Polanski, Polanski, Polanski

kateiconThat has been my entire week. Since my first post about it here got a lot of responses, I figured I’d share everything I’ve been doing on it in one place. (Trigger warnings on pretty much all of it.)

But before I get to that incredibly depressing shit, please go watch Chris Rock going off on Polanski on Jay Leno last night. I was beginning to despair of ever seeing an actual big-name celeb I like join Team Child Rape Is Bad (see second Thursday post below). The clip is both painfully (and I mean that) funny and quite satisfying if you’ve been waiting like I have, though not perfect. In any case, it’s ABOUT FUCKING TIME.

Monday
Reminder: Roman Polanski Raped a Child

Tuesday
Letters from Hollywood: Roman Polanski’s Rape of Child No Big Thing

Wednesday
Sharon Tate’s Sister: It Was A Consensual Matter

Peter Fonda and Roman Polanski on Rape vs. Murder

Thursday
Lynchpin of Polanski Misconduct Case: I Lied

Are Anti-Polanski Celebs Afraid To Speak Up?

Oh, and Thursday was also the day I appeared on The Today Show to talk Polanski, because that’s just how bananas shit had gotten by that point. (If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t get excited. They literally left in one sentence of my 15- or 20-minute interview.)

Speaking of shit being bananas, I was also on Nightline last night, though that was not Polanski-related. They finally aired a teeny part of an interview I did weeks ago (I got like two sentences in that one!), squished in among Crystal Renn, Brooke Elliott and headless fatty B-roll. Woohoo!

Friday
Polanski, “Hounddog” and 13-year-old voices (After Monday’s post, this is probably the one I’m proudest of.)

And, finally, The best Polanski you might have missed this week — a round-up of other people’s posts I loved this week, though it doesn’t include two amazing ones by survivors: Lauren’s at Feministe, and our own Tari’s – which, if you read one Polanski post, should maybe be it.

122 thoughts on “Polanski, Polanski, Polanski

  1. Kate, I just can’t say thank you enough. You’re doing such important work. I watched both the Today Show and Nightline interviews, and thought you were great, despite the brevity.

  2. Kate, Thanks for these articles and for being outspoken on Polanski. I am so angry about the “rape rape” comment (from Whoopi I believe) that I can hardly see straight. And, while Chris Rock’s comedy routines sometimes make me gnash my teeth, he’s 100% right about this one…

    What I really wanted to say is how much your discussion of “wholeness” at the end of today’s Salon article moved me. I believe that this loss of wholeness is virtually universal among women as well as many men in our culture and is one of the reasons that we habitually seek to conform to social dictates about thinness and appearance standards. “Maybe if I look like everyone else I’ll stop feeling like there is something wrong with my body.” Reintroducing someone to a sense of wholeness about and in her body is one of the most difficult and most important things about healing body image problems. Thank you for naming it, and for linking it to our hypocrisies about teen sexuality and rape.

  3. Excellent body of work, Kate. Thank you for consolidating it-I wanted to send your articles to Tony Norman from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (who had a good Polanski column today) and you made it a lot easier to do so. :)

  4. Thanks for this Kate. This has been the most infuriating week ever. I just keep hearing people with wrong information or insane thoughts on whether or not she was asking for it. I don’t even have the energy to deal with yelling at all the douchehounds.

    I tried once, one of my facebook friends put a status update of “I’m tired of talking about Roman Polanski.” I jokingly wrote back, “Are you sure? He survived the holocaust, was married to Sharron Tate, oh and he raped a 13 year old girl.” He wrote back affably enough, “Made some good movies too.” When I replied “Yeah, I know, that crazy movie making rapist,” he replied, “I’m done.”

    What I got from the whole thing was that he wasn’t really tired of talking about Roman Polanski, he was tired of hearing that he was a FUCKING RAPIST, and having that ruin the movies for him. Then he pulled the classic man getting to stop the conversation thing. I honestly don’t know how you put up with it, and how you find the energy to keep telling people off. As fun as it can be, it’s draining. You are amazing. The “Hounddog” post killed me.

    Please, keep it up, you rock.

  5. Kate, thank you so much for putting yourself “out there” on this subject as a voice of reason and information.

    I have heard about the polanski rape incident at least since I was 13 in IL in the 70s, and ever since. It sounded so far away and strange and watered down, every time the story made any kind of news. Hearing about it abstractly over a 30 year time span kind of softens the impact. I am so grateful for you and the other people who have broadcast the particulars of the case. They are a bracing reminder of the kind of intimate barriers we’re ignoring when we just pass this case off because its old. I live in LA now, and before I read your piece, I actually thought this case was the last expense the state needed. Now, I feel really fortunate that we have a DA who has the cojones to pursue it.

    Time for polanski to man up and face the consequences. There are new 13 year old girls in IL who will know what happened here, and I want the outcome to be in their favor.

  6. I’ve always felt that Hollywood folks were a lot like neurotic children, running around after the next shiny trick and having silly ideas about things they didn’t really understand. Sort of an, “Awwww, how cute!” mentality. I thought they were harmless.

    I did think of a few of them as intelligent or deep. I gave their words a little more weight and thought it was cool to be an admirer of theirs. I don’t know why I feel so wounded and betrayed by the attitude of some of the people that I thought worthy of my admiration. Why should I feel anything? It’s not like I actually know any of them.

    (sigh)

    Still stings a little. I guess smart people can be incredibly stupid too. Hey, kind of like so-called artists can be jerkwad child rapists too.

  7. Kate, the “Houndog” piece was indeed something to be proud of – since I won’t venture in to Salon comments, thanks for the opportunity to say so here. One of the (many) infuriating things about stuff like this is how the apologists somehow get to claim that they’re about ‘complexity’ and the nuances of art and people. There’s a piece that deals in profound complexities while still placing yourself fore square on the side of women and girls who’ve faced this. A great piece. You’re doing “God’s work” – as I say of mensches like yourself despite being a big old atheist. ;)

  8. I think everyone can agree that Polanski is a pretty pathetic piece of work, but is anyone curious at all about all the other murkiness?

    Do people think the Wells claim of having lied during the documentary holds any water at all? Why on earth would he make up this story of clearcut misconduct just to gain attention? And then take it back conveniently right when it became something that could free Polanski?

    I saw the documentary last year, and he was pretty convincing in it. It seems a bit fishy that all of a sudden when it makes a difference he quickly says “I lied”.

  9. Thank you so much for making the parallels between Hounddog and the Polanski fiasco. It rings true at every step, yet is something I never would have thought through for myself. I just want to go hold my girl and keep her safe from all the world; but I can’t, I have to give her the tools to do as best she can herself. None of us are safe.

  10. Thanks for the Hounddog piece – the concept of what’s taken from girls as we grow up is one that needs a lot more public acknowledgement.

    You know, I published something about Polanski too, and then immediately thought…hey, I work with musicians, a whole lot of them are guilty of statuatory rape too (I don’t mean I know this about the specific people I’ve worked with, I mean in general, it’s sort of an open secret in the industry) – will this get me in trouble and impact future work opportunities? And then I thought, do I actually care? Do I want to work with people who think that calling someone out for raping a 13 year old is out of line? Nope.

    Shame so few people in Hollywood seem to have worked through the same thought process. Most of them seem to have stopped at “will this get me in trouble if I object?”. Cowards.

  11. Seriously, Kate, your voice in the Polanski debate has been an awesome one to have. I admire all of the articles you have done, and I do not envy you the horrific abuse you’ve taken from people who apparently have a problem with people who think that raping children is a problem.

  12. Kate, I was blown away by the piece on “Hounddog,” and I linked the shit out of it on Facebook. That is the really terrifying part- that girls are basically not allowed any self-concept as far as sexuality, until something happens to them, at which point it’s all their fault. It highlights how incredibly hard it is to be a 13-year-old girl, especially one like Dakota Fanning who is smart and attempts to be sexually aware (even without necessarily being sexually active), when things are kept from you but as soon as you’re sexually assaulted or accidentally pregnant or otherwise sexually traumatized, you’re suddenly an idiot for not knowing about these things before. What Kampmeier said about wanting her daughter to be whole really hit hard.

    p.s. “Hounddog” just became available today to watch on Netflix Instant. I’m doing an anti-Polanski film fest this weekend- including “Hounddog,” “Hard Candy,” and “Faster, Pussycat, Kill! Kill!” (Apparently Tura Satana was gang-raped when she was nine, and the judge acquitted all the rapists, apparently after being bribed. You know, because any 9-year-old that big-busted is obviously asking for it. So she learned martial arts over the next several years and then tracked down all five of her rapists and beat the living shit out of them.)

  13. p.s. “Hounddog” just became available today to watch on Netflix Instant.

    Oh, good! Sweet Machine needs to invite me over to watch it. Truth is, I haven’t seen it any more than most of the protesters have — and I wanted to note in the Broadsheet post, but couldn’t work it in, that there were other criticisms of it, most disturbingly that the story hinges on a magical negro. So I’m not sure if I’ll be entirely thrilled with the film or not, but I figured the parallel was relevant either way.

  14. Do people think the Wells claim of having lied during the documentary holds any water at all? Why on earth would he make up this story of clearcut misconduct just to gain attention? And then take it back conveniently right when it became something that could free Polanski?

