Thursday, October 1, 2009

Roman Polanski and the Last Taboo

On March 10, 1977, the film maker Roman Polanski had sex with a 13 year old named Samantha Gailey in Jack Nicholson's Mullholland Drive mansion while the star of Polanski's masterpiece Chinatown was away. Polanski had told the girl and her mother he was interested in shooting Samantha for an issue of Vogue of which he was guest editor. After an initial shoot near the Gailey home, the then 43 year old director suggested a second session. Samantha wanted a chaperone, but a friend dropped out at the last minute, leaving her alone with Polanski. They shot a few pictures in Jaqueline Bisset's house before making their way to Nicholson's place. While driving her there, the Polish film maker asked if she had ever had sex. She replied she had. Once inside the house, he persuaded the girl to pose topless, offered her a glass of champagne, gave her a third of a Mandrax tablet and had the rest himself after confirming she'd had quaaludes before, and went through a seduction routine in the jacuzzi and on the couch. Samantha later said she resisted all through. After oral sex, he initiated intercourse, stopping to ask if Samantha was on the pill. When she told him she wasn't, he got worried about a possible pregnancy, withdrew, and asked if he could penetrate her anally. In Samantha's account, he then did so without waiting for her assent.
At that point, the couple was interrupted by a knock on the door. It was Anjelica Huston, Nicholson's girlfriend, actress daughter of the great film director John Huston, and usual occupant of the room. Polanski spoke to her through a crack in the door before returning to the bed, instructing Gailey, who had put some clothes on, to strip once more, penetrated her again and quickly climaxed. After he was done, according to Gailey, he told her to keep the whole thing a secret. As she was leaving, she met Huston in a common area of the house and spoke to her briefly. Huston later described Samantha as 'sullen', saying, further that she, "appeared to be one of those kind of little chicks between — could be any age up to 25. She did not look like a 13-year-old scared little thing.”
That evening, Samantha told her 17 year old boyfriend what had happened and was overheard by her sister, who told their mother, who told the police. Polanski was arrested and the LA media went into a frenzy. Today, the testimony of a woman claiming to have been raped tends to be taken at face value, but back in 1977 Polanski's version of events would have been given the same weight as Samantha's. Since there was nothing to the case apart from two competing descriptions of the event, no evidence of injury or violence, no attempt to shout for help or flee when a third person appeared, prosecutors and the defense arrived at a plea bargain in which Polanski would plead guilty to statutory rape (consensual sex with a minor), serve some time in jail and go through a psychiatric evaluation, in return for graver charges being dropped. The judge in the case was cognisant of the deal and, according to the defense, gave his consent. Later, though, the media's pressure began to tell on him and he hinted he would administer a tough sentence beyond what the prosecution was demanding.
Polanski, out on bail after a few weeks in prison, was spooked by this change in attitude, which the defense interpreted as a judge reneging on a deal agreed by all parties. He jumped bail, flew to France, and has never returned to the United States. A warrant for his arrest has been out for over three decades, and it finally bore fruit with his detention while on his way to receive a lifetime achievement award in Zurich. He owns a home in Switzerland and has been to the country dozens of times in the past three decades.
To many in the film fraternity, the timing of the arrest seemed perverse. Polanski is now 76, married, and has two children. Samatha Gailey, now Geimer, is married with three children, and has repeatedly said she has forgiven the director and wants the case closed. She did sue him in a civil action and settled for an undisclosed amount. It may be that asking for the closure of the case was part of the settlement.
What is a little surprising is the outrage that has followed the arrest. Politicians who at first strongly defended Polanski have backtracked in the face of public anger. In Polanski's native Poland, where he is a hero, three in four citizens support the arrest and want him tried and possibly jailed. The 150 artists and film-makers who signed a petition demanding Polanski's release have been denounced as elitists without a moral compass. The chorus is: why should a man escape justice just because he has made good films?
Some typical responses from commentators and members of the public can be found here, here, here, here, here and here.

"Roman Polanski raped a child. Let’s just start right there."

"The organisation blasted Polanski's supporters 'who apparently believe that drugging and raping a 13-year-old child is not a serious crime'."

"Polanski is a pedophile and a fugitive."

"Like many in Hollywood and throughout the rest of the entertainment world, novelist Robert Harris has raced to the defense of child-rapist and international fugitive Roman Polanski, his pal and creative collaborator."

"...this case has nothing to do with Mr. Polanski’s work or his age. It is about an adult preying on a child."

Two things strike me as important in this excoriation. First, that it emerges in equal measure from the Left and Right. The New York Times, HuffingtonPost and The Guardian are united in condemning Polanski alongside the Daily Telegraph, The Sun and The Washington Times.
Secondly, commentator after commentator uses the word 'child' to describe Samantha Gailey. What do these two facts tell us?
Roman Polanski slept with Samantha Gailey during the final days of the sexual revolution. Ronald Reagan, the Moral Majority, Ayatollah Khomeini and AIDS were looming close, though nobody could have known it then. Before the revolution, virtually every act that did not fall within the bounds of marital, procreative sex was considered debased. Homosexuality, pre-marital sex, oral sex, anal sex, masturbation, you name it, it was disapproved of and frequently proscribed. Abortion was illegal in most nations, as was pornography. The birth control pill had not been invented (and was years from making the shift from wonder drug providing women sexual freedom to pharmacological conspiracy hatched by profit-obsessed multinationals targetting females).
The cultural advances of the sixties and seventies resulted in the legalisation of a range of sexual activities, but one kind was left out of the wave of liberalisation: sex between adults and minors. Condemnation of this unites liberals and conservatives. In fact, with few other outlets for their store of moral outrage, liberals often outdo conservatives in their response to cases like that of Polanski and Gailey. The fear and hatred of sex offenders is not without good cause. People such as these damage the lives of thousands of children every year, often beyond repair.
That is why the second fact I pointed to, namely the repeated use of 'child' to describe Samantha Gailey, is relevant. There are two very distinct meanings to the word 'child'. The legal definition of a child is any human below the age of 18. Traditional usage, however, refers to a boy or girl under the age of puberty. It's a crucial variation, because the period between the time that somebody stops being a child in the customary sense and the moment when s/he stops being a child in the legal sense can be very great.
The onset of puberty has traditionally been considered a crucial marker in the development of an individual. In modern legal terms however, this very significant milestone is entirely meaningless. Instead a line is drawn at age 18 after which individuals are presumed to be mature enough to make a host of decisions for themselves. It is a convenient legal fiction, even a necessary one, but a fiction nonetheless, because we all know that very little changes between the age of 17 1/2 and 18 1/2.
Humans are built to change radically not at 18 but at puberty. After that point we are sexually mature and, in most traditional societies, it is the moment when individuals can expect to commence their sexual lives. The problem is that modern society's sophistication makes it impossible for thirteen or fourteen-year-olds to get married, settle down and be able to earn a living. The expansion of the gap between the age of sexual maturity and the age of financial security delays the first sexual experience of men and women. Your great-great-great grandmother and father almost certainly had sex at a much earlier age than you did.
In countries that went through the revolution of the sixties, sexual initiation is no longer tied to marriage; teens are relatively free to experiment. In conservative societies like India, however, many educated urban women and men have to wait till ridiculously late before they first have sex. This is an aberration, and an unfortunate one, compensated for slightly by the fact that our longer life expectancy means the total number of fucks an average individual can expect in his or her lifetime is the same as or higher than it was five hundred years ago.
Let me return to my assertion that humans are built to have sex as teenagers. If one grants a girl or boy the right to have sex, should that right not extend to having sex with adults, should they so please? What is so heinous about it? It is not allowed purely for legal reasons, because it will often happen that the girl or boy will be taken advantage of. To prevent the misuse of such permissions, minors are allowed to have sex with minors, but if they choose to have sex with an adult, the adult stands to be punished. Again, this might be the best legal way to get around the issue of the use of power by adults on minors, but the idea of a 13 year old boy having sex with a fifty year old man or woman, or a thirteen year old girl having sex with a fifty year old man or woman does not in and off itself appall me.
Samantha Gailey was sexually mature and had had intercourse before she met Roman Polanski. She was not a child in the traditional sense, and Polanski's attempted seduction of her, which perhaps ended up being rape, does not make him a paedophile. He was a man who liked teenage girls, a tendency he continued to exhibit after 1977, in his relationships with Nastassja Kinski and Emmanuelle Seigner. Many mature men are attracted to teenage girls, and many teenage girls attracted to mature men. In the case of Polanski and Gailey, it appears the attraction was one way. The rhetoric and the certitude of those appalled by what Polanski did, however, originates not in the cloudy and complicated details of the case, but in the fact that he committed what was, back in 1977, merely one among a host of proscribed sexual acts, but is now western culture's last taboo, an act which generates so much disgust that commentators reflexively employ terms like 'child' and 'paedophile' even in cases where they do not fit.

