real media attention for other celebrity signatories of the Free Polanski petition to think twice about who and what, exactly, they agreed to stand up for.
Of course the Jezebel blogger comes out patronizing both Emma Thompson and all other signatories. They just couldn’t know what they actually signed. I signed the petition and I knew just about all aspects of the Polanski case that have become public. And I assume that such was also the case for many of the other signatories.
What I find so terribly depressing is that apparently so many, (see the comments on the Shakesville blog )are so dependent on any power figure. Doesn’t such dependency represent the antithesis of what feminism is all about?
Speaking only for myself, if Harrison Ford decided to remove his name from the petition I would be unfazed. What does Harrison Ford have to do with me? I speak for myself; Harrison Ford speaks for himself. Why should I or any body else petition Harrison Ford? If such petitioning would occur as it has occurred in reference to Emma Thompson, it just demonstrates the dependency and vulnerability of the petitioners.
NOTE: EMMA THOMPSON HAS NOT PUBLICLY CONFIRMED THAT SHE HAS WITHDRAWN HER SUPPORT OF POLANSKI. IF SHE DOES SO, I WILL WITHDRAW THIS NOTE.
In one of my recent posts, on The Polanski Danger, I took the LA Times to task for claiming that Polanski remains a danger to others and therefore he should extradited and be sentenced for his crime.
What I failed to note is if Polanski is returned to the LA County jail system or to a California prison, he will be in a state of danger. He will become a target for those inmates who want to make a name for themselves by killing a celebrity or a target of many inmates who hate child molesters since they had been molested as a child. Of course, in an attempt to avoid this Polanski in effect would be put in solitary confinement.
Bringing Polanski back in will cause more suffering, including more suffering by Polanski’s victim. I guess somebody must win if Polanski returns. Who might that be other than Steve Cooley? Well, the dankprofessor knows that justice will not be the winner.
Sean Beaudoin in his ON POLANSKI post gets it right when he states-
What does matter, and what I hear almost no one mentioning, is Polanski’s background. Not his artistic background, but his background as a human being. Geraldine Ferraro ignorantly and self-righteously claimed in her recent NY Times polemic that “he’s rich and continues to lead a charmed life.” Ms. Ferraro, apparently not having done an ounce of research since vetting Walter Mondale’s chances of winning more than one state against Ronald Reagan, could not be more wrong. Polanski lived through a horrific childhood, a childhood of truly cinematic brutality and deprivation in the woods of Europe as a Jewish orphan riding out the end of World War Two. His pregnant mother was killed at Auschwitz. Jerzey Kozinski, in fact, based his epic and disturbing work, The Painted Bird, on Polanski’s early experiences. If even a tenth of Kozinski’s book is true, it’s astonishing that Polanski managed to make what he did of his life, let alone expressing a creative vision that wasn’t entirely one of dissolution and madness. Twenty years later, in a quintessentially American example of brutal irony, Polanski’s pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was also horribly murdered. Her death, at the hands of the Manson Family, was one of the most sensationalized and bizarre episodes in a decade ridden with war, massive cultural upheaval, and narcotic self-abasement. Should we not at least take into account these factors when determining whether Polanski is a dangerous pedophile or a thoroughly flawed person who may, due to those experiences, have lost a certain degree of rationality and judgment at the time of his crime? This is the problem with adjudicating thirty years after the fact. It is simply unfair, if not unjust, to take any behavior out of the context of its era. Is it morally relativist to think we may not be entirely capable of judging decisions made under the moral yoke of Spiro Agnew, napalm, Owsley, and monthly political assassinations? Certainly any judge or jury or editorial could have then. And they did. A deal was reached, likely in some part because of Polanski’s celebrity, that seems ludicrously lenient now. But there were also unanswered questions that made the prosecution more difficult. Like, for instance, why was this girl made up to look like an adult and then dropped off at Jack Nicholson’s house at night by her mother, who without question knew her daughter would be alone with a notorious director? We can never know the answer, just as we can never know Polanski’s mindset, but what is certain is that we were very different people then. There were no missing child photos on milk cartons. There were no gossip websites or instantaneous cellphone photography to curb public behavior. In the drug-and-libertine haze of early seventies Hollywood there were few limits on debauchery, let alone documentaries about the Jon Benet-style sexualization of young girls, or the very public Lohan and Spears censure of stage mothers who thrust their daughters into inexcusable situations in exchange for potential careers. If Polanski is to be brought to justice, why are there no similar calls for charges to be filed against the girl’s astonishingly and criminally negligent mother?
