not that petitions do much, but —

If you’re nauseated by all the signatories to the “oh noes, don’t punish Roman Polanski!” petition, here’s an alternative one to sign. I quite like the terms of this one, and have signed it myself.

0 Responses to “not that petitions do much, but —”

  1. moonandserpent

    It would seem to me that more than saying rape is excusable, the initial petition is more concerned about the use of a film festival to arrest him.

    “We have learned the astonishing news of Roman Polanski‚Äôs arrest by the Swiss police on September 26th, upon arrival in Zurich (Switzerland) while on his way to a film festival where he was due to receive an award for his career in filmmaking.

    His arrest follows an American arrest warrant dating from 1978 against the filmmaker, in a case of morals.

    Filmmakers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision. It seems inadmissible to them that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers, is used by the police to apprehend him.

    By their extraterritorial nature, film festivals the world over have always permitted works to be shown and for filmmakers to present them freely and safely, even when certain States opposed this.

    The arrest of Roman Polanski in a neutral country, where he assumed he could travel without hindrance, undermines this tradition: it opens the way for actions of which no one can know the effects.”

    And I can sort of see the argument that it sets a bad example. While the language is grandiose and overblown, there are many examples of countries allowing controversial or fugitive figures to attend cultural events.

    On the other hand, while yes, technically he was being sentenced for a morals charge, I can’t decide if the tone of the petition in that regard is just queesily dismissive, or if it’s an interesting example of the international opinion on the US. Given that we’ve got that whole “bible thumping morals crazy fascist” thing going on.

    There’s no excuse for what he did, or his flight from prosecution, but there are more issues here than “people want Polanski to get away with rape!”

    Although, if I ever entered into a plea bargain and then the judge backed out of it, you bet your ass I’d flee.

    • Marie Brennan

      I’m firmly on the side of “queasily dismissive.” Popular opinion in France is that Polanski’s getting what’s coming to him; the majority over there is nauseated by the attitude from their artistic elite that his reputation as a filmmaker should somehow excuse his actions, or rescue him from the consequences. “A case of morals” downplays the entire thing to a grotesque extent.

      Although, if I ever entered into a plea bargain and then the judge backed out of it, you bet your ass I’d flee.

      The judge “backed out” of NOTHING. If you follow the comments on my other post, you’ll see this in greater detail, but: judges have the right to refuse a plea bargain entirely (thereby sending a case to trial); the prosecution is permitted to recommend a sentence, but this recommendation is in no way binding on the judge; and while they may have expected the judge to go for a simple sentence of probation, their expectations had NO legal force. And if he thought the judge went too far, then he had a right (and the financial means) to pursue legal redress. Instead, he chose to break the law again.

      In other words, he gambled that he could get leniency by copping to the least of his charges, and he lost. Which is his own fucking fault, and I have NO sympathy for the bastard running away.

      • moonandserpent

        I know full well what abilities a judge has in negotiation and administration of a plea bargain. I’ve seen more than a couple of guilty pleas go bad. I’m just saying that were I in a similar situation, you bet your ass I’d run. Once you enter a guilty plea, whether you’re guilty or not, you’re fucked if it ends up going to trial.

        My main interest (and only going by the wording of the document, the interest of some of the signers) is wondering how overblown the claims of the petitioners of the “sanctity” of these sort of cultural events is. For example, I’m finding anecdotes of the US government refusing extradition of fugitive foreign nationals who were in the country for the Oscars. Anecdotes, sadly are not proof, but I find the whole thing fascinating. I’m really wondering how many of the petitioners are more upset about how it was done rather than it was done.

        Of course, it’s impossible to have a discussion on the internet with more than two sides.

        • Marie Brennan

          What exactly do you mean by guilty pleas “going bad”? Because you’re going to have to show me something a fuck of a lot worse than “the maximum possible sentence for a lesser charge than the ones you face in a trial” to justify fleeing the country for thirty years as a more reasonable response than, oh, filing an appeal and maybe a charge of misconduct against your judge.

          He pled guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. I don’t know the sentencing limits for that in 1970s California, but I’m pretty sure they’re more lenient than the ones for “rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14, and furnishing a controlled substance (methaqualone) to a minor.” Which is what he was originally charged with. Polanski took the safe bet and assumed he’d get off even safer, with a slap on the wrist — and now you’re trying to tell me that a perfectly legal decision to do more than slap him on the wrist is justification for thirty years of a more or less scot-free escape.

          You’re a friend of mine, and so I’m trying really hard to read this as you making a comment on some other case in your head, one where some disadvantaged party was given shitty legal advice and pled guilty to a crime he didn’t commit, and got screwed over as a result. But that isn’t what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about a guy who drugged and raped a thirteen-year-old girl, who when asked about his crime, said

          • moonandserpent

            I find nothing that he did justifiable. At all. The only way you could think that is if you hadn’t read any of my comments.

            I said that *I* would flee the country were I in a similar situation. Not that what he did was responsible or justifiable. *I* also wouldn’t step foot in ANY country that had an extradition treaty, nor would I be grumpy that I couldn’t pick up my Oscar just because I’d be arrested the moment I set foot back in the US. Come to think of it, *I* also wouldn’t have raped a kid.

            I have no fucking tolerance for supposed adults who inflict themselves on pre-sexual humans.

            There’s a vast difference between understanding someone’s actions and agreeing with them. He bolted, I understand that. I don’t agree with it.

            (As an aside, yeah, I have seen pleas entered for one reason or another that got ignored by the sitting judge. But that has no bearing on this. Unlike the sort of person that scenario shafts, Polanski had fiscal and legal recourse.)

            Meanwhile. I’m still fascinated by the process of when the US works with the extradition process and when it doesn’t and how that applies to the arts and culture. Which was, you know, the thing I was commenting on in the first place.

          • Marie Brennan

            So “You bet your ass I would flee” = “If I were Roman Polanski, and didn’t feel sorry for what I had done, and was pretty sure I could get away with skipping town, I would take that out.”

            That isn’t what the phrasing calls to mind for me, but it’s a lot better than how I originally read it.

  2. d_c_m

    Signed!! Thanks for posting.

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