One of the unfortunate side-effects of the last taboo has been the growing censorship of images that use nude children or teens. I've just read news of a photograph of Brooke Shields being taken down from the Tate Modern because it shows the 10 year old Shields naked and heavily made up. Catalogues for the show are being pulped after the Tate was advised that criminal proceedings might follow. How long before Caravaggio's wonderful, manifestly erotic Cupid is removed from the Berlin museum where it hangs?

Update, October 3, 2009: This article in today's New York Times ties in with what I've written. It quotes from the probation report of Kenneth Fare, in which the officer concludes there was no premeditation to the crime, and some indication that "the victim was not only physically mature, but willing". Whoopi Goldberg suggested the incident "wasn't rape-rape", only to face a barrage of absolutists saying "rape is rape, period". That's an argument I find utterly ridiculous. Of course there are degrees to rape just as there are degrees to everything, including homicide.


AKM said...

To quote a judge from that favourite, "The Practice" : "You don't like the law, write to your congressman. In here, we merely enforce it."

Polanski did something that is illegal under the law. (A law, that BTW, seeks forcible castration for the same offence in the country he now has citizenship of). He then compounded the offence by jumping bail.

As for the analogy of increasing age of consent ... drawing a parallel between near-age sex at 13 and a man of 43 year old in a position of power having anal sex with a 13 year old is incorrect. In fact, enough media examples abound to show that the law is rarely enforced in cases of near-age sex.

The man is a perv, and he should get his. Ironically, he would have probably got off lighter in that day and age.

Girish Shahane said...

The argument is that Polanski had no chance of a fair trial, given the judge's clear ethical lapses.
I did not draw a parallel with near age sex. What you're saying is the same thing that the commentators I've quoted have done.
As for him being a perv, what exactly is it that makes him that? Is it his desire to have sex with a 13 year old or the fact that it might have been non-consensual? If it is the latter, there is no way to make the assertion with any certitude. Which is why I believe it's really the former, the very act of having sex with a 'child' that has got people angry.

VV said...

Interesting piece. Long as well, probably (and smartly) to make sure that people get the nuance of what you are trying to say and not push you into some paedo-lover category :). likewise it is difficult to give a brief, public comment on the polanski affair.
but on brooke shields, have you seen the picture? if you do a googles images search on "brook shields spiritual america", you can see it.
also, the roles of the mother in both the brooke shields case and the polanski case (both seemingly pushing their daughter into fame some way or the other) reminds me of a scene from sacha cohen's new bruno. it may be that the polanski affair is hiding something more insidious around parents and hollywood casting couches.

Girish Shahane said...

Thanks a lot, VV. I agree about the importance of the mothers' roles in the Gailey / Shields cases. Polanski says a few things about this in his autobiography. It's interesting that the Shields pic was snapped in 1975 or 1976, very close to the time of the Polanski case.
I've seen the image, it has an interesting history. It was shot by Garry Gross and then RESHOT by Richard Prince in an act of appropriation that was meant to focus our attention on the sexualisation of children in the US. It led to a lawsuit as well as endless discussions about appropriation and contextualised meaning which members of the lay public would probably find absurd.
I have absolutely no problem with it being displayed at the Tate. In fact, I'd have put it on my blog, except it might lead to a jail term, and it doesn't seem worth it.

globalbabble said...

Even if children under 18 are physically ready to have sex, are they ready for it psychologically? There is a whole murky psychological dimension to sex as well, and I am not sure that a 13 year old is ready to deal with it. Especially if it is with a man much older. Even if we can't expect young boys and girls to understand that, surely we can of people in their 40s.

I think Polanski understood that sex can have a dark side if his film Bitter Moon is anything to go by.

Girish Shahane said...

My point is that adolescents (children only in the legal sense) have traditionally had sex starting between ages 12 and 15, with males starting at an older age because they mature later. They've coped with it pretty well before the modern age.
Today, in much of Europe, the age of consent is between 13 and 16, as long as the partner's below 18 or 21. I don't see how it makes any difference psychologically if the partner is 40 rather than 17. The provision for an upper age for the partner is just a legal convention to make it tougher for predators.
In Polanski's work, everything has a dark side, even upper class neighbours in a tony Manhattan building :) But you're right, Bitter Moon specifically deals with problems connected with sexual experimentation.

globalbabble said...

What is the difference between a "predator" and Polanski (in this instant)?

Girish Shahane said...

Polanski didn't do this stuff habitually. No other 13, 14 or 15 year old has come forward and said he molested / raped / attempted to have sex with her.
But yes, the law exists to cover instances like this, and Polanski's conduct is not something I'm defending, nor have I said the law should be overturned. Polanski thoroughly deserved his time in jail, and I'm glad Samantha Gailey got him to pay her a substantial sum. He did something stupid and wrong, paid for it, the case would have been closed back in 1977, but for a judge wanting to make an example of him.
The vilification we are seeing now is something beyond what the facts of the case merit, and that's what my post tries to analyse.

