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29 September 2009

Depressing list of Polanski supporters Woody Allen is no surprise. (blech) But several of my directing heroes have signed that petition.
There was a very good Salon article that outlined some of the victim's grand jury testimony. The guy raped a child, there's no other way to describe it. You're right, Joe Beese, that is a depressing long list of supporters.
posted by Kangaroo 29 September | 13:04
Please can we not do this here? Please? Pretty please? *bats lashes in hopeful anticipation*
posted by msali 29 September | 13:10
Urgh. Wonder what's the male:female ratio on that list? The first seven names are male, but then you get two women.

Can't decide which minimizer I dislike most in the articles defending him: saying "accused of" rather than "pled guilty to and was convicted of"; or saying "underage sex" rather than "rape" as if she hadn't repeatedly said No.
posted by TheophileEscargot 29 September | 13:18
The list I saw had Woody Allen at the top. I LOLed.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 29 September | 13:32
Terry Gilliam--I saw him on one of the morning news shows talking about it. His discussions of Tideland (including his prologue on the DVD version) have always made me a bit uncomfortable.
posted by mrmoonpie 29 September | 14:05
what msali said.
posted by Melismata 29 September | 14:08
nthing msali.
posted by special-k 29 September | 14:16
May I suggest a generic tag that acts like SPOILERS so that Recent Comments to trigger threads like this are blanked out? For some people, exposure to comments in a thread like this, even out of context as they would be in Recent Comments, can cause a reaction far beyond the emotional. This way we could have controversial posts without upsetting those who view Metachat as a safe zone.

My suggestion is something like DISCREET. Anyone have something better?
posted by Ardiril 29 September | 16:01
There's no need to participate in the thread if you don't like the topic. Just skip it.

I heard this woman's testimony tonight on NPR. Vile stuff.
posted by Miko 29 September | 19:13
I was torn between wanting to post something about this myself and hoping it wouldn't be. So, yes, I have mixed feelings about this being here. However, it does say Polanski in the main link/title and anyone wanting to avoid the discussion can easily do so.

That said, what Polanski did was horrific and vile and reprehensible any other awful adjective you can throw at it - he raped a child, admitted it and fled his sentencing. It leaves me stunned and almost in tears that those people on that list are okay with his actions.
posted by deborah 29 September | 19:36
miko: people cannot skip it if they use the Recent Comments feature.
posted by Ardiril 29 September | 19:47
What's the point of using Recent Comments if you don't want to see Recent Comments? This place isn't Metafilter; it's been practically dead over the past few months. You can follow everything that's going on from the front page.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 29 September | 20:30
Recent Comments is still quite useful for those on the mobile web despite the decline in activity.
posted by Ardiril 29 September | 20:58
miko: people cannot skip it if they use the Recent Comments feature.

I read Recent Comments all the time. The truth is, you can still skip the thread. Just note it, and avoid responding. Let it go. Don't react. Ignore. Allow it to pass. Move on. Distract yourself. Shrug it off. Useful skills, all. Ideally, we're all mature enough to resist responding to something we're not interested in, and which really isn't harming the site in any way. It's just not of interest to some. There are innumerable threads that are not of interest to everyone all the time. Unless it's an egregious attempt to needle or provoke, the best response is to let the thread move on without you.

As TPS says, I think Recent Comments is really useful for times when you are open to all the recent comments. If you're worried about controlling what you're going to see, it's not the greatest feature to use.
posted by Miko 29 September | 21:03
I also vote for keeping this place warm and fuzzy. Please we all know where we can discuss this issue forever (MetaFilter)please plase? pls? pluz?
posted by Meatbomb 29 September | 21:56
It's a nice ratio, ~74 women to ~215 men (I checked the names about which I was unsure, but may have missed a couple, and when in doubt classified the uncertain name as female).
posted by notquitemaryann 29 September | 23:01
This:
Unless it's an egregious attempt to needle or provoke, the best response is to let the thread move on without you.
posted by Specklet 30 September | 02:06
Please we all know where we can discuss this issue forever (MetaFilter)please plase? pls? pluz?