    Yeah, it’s totally fishy, and I have no idea what to make of it. Marcia Clark thinks he’s telling the truth now, but also pointed out that he could just be falling on his sword — because the effect of saying he lied now is that he’s branded himself as a liar, period. Who knows which time he was telling the truth, but because we know he lied once, he’s now an unreliable witness. So if he told the truth in the doc and then got worried Polanski would benefit from that, he could be lying now just to damage his own credibility and render his testimony worthless.

    Either way, I’m not all that concerned, since A) the alleged judicial misconduct has nothing to do with whether Polanski’s guilty of rape, and B) he will have every opportunity to address that through the legal system, with the best lawyers money can buy, if he comes back to the U.S. I don’t take misconduct lightly, and I do believe it should be investigated, but the most corrupt judge in the world would not change the facts that he raped a girl and fled the country. (No, I don’t think the judge’s corruption constitutes an excuse for fleeing — non-wealthy, non-famous people don’t get to take a runner when they’re fucked over by bad judges — and it absolutely does not absolve him of guilt for raping a girl, which is how way too many people are framing it.)

  15. That Hounddog piece reminds me of my own discomfort regarding Jena Malone (the actress, the character being Bone) in Bastard out of Carolina, years back. While I haven’t seen Hounddog, it sounds like it’s *way* less explicit than the things that happen to Bone in that movie.

    The scenes are meant to be disturbing, and they are. But I did start thinking about the real child behind the character (she was only something like 10-11 when playing this part!) and wondering if the filming had gone too far and whether I could bear to let MY child play such a part… And then I later found an interview with her, talking about how she wanted to do the part *because* she understood the issues. Felt a bit sheepish then, me.

    (This is as the best I remember it… can’t find the interviews now though.)

  16. I also want to thank you Kate. This whole thing has made me sick to my stomach as well but it is so heartening to read that you (and other feminists) are making sense of the mess.

  17. So many excellent points made in so many awesome articles.

    The Friday post especially made me think about a lot of things, but only two things I feel the need to share.

    The first is my (slightly sketchy) mory of a chapter in “The Double Lottchen” by one of my favourite childrens book authors. The book, amoung other things, deals with the fact that the two twin girls were seperated as toddlers because their parents got divorced. Enough movies have been made based on the book that you probably all know what happens later, but I still recommend reading the book. Now, Kästner wrote quite some time ago, but the chapter I am thinking of is still relevant. It is really a long authors note, in wich Kästner explains why he is writing about the topic of divorce in a childrens book. Should children really be forced to read about such a diffcult topic? He answers by telling the readers about Shirly Temple, who was not allowed to watch her own movies. Unlike Fanning, she was not shamed for playing in controversial films, but she was legally nt allowed to watch them. And as Kästner points out, the thought that she needed to be protected from the topics she her herself portait was kind of stupid. Because the reason that Temple was cast for these movies was that these things did happen to children. They were influenced by complicated, “adult” problems. And wanting not to bother children with them (by not writing childrens books dealing with divorce from the point of view of children), by pretending that children are totally removed from the adult world, and should be sheltered and kept “pure”, people were ignoring the fact that children were actually living with these realities every day. And by saying that the needed protection from even thinking about them, people are taking away their voices.

    Did I mention that I love Kästner?

    The other thing I thought about was how watching my own baby-sister grow up (she’s eleven years younger), I have seen just how good society is at making girls feellike their bodies are not something to be talked about.

    When she was about 3, she pointed out to my mom that my baby-brother (two years older than her) did not have a “Doris”. What she meant was that unlike her, he did not have a clitoris (ha! Take that Freud! What penis-envy?) She had been examining herself, like children do, and had no problem asking my mom what the different parts were called, and my mom had no problem telling her. Because there is nothing wrong with being curious about your body. There is nothing inappropriately sexual about it.

    Now, eleven years later, she practically sends me out of the room if I privately ask her if she has her period yet. Thanks, society.

  18. I don’t really care about the details on either side, the facts speak for themselves and there should be no argument in the first place. The point for me is this:

    The message should be sent out that it does not matter how white, rich, famous, tragic, or supposedly “talented” you are. It does not matter how many famous (or has-been-wannabe) people support you. It does not matter how long ago it happened. If you rape a child, or anyone else for that matter, you will be punished. The end.

  19. yes, thank you for your time and your voice. As a child rape survivor, I feel heard this week, and it’s through you.

    Ashley

  20. Kate, you’re my hero with your Salon pieces this week. I happened to be in France when the Polanski story broke, but the US media (via the internet) was my main source of info, and your writing was the lone island of sanity.

    I’ve admired your work on Salon for a long time, but this story led me to Google for your own site, both to say thank you and to find a place to comment away from the sewer-dwelling trolls who showed up on the Salon comment boards. It’s scary to see the level of hatred and misogyny that comes out on a supposedly thoughtful site.

    I do think it’s up to us to keep speaking out. You’ve been incredibly thoughtful and frankly brave to put your opinion out there as you did. Let’s hope that each of us can draw from your strength and use your work as a springboard to keep amplifying the message that Child Rape is Wrong.

  21. What we must remember about (most)Hollywood actors and actresses is that they are constantly auditioning.
    Winger and Portman defend Polanski because they want to be in his films.
    That trumps all.

  22. SweetSue, that makes it worse, or at least not better. No, actually, I stand by the worse idea. It’s one thing (a really bad one, but one) to somehow be so deluded that you don’t get that rape is bad, but the idea that one does GET IT and says, “yeah, but my career is way more important” is beyond despicable.

    If I ever win the powerball (which is unlikely since I never buy a ticket, damn that stats course), I will use my millions to set up halfway houses for level 3 sex offenders next to the homes of every single person who signed those petitions. I will assure the neighbors that the clay bunnies the guys made while in treatment were brilliant artistic tours de force.

  23. Cassi – Agreed. Being stupid or clueless or not in possession of the facts is bad enough (there is this thing called the internet, Hollywood people, you use it to look things up), but actually knowing what happened and going “well who was she really? I am an artiste and I deserve to shine and Mr Rapist can help me with that if he likes me!” is downright despicable.

  24. I’m not going to be entirely coherent here because of my specific situation, but what is disturbing to me is the inability of people (not Kate Harding, not the writers she linked to) to think about this in any complex manner — it’s either he’s good or bad and there’s no room for someone to have done something(s) horrible that needs to be met with justice, and have done not horrible things (or things of artistic merit) before or after.
    If he had not fled, and had served time for the crime he committed, he may not have made some of the movies he made, and so what? Most certainly, there are others in prison for crimes they committed (and probably some for crimes they didn’t commit) who are deprived of the ability to produce great artistic works. There is a system of justice that is intended to (but does not) make everyone equal under the law, and he escaped this (as do many other wealthy and/or famous men). If someone serves their time for the crime they were convicted of, and then goes on to contribute to society in a positive way (and may be less likely to think they have the absolute right to do whatever they want with no punishment) I have greater respect for their art made after they have served their time than if they evade their punishment.
    I suppose one way to think of it is an idolatry of the artist — so much so that young virgins can be sacrificed in order to receive the glory of their works. There is no glory so great that it usurps the right of people — of children — to live without harm.

  25. When you rape a girl, the problem is not that you’re taking away her purity — which is what gets the religious right up in arms — it’s that you’re taking away her wholeness. And trying to keep her ‘pure,’ repressing her sexuality, silencing her voice, also takes away wholeness.

    This.

  26. Kate, excellent points, but what I’m more concerned about is that the plea bargain itself could be invalid. If the prosecutor’s office made a back room deal with the judge out of sight of the defense, and essentially hoodwinked Polanski into believing they had an arrangement when in fact they were out to get him, then his guilty plea might not mean anything.

    I agree bringing him back is the only correct thing to do, but Samantha Geimer might have very good insight that this is the prelude to a very large can of worms being opened up.

  27. So, you know when you’re sure you’re right on something then something makes your mind turn over and you suddenly see a whole new angle? Well, I just read the great piece Kate linked to on the rapist as “other” and it made my mind turn a few notches. Not only do we like to think of the rapist as other, we like to think of the rape victim as other.

    I’ve been apoplectic about these Hollywood petitions and most especially about the women that signed them (sexist of me, I know, but in this I do have a double standard). I kept thinking (and saying, every chance I got) “how would they like it if it was them!!” Then it hit me. Maybe it was them.

    Maybe it’s been them a dozen times at a dozen different photo shoots on a dozen different casting couches. Maybe they don’t want to call what Polanski did rape, because they don’t like to think of themselves as rape victims. Maybe a lot of these stars have told themselves for years that this sort of thing is just the price you pay to be in a movie and that their stardom was worth it and besides, everybody is doing it. Maybe the idea that someone looked at it differently, that someone said, “yes, I wanted to be famous, but not if it means being raped” is too painful to look at.

    I don’t know any of these women and I still don’t think it’s ok, but I worked for years in an industry where hazing was common (not that I’m comparing the two) and the people least sympathetic to the plights of newcomers were the ones who had been hazed the worst (sort of the opposite of what you’d expect if logic ruled human behavior). It was very much an “I survived it and you should suck it up and take it too, by god!” attitude. I didn’t like it then and I don’t now, but I am looking at Natalie Portman just a little differently than I was 2 hours ago and I suppose that’s a good thing.