AKM said...

Ummm ... he gave her booze, and then (illegal) drugs. Even for an adult, I would think that would hardly qualify as informed consent. For a 13 year old ? Perv.

She said she wanted to go home, he sodomized her. Rape.

The issue is not whether the age of consent should be decreased. It is that society: lawmakers, elected reps, have determined that despite physical readiness to have sex, the preying of adults on minors needs to be addressed. In their wisdom, this has been done by increasing the age of consent. In accordance with concerns raised about artificially regulating what the body is ready to do, they allow (either in practice or in law) some deviations regarding near-age and consent etc.

This isn't grey, whatever Mr Pervski's later achievements may be.

As for the "there is no certitude she didn't ask for it" or "she had a sexual history" lines, they are rehashes of the tired "she was a slut anyway" or "she said no, but then kept quiet, so she meant yes" themes ... with reason, they are thrown out of the room whenever a victim alleges rape.

The Brooke Shields pics are under the debate of obscenity, not crime, so I really don't know how they are relevant.

Hehhhh. Not that you'd be convinced. You're merely stating explicitly what several people feel, but are afraid to express for fear of being labelled paedo.

Girish Shahane said...

AKM, it seems you aren't even reading what I've written. So go ahead, use your favoured labels of perv and paedo, everyone's doing it, not just the tabloids.
As far as 'drugs' go, though, Polanski gave her one third of a tablet of Mandrax after asking if she took them and her saying yes she did. The use of categories like 'drugs', 'rape', 'child' as absolutes makes a complicated situation simple, which is great for people who just want to be judgmental.
The Brooke Shields pic is relevant to my argument about the last taboo, but it's an argument you haven't bothered to understand.

globalbabble said...

Hi Girish,

I've thought about this all day. But I still can't agree that a 13-year-old having sex with a 16-year-old is same as she having sex with a 40-year-old.

Even in my great-great-grandmother's generation, generally near-age sex was approved. As fas as I know, young boys and girls were married to each other. They didn't marry off young girls to 40-year-old men.(Besides, a lot of unhealthy things happened in my great-great-grandmother's generation including Sati, polygamy, marrying girls against their wishes. Sure, we survived all that, thanks to human resilience, but that hardly makes for a good argument to justify the practices.)

Having sex with a much older man is definitely not something that a 13-year-old can handle easily: the power dimension is too tilted in favour of the man in such a case. It is just not healthy. (Perhaps, you will disagree here :-))

I am not arguing that a 40-year-old should not be attracted to a teenager. If he is, that's ok. But if acts upon that attraction, he is definitely putting a young girl at risk, and I don't think that is justifiable.

VV said...

In Canada (and probably Australia), there is a legal principle called "artistic merit" defense which seeks to protect the Lolitas from censorship and catch exploitative child porn. It is a hugely debated topic- but every time it comes up, it always raises questions of what IS (de)sexualization of children [remember little miss sunshine?], who is a child, relationship of sex with this concept of "innocence", relationship of childhood with innocence and so on. There are always very difficult questions of consent and art and what is it that you are trying to protect.
Maybe someday the reactions to the Polanski affair (which at first glance does not seem to be anything more than simple legal questions of sentencing and extradition- after all he did plead guilty) will be analyzed along these difficult questions as well.
It certainly seems to have raised lots of questions about societal guilt- apart from the guilt of dealing with child sexualization, I think there is a bit of Holocaust guilt (at least from the Polish contingent) and guilt about the Manson killings, maybe?

Girish Shahane said...

Global, a couple of generations ago virtually every straight person felt revulsion at the thought of men having anal sex with other men. Many straight people still do, but now liberal society tells them to suppress any such feelings. In contrast, the same society encourages them to give full vent to any negative feelings they may have about older men having sex with girls. Back in 1977, and this is a point I want to underline again, a generation of experimenters was trying to question every such rule. At that time, all restrictions, related to drugs and art and sex, appeared prudish in equal measure.
Our common sense is often a bad radar in these matters. Back in 1977, few would have thought that infants adopted by same sex couples would turn out pretty much the same as kids born in conventional nuclear families. Now liberals have turned rigid in their beliefs about what is allowable and what is not, what will be helpful for an adolescent and what will be damaging. The good thing is that much more is allowable within the liberal framework. The negative side is intellectual complacency, a lack of desire to think outside the new (admittedly larger) moral box.

Anonymous said...

Girish, i fail to understand your logic in this scenario. Morality is socially enforced. The second anyone who breaks the law(moral code of the time) with foreknowledge cannot claim that its OK. Polanski is not a native of the andamans where sexual relations probably start at puberty. I'm not being condescending towards tribals but agreeing with you that we have sex later than we did earlier. But that doesn't change anything. Vendetta is allowed in some countries.....and was allowed did that make it OK. I don't think so. I see your larger question about sexuality and the later onset of sexual activity in modern society vis a vis an earlier age....but in this case i dont think it applies for morality is about choice and polanski chose to go against the law. If i recall there was a boston legal episode dealing with the idea of how we as a society ensure that kids remain kids far longer than they used to.....the reasons society has done that across the board emotionally , intellectualy and sexually are debatable.

Girish Shahane said...

Sure, he broke the law, but people break the law all the time. Every time they download a song or movie, for example, or every time we take a puff of a joint.
Till the recent judgment of the Delhi high court, every act of male on male intimacy, of oral or anal sex, was illegal. Lots of liberals railed against these laws. Are you suggesting that it is not OK for gays to have relationships in countries where there are laws against that kind of behaviour? And that it becomes OK as soon as they travel to countries with more liberal laws?
Back in the 60s and 70s, all such laws were being radically questioned, and the statute against having sex with underage individuals seemed merely one of many stupid, prudish clauses in the book.
When Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, jailed for statutory rape, tells the doctor that the woman he had sex with was "fifteen going on thirty-five", it is clear the audience is supposed to sympathise with him.

Marshall-Stacks said...

oh I like you, and your commentor VV.
The hypocrites who comprise the baying hordes, all screaming 'rape' and 'anal' and 'child', have completely forgotten that they flocked to see Taxidriver's 12-y-o hooker.
Reading the transcript of the girl's grand jury testimony is an eye-opener.
If RP had claimed No Guilt and the case had gone to trial, in his defense, even I could have chewed up the mother and spat her out in court.
Nobody would believe that she knew nothing of Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby, or the brutality of the EIGHT murdered on Cielo Drive, all in that man's history.
he went to that house, and saw the horrific room. he and we, can image search and see his loved ones bloodsoaked bodies on the floor. His loved baby son. We cannot guess his nightmares, but we can guess how it all skewed his approach to life, and I can forgive him anything really. The mother should have protected her 'child' from all that, and from the experience the child had before Polanski.
Poor Whoopi, now suffering because she pointed out that the 'child' was not grabbed anonymously at knifepoint and injured.

AKM said...