That sure would leave us non-Mefites out in the cold.

This case is so tragic on many levels, the most recent one being that the victim has to suffer through another round of scrutiny and discussion about something she wishes never to be reminded of again, as she has said repeatedly.

It brings up an old dilemma about the justice system: is "justice" sought for the victim, or for society at large? I tend to think it's the latter, which is why once a crime is reported, the victim can't "un-report" it. (You run into this a lot in domestic violence cases.) It's also why you prosecute old crimes, like when you find an elderly Nazi living in the US or something, regardless of how old and "harmless" the criminal may be now.

On the flip side, it's also why "victim statements" in trials are bullshit, IMO. Presenting weeping family members to a jury to play on a jury's emotions is an attempt to bring revenge motives into the justice system, and corrupts the system itself. Theater doesn't belong in the courtroom, even if it does get the results that the prosecution wants.
posted by BoringPostcards 30 September | 07:53
is "justice" sought for the victim, or for society at large? I tend to think it's the latter,

The detailed report I heard discussed this dilemma, and apparently the legal idea is that violent crimes are not just crimes against persons, but crimes against the state. So it's the state, not the victim, prosecuting.

It is a rotten thing that the victim, who by all accounts just wants to be left alone and allowed to move on, has to return to this time in her life and be dragged back into court over it.
posted by Miko 30 September | 08:22
That list makes me wonder about the shenanigans of other big-name directors.
posted by Lipstick Thespian 30 September | 09:06
Good point. It's a pretty sleazy industry, all around, isn't it.

I must say, though, I wonder if we can't move beyond the hangup we always seem to encounter when a great (or just good) artist or pop-culture figure is found to be a sleazeball. I saw a Facebook poll yesterday saying something like "Do Polanski's actions diminish his art?" and I remember the same conversations about Woody Allen. it's also similar to the scandals sports figures get into.

It seems to me that we need to separate the product of someone's talent from the psychological health of the person themselves. Good art doesn't just come from good people. In fact, terrible people are capable of great art and performance. That doesn't excuse their behavior as members of society one bit, and they should be held accountable for crimes and bad behavior. But I'm not sure that always means their artwork must be re-evaluated. I think it's naive to imagine that just because you like or admire the work someone has created, the person him- or herself must necessarily also be worthy of liking or admiration. People are broken, lousy, and miserable a lot of the time. But I think that while making good art should never excuse bad behavior, bad behavior should also not prompt a change in opinion on the quality of the art. The person and the product are different things.

Not that I'm going to rush out and go rah-rah for Polanski's art. I've never actually seen any of his movies, but I do sort of question how much of a contribution to the culture "Rosemary's Baby" ever was in the first place. For a while I had him confused with Zefferelli for some reason, but now I know that he did not direct the amazing Romeo & Juliet version...
posted by Miko 30 September | 09:21
apparently the legal idea is that violent crimes are not just crimes against persons, but crimes against the state. So it's the state, not the victim, prosecuting.

That's what I thought (and hoped) the case was.

Not that I'm going to rush out and go rah-rah for Polanski's art.

Oh, I will. I'm a big fan of many of his films, but as you said, we have to be able to separate the art from the artist. There have been many fine works of art made by people who weren't nice people. I think the directors supporting Polanski are so deeply embedded in their artistic world that they've lost sight of that.
posted by BoringPostcards 30 September | 09:52
Just saw an interesting thing about cognitive biases and this case.
1. The halo effect. Itís common to believe that someone who is good in one regard is good in all. So the belief that Polanski is a good film-maker leads people to think he is a good man...
posted by TheophileEscargot 30 September | 10:47
Not that I'm going to rush out and go rah-rah for Polanski's art.

It might be interesting to take a look at Death and the Maiden, the story [Spoiler] of a woman (Sigourney Weaver) who becomes so convinced (perhaps wrongly) that her neighbor (Ben Kingsley) is the man who had tortured and raped her many years ago that she kidnaps him and puts him on trial in order to force a confession out of him.