Yes, yes and yes again Polanski’s background as a human being is relevant but somehow so many people either deny that his background is relevant or simply avoid looking at his background. Of course, not fully looking at Polanski’s humanity is a form of dehumanization.
And Beaudoin believes that Polanski’s survival experience in Poland was the source material for Jerzy Kosinki’s novel, THE PAINTED BIRD. Whether or not Polanski was Kosinki’s painted bird is beside the point. The dankprofessor’s concluding point is that in today’s world Polanski is the painted bird.
The LA Times in its editorial of October 31, “Polanski’s Victim is not Judge and Jury” presents various arguments as to why Polanski’s victim’s call for the case to be dropped against Polanski be ignored.
However, the Times editorial does go beyond the fringe in terms of their following statement-
”Even if Geimer no longer holds a grudge against Polanski, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t pose a continuing danger to others.”
Polanski representing a continuing danger to others! There is not a scintilla of evidence that Polanski over the last 31 years has done anything of a dangerous nature.
Now if the LA TIMES takes its editorial function seriously and really considers Polanski dangerous, why do they support his forcible return to the United States? Shouldn’t they be arguing that Polanski be able to return to France? And if it turns out that he becomes a danger in France then it would be a French problem, not an American problem.
Also see follow-up post- Targeting Polanski in jail or prison.
Bernard-Henri Levy had a powerful and emotive essay on the Huffington Post. In the dankprofessor’s opinion he gets to the core of the matter re those who are condemning Polanski when he concludes his essay on the following note,
Because it is shameful, finally, that we can’t, when we talk about his life, evoke his childhood in the ghetto, the death of his mother in Auschwitz, the murder of his young spouse, eviscerated along with the young child she was carrying, without the prayers of the new popular justice crying, “Blackmail!’: even for the most abominable serial killer, the prevailing “culture of excuse” jumps to scrutinize the difficult childhood , the broken family, the traumas — but Roman Polanski would be the only person in the world under judicial jurisdiction not to have the right to any kind of attenuating circumstance…
It is the entirety of the affair, in truth, that is shameful.
It is the debate that is nauseating and from which we must abstain.
I hardly know Roman Polanski. But I know that all those who, from close and from afar, join in this lynching will soon wake up, horrified by what they have done, ashamed.
Bravo to Bernard-Henri Levy whose call is really to view the life of Polanski in holistic terms. Almost all avoid or deny that the murder of his mother, the the murder of his wife and about to be baby have any relevance to Polanski’s life after these terrible tragedies. It is so much easier not to look at the horrors that Polanski went thru. To deny that one’s past has anything to do with one’s present is surreal.
As for Levy’s final line that those who “join in this lynching will soon wake up, horrified by what they have done, ashamed.” Such is unlikely. To experience the horror they must become open to Polanski’s horrors; the risk of doing so is that they would then have to deal with their feeling of guilt. Such would end up making them more similar to Polanski who has felt survivor guilt throughout much of his life.
Debra Tate, the younger sister of Sharon Tates has called for the release of Polanski from a Swiss jail. Watch her on MSNBC by clicking here. The interview with Debra comes at the end of the segment, and it is definitely worth waiting for. You will also find the text of the interview.
The Boston Globe published an op ed piece on Roman Polanski. Following is my response which was published as a comment-
Graff concludes her essay with a “bring him home”. The ‘him’ of course being Roman Polanski.http://dankprofessor.wordpress.com/2009/10/07/on-roman-polanski/
But if she knew anything about Polanski she would know that Polanski did not and does not have a home except for one period of time. That time being when he was married to Sharon Tate. Whatever home he had then was terminated
when the so-called Manson family killed Sharon Tate, killed Sharon and Roman’s baby to be and killed two dear friends of Roman who he had asked to stay with Sharon while he was in London. So his respite with a domestic life ended. Before that he lived in France and before that in Poland where he witnessed the mass murders of the Holocaust and lost his mother to the Nazi murderers.