Ummm ... I thought I'd desist, but one last time.

Associating this particular case with the debate about legalising age of consent is obfuscating the issue. It is not "statutory rape". It is about getting a person drunk and feeding her drugs and then having sex with her despite her stated intention to the contrary. The only place where her age comes into the q is that it would partially answers the q of whether she could have done more to resist.

Satish said...

Well written piece. Some observations:
1. Your elaborate argument on the subject of what is the relevant definition of a "child" is i think, a bit superfluous. I agree that many commentators (both then & now) have used the girl's age to demonify what Polanski did. But to me, if the girl has said 'No'/ resisted sexual advances, it is rape, period. Don’t understand how can there be 'degrees', or subjective contemplation here.
2. The general tendency to make it sound worse due to the girl’s age is not entirely unjustified. e.g, rape of a physically disabled person will evince stronger reactions than usual. At a purely rational level, this is not correct, but that’s the way we’re wired.
3. “Samantha Gailey was sexually mature and had had intercourse before she met Roman Polanski. She was not a child in the traditional sense, and Polanski's attempted seduction of her, which perhaps ended up being rape". In the two competing descriptions of the event, are you hinting that Samantha Gailey’s version of what transpired in that house that night is not entirely accurate? I get this uneasy sense that you are tempted to think of this as a creative genius indulging in some personal fetishes….his trysts with pushing the boundaries of social mores of the time, with a not-so-unwilling partner.
4. Agree on the unfortunate side-effects.. will be a sad day if the Cupid, etc fall prey to this kind of thinking.

Anonymous said...

See as soon as you make it about Gays and how it was illegal even in india till recently to have sexual relations with a same sex partner, the debate imho gets skewed. we arent talking about consenting adults here. We are talking about a 43 yr old and a 13 yr old.....i dont think you have a daughter and im not even sure you are a parent.....and im aware this is hitting below the belt but i think its easy to be moralistically objective when you arent affected directly. The power difference is too great.......43 year old drugs up a 13 year old with mandrax but gives her only 1/3rd of the tablet. gives her alcohol.....?and you are telling me that her consent is an informed consent? He manipulated the whole situation so that he could have sex with her...
The analogy of piracy is just ludicrous and when you start debating in analogies that are extreme the discussion leads nowhere...
you are comnig across as a sympathiser of a paedophile no matter what you might say , that you are makind a larger point.
He drugged her...he gave her alcohol he manipulated her.. In rape laws there is something called informed consent. her consent was not informed.
Men who like teenage girls.....well lewis carroll liked even prepubescent girls ..the greeks liked prepubescent boys most of north eastern india were head hunters..... there is all kinds of stuff out there and who is to say its ok or not. and im not a moral objectivist. If her consent was informed i have no problems with doesnt seem like it is. Kids can be sexual yes and most are getting sexual at an earlier and earlier age... Polanski is a most of the western tourists who visit thailand and sri lanka looking to prey on young boys. In your world i assume that would be ok. in arabic countries hell you can marry a 6 yr old even. To me it boils down to an informed consent. If a teenager wants to have a sex with an older person i am no one to say they cant, i can only wish that their consent is informed and not one made under the influence of drugs, poverty, parents(fathers selling their daughters)

Girish Shahane said...

AKM, it is about statutory rape because that was the charge Polanski agreed to plead guilty to. And the prosecution accepted because they clearly believed they did not have a case for anything stronger.
About getting her drunk and feeding her drugs, even according to Samantha's testimony Polanski opened a fridge, found a bottle of champagne, and asked her if she'd like a glass. As far as we can tell from her testimony, that glass is the only one she had. Polanski opened the bottle in the presence of the housekeeper, who also had a glass.
Also, according to her testimony, he asked her if she knew what quaaludes were, she said yes. he asked her if she'd like some, she said no. He said OK, then she changed her mind and said she'd like some.
And so it goes right through, till he drives her home. As far as Polanski's testimony goes, we have nothing. So everybody is taking the worst parts of the girl's account, multiplying them by a factor of ten, deleting everything else, and presuming that's the only certain truth about the event.

Girish Shahane said...

Satish, it's not a question of hinting that Samantha's account is not entirely accurate, it's a question of having two different accounts and not knowing which one is more accurate. Why do you presume everything the girl said has to be true?

Girish Shahane said...

Anonymous, before you write any more responses, please look up a dictionary. A paedophile is somebody attracted to PRE-PUBESCENTS. Samantha Gailey was certainly no pre-pubescent when Polanski had sex with her. That is why my point about traditional ideas of childhood is relevant. All those commentators who speak of paedophilia with reference to Polanski (and there are hundreds of them) simply don't know the English language well enough.
As far as the legality of gay relationships and piracy is concerned, my argument followed directly from your assertion that nobody who breaks the law can claim it is OK. Now you're moving the goalposts by bringing in informed consent.

Anonymous said...


(US pedophile)

• noun a person who is sexually attracted to children.

— DERIVATIVES paedophilia noun paedophiliac adjective & noun.

— ORIGIN from Greek pais ‘child’.
This is from oxford.

paedophile noun an adult who is sexually attracted to or engages in sexual activity with children.
This is from chambers

Pronunciation: \ˌpe-də-ˈfi-lē-ə, ˈpē-\
Function: noun
Etymology: New Latin
Date: 1906

: sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual object
This is from Websters here is a link to all the definitions. Some of them in their definition of paedophilia refer to it with prepubescent children most of them do not. She was a child. And as far as moving the goalposts is concerned....the discussion evolves. But i see you have nothing to say in response to that. My earlier argument of choice and morality vs legality was flawed and i see that, feel free to pick holes in the other one about informed consent.If you are gonna suggest that her consent was informed then i have nothing to say further.

Anonymous said...

samantha gaileys testimony. Your version of events is so watered down i doubt you bothered to read the transcripts

Everything the man did is what sexual predators do around children. This was not consensual sex from samantha gaileys account of it, maybe polanski has a different version. But imho this was a coercive/predatory act.

Girish Shahane said...

I'm responding to the last two anonymous comments together, presuming they're from the same person.
1) I'm glad you agree your argument about legality was flawed.
2) There is a group of people who are specifically attracted to children who have not yet reached puberty. It is important to have a separate marker for this group. Just as the legal and customary definitions of 'child' diverge, so do definitions of pedophilia that are tied to child. My critique of any definition of pedophilia that puts 16 year olds and five year olds in the same category follows from my critique of the legal conception of 'child' being used by commentators with a moral force that is appropriate only to the customary definition.
3) I don't see consensual sex between adolescents and adults as necessarily a problem, so I don't pre-judge the issue of informed consent solely on the basis of age.
4) have read the smoking gun transcript in detail. There are passages in it that are very disturbing, these have been widely extracted. But the general feeling is not of a predator in my opinion.
1) Polanski didn't have Nicholson's house 'pre-booked' as it were, only making a call to ask if he could come over when the light faded preventing him from getting the pictures he wanted.
2) He asked for permission at every step. In most cases (taking clothes off, drink of champagne, one-third of the quaalude) Samantha specifically gave her assent.
3) He called her mother in the middle of the whole thing, who asked Samantha if everything was OK.
4) Samantha says she was woozy and can't remember a lot of what happened. It is certainly possible that Polanski misinterpreted the signals coming from her, or they were mixed signals, as they often are in such circumstances, even when adult women are involved.
5) The probation report of Kenneth Fare concludes there was no premeditation involved.

adrian mckinty said...