  28. Kate – you’ve been on fire this week. I’ve just read the Hounddog piece, and it’s brilliant. It seems that it’s impossible for girls to explore what it means to be female, because the world is so determined to impress its own opinions about what’s “suitable” for adolescent girls, without allowing them to speak out themselves.

    That’s why I was so immediately entranced by Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it was first shown – it was a whole series about what it means to be a girl growing up into a woman, when so few shows at that time seemed to think girls were important enough to discuss.

  29. This is what too many people fail to understand about adolescent girls when it comes to sex, rape and personal agency: The experience of being alive in their bodies makes them sometimes sexual, sometimes curious, sometimes desirous, sometimes totally innocent – and at all times vulnerable to other people’s interpretations of their behavior, of their decisions, of their very existence in bodies equipped with brand-new womanly features. And all they have to counter those interpretations are their own voices — voices that are routinely ignored, dismissed and silenced.

    THIS. Thankyou, Kate, for weilding your teaspoon tirelessly and so eloquently.

  30. SweetSue, that makes it worse, or at least not better. No, actually, I stand by the worse idea. It’s one thing (a really bad one, but one) to somehow be so deluded that you don’t get that rape is bad, but the idea that one does GET IT and says, “yeah, but my career is way more important” is beyond despicable.

    I think that’s why I’m still reeling over Natalie Portman’s part in this. I remember when she put aside her career to get her degree from Harvard, because education was more important to her. She always seemed like a very intelligent young woman who was interested in fighting for social justice. How sad that she doesn’t place victims’ rights and criminal justice even on the same level as an Ivy League degree.

  31. This must have taken a lot out of you. I saw how bizarre and unfathomably rabid the responses got, and it really affected me.

    I know you already know this, but I want to tell you that what you’re doing matters in a way that I can hardly express. It’s not just that you’re standing up for people who’ve survived rape, or women, or children — you’re standing up for all of us. For every single person who cares about personal sovereignty and living in, you know, a civilized fucking world.

  32. Rantonimo: Even if there was some kind of collusion between the prosecution and the judge, it doesn’t change the fact that Polanski admitted his guilt. I also think this will get zero traction in a court of law, because no plea deal binds the judge in terms of sentencing.

    The basic rule for all plea agreements is that the judge is not bound to accept the terms of the plea, and the judge can choose to sentence the defendant to a harsher term than the defendant or prosecutor wanted. This just happened in a big financial case – a judge refused to accept the settlement/plea that the SEC proposed with Bank of America, and is requiring the SEC to go forward with prosecuting BofA. Both the SEC and BofA wanted the plea deal, but in the interests of justice, the judge rejected the plea. Polanski’s judge lawfully could have done the same. However, even with that risk, taking the please was probably less of a risk for Polanski, because had he gone to trial, he would have been facing multiple felony charges, and not the single charge he pleaded out.

    Kate, I will join the chorus of voices saying that your comments were dead on, and I am disgusted at the number of people who want to give him a pass on this. It’s been known for decades that he’s a fugitive, and while it may be galling that the State of California waited so long to try to grab him, it’s crystal clear that they have the legal right to do so.

    Also, I’ve never loved Chris Rock more – he totally got it.

  33. You are made of awesome.

    I saw Hounddog: It was a special showing for my group of Rape Crisis volunteers. We were all moved, we were all very clear it was about affirming female agency, and none of us saw any reason to silence or censor it.

    I think drawing a line between these two incidents is brilliant. Sort of Patriarchy In Microcosm.

  34. Kate, I just want to thank you for this entire week. I have been walking around triggered all week–acting out, hypervigilant, anxiety to the max, inability to cope–and it took me a few days to figure it out. I can’t really read anything in depth right now–I’m just skimming–but skimming the stuff you’re writing really helps. And I feel like I should be able to write about this –this is what I do, write about these things– but I just can’t, so I feel guilty. So I’m really grateful you’re here.

    Thanks.

  35. This. From the Houndog post: “Attempting to keep them ignorant (or remain ignorant ourselves of the plain fact that they’re not) only teaches them that there is no real difference between acting on your own desire and being forced to act out someone else’s.” This. This. This. Thank you.

  36. If the prosecutor’s office made a back room deal with the judge out of sight of the defense, and essentially hoodwinked Polanski into believing they had an arrangement when in fact they were out to get him, then his guilty plea might not mean anything.

    It might change the circumstances of his case (which he can find out when and if he gets back here), but even if he was “hoodwinked” into entering a guilty plea, he’s admitted that he “had sex” with her in plenty of places besides court, so it’s not as though his guilt is actually in question. And let’s not forget that he hasn’t yet been prosecuted at all for hitting the road.

    Frankly, I don’t give a shit what happens to him once he’s in the U.S. and working through the justice system with the best lawyers money can buy and a nauseating shitload of Hollywood support. If he manages to get it all dismissed, so be it. If he ends up free, so be it. There are loads of problems with the justice system and the prison system, so who knows what will happen, or if it will fit anyone’s definition of “justice” in the end. You want to work to fix the system, I’m right behind you. But in the meantime, admitted child rapists in this country are still supposed to be subject to that system, as are fugitives, and so far he has done nothing but give the law a big, fat middle finger. He should be held accountable for that just like anyone else would be — which means, at the very least, he should be extradited, he should face charges for fleeing, and there should be some resolution to the rape case, whatever it is.

    I agree bringing him back is the only correct thing to do, but Samantha Geimer might have very good insight that this is the prelude to a very large can of worms being opened up.

    That can is already open. She is already being revictimized, yet again, and it is fucking horrid. But the blame for that lies solely with Roman Polanski. If he had taken his sentence and served it, she would not be going through this right now. I dearly wish there were a way to spare her the invasive circus and have him face the consequences of his actions now, but there’s not. And because rape (not to mention skipping bail) is a crime against society, not just one victim, holding him accountable for it as a society is incredibly important — yes, in fact, more important than the victim’s current wishes. (As many others have pointed out, if victims were allowed to determine the course of justice, you’d see people getting away with abusing their partners and children even more often than we already do, and we’d see a whole lot of rapists executed for it, possibly by victims’ bare hands. That’s why we have a legal system, instead of just asking victims what should happen.)

  37. Kate, excellent points, but what I’m more concerned about is that the plea bargain itself could be invalid. If the prosecutor’s office made a back room deal with the judge out of sight of the defense, and essentially hoodwinked Polanski into believing they had an arrangement when in fact they were out to get him, then his guilty plea might not mean anything.

    IIRC, the ex parte communication, if it occurred, occurred only AFTER the plea was entered.

    In any event, the misconduct wouldn’t have affected his admission of guilt — because he PLED GUILTY, after all, and stated that he understood the charges and the penalties — but his sentence. Moreover, he testified at the hearing that he understood that the judge had not yet determined his sentence and would not determine his sentence until he had read the probation report, and that the prosecutor could yet argue that he should be imprisoned or deported. He also specifically waived the “But I thought she was 18!” defense AND he stated that no one had made him any promises of a lesser sentence to get him to plead (which, to be fair, may just be pro forma, because how else do these deals get done?).

    IOW, when he entered that plea, he knew very well that the judge could sentence him for 20 years, the feds could deport him, regardless of any deals he and his attorneys had cut with the prosecutor. He was also specifically advised that pursuant to the Penal Code, the plea deal was not binding on the judge, and that any motion to drop the other pending charges would not be entertained until AFTER sentencing. And that he wouldn’t be sentenced until he had undergone psychiatric examination to determine whether he was a Mentally Disordered Sex Offender, and the judge had read the report of his probation officer (which contains some very disturbing statements from Anjelica Huston).

    Basically, given the records from the time, Polanski knew all along that whatever deal he had reached with the prosecutor, the judge could throw the book at him. The judge never promised him any kind of reduced sentence at the time of the plea.

  38. That Marcia Clark article is da bomb. I’m going to print out dozens of copies and just hand them to anyone who spouts any crap at me about this.

  39. Cassi, your point about hazing is very perceptive. Hollywood may actually be displaying something darker than simply artistic-entitlement syndrome. That’s a pretty disturbing thought.

  40. “Frankly, I don’t give a shit what happens to him once he’s in the U.S. and working through the justice system with the best lawyers money can buy and a nauseating shitload of Hollywood support. If he manages to get it all dismissed, so be it. If he ends up free, so be it. There are loads of problems with the justice system and the prison system, so who knows what will happen, or if it will fit anyone’s definition of “justice” in the end. You want to work to fix the system, I’m right behind you. But in the meantime, admitted child rapists in this country are still supposed to be subject to that system, as are fugitives, and so far he has done nothing but give the law a big, fat middle finger. He should be held accountable for that just like anyone else would be — which means, at the very least, he should be extradited, he should face charges for fleeing, and there should be some resolution to the rape case, whatever it is. ”

    Bravo Kate!!!! To me this is it in a nutshell.
    The system is far from perfect but it is the only system we have. Without it Anarchy prevails and that has never really worked for anyone. Change the system.

