imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Roman (Polanski) Circus

by Mark Gabrish Conlan/Zenger's Newsmagazine Friday, Oct. 30, 2009 at 4:21 PM
mgconlan@earthlink.net (619) 688-1886 P.O. Box 50134, San Diego, CA 92165

What Roman Polanski did to a 13-year-old girl one afternoon 32 years ago was disgusting, but the amen chorus of hypocrites calling for his punishment is equally disgusting. Polanski is a victim of a long-standing vendetta against him by Los Angeles County law enforcement that began when they suspected him of the murder of his wife Sharon Tate and their friends, and his arrest in Switzerland and the calls for his punishment now have far more to do with vengeance than justice. It's time to stop the hypocrisy of so-called “feminists” and “child advocates” who claim to be standing up for the “victim” in the case — while the actual victim wants Polanski forgiven and the case forgotten. She’s right and the people howling for Polanski’s head are wrong.

Roman (Polanski) Circus

by MARK GABRISH CONLAN, Editor

Copyright © 2009 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved

Even in this age of hyperthyroid tabloid stories, the alleged rape of 13-year-old Samantha Gailey by 44-year-old film director Roman Polanski at Jack Nicholson’s home in Hollywood in 1977 has had a bizarrely long lifespan and enough twists and turns that, had Polanski wanted to film it, it could have kept him busy from that day to this. It’s a story about stardom and sex, people who are famous and people who want to be (or want their children to be), with an overlay of social evil and political corruption. It’s hard not to hate Polanski for what he did — abuse the trust both of 13-year-old Samantha and of her mother, who left him alone with her hoping (I suspect) that he’d do a killer photo shoot of her girl, get it in Vogue magazine, launch her on a star career and maybe even direct her first film himself. But it’s also hard not to feel a certain degree of sorrow for him, not only because of the brutal background he came out of but also because of the shabby way the case was handled by the criminal justice system.

I’ll come out right now and say that I think what happened to Roman Polanski -— his arrest in Switzerland (a country he’s routinely visited for years and where he owns a home) where he had been invited to attend a film festival and receive a lifetime achievement award; his incarceration without bail and the likelihood that he’ll be extradited to L.A. to face sentencing on 32-year-old charges in a case even his victim has repeatedly stated she wants to see dropped — is disgusting. That doesn’t let Polanski off the hook. What he did to 13-year-old Samantha — getting her drunk, feeding her a Quaalude and having both vaginal and anal sex with her when she was so drunk and stoned she couldn’t possibly have resisted him even if she hadn’t been too afraid of him to try — is also disgusting. But I can’t bring myself to think that a criminal justice system which had already revealed its malevolence towards him has any business, or any moral authority, punishing him now.

I’m not taking Polanski’s side because of his personal history — even though he happens to have a direct connection with some of the most brutal horrors of the 20th century. His family members were killed by the Nazis, his friends by the Communists and his wife Sharon Tate by Charles Manson’s gang. Indeed, when my husband Charles and I attended the preview screening of Polanski’s film The Pianist (which I reviewed in his pages), it was Charles who pointed out that out of all the Holocaust-related stories he could have dramatized, he picked one about a great artist who was prevented by a repressive regime from practicing his art — evidence that the case, and his resulting exile from the center of his industry, had hurt him more than his rather snippily dismissive comments about it on European TV would make it seem.

Nor am I sympathetic to Polanski out of some misguided idea that because he’s a great artist he shouldn’t be judged by the same rules as everybody else. It’s true that a lot of artists are crazy — they practically have to be to handle the years of rejection and privation that generally precede success — and it’s an additional paradox that an artist who does succeed in a mass medium like film or pop music thereby becomes a celebrity. Celebrities live in such a bubble — at least in part because they engender a lot of nuts who want to kill them, or just get so close to them that they can’t function as artists or people — that not only do they often lose the connection with ordinary people that made their art appealing and successful in the first place, most of the people they do interact with every day are paid companions or hangers-on who give them an aura of invincibility, a sense of, “I’m a star! I can do anything!”

