Monday, September 28, 2009

More News on Polanski...

The internet and news has been full of stories on Polanski's recent arrest in Switzerland. Many people are debating the subject on comments in the news stories. It has gotten so bad that Wikipedia has locked Polanski's biography page they have on him:

Administrators at Wikipedia have blocked filmmaker Roman Polanski's Wikipedia page from being changed after an 'edit war' broke out following the news of Polanski's arrest on child sex charges.

Wikipedia's forum indicates that users of the free encyclopedia disagreed over whether Polanski's sexual molestation of a 13 year-old, for which he was arrested on September 27, 2009, should be given more weight than his professional accomplishments.

The Telegraph reports,

One contributor wrote that it amounted to a breach of Wikipedia's commitment to neutrality to describe Polanski only as a "Polish-French film director, producer, writer and actor" in the first sentence of the entry, because "he's just as well known as a child molester as he's known as a writer". [...]

After one contributor deleted a reference to the initial charges, another tried to get them reinstated, writing: "I'm very concerned by the attempt to remove this information from the article. After all, this is what the whole case is about."

Polanski's Wikipedia page has a note at the top alerting users, "This page is currently protected from editing until September 28, 2009 or until disputes have been resolved."

Read more at:

Currently, Polanski's page introduces him as, a Polish-French[1][2] film director, producer, writer and actor. Polanski began his career in Poland, and later became a celebrated[3] Academy Award-winning director of both art house and commercial films, making such films as Rosemary's Baby (1968) and Chinatown (1974). Polanski is one of the world's best known contemporary film directors and is widely considered as one of the greatest directors of his time.

His arrest for having sex with a 13 year-old is not mentioned until the second paragraph. On Wikipdia, Polanski is listed in categories that include "Sex Scandal Figures," "Fugitives Wanted On Sex Crime Charges," and "French Sex Offenders."

In the past, WIkipedia has locked other controversial entries from being edited because of the disputes over their content. The Telegraph notes, "Earlier this year members of the Church of Scientology were banned from editing articles about their church, while Palestinian and pro-Israeli groups have repeatedly clashed over attempts to correct historical "errors" on the site."

For additional articles on the Polanski case, here are some interesting links:

Some articles have shown a timeline of Polanski's tragedies:

*1933 Polanski born in Paris to a Polish-Jewish father and a Russian mother of Jewish extraction. The family moved back to Poland when he was three.

*1940 He escapes the Jewish ghetto in Krakow after being told to run by his father. His father survives, but his mother dies in Auschwitz.

*1969: Roman Polanski's pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, is murdered by cult followers of Charles Manson.

*1977: The director has sex with a 13-year-old girl during a Hollywood photo shoot for Vogue.

*1978: Awaiting sentencing on a charge of statutory rape, he flees to Europe.

*1989: The Polanski case judge, Laurence Rittenband, steps down.

*1997: Attempt to settle case fails.

*2003: Victim Samantha Geimer says Polanski has been punished enough.

*2008: Documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" is released. It makes a detailed case for misconduct by Judge Rittenband and prosecutors.
Polanski's legal team asks that case be dismissed, in part because of information in "Wanted."

*2009: New Polanski motions filed to dismiss case and to move it out of L.A., where alleged judicial misconduct occurred. Polanski's motions denied. He's told to surrender before any deal can be reached. He appeals. On September 26, the director is arrested in at Zurich airport.

Furthermore, nearly 100 filmmakers have called in a petition to have Polanski released.

One of the most interesting articles is here:

Should Roman Polanski Be Imprisoned? Should Roman Polanski be jailed for raping a 13-year-old? (parts of the article are edited below).

Psychology Today blog readers are outraged at the film director Roman Polanksi's escaping justice after pleading guilty 30 years ago to raping a 13-year-old girl, while the international film community is outraged at Polanski's recent arrest. Can there possibly be a larger cultural chasm?

Polanski was arrested when he arrived at Switzerand's Zurich Film Festival where the 76-year-old director of "Rosemary's Baby," "Chinatown," and "The Pianist" (for which he received an Oscar in absentia) was to receive a lifetime achievement award.