  41. Thank you for keeping my belief in the human race afloat this week. Honestly, thank you for all these articles. Every article is straight Kate Harding—cutting through the bullshit. Just when I thought I had read it all about this topic, you wrote the Hound Dog article and gave me something new to think about. Brilliant. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  42. To lucy:I wonder why she was so kick ass! But too bad it took that to make Ms. Sutana that way plus I loved her in that movie and to Kate and Gail:what REALLY disgusts me besides the Hollyweird a-holes and freak shows defending this creepball is those who try to make it seem like ‘statutory rape’ when it was an ACTUAL rape there was NO consent on her part and that’s what people seem to be forgetting. Good thing you’re here Kate to keep s–t straight good on you.

  43. Ugh. I shared a link to a petition against that stupid celebrity petition on FB and, in 24 hours, the only comment I get is a “friend” stating THIS:

    His alleged victim has gone on record saying she doesnt want him to be prosecuted. It seems quite insulting, and distinctly un-feminist, to ignore her wishes, no?

    Condescending much? And ALLEGED?!

  44. Kate, Friday’s post completely blew my mind. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever read a more thoughtful and insightful article. I’m so glad you exist.

  45. Re: the victim’s “wishes” — Not only is Melissa’s statement that “her reasons on not Polanski’s” totally valid, not only is Kate’s speculation that her settlement with him* might include a “no trash-talking” clause, not only is giving a noncommittal “I’d like to move on” probably the best option for short discussions with the press — but given how up in arms people seem to be on this, noncommittal is probably the best thing she can say for her own physical safety.

    I don’t mean “Polanski going to hire a hit man”. I mean, someone might decide to demonstrate their love for Polanski or what-have-you by taking her out.

    *Yes, I’ve read that he hasn’t paid the settlement yet.

  46. Cassi – I was actually having that exact conversation with a friend last night, that there might well be a whole lot of Stockholm Syndrome at work in the women who signed that petition, especially the ones who got into the industry young. I don’t think that means we shouldn’t be calling them out as wrong for signing the petition, though – if that’s what’s going on I think a chorus of other women’s voices going “no actually that isn’t normal, it’s not OK, and no one should have to accept being raped as the price of entry into an industry” is something they may really need to hear.

    The men on that list, though? No sympathy. Especially not Mr. “Hollywood has the best moral compass” Weinstein.

  47. I was right there with Chris Rock until he started trying to use this heinous crime to trivialize another one: Michael Vick’s brutal abuse and killing of dogs. Vick committed a crime, and was rightly punished — as Polanski should be. The two have nothing to do with each other.
    It isn’t either/or: Either we obtain justice for rape victims, or we forbid mistreatment of animals. I happen to think we as a people are good enough to insist on both.

  48. “His alleged victim has gone on record saying she doesnt want him to be prosecuted. It seems quite insulting, and distinctly un-feminist, to ignore her wishes, no?”

    Reading her reasons for stating this preference made me think, this is also his doing! If he had tken his sentence, and protested whatever misconduct he precieved through the legal system, this would all be over now, for both of them. But instead he ran, and now she has to continue to live in it, thirty years later.

  49. His alleged victim has gone on record saying she doesnt want him to be prosecuted. It seems quite insulting, and distinctly un-feminist, to ignore her wishes, no?

    Lololol. “The word of a woman about what happened to her is worth nothing compared to that of the man who did it. Also, let me tell you how to Do Feminism Better. Love, A Man.”

  50. I was right there with Chris Rock until he started trying to use this heinous crime to trivialize another one: Michael Vick’s brutal abuse and killing of dogs. Vick committed a crime, and was rightly punished — as Polanski should be. The two have nothing to do with each other.

    I absolutely agree that Michael Vick was rightly punished for an awful crime. But I really don’t agree that they have nothing to do with each other, or that Rock was wrong to make the comparison. First, I am a huge, huge dog-lover, but I am still willing to say I believe raping a child is a worse crime than abusing and killing dogs — don’t get me wrong, I think both are moral evils, and I know some people wouldn’t agree with me that there’s a noteworthy distinction between them. But if it were either/or, if I had to choose between saving a 13-year-old girl from being raped by a 43-year-old man and saving even my own beloved little dogs from going into a fight to the death, I would sacrifice the dogs. And I would grieve, and be furious at the people running the dog fight, and want them arrested and punished to the full extent of the law. But I can’t imagine I’d ever doubt that I made the right choice.

    Fortunately, that’s a ludicrous scenario, and I never WILL have to make that choice — which I think is the point you’re making about the crimes being unrelated, and it not being either/or. But I think that hypothetical is a big part of Rock’s point. I don’t think he was defending Vick or trying to trivialize his crimes at all, just saying, “Why is Hollywood outraged when the victim is a dog, but not when it’s a girl?” We SHOULD be outraged when the victim is a dog. But we should also fucking well be outraged when it’s a girl, and the contrast there ought to be sobering for some people. Most people in this society believe, on some level, that human > dog, which makes that joke a big fucking wake-up call about how little we care about the rights of girls and women — and personally, I think it serves that purpose without trivializing Vick’s crimes or suggesting he didn’t deserve to be punished. It just drives home the point that Polanski should damn well be punished, too.

    And just as importantly, it drives home the difference between how even famous and wealthy black men are treated by the justice system and society in general, vs. how famous and wealthy white men are. Would people have come out in support of Vick if he’d been white? Would he have gotten away with his crimes? It’s impossible to say, but the comparison raises the question, and it’s an important one. If Chris Rock raped a 13-year-old white girl, and his only defense was “the little tramp wanted it,” how many friends in Hollywood do you suppose he’d have? How about Spike Lee, who’s also made a lot of films people consider artistically important? My guess is the number would be very close to zero, and there is no fucking way either of those men would get away with A) doing it, B) skipping town, and/or C) continuing to have a fulfilling and widely respected career afterwards, much less winning a goddamned Oscar. Which would, of course, be entirely appropriate — just as it’s entirely appropriate to punish Polanski. And yet, look at the difference. So the Vick analogy helps to illustrate a point that should resonate with a lot of people who might not have considered it this way: We’ll put a famous black man away for violence toward animals, but not a famous white man for violence toward a girl.

    Now. If you do deeply believe that it’s wrong to say human > dog, maybe none of that is compelling to you, and the joke is still offensive because it reinforces a cultural belief you’d like to change. I can totally appreciate that argument, even though my personal disagreement means we’re at an impasse in terms of how we see the Vick line. I’ve made similar arguments regarding other cultural beliefs I’d like to see dismantled entirely rather than reinforced in service of other points, however important (see below re: Clinton), so if that’s the case, I feel you.

    But for the record, my reaction isn’t only about the fact that, at the end of the day, I do believe human > dog (even though I also believe fiercely in protecting animals and love my own dogs madly). To give you more perspective on how I see Rock’s whole Polanski routine, I should talk about another joke in there that’s offending people, for reasons that usually would place me squarely among the offended: His line about how the only person allowed to rape a 13-year-old girl is “that Scully guy” — i.e., that Sully guy.

    Generally speaking, I am not a fan of rape jokes at all. Generally speaking, I believe that saying anyone has the right to rape a child, even in obvious jest, has potential to do way too much damage to justify it on any level. But here, I liked the joke — was grateful for it, in fact — for the same basic reason I liked the Vick joke: It puts the utter absurdity of the pro-Polanski arguments into stark relief. We’re going to let him get away with child rape because he made some good movies? Like that makes him some kind of fucking hero? The Sully joke blew a hole right through the idea that it’s in any way appropriate to weigh the value of art against the safety of girls and women. If this were about unpaid parking tickets, then it might be rational to argue that Polanski’s done society more good than harm overall. But it’s about his raping a 13-year-old girl and fleeing the country so he wouldn’t be punished for it. Art doesn’t trump that. Landing a plane in a river and saving 155 lives doesn’t even trump that (which of course is the real point of the joke, expressed ironically), so WHY THE FUCK are we even talking about his films as though they mitigate his crimes?

    I am very rarely a defender of rape jokes and often not even a defender of Chris Rock. He’s pissed me off more than once with blatant sexism, including in jokes that would otherwise serve to highlight an important point. (See his “everyone loves a white woman” routine while Hillary Clinton was running for president. Yeahno. You want to make the “everyone loves a white woman” point, put it in the context of missing people news coverage/law enforcement reaction, or magazine covers and movie roles, or who, in fact, gets away with raping and killing women in this country — not black men who do it to white women, even a tiny fraction as often as the reverse ends in acquittal, dismissal or no charges in the first place — and I’ll laugh, right before I cry. You just don’t fucking put it in the context of a female politician who’s widely reviled and slammed in sexist terms on a daily basis. In that case, it’s not funny because it’s not true.) But for my money, he fucking nailed it with that entire bit on Leno, including the lines that a lot of people are finding contentious. To me, that was comedy at its fiercest and most effective — cutting through pure bullshit so cleanly, refocusing your audience on the truth of the matter so sharply, that after they finish laughing, they go, “Oh. Shit. That’s actually not funny at all.”

    YMMV, obvs. But there’s a ridiculously lengthy description of why I thought the jokes worked anyway, for whatever it’s worth.

  51. Kate, I had the same thought about Vick, both on the value we place on animals vs. on girls, and on the racial question. Thank you for saying it so well. I’d just add that there’s a class element as well – dog fighting is seen as something connected to poor neighborhoods, while too too many see what Polanski did as the natural extension of what people with privilege do.