Odd choice of subject matter for a Polanski film, that.
posted by Atom Eyes 30 September | 10:57
Yeah, that's interesting. And, as with Woody Allen movies, once you know more about the behaviors of the person, it tends to color your interpretation of the work they created. I still think it can be great work in and of itself, but as with all biographically influenced interpretation, it gives you more to theorize about.
posted by Miko 30 September | 11:24
The detailed report I heard discussed this dilemma, and apparently the legal idea is that violent crimes are not just crimes against persons, but crimes against the state. So it's the state, not the victim, prosecuting.


Particularly when the initial offense is compounded by flight. In addition to the original crime (a crime against both a person and the society), Polanski's committed a crime specifically against the system itself. We as a society have a vested interest in upholding the justice system, flawed though it is, and this includes vigorously pursuing those who criminally flout it.

*I'm aware of the argument in Polanksi's defense, that he believed the judge to be guilty of misconduct. But that's a problem that needs to be addressed within the system, not by flight. Fleeing from the sentence is a very real offense against the state.

May I suggest a generic tag that acts like SPOILERS so that Recent Comments to trigger threads like this are blanked out?


I think that a TRIGGER tag sounds like a pretty swell idea in principle, though perhaps hard to impliment in actual human terms. Though this thread is obviously a possible trigger for some, it's typically harder to know what will be a trigger for other users than for oneself.

I'm way doped up on muscle relaxants. Go easy on me, in the name of the cuddly place.
posted by Elsa 30 September | 13:18
Why the hell did he go to Switzerland? Did his lawyers screw up? Was he set up? Seems like such a dumb mistake to make.

...the legal idea is that violent crimes are not just crimes against persons, but crimes against the state. So it's the state, not the victim, prosecuting.


I wish this was more widely repeated and taught. It's one of the most important and noble features of the rule of law (as it exists in the US, at least). And I second BP's disgust regarding "victim statements."

posted by mullacc 30 September | 15:12
Why the hell did he go to Switzerland?


He'd been to Switzerland numerous times over the years.

Anyway, I'm with BP on this presenting -- to me, at least -- a very complicated conundrum regarding the legal system. My gut instinct is to go with the victim's take on it, which is that she's long since moved past it, and only now feels harmed by the legal proceedings and media circus. On the other hand, I also agree that it's dangerous to have a justice system in which victim's preferences are the basis for legal decisions -- it's one of my arguments against the death penalty, for example (e.g., if someone murdered one of my nephews, I'm sure my rage and grief would make me WANT to rip them from limb to limb, but nevertheless my rage and grief cannot be the basis of legal decisions within a justice system within a functioning democracy).

I also think -- again, for me -- that it's worth considering that had the original judge in the case not been engaged in what appears to be pretty clear misconduct, then presumably Polanski wouldn't have fled in the first place -- thus he would have long ago been sentenced, done his time, and this entire thing would have been over decades ago. NOT that I am saying Polanski isn't responsible for his actions in any way; he most certainly is responsible. But it is also true that the judge is (well, was; he's dead now) responsible for his actions, and it was his misconduct that triggered Polanski's flight.
posted by scody 30 September | 16:32
But it is also true that the judge is (well, was; he's dead now) responsible for his actions, and it was his misconduct that triggered Polanski's flight.

I don't buy this. His misconduct may have triggered Polanski's anxiety, his misconduct may have caused an overly long sentence for Polanski, but his misconduct did *not* trigger Polanski's flight.

Asking one's lawyers to file an appeal is a reasonable response to judicial misconduct. Sucking it up and serving the extra time, which is probably less time than he would have served had he not plead down the charges in the first place, is a reasonable response to judicial misconduct. Hopping a flight to France and starting a relationship with a 15-year-old is not a reasonable response to judicial misconduct.
posted by occhiblu 30 September | 17:59
You're right, "trigger" conveys too much of a sense of the automatic or inevitable. I'm not saying it's a reasonable response or that Polanski's not wholly responsible for every single one of his actions. I am saying that without judicial misconduct, it's plausible -- not certain, but plausible -- that we wouldn't be having this conversation right now.