Nothing to do with his 1977 illegal sex with a child of 13 you say. Please, welcome to never never land. Terror hurts and is long lasting, nine years is nothing. But all too many want to know nothing about Polanski; they don’t want to know about him so they can engage in a guilt free stoning. Maybe after the stoning if they say oh my God what have I done, maybe then they might feel guilt. But now before the stoning, before justice occurs maybe they might learn a little bit about survival guilt. Yes, this is the sort of guilt that Polanski suffered from-
tortuous guilt, if only I had not gone to London, I should have been able to do something,
I should have been with them. I should have died. To find out about Polanski rent the last film he made prior to the 1977 rape; the film is THE TENANT, made in 76, directed by Polanski,
and starring Polanski, starring him because the film was about surivior guilt and madness; it was about him. See my post on this if you care to understand-
And no I am not a celebrity and not a part of any elite and I am not an apologist for Polanski. All I ask is that people do not embrace revenge under the guise of justice, and that they open their eyes- wide open. Maybe once they hav e done this, they will understand how truly devastating the consequences were of the Manson murders.
Home, Polanski’s only home or escape if you will has been thru his movies which, of course, have been horror movies most of the time and that is what we are dealing with people- horror.
The New York Times reported the following in regards to the September 1977 Polanski probation report-
The report, submitted by acting probation officer Kenneth F. Fare, and signed by a deputy, Irwin Gold, recommended that Mr. Polanski receive probation without jail time for his conviction on one count of having unlawful sex with a minor. In a summary paragraph, the report said: “Jail is not being recommended at the present time. The present offense appears to have been spontaneous and an exercise of poor judgement by the defendant.” It went on to note that the victim and her parent, as well as an examining psychiatrist, recommended against jail, while a second psychiatrist described the offense as neither “aggressive nor forceful.”
Despite Ms. Geimer’s age and her testimony that she had objected to having sex with Mr. Polanski and asked to leave Jack Nicholson’s house, where the incident occurred, the probation report concluded, “There was some indication that circumstances were provocative, that there was some permissiveness by the mother,” and “that the victim was not only physically mature, but willing.”…
The report paints a sympathetic picture of Mr. Polanski’s background. Compiled when Mr. Polanski was 44, the report began with an account of his fractured childhood. It described his birth to a Polish national father, Riszard Polanski, and a Russian national mother, Bula Katz, and told how his Jewish family was confined behind barbed wire in a Krakow ghetto during the German occupation.
In 1941, the report noted, Mr. Polanski’s mother was taken to Auschwitz, not to return. Later it said, “the defendant’s father cut the wires permitting the defendant to escape” the ghetto, to spend the war with Polish families.
Recapping the defendant’s background, the report said Mr. Polanski was blocked from attending advanced art school after the war “because of his Jewish origins,” lost his religious faith, and twice suffered a fractured skull, once as the result of an assault in Poland, once after a car accident. It noted a first marriage in Poland, and a second to the actress Sharon Tate, who, it said, “was killed by members of the Manson gang in Los Angeles in the well-documented case in 1968.”
Mr. Polanski’s income in 1976 was recorded as being $60,000. His local residence was the Chateau Marmont. He admitted to smoking an occasional marijuana cigarette and to having used cocaine once, but was self-described as only a “social drinker.”
According to the report, Mr. Polanski had no past criminal record, though the district attorney’s office on Aug. 10, 1977, had rejected a complaint alleging grand theft property and misdemeanor assault and battery. The complaint resulted from a visit to the grave of his wife, Sharon Tate, in Culver City, Calif.: Mr. Polanski took the camera from a German photographer who tried to photograph him from some bushes, but the district attorney decided he was simply trying to “protect his right of privacy.”