    Another distinction is what comes out of it – Fresh Air had a recent story about how the Vick case has raised awareness about the problem of dog fighting and they had on a young man who’d been involved and now works with the Humane Society. It would be lovely to think the Polanski case will have some good come of it, but I ain’t holding my breath.

  52. [i]Lololol. “The word of a woman about what happened to her is worth nothing compared to that of the man who did it. Also, let me tell you how to Do Feminism Better. Love, A Man.”[/i]

    Exactly! I mean, later in the conversation when I called him out for that “alleged” crap he admitted not even knowing anything much about the case aside from what he’s heard on the news. And yet, obviously he knows more about what feminism is, and how it should relate to this case, than me. Obviously.

  53. Yes, the plea deal stated that Judge Rittenband was free to change the sentencing, which Polanski agreed to. What Rittenband was NOT free to do was to use a battery of psychiatric tests—a diagnostic study requiring the defendant be incarcerated for a 90-day period to be observed by psychiatrists—to force Polanski to serve time. It was illegal for the court to do that. But Rittenband did do it, and furthermore, he did it on the advice of an assistant district attorney—which is in itself an act of misconduct. What makes it worse is that he forced Polanski to serve time for the diagnostic test because he knew Polanski could successfully appeal any sentence Rittenband made on the basis that the probationary report recommended Polanski serve no time. That was Polanski’s right, and he was denied it.

    I’m not condoning what Polanski did. But after watching someone very close to me be prosecuted on child molestation charges (of which he was innocent and acquitted), I gotta fall on the side that the judge’s misconduct was so egregious that the case should be thrown out. The legal system should operate independently of the court of public opinion, period. Instead, Rittenband actively sought the opinion of a reporter on how to handle sentencing! That’s yet another act of misconduct. We were lucky in our case to get a fair judge and an astute jury, but if we’d gotten a judge like Rittenband, the outcome might have been very different.

  54. I posted this on facebook, after my link to the Houndog post, and I thought I would also share it here:
    This part, about knowing the “difference between acting on your own desire and being forced to act out someone else’s,” is just so crucial. Women are taught by our culture that we don’t have our own desire, we only “desire to be desired.” And we presume that once a young women is curvy ‘enough’ to be desired that she must now be old enough to appropriately respond to other’s desire for her. These presumptions leave young girls/women vulnerable to predation. Learning to know what you don’t want is vitally important. And how do you know what you don’t want if everything around you tells you that what you want is what others want (to do to you)?

  55. And yet, obviously he knows more about what feminism is, and how it should relate to this case, than me. Obviously.

    Obviously, Bunny. Did you miss the penis?

    And we presume that once a young women is curvy ‘enough’ to be desired that she must now be old enough to appropriately respond to other’s desire for her.

    Yes yes yes. That.

  56. Learning to know what you don’t want is vitally important. And how do you know what you don’t want if everything around you tells you that what you want is what others want (to do to you)?

    Also that. Well said on all of it.

  57. Kate, thank you for taking a clear position. Unfortunately I don’t have time to read all the comments right now, but I found something I thought people here might find interesting, too – Slate took the text of the petition and had a look at what it actually says:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/browbeat/archive/2009/10/02/what-did-the-polanski-petition-all-those-directors-signed-actually-say.aspx

    Though it did make me laugh I’m afraid this is actually an accurate appraisal.

  58. What Rittenband was NOT free to do was to use a battery of psychiatric tests—a diagnostic study requiring the defendant be incarcerated for a 90-day period to be observed by psychiatrists—to force Polanski to serve time. It was illegal for the court to do that.

    What? Says who? Maybe read the transcripts, which say psychiatric testing was mandatory for anyone who copped to sex with a minor under 14, and in which the 90-day sentence is discussed and no one seems to have a problem with it. Then catch up on the news that the dude who said he had ex parte communications with the judge now says he lied (which has been discussed upthread).

    I’m not condoning what Polanski did. But after watching someone very close to me be prosecuted on child molestation charges (of which he was innocent and acquitted), I gotta fall on the side that the judge’s misconduct was so egregious that the case should be thrown out. The legal system should operate independently of the court of public opinion, period.

    Look, I am all for making sure we don’t rush to judgment in such serious cases, but HE PLED GUILTY. He has never contested, in or out of court, that he “had sex” with the victim; he only claims it was consensual. So it’s not as though he was an innocent man pleading guilty for purely pragmatic reasons, who then found that those reasons were out the window and he was about to go to jail for something he didn’t do. He was a guilty man who said in open court that he understood the charges, he understood that he faced up to a 20-year sentence, he understood that the sentencing would be at the judge’s sole discretion, and that the judge had not yet made a decision. He said in court he had been promised absolutely nothing, except that the prosecution would drop the more serious charges in exchange for a guilty plea to this one. He may have believed there was some deal in place, but his own words in court say he understood that there was absolutely no legally binding deal of the kind Polanski apologists keep referencing. This is not a guy who was fucking railroaded here. This is a man who did the crime, pled guilty to the least of the charges to avoid a trial, and then took a runner when he found out he might not get the deal he expected, but was never legally promised.

    You’re absolutely right that the system can and does screw innocent people — I’m glad the person close to you got a fair trial. As I have said a bazillion times, if there was misconduct in Polanski’s case, then sure, it should be investigated. But A) the more I learn about this, the more there seems to be little evidence of misconduct, beyond one agitprop documentary featuring the story of a guy who now says he was lying, and B) even if there was misconduct, it is irrelevant to the question of his guilt. It would be one thing if the people nattering on about what they learned from that fucking documentary were saying, “There may have been misconduct, ergo he should be allowed to withdraw his plea and start over.” But instead, everyone’s saying, “There may have been misconduct, ergo he should not face legal consequences at all for raping a girl and fleeing the country.” There is a huge disconnect there, and I do not get it.

  59. @ Freddie: Wait, wait, where are you getting this from? The judge ordered psychiatric tests on Polanski just to be a meanyhead? Tests which he allowed Polanski to defer for 3 months to finish a movie? Would you have preferred the judge consulted the Magic 8-Ball to find out what kind of a sick fuck he was dealing with?

  60. Yes, the plea deal stated that Judge Rittenband was free to change the sentencing, which Polanski agreed to. What Rittenband was NOT free to do was to use a battery of psychiatric tests—a diagnostic study requiring the defendant be incarcerated for a 90-day period to be observed by psychiatrists—to force Polanski to serve time. It was illegal for the court to do that.

    What’s your basis for that assertion? From the Marcia Clark article cited above:

    The next step was for Polanski to undergo psychological assessment by two psychiatrists to determine whether he was a MDSO—Mentally Disordered Sex Offender. At the same time, a probation report was prepared—routinely done prior to sentencing in all cases.

    On September 19, 1977, court again convened. The psychiatrists both reported that Polanski was not an MDSO and no one argued to the contrary. So the judge agreed that he would not have to be registered as a sex offender, and they moved on to the sentencing.

    Dalton, Polanski’s lawyer, started out conciliatory, stating “no reasonable person would stand here and argue to you that Mr. Polanski is entitled to any special consideration,” but that he shouldn’t be treated more harshly either, then went on to say:

    “This particular offense doesn’t have the connotation of rape. It’s not even an offense, a criminal offense, in about 13 of our states and in many places of the world… this is a crime that’s been committed by policemen; it’s been committed by probation officers assigned to counsel girls at a detention school; it’s a crime that’s been committed by people that have a far higher trust to their victims than did Roman Polanski… I feel he is a criminal only by accident; and that there are many complex social and psychological factors that were involved in this situational event which otherwise was a complete departure from his normal mode of conduct.” . . .

    Nevertheless, despite the ambivalence shown in these remarks, after taking a slap at the victim’s mom, the judge decided to send Polanski to prison for a 90 day diagnostic study:

    “It is the judgment of this Court that the defendant be committed to the custody of the Department of Corrections at its prison facility in Chino, California, where he will be confined for a period of 90 days and undergo a diagnostic evaluation, pursuant to the provisions of 1203.03 of the Penal Code.”

    So, looks like it was both legal and routine to do this at the time. If that section of the Penal Code has since been struck down, that doesn’t affect the legality at the time.

    And while you seem very, very concerned that Polanski was sent to prison for evaluation after he pled guilty to raping a child, remember that he not only was granted extraordinary special treatment in that he was allowed to finish a film in Europe, but that he also, while granted this stay, had a relationship with 15-year-old Nastassjia Kinski, which kind of undercut his whole “It was an aberration” defense:

    That might have been the end of it, with Polanski in and out of jail in a few short months. But then Dalton asked to let him stay out and work on a film for three months before reporting to prison:

    “Mr. Polanski is presently engaged as a director of a film that is being produced—this is a film that is budgeted for many millions of dollars and involves the services of literally hundreds of people.”

    Wait. Wasn’t this the lawyer who argued Polanski shouldn’t be treated any differently than anyone else? Gunson countered: “That is a movie that the defendant has contracted to make after this offense.”

    The judge agreed to give Polanski three months to get his movie up and running. But even then, whatever the lawyers may have thought, the judge foreshadowed a different agenda: “The request is for 90 days, and I assume that the defendant and his counsel were optimistic about the defendant just being given probation, and probably the contract was made on that assumption. However, it was miscalculated.”

