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September 30th, 2009

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10:41 pm
This is a little blip in the whole Roman Polanski brouhaha, but it needled me so that I couldn't help but write about it. It's in the second person, which is the classic Open Letter to a Strawman tense, but the attitudes are real and the counter-argument given sincerely.

You can hate Roman Polanski all you want.

You can curse his name, you can vow never to watch anything of his ever again, you can make a dartboard with his face on it. He committed a serious crime, he drugged and raped a young girl, and then he made a plea bargain but ran away before he could stand and face the full legal consequences. (Considering the attitudes towards plea bargaining in serious criminal cases, that's double cowardice right there.) Be as righteously indignant as you want on this one, if you want. The man is a criminal and there's no reason why he doesn't deserve whatever punishment is handed down to him and whatever anger you may have for him.


Leave the victim out of it. Please.

Don't accuse her of "trying to hide this under the rug." I've seen this argument pop up now, mostly due to the fact that in the past, the victim and her family have requested the criminal charges be dropped, and even argued in favor of letting Polanski attend the Oscars when The Pianist was up for awards. Somehow the conclusion that has been reached here is that the victim is okay with everything that happened, that she is okay with Roman Polanski as a human being, and that she is okay with rape.

No. No. She's not okay with it. She believes what Polanski did was monstrous. He hurt her and violated her and she knows that all too well. But she also feels that the media coverage hurts just as much now. In asking to dismiss the case, she is trying to illustrate just how not okay it is every time this issue comes around and all those memories are brought back up again and displayed for everyone to see.

She's had thirty-two years of trying to come to terms with the crime, the botched trial, the civil case (which was settled out of court in her favor) and not to mention trying to make her peace with her attacker and her situation.

And that's why she's requested in the past to drop the case. She simply does not want to go through the ordeal again. The ordeal of more court activity, extensive media coverage, and having to recall the memories as the court transcripts from 1977 are brought back to light so we all can read just exactly what Polanski did to her, when, and how. While she is not commenting on the current events until more details come about, she's already said all she needs to about it back in January:
"Every time this case is brought to the attention of the court, great focus is made of me, my family, my mother and others," Geimer wrote in her affidavit to the court. "That attention is not pleasant to experience and is not worth maintaining over some irrelevant legal nicety, the continuation of the case."
("Irrelevant legal nicety" is odd wording, I admit, but I think her point has been made rather clearly.)

She was already vilified once, you know, back in the 70s, when she was painted as a Lolita temptress who obviously seduced the poor helpless man. And I bet there's someone out there who still believes that, and he'll probably be making comments on YouTube soon enough. I don't blame her for not wanting to be put back into a position where there's a good possibility that there'll be another round of Blame The Victim.

And how do you know just exactly what she's gone through since? Everybody deals with trauma differently. Everybody tries to put away the pain or exorcise it. Everybody just wants to make peace with their demons -- or, at the very least, everybody just wants peace, however they can get it. You've probably only been thinking about the Polanski case for a few days now. The victim has had thirty-two years. And accusing her of rug-sweeping because she's not as mad as you are now about the crime is so counter-productive that it hurts. I don't agree with her opinion that the charges be dropped, but I can understand why she believes it. She wants to move on with her life. She should have that chance.

But Polanski should not have the chance to move on. He lost that chance in 1977. It's very likely he'll be extradited and, one hopes, justice will hand him the sentence he was meant to serve. Focus on that, please. Focus on the criminal getting his due here. And once you're done with that, focus on these other words from Samantha Geimer:
"The one thing that bothers me is that what happened to me in 1977 happens to girls every day, yet people are interested in me because Mr. Polanski is a celebrity."
Then think of other things you can focus on. Maybe those words could help you.

(19 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 1st, 2009 03:12 am (UTC)


I keep being told I'm a bad feminist for siding with the victim's wishes about this case.
[User Picture]
Date:October 1st, 2009 03:49 am (UTC)
Well said, sir. Well said.
[User Picture]
Date:October 1st, 2009 04:08 am (UTC)
Fuck yes. She already testified and shouldn't have to again. The justice system has everything it needs to put him away and let him rot.
[User Picture]
Date:October 1st, 2009 04:58 am (UTC)
Bravo, sir. Bravo.
[User Picture]
Date:October 1st, 2009 07:26 am (UTC)
Beautifully written.

Crimes or tragedies involving celebrities (or large numbers, or anything interestingly different) get such unbalanced attention. Swine flu, for example. A few dozen people here died from it, -everyone- got it, including me, and it was all over the media for months. Yet every year here three thousand people die of regular flu and they don't rate a mention.
[User Picture]
Date:October 1st, 2009 10:40 am (UTC)
This was a great post. Thank you.
[User Picture]
Date:October 1st, 2009 10:46 am (UTC)
Well, Polanski did what's arguably the most important part (as far as she's concerned): he acknowledged guilt.

I can certainly agree with people being angry, but there's quite a bit of self-righteousness going around, and it's annoying.
[User Picture]
Date:October 1st, 2009 11:09 am (UTC)
...Yeah. A lot of the armchair commentary I've been reading on this story makes me want to punch myself in the face. People can kind of suck.
[User Picture]
Date:October 1st, 2009 11:32 am (UTC)
I think we can eat our cake and have it too: I can't imagine that she would need to testify again, in order to a) put him away for what he's already been tried and convicted of, and b) try him for fleeing justice.

He needs to go to prison. But I don't see that she needs to be put through the trauma of testifying again in order to make that happen.
Date:October 1st, 2009 12:30 pm (UTC)
Exactly this.
[User Picture]
Date:October 8th, 2009 12:07 am (UTC)
I agree with this too.
[User Picture]
Date:October 1st, 2009 04:26 pm (UTC)
Well put.

I'm not really sure where Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese and their group are coming from when they ask for the charges to be dropped. Just because it happened 3 decades ago he's no longer guilty?
[User Picture]
Date:October 2nd, 2009 06:46 pm (UTC)
i sort of wonder if that kind of behavior was so normative in Hollywood in the '70s that they sort of feel like "well, it's not like he did something REALLY bad". The treatment of women in movieland is notoriously exploitative.
[User Picture]
Date:October 1st, 2009 04:39 pm (UTC)
Spatch I don't think I've ever read you post with such vehemence on a topic as grave or politically charged as this one.

I have a box of internet applause for you, just let me know where to send it.

(seriously, thank you so much for posting this.)
[User Picture]
Date:October 1st, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC)
Thankyou for this post. Thankyou.
from little old feminist me and my judgypants-husband
Date:October 1st, 2009 05:55 pm (UTC)


I have emerged from anonymous lurkerdom to say thank you, thank you, and thank you again, Spatch. What an eloquent and thoughtful commentary.

Not that all your commentaries aren't eloquent and thoughtful. I'm usually just laughing so hard I can't log on.

Thank you.
[User Picture]
Date:October 1st, 2009 07:08 pm (UTC)
Hell to the YEAH!

The fact that her privacy was violated and her identity exposed is shameful and wrong enough. The media assholes who hunt her down and victimize her again every time Polanski's name gets in the news are just emotional rapists who never get punished.

I wish Judges in her neck of the woods could issue gag orders and restraining orders to protect her, like they could up here.
[User Picture]
Date:October 1st, 2009 10:54 pm (UTC)
this is a very well said and thoughtful post.
[User Picture]
Date:October 2nd, 2009 11:16 pm (UTC)

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