Of course, more egregious judicial misconduct has certainly been known to exist, and with far more dire consequences than anything that Polanski was going to face, but that's another conversation...
posted by scody 30 September | 18:25
Sucking it up and serving the extra time, [for whatever reason], is a reasonable response to judicial misconduct.

No, I can't see that.
posted by DarkForest 30 September | 18:52
I'm really fond of the MetaChat : MetaFilter near dichotomy. Especially the part where red button/people damning issues don't seem to be here.

In my own explanation, I nth msali.

I like nature. I liked watching a squirrel (well, as close to a bunny where I live) take up a nook on a high rock and sun/watch me the other day as I drank my four-pack. Being away from it all as I was; I'm sure it was waiting to head towards the scent and noise of peanuts cracking and fruit being eaten. Always nice to have some wild creature not look at ones self as a human; but as a large horizontal thing in its enviroment. Anyhow.

I guess I like the unintered wildness of this place. Rape topics kinda break that solstice.
posted by buzzman 30 September | 19:09
See, I agree with scody's original take... that judge fucked up by setting up one set of rules, then changing them on Polanski at the last moment. Polanski was a guy who'd recently seen his wife and unborn baby murdered in their living room by the Manson family. He had to be freaked out about the stability of real life in general, much less the legal system of 1960s Hollywood, CA. Under those circumstances, I'm not at all shocked that he fled instead of trying to work it out legally. Was that "right"? No, of course not. I see why he might have freaked out and decided to run, though, even though it meant a life in exile and (as it turns out) maybe ending up in prison as an old man. (Not saying he was right, at all, just saying you can see why he might have freaked rather than worked with the system of the time.)

I guess I like the unintered wildness of this place.

This is a friendly place, but adults are going to talk about adult topics sometimes. If it bothers you, don't read these threads.
posted by BoringPostcards 30 September | 22:15
He'd been to Switzerland numerous times over the years.

Good god, that's no explanation!

Why did they decide to extradite him this time?

Did he fail to take some precaution this time that he usually takes?

I read that the US has been pushing for his arrest since 2005--had he been to Switzerland since 2005? If so, why didn't the Swiss arrest him then? Did he think he'd slip under the radar again?

Did his lawyers not realize that 2005 ARREST WARRANT + US-SWISS EXTRADITION TREATY + HIGH PROFILE EVENT = DO NOT FUCKING GO TO SWITZERLAND.

You'd think an international fugitive of such stature would be all over this shit (or have lawyers constantly on it). It makes me wonder if the film festival people were in on it.
posted by mullacc 30 September | 22:40
He had to be freaked out about the stability of real life in general, much less the legal system of 1960s Hollywood, CA. Under those circumstances, I'm not at all shocked that he fled instead of trying to work it out legally.

I'm not shocked, either. But I'm also not shocked when children who had poor, abusive, drug-addicted parents end up poor, drug-addicted, and assaulting people; I'm also not shocked when those people end up in prison. I am sympathetic to the stressors that led to that outcome, and I am often appalled at how the justice system treats them, but I do not in any way believe that their history means they are not culpable for the crimes they commit.

If you want to argue that *every* criminal who has a traumatic past deserves a free 30 years in France rather than a prison sentence, fine. But I'm not really seeing that argument advanced all that much, and I think all the exceptions people want to put in place for Polanski amount to (a) class privilege and (b) rape apologia.
posted by occhiblu 01 October | 00:19
No, I can't see that.

I don't think it would be just, but I can absolutely see a reasonable person deciding that it was a decision that made sense.
posted by occhiblu 01 October | 01:12
If you want to argue that *every* criminal who has a traumatic past deserves a free 30 years in France rather than a prison sentence, fine.

No no, not at all. What he deserved was prison.
posted by BoringPostcards 01 October | 05:56
Rape topics kinda break that solstice.

I've been on Metachat since early 2006, or over three years, and there's never ever been a time when sensitive stuff - even stuff far more sensitive than this stuff - wasn't discussed here. There are probably sites on the internet that are 'safe' in that way, but Metachat has never been one of them.
posted by Miko 01 October | 16:00
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