    In other words, Polanski had figured he’d get out of court with no time at all. Instead, he was ordered to report to prison for diagnostic on December 19, 1977. The lawyers, interviewed after the hearing, said they didn’t think Polanski would have to do any more time after the diagnostic. But there’s no question that the transcript show that no such promise was ever made in court, which is the only thing that counts.

    Nevertheless, the lawyers might have been right if only Polanski had kept a low profile. Was that so much to ask? Apparently so.

    On October 24, 1977, Polanski got photographed with his arms around yet another teenaged girl, Nastaji Kinski, in a bar during an Oktoberfest celebration in West Germany. Polanski was told there’d be no further extensions and he had to report to Chino State Prison on December 19, 1977.

    Polanski did 42 days of diagnostic testing in Chino before being released on January 28, 1978. During that time, Judge Rittenband, viewing the photo with Kinski, had apparently come to feel that stint just wasn’t enough.

    Polanski caught wind of the attitude shift. On February 1, 1978, the day of sentencing, Polanski’s lawyer stood up in court and said: “Your honor, I received a call from Mr. Polanski advising me he would not be here this morning.”

  61. Thanks, Zuzu. And what killed me about this–what I didn’t realize until seeing the transcript info–was that he was IN THE PROCESS of starting a seduction/statutory rape/generally inappropriate sexual behavior with a fifteen-year-old under his professional authority during the court-granted grace period. Now, if that was the information that caused the judge to start foaming at the mouth and say some things that equated to “F*** that plea bargain! What the hell does he think he’s doing???”, then I really can’t blame the judge. I too might have a moment of non-judicial fury when I discovered that the court’s generosity was being used by the defendant to engage in another attempt at statutory rape. But it doesn’t mean that a.) the judge would have actually changed sentencing, or b.) that it would have been illegal for the judge to do so. We don’t know, because it didn’t ever play out. Polanski fled, and continued to “date” his fifteen-year-old subordinate.

    The more information you see, the starker the crime becomes, and the more you wonder how any society that values women could offer aid and sanctuary to the fugitive Polanski. And the more I want to smack whoever it is who made that stupid “documentary.”

  62. Every article is straight Kate Harding—cutting through the bullshit.
    That.

    A shining star in all the critical-thinking FAIL from which I deliberately stayed away.
    Thank you.

  63. Another distinction is what comes out of it – Fresh Air had a recent story about how the Vick case has raised awareness about the problem of dog fighting and they had on a young man who’d been involved and now works with the Humane Society. It would be lovely to think the Polanski case will have some good come of it …

    *deep breath*
    This may be my only rant on the subject, and it will be short.
    Who the hell decided “the general public’s raised awareness” can and should be built on the trama and pain of victims and survivors???

    I heard a *lot* of that “this has been a healing experience” crap during RaceFail and as the “For whom?” question remained — and, interestingly, remains — unanswered (the silence is deafening), I remain manifestly unimpressed.

    Part of me really can’t believe someone had the gall to raise that hydra head in the midst of a discussion that likely horrified and traumatized millions of sexual abuse victims, and advocates of a U.S. legal system that actually works?, but I guess I really shouldn’t have been surprised.

    No. Just — no.

  64. littlem –

    I in no way meant to suggest that conversation should be built on the pain of the survivors, or that that would be a justification for anything. I was, following on the point that people seem more willing to extend sympathy to dogs than girls, trying to say that the level of discussion around animal cruelty versus around rape bear out that sad reality. If the discussion were better, it would in no way justify anything, it would just suck less – hence the importance of people like Kate doing the interventions they’ve done into the discussion.

    I see how the last part of my comment was poorly expressed and I apologize.

  65. @lt — I didn’t think you meant that.

    I was referring to attempts in general to cast the aggregate of any related but positive thing that happens in the wake of this as “This is the bright side and we should all look at this instead and let’s all forget that anything bad happened and no one has been damaged here and aren’t we all relieved and chirpy”.

    It’s a cultural zeitgeist thing, I think, and related to the American bootstrap myth, which I also believe is one of the reasons it irks me so much (as that myth, like any myth, is full of credibility holes).

    (This is also one of the reasons I don’t rant often. People get caught in the blowback. Happened the last time I ranted here too. And now I’m talking in circles, which means it’s time for me to hunker back down and keep quiet.)

    “I was, following on the point that people seem more willing to extend sympathy to dogs than girls”
    Gordon Gekko, of all interesting characters, has an interesting view on that.

  66. Starling, I’m not comfortable calling what happened between Polanski and Nastassja Kinski “statutory rape,” because for all I know, the age of consent in Germany was 15. However, we’re still left with a few problems:

    1) He had argued that the rape of a 13-year-old was out of character for him, which argument sort of fell apart when he took up with a 15-year-old;

    2) That 15-year-old was his employee at the time (the movie he was shooting was Tess), which brings up the whole question of whether she felt free to tell him to piss off;

    3) Gah! It was Tess! And a crucial plot point in Tess is the fact that Tess is raped; and

    4) According to Wikipedia, Kinski had been taken advantage of by men in the industry from an early age, and recognized as an adult how wrong it all was:

    Germany where she started as a model. At 13, the German New Wave actress Lisa Kreuzer placed her in the role of the dumb Mignon in Wim Wenders’ film The Wrong Move. In 1976 she had her first major role in the feature film length and Wolfgang Petersen directed episode Reifezeugnis of the German TV crime series Tatort. Also in 1976, in her mid-teens, she starred in the British Hammer Film Productions’ horror film To the Devil a Daughter (1976). Kinski has gained notoriety through nude appearances in these films while still a minor. This is linked to controversy as to the year of her birth, apparently reported to American authorities as 1959, although German records show 1961. (Variety states 1960.[3]) She has stated that, as a child, she felt exploited by the industry and told a journalist from W Magazine, “If I had had somebody to protect me or if I had felt more secure about myself, I would not have accepted certain things. Nudity things. And inside it was just tearing me apart”. [4]

  67. “So the Vick analogy helps to illustrate a point that should resonate with a lot of people who might not have considered it this way: We’ll put a famous black man away for violence toward animals, but not a famous white man for violence toward a girl.”

    While this point doesn’t surprise me at all, what surprises me is how Vick is still being harassed despite SERVING HIS DAMN TIME. Regardless whether or not one thinks it was enough (I don’t) he did in fact accept his punishment and deserves to go on with his life. And of course he will probably suffer for the rest of his life for his crime, which in case y’all forgot, he served his time for.

    Polanski, on the other hand, fled and has enjoyed success, fame and a unsullied name. He raped and brutalized a child. I happen to think Chris Rock is more often right/funny than not, and he was totally on point about this.

    Maybe they should have gotten the DA who aggressively prosecuted Vick to take the Polanski case. Lord knows they know how to get the job done.

  68. Some artists get away with a whole lotta crap. (I saw a lot of it back when I was an actress.) And others will defend them because they’re “geniuses” and their “minds work differently” than everyone else’s. So, apparently, that gives them leave to, at best, behave like spoiled little children and, in the worst-cases, worst, rape 13 year-olds. It’s OK, ‘Cause he’s brilliant? He’s suffered? I’m sorry for his suffering, I truly am. But he needs to come back here and face what he did, regardless of WHEN he did it.
    And, yeah, I’m also disappointed that many folks in Hollywood I’ve admired are supporting him. But I don’t know why I’m surprised.
    Oh, BTW, Polanki’s father was rescued by “righteous gentiles,” people who put their lives in danger in order to save Jews during the Holocaust. My family (yes, we’re Jewish) always told me that hose who were saved must give something back to the world. IMHO, movies don’t count.

  69. Zuzu–I’ll give you that, from a legal POV, but I think Kinski-Polanski can safely be put in the category of inappropriate sexual relationships with coercive overtones. From the court’s perspective, too, the big problem would have been the ongoing pattern of behavior targeting teenage girls. And, of course, the sheer cheek of doing so.

    Tess is based on the heroine’s rape by a much more powerful man who employs her; she cannot prosecute the rape, and so continues a quasi-consensual relationship with him until she becomes pregnant and has to leave; and she is eventually coerced into resuming the relationship with him. And then she murders him with a knife in a hotel room, and is hanged.

    I mean, what the hell? Is this Method acting taken way too far? (Or perhaps not far enough?)

  70. Why is this a feminist issue?

    Because nobody would even be suggesting to just “let it go” if Polanski had raped a thirteen year old boy.

    And no, I am not saying that raping a girl shold > raping a boy. I never would.

    What I am saying is that all those “she was asking for it”, “everybody wants to f*** a thirteen year old”, “rape-rape” arguements would not be made. Consent would not be assumed, because unlike young girls,young boys are not supposed to “secretly like” sex with older men.

    I am afraid to think about what would have happened had the victim been a PoC-girl. Or an openly gay boy. There is a lot of intersectionality at work here, even if many people refuse to see it.

    As it is, we have a rich, upper class, straight, cis-gender white man, who has the added privilege of being famous for supposedly being a genius. And while the victim has some privileges, which are part of the reason this case made it to court in the first place, but she is still a woman, and in this case, that one aspect of her identity, along with the fact that she does not have the clout her attacker has, has made it possible for people to feel and express more sympathy for her rapist than her.