Roman Polanski’s current troubles are at least in part the result of how, in his case, that celebrity bubble got punctured. When director Marina Zenovich made her 2008 documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, her thesis was that Europeans, more easygoing about sexual matters in general, accepted Polanski and didn’t think his crime was such a big deal; while Puritanical, hung-up Americans saw him as a perverted little runt whose movies and life were equally sick. The public reactions to Polanski’s arrest — with opinion polls in both the U.S. and Europe running 2-to-1 against him — suggest the split was more between filmmakers and other artists, who saw him as “one of us” and were willing to forgive him for what seemed to them a minor trespass; and everybody else, who saw him as an overprivileged celebrity brat who had got away with a heinous crime for far too long and was finally being held to account.

One of Polanski’s problems is there’s been a sea change between 1977 and 2009 in how adult-child sex is viewed — and it’s been a change in the direction of more condemnation and hatred. In 1977, Polanski’s conduct was viewed as reprehensible and wrong — but there was also a certain roguish appeal to his story, a sense that maybe if you were really lucky you, too, would be able to get an invite to take a girl to Jack Nicholson’s house and seduce her there. You’d probably want her to be older than 13 — that part of it you’d likely have objected to — but hey, there were plenty of girls of legal age you could imagine would have sex with you if you could impress them with a résumé as a film director, a camera, a connection with an internationally known fashion magazine and access to the home of a superstar.

When Polanski was first arrested, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen published a joke that his next movie was going to be called Close Encounters with the Third Grade. That a legendary and respected writer like Caen could publish that — and that a lot of his readers would find it funny — is itself an indication of how much our attitude towards sex with underage partners has hardened since then. Today a columnist who dared print something like that would get a lot of nasty letters from self-proclaimed “child savers” or “children’s advocates” saying that child sex abuse was never a laughing matter and his employer should fire him forthwith for making so tasteless a remark in print.

In 1977, the sexual revolution was still in full swing and organizations like the Renée Guyon Society and North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) had something of a public presence and at least a small audience for their argument that age-of-consent laws were infringements on the rights and freedoms of children and should be abolished. By 2009 we’d had not only the AIDS epidemic but also the rise of a professional industry of activists committed to the idea that adult-child sex was the most heinous crime there was — worse than murder, said one of these advocates, on the ground that murder killed the body but sex with an adult left the child’s body alive but killed the soul.

I can’t help thinking that one of the reasons sanctimonious hypocrites like Steve Lopez and Joe Mozingo of the Los Angeles Times have grabbed hold of Samantha’s testimony before the grand jury in 1977 and are publishing extensive excerpts of it, including the most lubricious details of her alleged abuse, is they perhaps unconsciously distinguish between “the victim” and the victim. In the name of protecting “the victim” — 13-year-old Samantha Gailey — they’re ignoring the clearly and repeatedly expressed wishes of the real victim, 45-year-old Samantha Geimer, that Polanski be forgiven and the case just go away. The last thing Samantha Geimer wants is to have the public’s nose rubbed yet again into the intimate details of her abuse.

But because she’s recovered from the incident, married, had children and led a normal life, Samantha Geimer has to be punished. The “child savers” can’t bear the fact that she didn’t get hooked on drugs, end up hopelessly mentally ill, become either outrageously promiscuous or totally frigid, or die at an early age of an overdose or suicide. Because she isn’t playing by their script of what a child sexual abuse victim is supposed to be like — because she’s a living rebuke to all their rhetoric about the destructiveness of this crime and how its victims supposedly never recover — they have to punish the real victim in the name of protecting the conceptual “victim.” In essence, Samantha Geimer is getting raped again, over and over, by newspaper writers, editors and hypocritical “activists” who want to shame her and intimidate her into destroying herself and therefore behaving the way they want a victim of child sexual abuse to behave.