Couple of things.

First Polanski never paid her a penny. They reached a civil settlement but he never actually paid.

Second if you read the letter that the celebrities signed on to it speaks vaguely of a "morals case" not the forcible oral and anal rape of a thirteen year old. Weasel words.

Thrid judicial bias does come into it. There was no jury trial. He reached a plea deal with the prosecutor and fled the jurisdiction before sentencing.

Girish Shahane said...

I'm pretty sure he did pay. Late, and therefore with interest. She'd definitely have made a fuss in the press if he had not paid.
The celebrities: I didn't get into that, just as I didn't mention the Holocaust or the Manson gang.
You're right about judicial bias: the judge appears to have indicated he'd support the plea deal, and then changed his mind, and said he'd send him back to jail and then deport him. That's what spooked Polanski.

adrian mckinty said...


Actually its not clear that he ever paid the money

I dont think it helps to conflate this case with the case of the Brooke Shields picture. Censorship and rape are completely different realms of the law. My feeling is that she was 13, she was given drugs and alcohol, she said no, he was 43, she was penetrated orally and anally and she was false imprisoned. Polanski needs to go to jail for at least as long as was in the plea agreement.

My guess is that you'll feel differently about this when you have daughters.

Anonymous said...

Im getting an html cannot be accepted error so please forgive me if this has posted a few times.

The full transcript with all the testimonies.

Guess what Polanski says to Samantha when he goes to drop her home.
“Don’t tell your mom or your boyfriend about this. This will be our secret.”
He of course denies saying that.

When Polanski is presented with a search warrant at the hotel and is being led up to his room he attempts to dispose off a Quaalude from his pocket which the policeman catches him doing and tells him “why don’t you drop that in my hand” Its a prescription drug he has more in his suitcase in his room but of a 150 mg dosage. I wonder why he tries to get rid of the 300mg rorer714.
Polanski was aware of her age according to the mothers testimony because he asked her and she told him that she was 13.

In Polanski’s plea testimony he agrees that he was aware that she was 13 so the argument that he didn’t know how old she was goes out of the window.
Don’t believe me read the transcript.

Under the common law, a person who is under 14 years of age is a child which is why Polanski undergoes MDSO evaluation. The law does not make a puberty distinction. Sex with children cases are not judged on the basis of puberty but at the age limit of 14 as per Californian state law. In America it is the states that decide the age of consent and have laws regarding rape and child abuse.

Anonymous said...

Part 2

I quote you here “The judge in the case was cognizant of the deal and, according to the defense, gave his consent.”

Polanski understands and waives all his rights to a trial by a jury of his peers and is also made aware that a plea is not binding on a judge , and that there is no deal on record as to what his punishment will be. He is also made to understand that after pleading guilty he would be an alleged MDSO mental disordered sex offender until further psychiatric evaluation.

The mother of the girl agreed to the plea because it protects the child’s identity. If the case went to trial her identity is disclosed and it is understandable why she would not want that and that is why she says she wants her child to remain anonymous.

The probation report by Mr. Kenneth Fare reads like a eulogy to Polanski and his achievements. An awe struck Kenneth Fare gushes throughout the entire probation report.
It is here and you can judge for yourself if it is biased or not.

Polanski promises most of the people at the facility during his MDSO evaluation film roles and gets out in 45 days(according to the prosecutor) post which he proceeds to party at the Oktoberfest and his photos are published. Quite remorseful I must say for someone facing prison time.
The Oktoberfest revelry pictures are what caused a lot of outrage.

Anonymous said...

Part 3
The defense’s case that the judge was reneging on a deal is on the basis of a gentleman called Mr. Wells who admitted that he lied in the documentary that a lot of people use as the gospel truth as to what happened .Mr. wells was going to prosecute the case but the case was transferred to another lawyer.

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired
Polanski’s grounds for dismissal center around the former prosecutor inappropriately advising the judge about how to send Polanski back to prison. But the former prosecutor, David Wells, now tells Clark that “I lied” in the movie about advising the judge, and that “it never happened,” which could undermine the director’s case for dismissal.
• Wells’ excuse for lying in the movie? “The director of the documentary told me it would never air in the States. I thought it made a better story if I said I’d told the judge what to do.”
• Wells confirms to Clark that he did supply the judge pictures of Polanski reveling at Oktoberfest, and says that it’s these photos that prompted the judge in 1977 to reconsider the plea bargain.
• Law-enforcement sources confirm that the strident actions of Polanski’s own lawyers—prompted by Wells’ now-recanted statements in the movie—led to his arrest this weekend.
Above s from the website
The judge was going to send him back for the remainder of the 90 days and then deport him. What the judge was going to do is only known by hearsay

Anonymous said...

Part 4
Here is an interesting essay on the last taboo

“Pedagogization of children's sex” by foucalt is an interesting thought and you can google if for further reading if interested.

I quote you here “The rhetoric and the certitude of those appalled by what Polanski did, however, originates not in the cloudy and complicated details of the case, but in the fact that he committed what was, back in 1977, merely one among a host of proscribed sexual acts, but is now western culture's last taboo, an act which generates so much disgust that commentators reflexively employ terms like 'child' and 'paedophile' even in cases where they do not fit.”

The problem here is not that Polanski had sex with a 13 yr old but that he plied her with a drug that is known to have sexual arousal as a side effect and didn’t stop even when she asked him to.

There is a tone of anecdotal evidence on the net about the effects of rorer 714 I give you just one

On the other hand, The Rorer 714, aka Quaalude (methaqualone), Sopor, Parest ( aka methaquaalude), etc is not a barbiturate, and in most males does not interfere with erection at a dose required to produce the desired downer effect, i.e., one pill on an empty stomach. This drug also had the quality of erasing inhibitions, especially the girl?s inhibitions, so it was a favorite for sexual purposes. It?s an extraordinarily powerful drug that was new to the market, wrongly believed to be non-habit forming, and popularly prescribed by physicians when first released. It's insoluble in water and has such a nauseating taste that it was impossible to sneak into a drink unnoticed. I equate it to oral heroin? a lot of fun but very dangerous.
- Dan, Greenville, SC
More anecdotes found here
The anecdotes make interesting reading with regards to arousal in women and her loss of inhibition.
714 t shirts were a rage in the 70s
A rorer 714 was a 300mg drug which is why the 1/3rd of the tablet is 100 mg-which is what he gave her- the normal dosage for an adult is 150gm.
Her usage of the drug earlier was once after accidentally finding it at the age of 11.(according to her)

From wiki : Usual effects include relaxation, euphoria, and drowsiness, also reducing heart rate, respiration, increased sexual arousal (aphrodisia) and parasthesias (Numbness of the fingers and toes).