    It is nauseating.

  71. Tess is based on the heroine’s rape by a much more powerful man who employs her; she cannot prosecute the rape, and so continues a quasi-consensual relationship with him until she becomes pregnant and has to leave; and she is eventually coerced into resuming the relationship with him. And then she murders him with a knife in a hotel room, and is hanged.

    What the holy fuck? That’s the plot of the movie? And he started “dating” her while they were filming?

  72. It’s true craziness. My son is 13, and anyone else who has or ever has had a 13 year old child should know just how clueless and immature they are. They *think* they know everything – in reality they know almost nothing. That’s why its illegal to “have sex” with them, even if they consent – which the girl in the Polanski case didn’t do.

  73. SM: Yeah. And the entire point of Tess of the D’Urbervilles is the way in which innocent women are victimized by a society that condemns them for being victims, while allowing powerful predators complete freedom.

    It does boggle the mind, does it not?

  74. Oh, Sweet Machine, it’s not as bad as all that. Kinski was 19 when she made Tess.and had already been with Polanski for four years. So he made a movie with his much younger girlfriend about a young girl being raped and exploited by older, powerful men.

    Vomit

  75. @zuzu:

    It’s not that easy in Germany, because the relationship between the adult and the child plays a bigger role. The current laws state the following: If the child is under 14 years it is punishable, whatever the circumstances. If the child is under supervison of the adult or working for him/her the age level is raised to 16, if the child is dependent on the adult even to 18.

  76. § 176: “(1) Whoever commits sexual acts on a person under fourteen (14) years of age (a child) or allows them to be committed on himself by the child, shall be punished by imprisonment from six months to ten years […]”

    § 182: “(2) A person over twenty-one years of age who abuses a person under sixteen years of age, in that he: 1. commits sexual acts on the person or allows them to be committed on himself by the person; or 2. induces the person to commit sexual acts on a third person or to allow them to be committed on the person by a third person, and thereby exploits the victim’s lack of capacity for sexual self-determination, shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine. [..] the act shall only be prosecuted upon complaint, unless the prosecuting authority considers ex officio that it is required to enter the case because of the special public interest therein. [..] the court may dispense with punishment pursuant to these provisions if , in consideration of the conduct of the person against whom the act was directed, the wrongfulness of the act is slight.”

    This is current German law. The law in West Germany, prior to 1994 reunification was a bit different:

    [S]exual acts with children under 14 had long been illegal both in West Germany and the German Democratic Republic, the penal code in West Germany merely defined sexual acts with an unblemished girl under the age of 16 as punishable; in the GDR, by contrast, sexual acts with persons of the opposite sex between the ages of 14 and 16 were punishable if their moral immaturity was exploited by using gifts, the promise of benefits or similar methods of persuasion to initiate intercourse or actions similar to intercourse. (via Wikipedia)

    I’m sorry…”unblemished”? “moral immaturity”? Right, so if a girl was previously raped, she can’t be raped again? Ugh. At least these are old laws.

  77. Sadly, these old laws are not as much of a surprise as I wish they were.

    When the three women (only three. In the 1950s) who were part of the committe that wrote the new constitution after WWII wanted an article that stated that men and women are eqal, they were fought on this incredibly hard with all kinds of bogus arguements. And even after article 3II had become part of the constitution, the supreme court had to repeatedly remind congress of their duta to adapt other laws accordingly in the course of appeals. Divorce on the base of “guilt” was still the accpted principal into the late 1960. And when a man cheated on his wife because “she wasn’t fullfilling her martial duties”, in bed or in the household, then it was the woman’s fault. Not sure when rape in a marriage became punishable by law.

    Germany is far from the only country that had laws like these, but of course that doesn’t make it any better.

  78. Also, the laws quoted as current above are not current anymore.
    The law now differentiates between sex of an over-18 year old with someone under the age of 18, when the older one uses a form of dependence of the minor (e.g. when the minor works for the older one, is financially dependent, lives in their house, the older one is the caretaker of the younger one etc.). The old §182 II is now 182 III.

    Any sexual contact with a child (person under the age of 14) is a criminal offence, no matter what the circumstances.

  79. One more, then I promise to shut up.
    The “moral immaturity” probably (I couldn’t find the original laws, so I am not 100% sure) does not refer to the question if the girl had previously acted “immoraly”, but to the fact that minors were not considered capable of consenting to sex. Not sure how that affected consenual sex between minors.

    The old laws in West Germany? The paragraphs about sexual abuse differentiated between sexual acts of a man with a girl or those of a man with a boy. They were based on the idea that the man was immorally “seducing” the boy or girl. The girl was to be protected from sex in any form, the boy from homosexuality. And women as the perpetrators of sexual abuse of minors were not a possibility. Because women can not rape men, and there is no such thing as women having sex with women. Which was the only reason why they were exempt from the criminal persecution of homosexuality (the paragraphs concerning homosexual actions were not limited by age for a long time).

    Sigh. The fact that these laws existed until 1994 is incredibly scary.

  80. Chris Rock made a “rape joke” immediately following his criticism of Polanski. Is that funny, or do we just give him a pass because he said Polanski shouldn’t “have sex with” a 13-year-old? Why is Rock such a hero for saying, “I’ve seen some hot 16-year-olds that look 18″ and for saying, “The only one who gets to ‘have sex’ with a 13-year-old is that pilot, Scully.” (the one who landed the airliner in the Hudson River, saving all on board).

    He didn’t call it rape, he didn’t say why it’s appropriate for a man his age to find 16- and 17-year-olds “hot,” or why rape should be used as a reward for landing a plane safely in an emergency.

    har de har har.

  81. Look, I’d like to make something clear: I too am outraged by the stance of people who claim that what Polanski did wasn’t all that bad or that he should be freed because of his artistry as a director. But I am troubled, as hinted here by many commenters, by the notion that, because Polanski pled guilty, his legal rights should be thrown out the window. or that we shouldn’t be seriously looking at whether his rights were violated by Rittenband (which you’ve pretty much argued). Or that he should be punished because he’s made a habit of becoming involved with underage girls. As despicable as that may be, he’s not been charged for anything but what’s already on the table. It’s this kind of thinking that led to charges in the case to to which I referred earlier.

    If the asst. district attorney lied about his conversation with Rittenband, fine—that’s one act of misconduct off the table. But what about Dalton and Grunson? They both asserted that Rittenband used that 90-day observation period as punishment, too. Did they lie?

    You can poo-poo that if you want, but you’d be wrong. There’s no disconnect in saying that the case should be thrown out. That’s not the way it works. Legally, misconduct affects the case whether or not the defendant pleads guilty. It has</i< to, because as you pointed out, Kate, people plead guilty for all kinds of reasons. If you want to continue questioning whether misconduct actually occurred, that's your right—even if you haven't seen the documentary. But we have both a defense and prosecuting attorney whose stories match in their assertion that Rittenband orchestrated everything from his private office and that many of the court dates themselves were a whitewash.

    ALL defendants, guilty or not, are afforded certain rights in our legal system, and Polanski was denied some of these rights. Many of these rights are failsafes set in place to protect the wrongly accused, and it sucks when guilty defendants benefit, but it has to be that way in order for the system to work. Why? Because people get wrongly accused, and taking away the rights of a guilty defendant sets precedent for taking away the rights of someone who merely looks guilty. But you know what? If Polanski gets the case dismissed, it won’t be because he’s revered as a director or because Hollywood A-listers signed a petition or because he’s had difficult times or because it wasn’t “rape-rape” (whatever that means). It will be because that judge screwed up. So if you really want someone to blame for Polanski getting off (if he does), blame that goddamn judge.

  82. Freddie

    Nobody is saying that potential missconduct by the judge or other parties should be ignored. Nowhere in this post has that arguement been made.

    What we are saying is that the mere possibility of missconduct is no reason to keep a trial from being re-opened. The oposite is true. If there was missconduct, this should be addressed. In court. Which is were one goes to answer these questions The proper response to issconduct is an appeal, not running away to precent having to take responsibility in case the appelate court does not see a reason to dismiss the charges. Which is what Polanski did, if he even thought of the possibility of missconduct at the time.

    Stop pretending this discussion is about preventing justice. It’s about restoring it. We are calling for a trial, not a specific outcome. Polanski has avoided that trial for thirty years. Maybe I am naive, but if there was such a clear case of missconduct, why wouldn’t he have just appealed? He certainly had the money and power to do so.

    You obviously have personal reasons for being on the side of the suspect in this case. But please don’t let your personal experiences cloud your judgement when this is case is so completely different from the one you experienced.

  83. Freddie, I think we’re all generally on board with the idea that we might like to line up and spit on Polanski, but we can’t. That, in fact, he may get off entirely when he appears in court. This is true, and this is actually okay with me.

    What’s not okay is that the case has gone from being about what a judge was doing in 1978 to a referendum on whether some nobody kid is actually important enough to ruin the life of a Man of Genius. (By, y’know, tempting him to drug and rape her.) I think most of the details of the case would have stayed buried in ancient court transcripts if Polanski had had the sense to appear in court last year when he was offered the opportunity to resolve the matter in front of a sympathetic judge. We might all still be under the gauzy happy impression that this was a case of consensual sex between an adult and an almost-adult.