Polanski’s case can also not be understood without the context of the long-standing vendetta between him and Los Angeles County law enforcement. It began in August 1969, when not only were his wife, an old friend of his from Poland and two of his closest Hollywood acquaintances were brutally and savagely murdered, but Polanski himself was seriously suspected of the crime simply because of a superficial resemblance between the crime scene and a sequence from his film Rosemary’s Baby showing Mia Farrow’s body being painted in blood. Polanski struck back in 1974 when he made the film Chinatown, which though set in the 1930’s was based on a real-life L.A. scandal from two decades earlier: William Mulholland’s theft of the Owens Valley’s water supply, so the lush valley became a virtual desert — and L.A. had the water it needed to expand into a major city.

I suspect the slimy 1977 court proceedings depicted in the documentary Wanted and Desired — particularly the way Polanski was toyed with by the original judge in the case, Laurence Rittenband — were at least in part revenge for Polanski’s having rubbed the L.A. elite’s collective nose in one of the nastiest and most corrupt parts of their city’s history in Chinatown. And his current arrest seems to have had a we’ll-show-him! attitude about it. When Polanski’s lawyers tried to get the case dismissed following the release of Wanted and Desired and the revelations of judicial corruption in the film, one of the grounds they gave was that L.A. County hadn’t seriously been pursuing his extradition. That seems to have had the effect of waving the red flag in front of the bull — “He says we haven’t been pursuing his extradition? All right, we will pursue his extradition — and this time we’ll nail his ass!”

But the main reason I don’t want to see Roman Polanski punished any further — however loathsome his conduct on that afternoon in 1977 was — is a quality that seems to have been relentlessly purged from our justice system: mercy. It used to be that the countries that incarcerated the highest percentages of their citizens were creepy dictatorships like Soviet Russia, Maoist China or apartheid South Africa. Today, by a wide margin, it’s the good old “democratic” U.S.A. Laws giving the victims or their families the right to participate in the judicial process have led to a vindictive mentality that treats the criminal justice system as an instrument of private revenge. Time and time again, whenever a particularly famous murderer is about to be executed, TV shows air interviews with the victim’s relatives pleading that the state kill him so they can have “closure” — and claims that these people’s lives should be spared because they have bettered themselves, because they are no longer the people they were when they committed their crimes, are routinely ridiculed and dismissed.

Well, I think it’s relevant to whether someone should still be punished for a crime committed decades ago to look at who they are now and compare it to who they were then. That’s why I didn’t think Sara Jane Olson should have had to return to prison for her shenanigans with the Symbionese Liberation Army in the 1970’s; though she’d technically been a fugitive, she’d turned her life around and was pursuing the same causes that had led her to the SLA — but now only in legal, legitimate ways. That’s why I thought it was wrong to dredge up senile octogenarian Ivan Demjanjuk and try him for atrocities he allegedly committed as part of the Holocaust sixty-plus years earlier — crimes he probably couldn’t even remember whether he had done or not.

Likewise, I think Roman Polanski’s case is a legitimate one for mercy. He certainly isn’t the same man he was 32 years ago; he’s a long-time married man (to a woman younger than Samantha Geimer), he’s a father, and he’d probably be outraged if anyone pulled on his kids today what he pulled on Samantha in 1977. The person most injured by his actions, Samantha Geimer, has forgiven him and wants us to move on. We should.

Report this post as:

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 2 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
I Wish People Kept to the Facts mishem Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 at 10:54 AM
In Addition to What I Already Said mishem Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011 at 5:06 AM

Local News

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Xyloglossie attitudinale A23 8:07AM

Shadowgun Legends Hack and Cheats A23 7:24AM

What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress?? A21 4:15PM

Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée A20 11:22AM

The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion A20 7:14AM

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety A08 10:29PM

Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man A08 9:50PM

Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes A08 9:48PM

Paraphysique de l'autorité A08 12:11AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy