Saturday, October 03, 2009

Jonathan King: 'Roman Polanski, vindictive acts and a lack of kindness'

Jonathan King was invited by an Arcatiste to comment on whether Polanski should be returned to the US. Here's his response:

"All I can add, knowing nothing of the case, is the fact that then, as now, a plea of guilty does not mean somebody was guilty. Many mitigating circumstances get washed away as lawyers and police persuade innocent people to admit guilt, chipping away with "you'll be convicted anyway" and other reasons to give up. So I would say - never believe transcripts or pleas or "admission". Likewise, sometimes people did dreadful things having convinced themselves all was fine. Neither extreme is the reality, most times. But what is clear here is that vengeance and vindictive acts seem to have taken over tolerance and kindness in the world. Personally I think we should all be nice to everyone."


Ross Eldridge said...

Madame, Jonathan King seems to believe that the attempts to return Polanski to California are vindictive acts. Is this desire to have Polanski stand in the court that he fled from so many years ago based on some personal hate, on his race, on his art? Could it be that Polanski simply broke a law (or more than one) and was found guilty, and that the final sentencing was incomplete?

Certainly, in a perfect world all would be forgiven because there would be "no harm done". However, when someone is harmed, physically and mentally, I'm not sure that money can put a patch on the hurt. People are harmed ... And it is difficult to imagine anything as awful as a little girl (she was, after all, a little girl) being plied with drink and drugs and forced to submit to a sexual act when she, I gather, didn't want it to happen to her.

If we show the sort of kindness that Jonathan King recommends, I fear that we must forgive, and not bring before the courts, all those thieves, murderers and molesters hiding out in the world. The Nazis who murdered Polanski's family, if they are alive still, should not be brought before a judge.

Laws change. I suppose one day the British justice system will apologise for what they did to Oscar Wilde. (Or were his rent boys very young, by our current laws?) Andre Gide and Roger Peyrefitte pushed the limits, but in France, then, you could. And win awards! One could say that God got Joe Orton!

Genius is no excuse, no defense. Genius is a matter of opinion.

To deny the rule of law is a vindictive act. To somehow suggest some are "beyond it" by virtue of their friends, bank accounts or "success" at their line of work.

Anonymous said...

Phoarr, yeah

a bar-room lawyer said...

King is right to a degree but in the USA, without referring to the Polanski case specifically, the 'plea bargain" system often ensnares innocent people into pleading guilty to something, anything to avoid a lengthy and costly trial. One glaring example is the actor who played Pee Wee Herman who was busted on a 'child porn' charge and pled guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge to avoid jail.Yet that actor still has his collection of art (the reason for the bust) intact. Nothing was confiscated.

As for Polanski-his biggest problem will be the 'unlawful flight' angle which could get him more jail time that the original charge, if he is extradited (which I doubt will happen).

Jonathan King said...

Actually I think the one overwhelming rule these days is "Is it a good story?". That's what everybody lives by in this media age. Some will benefit from pursuing Polanski. Cops, prosecutors, politicians, papers, moralists, TV... That does not include him or his victim however.

a bar-room lawyer on his 3rd gin and tonic said...

It's the second time I've read a comparison with the 'Nazi' angle in connection with Polanski which I think isn't very appropriate given his mother died in a concentration camp.

Now that subject has been mentioned though-Alexander Cockburn gives an intriguing take on the whole Polanski case in CounterPunch and specifically mentions how the general feeling now has become 'why not let these old Nazi murderers die in their rest homes rather than extradite them", as compared to the frenzy of Polanski's case which is sex related and guaranteed to generate news.

Duralex said...

<< the frenzy of Polanski's case which is sex related and guaranteed to generate news. >>

Yes indeed. There's much hypocrisy in the way the media are covering that "event". I'm not saying that man is completely innocent (neither does he, by the way), but come on! He presumably took a teen's virginity in a moment of wildness, and this, to the best of our knowledge, only happened once in his life. But some fanatical moralists are after him as though he'd exterminated hundreds of people in cold blood. It's just insane!

Madame Arcati said...

The girl wasn't a virgin by her own confession. But that makes no difference.

a now sober bar-room lawyer said...

It's true-whther the girl was a virgin or not is beside the point. A lawyer associate argues that it's the passage of time that indicates the Polanski extradition gives the appearance of 'revenge' which in law enforcement should be avoided. Complicated stuff. I believe the Swiss will find a technicality to free Polamski at which time he will jump bail again.
(does MA have contol over 'word verification' ?-being asked to type 'oldhag' seems somewhat suspicious)

Jonathan King said...

There is a danger, when one has been the victim of a wrongful conviction, to assume everyone else is innocent too and the broken system constantly screws up. I don't think that and I'm sure most are indeed guilty of something. However I also believe that everything gets inflated and exaggerated to gain publicity, outrage and victory. We all love a good story. I feel we should encourage justice and truth yet always temper it with mercy and decency. As it happens I feel the same about chasing old Nazis for their crimes. There must come a time where we move on.

Anonymous said...

"The girl wasn't a virgin by her own confession. But that makes no difference."

Oh yes it does. For a very young girl losing one's virginity to an unwanted sexual partner and before the appropriate time is quite a painful experience, both physically and psychologically - I know what I'm talking about. Obviously 'Madame' has never been a teenage girl in her life! ;->

Madame Arcati said...

Keep your knickers on duckie. I said the fact the girl was not a virgin at the time of the Polanski assault is not relevant to the question of Polanski's culpability. Try to stop reading the redtops, they rot the brain.