Anonymous said...

Part 4 i think lost count.:)
In my dictionary that is a rape and if that makes me a puritan so be it. By law that makes Polanski an alleged MDSO because if he repeated the offence he would then be a paedophile if the girl was less than 14 at least in California .
Polanski then goes to France and has an affair; consensual this time with 15 yr old Natassja Kinksi, go figure, according to his probation terms he is not supposed to associate with children under the age of 18 except in the presence of responsible adults.
As far as paying the victim the money is concerned Polanski at last count still owed her. In October 1993 he agreed to pay $500,000 plus interest.
In August 1996, indicate Polanski had not paid Samantha in full by 1996; according to a statement filed at that time, he still owed $604, 416. It is not known if he has paid her since.
And lastly to your brilliant assumption
“My point is that adolescents (children only in the legal sense) have traditionally had sex starting between ages 12 and 15, with males starting at an older age because they mature later. They've coped with it pretty well before the modern age.”
That assumption comes from your vast research on the subject???
I doubt it. It is so ludicrous in itself; it doesn’t even deserve a response.

By Lloyd deMause
Lloyd deMause is Director of The Institute for Psychohistory, Editor of The Journal of Psychohistory and President of The International Psychohistorical Association and can be reached at 140 Riverside Drive, New York, New York 10024. This speech was given in May 1992 at The British Institute for Psycho-Analysis in London and in August 1994 at the American Psychiatric Association Convention in Philadelphia.

I don’t agree with everything the man says but it did open my eyes in some respects to the kinds of abuse that were traditionally acceptable in society.

It is for the protection of children from the kinds of abuse- that occurred across cultures for centuries- you read above, that the laws have been changed.

Anonymous said...

part 5 or 6
The moral outrage is not only because it’s a child involved but also because of the circumstances of the sexual act.
At the very end I give you an excerpt from an interview with Polanski done by Martin Amis in 1979 for Tatler

The interview took place in Paris in 1979. In 1978 Polanski fled America while awaiting trial on charges of raping a minor.
'When I was being driven to the police station from the hotel, the car radio was already talking about it. The newsmen were calling the police before I was arrested to see whether they can break the news. I couldn't believe ... I thought, you know, I was going to wake up from it. I realise, if I have killed somebody, it wouldn't have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But. . . fucking, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to fuck young girls. Juries want to fuck young girls - everyone wants to fuck young girls! No, I knew then, this is going to be another big, big thing.'

And a couple of paragraphs later Amis observes

At five foot four, and with great liveliness of gait and gesture, he seems to be about sixteen years old. This impression didn't go away, even after several hours in his company. It occurred to me that his considerable and well-documented success with women has a lot to do with that fact. Contemplating little Roman, women wouldn't so much sense the appeal of being worked over by a priapic, trouble-shooting film-director; they would just want to take the poor waif upstairs and have him sob himself to sleep in their arms.
Looking sixteen, of course, does not entitle you to go to bed with adolescents. Despite what Polanski says — contra Polanski — not everyone wants to fuck young girls. One cannot hide behind a false universality: one cannot seek safety in numbers. Most people who do want to fuck young girls, moreover, don't fuck young girls. Not fucking apparently willing young girls is clearly more of a challenge. But even Humbert Humbert realised that young girls don't really know whether they are willing or not. The active paedophile is stealing childhoods. Polanski, you sense, has never even tried to understand this.

The last taboo is an interesting subject and my purpose in this is not to let this discussion go down the path of abuse.
It is easy to get condescending when you aren't in agreement with someone and i am often guilty of that but this tome has been written to further this discussion.
But it is very hard to get to the point of the last taboo since you seem to be defending polanski( i know you arent but you are making the waters murky as far as his guilt is concerned) if you had used don johnson it would lead somewhere on the last taboo subject .
Quoting wiki
Johnson had a major supporting role in The Harrad Experiment (released 1973), whose female lead was Tippi Hedren. He met Hedren's daughter, Melanie Griffith around the first half of 1972; she was an uncredited extra.He was aged 22 and she 14 when they began what became a four-year affair, that included marrying, in 1976, for less than a year.Melanie and Don reconciled and conceived a child close to the start of 1989, announced wedding plans in mid-February,and were married a second time, from that year until 1996. They had a daughter, Dakota Mayi Johnson (born October 4, 1989). She moved in with him when she was 14.

Girish Shahane said...

Adrian, you are doing what all commentators have done, which is to accept as the gospel truth everything Samantha Gailey said in her testimony. As far as the Brooke Shields pic goes, my argument is that the impulse to remove it arises from the same root as the current vilification of Polanski.
As far as me having children goes, that's like saying if you were Indian you would feel differently, or you will never understand this because you are not black / Irish / a woman. Maybe I would feel differently, but that's neither here nor there. Public discourse ought not to be based on particular experiences.
Anonymous, thanks for the many links, most of which I have consulted already, but which readers might be interested in accessing.
Like Adrian and everybody else, you take Samantha Gailey's testimony as the truth. That apart, here are a few responses:
1) The defense's case that the judge reneged on the deal has nothing to do with Mr.Wells. The accusation was in the public domain long before the documentary in which Mr.Wells lied to make himself seem more important to the case than he was. It was based on what the judge said to the defense during the plea bargain.
2) Adolescenets and sex: I have not done vast research on the subject, but we know from history when famous people got married, and that provides plenty of data. To give one example, Mahatma Gandhi married Kasturba when she was 13 and he 14, and we know they commenced having sex immediately; the prophet Mohammed married Ayesha when he was middle aged and she was nine, and began having sex with her when she came of age at 11; and so on.
2) I'm not sure what purpose is served by your reference to Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith. It only proves that back in the seventies, norms related to sex between adults and adolescents were being questioned, which was part of my argument.
4) Polanski "plied her with a drug". The same word 'plied' is used by virtually every commentator. According to her testimony, he asked if she knew what the drug was, she said she did. He asked if she'd had it, she said yes (lying). He asked if she wanted some, she said no. He said OK. Then she changed her mind, and asked for some. He gave her one-third of a tablet. He himself was not a habitual drug taker, and the mandrax he took probably affected his behaviour.
5) 'Our little secret'. Presuming the sex was consensual, would Polanski have said it any differently? He certainly knew he had performed an illegal act, so his desire for secrecy is perfectly consistent with consensual sex.
6) getting rid of the drug. Of course he tried to do that, the drug was illegal.

Girish Shahane said...

I think I got it wrong about Gandhi; both he and his wife were thirteen at the time of marriage.

Anonymous said...