Polanski went to elaborate lengths 32 years ago, when he was 43, to seduce a 13-year-old aspiring model he had met originally at a restaurant with her mother, and whom he promised to assist in her career. After hours taking pictures, then plying the girl with alcohol and a Quaalude, over her initial objections, he had sex with her, including intercourse, performing oral sex on the girl, and sodomizing her.

Polanski was charged with sex with a minor and forcible rape, and spent 42 days in jail under "evaluation." When a plea arrangement based on his accepting guilt but which would have released him for time served fell through, Polanski fled the U.S.

In France, where Polanski has lived since leaving this country, culture minister Frederic Mitterrand announced that he was "dumbfounded" by Polanski's arrest, and said that he "strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them." Prominent movie-industry figures expressed similar feelings.

Along with escaping the Holocaust in Poland, Polansky suffered through the murder of his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, at the hands of Charles Manson's acolytes.

In 2005, the girl - now married and mother of three children - declared: "He took sex from me and my innocence. I don't think it occurred to him that someone wouldn't want sex with him." Although she obviously doesn't view Polanski in a positive light, the woman does not want the case pursued further.

What should be done about Polanski, who is now being detained by Swiss authorities? In recognition of his age, his accomplishments, the maturation of his victim - who has stated she doesn't want Polanski imprisoned - should he simply be forgiven his crime and allowed to live out his life?

Is this in any way a matter for psychological consideration?

Sequelae (Sept. 28): PT blog readers are overwhelmingly negative towards Polanski, and demand retribution; Hollywood and European filmmakers and cultural figures are appalled at Polanski's arrest. A megabattle of cultural perspectives has shaped up. I'm glad his victim seems largely healed, because this debate is going to become ugly.

Meanwhile sentiment in Hollywood and among the cultural elite around the world supports Polanski. As the Times headlined: "Swiss Move Against Polanski Outrages His Sympathizers."

According to The Times:

Nearly 100 entertainment industry professionals, including the movie directors Pedro Almodovar, Wong Kar Wai and Wim Wenders called in a petition for Mr. Polanski’s release, saying: “Filmmakers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision.”. . .

Jack Lang, a former French culture minister, said that for Europeans the development showed that the American system of justice had run amok. While Mr. Polanski had committed “a grave crime,” Mr. Lang said, “he is a great creator and artist, and there’s a sentiment here that pursuing someone for a crime committed 30 years ago, in which the victim has decided to drop the case, is unreasonable, a kind of judicial lynching."

Here is a full bodied defense of Polanski by conservative columnist Anne Applebaum, of the Washington Post, one of many who call Polanski’s arrest - or, on the other side, who call defenders of Polanski - “outrageous.”

"Here are some of the facts: Polanski’s crime — statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl — was committed in 1977. The girl, now 45, has said more than once that she forgives him, that she can live with the memory, that she does not want him to be put back in court or in jail, and that a new trial will hurt her husband and children. There is evidence of judicial misconduct in the original trial. There is evidence that Polanski did not know her real age. Polanski, who panicked and fled the U.S. during that trial, has been pursued by this case for 30 years, during which time he has never returned to America, has never returned to the United Kingdom., has avoided many other countries, and has never been convicted of anything else. He did commit a crime, but he has paid for the crime in many, many ways: In notoriety, in lawyers’ fees, in professional stigma. He could not return to Los Angeles to receive his recent Oscar. He cannot visit Hollywood to direct or cast a film.

He can be blamed, it is true, for his original, panicky decision to flee. But for this decision I see mitigating circumstances, not least an understandable fear of irrational punishment. Polanski’s mother died in Auschwitz. His father survived Mauthausen. He himself survived the Krakow ghetto, and later emigrated from communist Poland. His pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered in 1969 by the followers of Charles Manson, though for a time Polanski himself was a suspect." [In other words, Polanski suffered from two diseases. In addition to the disorder that drove him to assault a young girl pointed out by a Psychology Today commenter, Applebaum (a friend who takes up for Polanski) identifies another disease that made Polanski flee to avoid punishment. What seems remarkable is that he was released after his 42-day psych evaluation given that he was tormented by these conditions.]

Richard Cohen, also of the Post, also favors freeing Polanski, but still completely disapproves of the man. Let's end with Cohen's bon mot: Polanski is an old man who is "spending his dotage making fools of his champions, who cannot distinguish between sexual freedom and sexual assault."

We will bring you more up to date news as we find it.

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