The report noted all of the assertions Ms. Geimer made in her grand jury testimony, along with the list of original charges, which included rape by drugs and sodomy. It also noted that a test “strongly indicates semen” on the girl’s underclothes, but that vaginal and anal slides were negative, and there was no evidence of physical trauma…
Mr. Polanski, interviewed by the probation officer, said he had not realized that his request to photograph Ms. Geimer without a top was problematic. “Topless photograph is acceptable in Europe. I didn’t realize it was objectionable here,” he said.
According to Mr. Polanski, “the whole thing was very spontaneous. It was not planned,” he told the probation officer. And, said the report, he “expressed great remorse regarding any possible effect the present offense might have upon the victim.”
According to the report, a number of Hollywood luminaries submitted letters endorsing Mr. Polanski’s good character. They included the set designer Richard Sylbert; the producers Howard W. Koch, Dino De Laurentiis and Robert Evans; and the actress Mia Farrow.
One psychiatrist who examined Mr. Polanski, Alvin E. Davis, found he was not mentally ill or disordered, and not “a sexual deviate.” “He is of superior intelligence, has good judgement and strong moral and ethical values,” the report said of Dr. Davis’s conclusions.
“He is not a pedophile,” Dr. Davis is quoted as saying. “The offense occurred as an isolated instance of transient poor judgement and loss of normal inhibitions in circumstances of intimacy and collaboration in creative work, and with some coincidental alcohol and drug intoxication.”
Dr. Davis was also quoted as saying that “incarceration would serve no necessary or useful purpose.” Another psychiatrist, Dr. Ronald Markman, was quoted as saying that Mr. Polanski was “not a mentally disordered sex offender, and therefore, not in need of hospitalization.”
With that information in hand, the probation officer went on to describe a culture clash that occasionally occurred when creators from Europe fled the Nazis and Communism to reside in Los Angeles. “Possibly not since Renaissance Italy has there been such a gathering of creative minds in one locale as there has been in Los Angeles County during the past half century,” said the report. “While enriching the community with their presence, they have brought with them the manners and mores of their native lands which in rare instances have been at variance with those of their adoptive land.”
So, the report concluded, remorse, cultural differences, a certain permissiveness and provocation, and the unlikelihood of a repeat offense conspired to make probation without jail (beyond the 42 days Mr. Polanski served while being evaluated) an appropriate punishment for Mr. Polanski’s actions toward a 13-year-old girl. But Mr. Polanski fled when Judge Laurence J. Rittenband indicated that more jail time and possible deportation were in order.
And, having been apprehended in Switzerland, Mr. Polanski is now up against the manners and mores of an era that often takes a harsher view of sex crimes.
What LA County Probation did is what probation authorities are supposed to do and that is to look at the individual offender and to reach a recommendation based on the specifics of the individual. Of course, what we find at the present time is a position advocated by many that Polanski’s background, and prior traumas are simply irrelevant in terms of how he should be punished. These advocates have what apears to be a robotic view of justice. One looks at the specifics of the criminal behavior, and reaches a verdict based on those specifics; one does not look at background specifics of the offender.
Such represents a dehumanized form of justice. Even the victim is not deemed to play a role in determining the sentence. In the present case, the victim, who is now an adult, her feelings about Mr. Polanski are deemed to be irrelevant.
Of course, what we are too often dealing with in the present case are those who are seeking vengeance. They are not interested in any dispassionate analysis of Mr. Polanski or even Ms. Geimer. They seek to inflame self and others by reviewing the details of Mr. Polanski’s crime not with the goal of understanding but rather with the goal of getting their pound of flesh. They demean and discard persons who believe that Mr. Polanski should not be in jail or go to jail as persons who support rape and rapists and child molesters or our simply uncaring members of a so-called Hollywood elite.
I am not a member of any Hollywood elite. I am not supportive of rape and child molestation. I am supportive of a humanistic criminal justice system. And in regards to Polanski, I am supportive of the LA Probation Department’s recommendations. Unfortunately for Roman Polanski, he would have had a much greater chance of justice in Los Angeles in 1977 than in 2009. Best for him and for us that he is not extradicted to the United States and be subjected to the wrath of the self-righteous.
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