Part 1
Please read the speech about the history of child abuse and you will understand under what historical context child abuse laws have been formulated today.
Your Point 1 It is in 2008 that Polanski and his lawyers filed for dismissal of the case. Mr. Wells is the only witness who claimed to have influenced the Judge. Mr. Wells is relevant because it is on the basis of his claim that they asked for the dismissal of the case. What the plea bargain agreed upon was is not on record anywhere. The plea bargain transcripts do not mention any deal. They only mention that a plea bargain is being made. Sentencing is on the discretion of the judge based on the psychiatric evaluation and the probation report which happen after the plea bargain.
We don’t know if the judge reneged on the deal. That would only be known at the sentencing for which Polanski wasn’t present. All evidence claiming that the judge would have reneged on the deal and to what extent is I repeat hearsay and speculation.
Your Point 6 .The drug was not illegal it was a prescription drug. It didn't become a schedule I drug till 1984. Polanksi was found with a full vial in his suitcase but of the 150mg tablet. He had a prescription for that. The pharmacists vial had his name on it. The 300mg now is a different matter. Here again you make a claim without substantiating facts.

Your Point 2. The Mahatma Gandhi comment makes no sense to me. To understand the history of child sexuality you need to understand how children were treated like and why the laws have been made what they are.13 year old Gandhi marrying 13 yr old Kasturba is not relevant when you want to talk about the last taboo.
Famous people getting married and providing data now surely you are clutching at straws Girish. What data? Read on the sexuality of children in history and then debate this please. You are assuming most of it.
You make great assumptions about children and their sexuality and if you wish to discuss the last taboo you need to do the research which you admit you haven’t done.
You think of this utopian ideal where sex between older men/women and younger children was the normal thing to do....History tells us otherwise. It was abusive.
Abusive to the level we cannot even fathom in today’s day and age.
I wonder who would have sex with a 13 yr old who claims she is having an asthma attack 5 minutes ago and this Polanski even agrees happened when he speaks to the mother at the time of dropping her home. So the asthma atleast is established, or maybe both the mom and the girl are lying about the asthma conversation with Polanski. The girl at the Jacuzzi and the mother at home are both lying.

Anonymous said...

Part 2
Your Point 5. If it was consensual I don’t think the girl would need to tell her mom or her boyfriend. It being a secret would be obvious to her as well. Since she was allegedly so sexually mature she surely would know that much.
In my response this time I haven’t taken her testimony as the only truth. Polanski giving a 13 year old a drug like rorer714 even if she voluntarily took it is plying. Like Humbert Humbert realises young girls don't really know whether they are willing or not and as Martin Amis says "Not fucking apparently willing young girls is clearly more of a challenge" and it clearly is for Polanski.
Your point 3. Don Johnson. I only brought him up because we are not moving on to discuss the last taboo because everyone is stuck on whether polanski is guilty or not (you included). Norms with regards to child abuse were being formulated.
You think of the twentieth century as being this repressive sexual period when it comes to children and adults being involved sexually, it wasn’t; it has become now more than it was at Polanski’s time. Attitudes towards children and sex are far more rigid now than they were in the 70s, and given the historical context for the better imho.
In a case like Don we could have the discussion of the last taboo and see what people think.

Even in France where Polanski used to reside the age of consensual sex at the time was 15. Samantha was only 13.
The adult does have the greater responsibility. If you disagree on that then I say it again this is pointless. I am with Humbert Humbert on this one.

Girish Shahane said...

Point 1) The defense believed a certain thing about the judge in 1978, and it was entirely independent of Mr.Wells. I said nothing about the motion to dismiss filed decades later.
2) Merely your assertion that examples I give are not relevant does not make it so.
3)What you state here is exactly the point I am making in my original post.
4) Ply: To continue offering something to; ensure that (another) is abundantly served. To assail vigorously. When she said she didn't want the Mandrax, Polanski went, 'OK'. He didn't continue offering it.
5) I don't understand what sexual maturity has to do with what the girl said to her boyfriend.
6) The 300 mg quaalude was not prescribed and was therefore illegal.

About child abuse laws, I have nowhere suggested they should be done away with. In fact my original post makes it perfectly clear they are necessary.
I really appreciate your contribution to this discussion; an important reason for writing a blog is to engage in such debates. However, now we appear to be going round in circles.

Girish Shahane said...

I don't mind debating this further, but not if you remain anonymous.

greycity said...

No doubt the facts of the case are mesmerizing and could apparently be discussed forever. I find your original thesis more interesting though, that the universal outrage against Polanski is explained by 'paedophilia' being the last (sexual) taboo, at least in the West.

I'm not sure that I agree, unless you qualify it as *partly* explained or some such. At least some of the disgust would come from imagining having sex with a person (child or not) who is saying 'no.' I'd like to think that rape was taboo, and would remain so even after we admit to ourselves that there is no magical age of consent.

I sort of believe that the world gets better and better, and people are kinder to each other, and accommodating of more variations from the norm. Still, outrage felt communally is so sweet and so easy, won't we just dream up more taboos when we've used up our current set?

Girish Shahane said...

Fair enough, Greycity, 'partly explains' works for me. It is the extent of vilification that has taken me aback, particularly from liberal sources; it is this apparent excess that I put down to the last taboo, but there are other issues that are important as well.

greycity said...

Ah, those liberals, don't ye mind them, they've always had the courage of their changing convictions.

Meanwhile, can I ask, did you really intend a pun here?
"there are degrees to everything, including homicide."

If you did, I apologize for pointing it out, but I had to know.

Anonymous said...

18 page DA Memo Jan 2009

Here is the response filed by the DAs office in response to Polanski plea for dismissal of the case in January of 2009. In it it is clearly stated what sentence the judge had in mind and it is on record. He needed to serve out the remainder of the 90s days of his evaluation at chinos and would be deported. This is not hearsay this is what was said to the defense lawyers and the prosecution lawyers.
It is this information that was given to Polanski and not that of 15 years etc that is claimed. On the basis of this he ran.He had to spend another 45 days in chino.So all the rumours of the judge reneging and wanting to pass a really stiff sentence are just that rumours and speculation.

Girish Shahane said...

Grey, I'm really sorry, I see no pun there. If you are thinking of something connected with 'homo' and through that to homosexuality, then no, that was not my intention. I wrote 'homicide' rather than 'murder' only because there are ways one person can kill another without it being called murder.

Girish Shahane said...

Anonymous, you can keep offering up only one side of the story (that of the anti-Polanski camp, in this case the DA's office) for as long as you wish. But another side does exist, and your relentless one-sidedness will not eliminate it.

greycity said...

I was referring to first-degree and second-degree homicide (or is it murder?) Never mind.

adrian mckinty said...


Do you think Polanski should serve no jail time? Do you think the Swiss should let him go? I dont think you do. I think you're in the squishy middle with the rest of us.