    As it is, I think Polanski is going to end up with harsher treatment in court because his supporters’ attempts to make him look harmless and misunderstood have backfired. Too many people have read the grand jury testimony. Too many women have pointed out that the sentence is absurd. The judge can’t nod, smile, clear the record and congratulate the defendant on The Pianist. But this, like the rest of l’affaire Polanski, is a self-inflicted wound.

  84. Polanski pled guilty, his legal rights should be thrown out the window. or that we shouldn’t be seriously looking at whether his rights were violated by Rittenband (which you’ve pretty much argued).

    If you think I’ve argued that, when I’ve explicity said the opposite both in general and directly to you, I really don’t know what to tell you, except: What Lauren said. And, you know, what I already said.

  85. Kate, thanks again for speaking up. I am really glad that, even though I’m triggered and twisted up and needing to exercise a lot of self care, someone was still shouting about how ridiculous this whole mess was and continues to be. Big time kudos for excellent work.

  86. Thanks for the German legal education, folks! That “unblemished” thing creeps me out no end. I’m glad they changed it.

    Freddie, I quoted portions of the transcripts in which the judge gave the legal basis for the 90-day observation. You keep asserting that that’s illegal, but you haven’t given any basis for that conclusion. Can you enlighten me?

    Also, I’m not sure what you think happens when one is convicted of a crime (and entering a plea is a form of conviction), but why, yes, you *do* lose a lot of your legal rights. Like the right to not go to jail. By committing a crime, you’ve broken the social compact, and can be removed from society after due process* to determine guilt. Polanski committed a crime, and he pled guilty to it. He was incarcerated briefly pursuant to an established procedure because of the age of his victim. All that stuff about his tendencies was to determine whether or not he’s a pedophile and likely to be a repeat offender. HIS OWN ATTORNEY was the one making the argument that this little rape was a one-off and he was safe around young girls; then he turns up at Oktoberfest while on the furlough the court granted him canoodling with another young girl. All that is absolutely relevant to his sentencing.

    But I think you’re confusing a lot of stuff here. You seem to be arguing that because there’s been an allegation that the prosecutor had an ex parte conversation with the judge while Polanski was in Europe AFTER he pled guilty that the plea should be thrown out? But that doesn’t set the guy free; all the original rape charges are still standing, even if he withdraws the plea.

    You also seem to be under the impression that just because he’s been arrested, or because he was remanded to Chico for an absolutely bog-standard psych eval (from which he was released early to make a movie, and then took a walk), that he’s lost ALL of his rights? Like the right to petition the court to be allowed to finish his movie? And the right to challenge his re-arrest? Or the right to appeal? He’s still got all those rights, and he’s using them.

    What’s the problem, exactly?

    Oh, Sweet Machine, it’s not as bad as all that. Kinski was 19 when she made Tess.and had already been with Polanski for four years. So he made a movie with his much younger girlfriend about a young girl being raped and exploited by older, powerful men.

    She may not have been 19. There was some dispute over what her birth year was, 1959 or 1961, and whether various film producers lied about her age to American authorities. He was making Tess in 1977.

    ________

    *Yes, while this is the ideal, it often doesn’t happen, such as when the defendant is poor, black and doesn’t have good counsel. But Polanski was wealthy, white, had the benefit of excellent attorneys. Not to mention, Clark said she’d never seen such a detailed plea transcript before. Moreover, he was allowed to leave the prison after 42 days to biff off to Europe to finish a film. He was given pretty due process, probably more than he was due.

  87. I’m glad that so far I haven’t had a discussion about Polanski with anybody in my so called real life, but in my head I have played out various lines … and one that I thought of was to imagine the event recast with a male victim. Without meaning any disrespect to men and boys who experience abuse, the re-casting does reveal just how dependant all the defences are upon the honey-trap; universal desirability of little girls.

  88. Generally speaking, I am not a fan of rape jokes at all. Generally speaking, I believe that saying anyone has the right to rape a child, even in obvious jest, has potential to do way too much damage to justify it on any level.

    This is my stance, except without caveats. Especially for Chris Rock, who more often than not is the engineer of the misogyny train.

    I just don’t see why a MAN gets a cookie for not identifying Polanski’s actions as rape; for commenting about 16-year-old girls and their hotness; and for joking that a heroic airplane pilot would be allowed his crack at a 13-year-old girl – but only one time, mind you.

    You, for instance, have been fighting this good fight in multiple posts over multiple days. So what’s so great about Chris Rock? You deserve a medal, a front-page article, your own TV show. But you’re just a woman fighting for other women, so big deal.

  89. Tinfoil Hattie, thank you for that, but I don’t see it that way. I actually have gotten a ridiculous amount of attention, given my lack of a real public profile. But the fact remains, I’m not Chris Rock. I think it was so important that someone actually famous, and not generally thought to be an easily dismissed loser (e.g., Kirstie Alley, Sherri Shepherd), unequivocally condemned Polanski in a public forum. I’m not giving him points for being a man; I’m giving him points for being a bona fide celebrity. I fervently wish a female celebrity of his stature would come out against Polanski, too — hell, I wish dozens and dozens would. But as it is, he still gets the tiara for Most Famous and Generally Regarded As Reasonable Person to Speak Out.

  90. I just read the hounddog piece, Kate, and it was beautiful. I will think about it for a long time, I’m sure. I’m getting a little teary here, actually, because I attribute quite a bit of my recent progress in my recovery from an eating disorder from reading your blog on a regular basis. I went shopping for new jeans a couple days ago and I enjoyed myself for the first time in years, because I kept on repeating in my head, “It’s just a number, it’s just a number…” and I don’t think I would have done that without this blog.

  91. Kate-

    Just wanted to thank you for putting all this stuff together into one place. I did a post of my own about the whole unholy unrighteous mess and I linked heavy-dutily. I appreciate the thought you’ve put into this whole thing.

  92. It took me a while to come back to this, because I wanted to double check my facts. The rules I was citing were in place in the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) at least since 1981 and to my best knowledge since 1973, when a major overhaul of the penal code was implemented. My copy of the penal code was bought befor the reunification and contains the 1981 version. Nowhere does it request the girl to be “unblemished” and the 1968 version of the GDR penal code I dug up does not speak of it either.

    $182 of the FRG penal code, which Meems cited, is titled “seduction” – it’s not the general paragraph dealing with sexual acts between adults and children or adolescents, it deals with a special case, and at the time we’re discussing pertained only to sex between an adult and a girl between 14 and 16 years of age. For this special case there was the exception that even if the sex was consensual, if the girl feels she had been taken advantage of, she (or her parents/legal custodians) could still file charges. If the adult was not yet 21 the court could decide to drop the charges. In the FRG penal code 18 to 21 years of age is a transition phase where it’s up to the court to treat you as a minor or as an adult.

  93. This is a kind of a sour note to delurk with, but I just learned (via Shakesville) that Emma Thompson has signed the rape-is-a-ok-if-someone-we-like-does-it petition.

    I think my day is ruined.

    (And of course mad love for this blog, its bloggers, and its community.)

  94. I have not read every comment on here (sorry! would love to!) but I just wanted to make sure you knew Jay Smooth has an awesome vlog about this topic in which he specifically gives props to Kate. I hope lots of people have already linked to this or passed it along. But, just in case they haven’t:

  95. I ain’t sayin’ Polanski’s warden should lock him in a cell with large men who are serving life sentences and love their teenage daughters. But I’d understand.

  96. EMMA!! OMG!! Sorely disappointed. What a let down.

    I have been thinking about this since this Polanski thing exploded. Anybody else noticed that whenever you seen a pic of the guy smiling it’s that slimy, smarmy, smile? Am I projecting or is anyone else getting a whiff of a whole “SUCKERS!” attitude just reeking off the man?

  97. To tinfoil hottie:I think we can all FIRMLY establish that Chris Rock is a thoughtless,stupid,insensitive,misogynist A-HOLE of the highest order!! And I fail to get all the praise this pissant recieves for being such a ‘great political and social comedian'[GAG!]he’s a buffoon and not funny for CRAP so I’m right there with you on that one. And for the people making the Micheal Vick analogy let’s not kid ourselves it’s ALWAYS like that all celebrities are not and I repeat NOT created equal despite what some think. Another example look at Marv Albert he was accused of biting a woman on the back because she refused sex and then sodomizing her. Now not only was he NEVER vilified by the media,his colleagues,his former bosses,his finace,the feminist community or the system itself but people made it seems as if it were a:her fault b:she was just out for money/attention/publicity and c:it was a ‘goofy’ accusation. How much cash money you want to be NONE of the above would have been uttered if that were a black male athlete or more specific Mike Tyson or Dennis Rodman or Barry Bonds. Who apparently was behind 9/11 according to the always objective and never biased media I have YET to hear any criticism to the WHITE males who were also on the infamous ‘Mitchell report’. In fact if you put all those names together it still wouldn’t equal HALF the vitrol Mr. Bonds got gee wonder why THAT is let’s cut the crap the media and segments of the public are racist to there very core so being complete hypocrites and turning a blind eye and deaf ear when it’s a white male under fire is nothing new for them they do it all the damn time. Well NOT THIS TIME JACKHOLES!

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