One doesnt have to believe the testimony of anyone to accept that the interests of justice are probably served by making him go to jail for the length of the plea agreement. That doesnt sound too hysterical does it?

Anonymous said...

A . i was being sarcastic when i referred to her sexual maturity.
B. This will be my last comment here. My anonymity has nothing to do with the discussion. If you don't want to discuss it on its merits that's your prerogative. A strange one for someone who had issues with The you don't have a child argument. That wasn't relevant i agree and neither is my anonymity.
I find it strange as well that you are free to dismiss the arguments of other people off hand with assumptions on which you have done no research. You wanna talk about the last taboo but sitting in a 21st century ivory tower only having superficially read about the Greeks and child marriages in ages past. The truth is far from what you've read.
I have tried to indulge in this in the spirit of moving it forward, but if i have an opinion on the nature of Mr Polanski's conduct and i substantiate it I'm being one sided whereas you wanna talk about the last taboo but use Gandhi and kasturba as an example which is relevant!!!??? Are we talking about older people and younger kids or two younger kids. Anyway..Like all blog discussions some amount of fascism has to creep in and freedom of speech suffers. In your case you don't like my anonymity therefore this shall not continue further and it is a unilateral decision .

adrian mckinty said...


It really doesnt help your case by hiding behind anonymity. In fact its a bit creepy. Just give your first name at least or make up a name...

greycity said...

Oh, nothing that involved. I was thinking of first-degree and second-degree homicide (or is it murder?) Never mind.

Girish Shahane said...

Ah, Grey, got it, murder by degree and all that, sorry.

Girish Shahane said...

Adrian, I absolutely have no problem with him going to jail for the length of the plea agreement. And I do hope he has paid up the half million plus interest, or will be made to now.
But as of today, he's probably facing years in jail, including the process of extradition. In a way he brought it on himself, of course, though his experiences in the ghetto and then in post-war Poland probably came into play at that moment when he decided to flee.
All these complications are why, in my original post, I concentrated more on the response to the arrest than on the case itself.

Marshall-Stacks said...

just want you to know I have read all the above, and the girl's Testimony.
This case has an unsworn World Jury, which wants to hang him high in the town square at noon.
Meanwhile, thousands of 13-y-0ld girls are right this second having far worse thing happen to them, and the baying RomPol lynch mob could not possibly care less.
The public comments at online newspapers are frightening in their ignorant brutality, to an extent that I wish I was running The Ministry Of Fear and could track some of them down and put them out of the gene pool.
How many OTHER rapists of the non-Statutory type, have fled their charges, and are ignored by everybody for their lack of fame and'or money.
Hypocrisy is a crime in my book.

The girls parents should be charged with not looking after her properly.
There is, somewhere on the www, a theory that because he could have been apprehended at any time during the past 30 years and was not, that the timing of this apprehension is related to the CIA plotline of the novel The Ghost(writer) he just finished filming.
His incarceration is holding up release of it, which suits the CIA.
In Spain the age of consent is 13.

AKM said...


However, just as demonising him is incorrect, so apologising for what was essentially a crime. Getting his ghetto background or artistic achievements into the frame is as stupid as deciding to ban his movies because he was convicted of rape.

I thought the original point of your post was that he was being demonised for sex with an underage girl.

I partially agree, but think the basic reason is that he tried to get away with two defenses that are unacceptable :"She was a ho anyway" and "I thought she meant yes".

Now it appears that you have issues with the accusation itself, as also the "reneging on a deal" by the judge. As far as the accusation goes, when the defense is that there was consent, burden of proof shifts to the defendant to show informed consent, which in this case is flimsy enough to warrant outrage. As for the legal process, I would assume that he was rich enough to have hired lawyers who could have told him clearly that there is no binding of such deals; if the prosecution wishes in light of a rethink or new proof, the judge is totally within rights to consider other charges.

I think there is enough material in the archives to show that she said no unequivocally, even if she did not protest until later. The legality of that is probably best left to the courts ; something that Mr Polanski decided not to trust in.

Beyond which, of course, let me rectify one basic lacuna in the debate above : the absence of the phrase IMHO.

Girish Shahane said...

AKM, I have no idea where you're coming from or where you're going. Nothing you have said in your last note makes sense to me.

Anonymous said...

The probation report casts serious doubt on the victim’s testimony.
What one is left is a statutory rape where

1. The victim may or may not have been willing
2. Polanski may or may not know her age.

Note one should discount the coerced testimony in the plea bargain as Polanski was no doubt forced to claim he knew as part of the bargain. The reason the State included that is that at that time a defence to statutory rape was believing the victim was much older.

As for the probation reports conclusion that Polanski should serve no further time that was quite normal for statutory rape given the attitude in the 1970’s. Indeed prosecutions only took place if the victim complained and the State had little interest in prosecuting statutory rape. In fact Polanski may be the only celebrity in the entire decade to be convicted of statutory rape which is ridiculous given the availability of underage groupies. Note the State was not interested in prosecuting the victim boyfriend who was 17 and thus had supposedly also committed statutory rape.

In France in 1977 there was a very serious initiative to abolish the crime of statutory rape altogether. Jump forward 32 years and we see a hysterical reaction to Polanski’s crime fed by a public sentiment which has been moulded by a few decades of propaganda from the CSA Industry which claims that instead of statutory rape being immoral by society’s standards it can prove that grievous psychological damage must be experienced by every victim. Never mind that there are no peer reviewed scientific studies supporting their claims but there are some supporting the claim that the damage is situational and may be more related to social stigmatization than the crime itself.
It is ironic that in 1977 had the sexes been reversed no crime would have taken place but a couple of decades later a school teacher spent seven years in prison for the statutory rape of the father or some of her children who she is now married to. By comparison a 56 year old Republican congressman served 8 days in jail in the late 1980’s for statutory rape.

Girish Shahane said...

I'm with you about the damage in such cases often being situational, related to social perceptions internalised by the participants. It could be argued in decades past that gay sex caused a lot of psychological damage to individuals; but surely this damage had more to do with guilt related to societal taboos than with the actions themselves.


Dear AUTHOR I deeply AGREE with YOU - social value change ,man is seen in different way according to times & cultures .I don 't treat the case as RAPE Mno way to think about It like this ,THE PROBLEM is WE MUST MAKE THE PEOPLE CHANGE THEIR MINDS ...HOW???? ,I write my comments ,I write notes - THEY try to avoid THE TRUTH ,LABELING ,DESCRIPTIONS or in some CSAES just thinking RP was so messed AFTER ALL WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM that he did ALL THIS & sweat SAM ....,just AN INNOCENT ANGEL ...,I would want TO EXPOSE all the details ,THE REALITY of WHAT REALLY HAPPEN - It 's CRUCIAL as THE ENERGY represented by EROS is THE UNIVERSAL ONE ,HOW COULD IT BE RESERVED ONLY TO SOME GROUPS ^ CONDITIONS???
Thanx for MY FAVORITE picture ,one of anyway ...