Today is winter solstice, so after today the days start getting longer again, which will be much appreciated.
Hope you all have a fab Christmas time!
About me? Mad, disabled, in debt, feminist, radical, angry, pacifist, warrior, radio 4 listener, geek, flower-power chick... About Hippie blog? Ramblings, photos, fury, giggles and musings about love, peace, friendship, madness, happiness, the state of the world, my life, cool pics, my health and general ranting...
Italians shrug off extramarital sex, yet they are prim in their attitudes to premarital sex, at least outside the stable context of fidanzamento (engagement). They use the same words for boyfriend and fiance.
So many were taken aback to learn that, by the time she was arrested at the age of 20, Knox had had sex with seven men. They were less outraged by how this information was obtained: Knox was told in prison she was HIV-positive and asked to write a list of her lovers. Before she was told that a mistake had been made, the list was passed to investigators, one of whom passed it to a journalist.
Pippa, PO Box 4663, Sheffield, S1 9FNAlternatively if you want to get any of my zines just let me know when you order that you want some of the magazine flyers and I'll stick some in the envelope for you.
I'm in a board meeting. Having a miscarriage. Thank goodness, because there's a f**ked-up 3-week hoop-jump to have an abortion in Wisconsin.
there are many women who want the baby and have a miscarriage. I was one of them. I cried for days. I get it.
I am four months pregnant. But the baby is dead, inside me, and must be removed. I am devastated. I always knew this could happen, in the back of my mind. But you are never prepared for something like this to happen.
To all of you who said I should not be happy about having a miscarriage: You are the ones short on empathy. Any woman who is pregnant but wishes she weren’t would of course be grateful when she has a miscarriage. [...]
But if you have ever had an abortion, which I have, you would know that a miscarriage is preferable to an abortion. Even the Pope would agree with that.
not talking about a miscarriage or an abortion—or all the complicated feelings that can get rolled up in both—because it's just too personal is fine. But not talking about it because no one else ever talks about it—so maybe we're just not supposed too—is not.
Isn't it a shame that writing about disability and feminism and inclusivity is something that is still a remarkable thing?
I know disabled feminists have a lot to offer - we have been forced to plumb the depths of our ingenuity to do the things we want to, using as few spoons as possible, and to choose our battles because we simply have to prioritise everything, everyday. Feminism has always benefited from the ingenuity of women - letting disabled people in will only add to this. We are another voice in the choir that will make the song sweeter and stronger.
Our Greetings Card Campaign brings people across the world in touch with each other in a simple way - by sending a card with a friendly greeting or message of solidarity to someone who is in danger or unjustly imprisoned.
Below are 32 stories about people around the world who have suffered human rights abuses and would benefit from a card with a friendly greeting or message of support.
Between 1 November 2009 and 31 January 2010 we'd like you to write to as many of them as you like and remember that just one personalised message will mean the world to a prisoner in a cell or a family waiting for news of a loved one.
Bankrupt the BNP!
Well, maybe not quite bankrupt, but folks in the UK can help make this bunch of fascists considerably poorer.
They've just got themselves a freepost address:
British Heritage FREEPOST
Nice and easy to remember eh? Every 'letter' to this address costs them 42p, and can simply be an empty envelope with the address on it. It's cheap to buy a bunch of these (you can get 50 self-seal ones for 75p from Wilkos) and run them through your printer while you're off doing far more interesting things. A friend has so far sent 1250 envelopes, costing the fash over 500 quid. That's less than £20 of my mate's hard-earned cash very well spent!
Please feel free to join in.
42p may not sound like much, but it would pay for dozens of BNP leaflets. Multiply that by potentially tens of thousands of empty envelopes sent their way and the impact on their activities becomes much more obvious. And when an envelope costs little more than a penny, it really does make sound economic sense!
We're advised that it's not worth sending heavy objects as they'll be filtered out at the sorting office, and we don't want to make our posties' jobs even harder than they already are.
Feminism needs to integrate disability politics, needs to embrace disabled women and our experiences, to be fully feminist. Excluding disabled women from feminist academia, analysis, activism and community not only is crap for the disabled woman, it prevents feminism from becoming all it needs to be to liberate women.
Fireworks come in all colours. But they certainly aren't green. The full spectrum of toxic nasties shower down from firework displays all over the country today. Aluminium provides the brilliant whites, antimony sulphide produces the glittering effects, carcinogenic copper compounds produce bright blues, barium nitrate gives off glittering greens but a poisonous smoke that can cause breathing problems and bright red colours are sadly accompanied by strontium which can cause bone disorders. The list of hazards to people, pets and the environment goes on.
But are there any alternatives? In the United States 4 July is the annual big bang in a country which last year got through 97 tonnes of fireworks. After residents near Disneyland started to complain of breathing problems the company invested in research by scientists at Los Alamos national laboratory in New Mexico to replace the chemical accelerants with compressed air. But the fireworks are expensive and unlikely to replace the more popular but more hazardous fireworks filled with percholates that contaminate water.
More recently a pyrotechnic company claims to have developed a more eco-friendly firework using sawdust and rice chaff. But whether this development is little more than a damp squib is unknown.
Then there's the danger posed by bonfires to hedgehogs. The RSPB also warns of siting your beautiful bonfire too close to trees, shrubs or the nest boxes of birds.
A purple ribbon is worn to raise awareness for various causes, including:
-Xenophobia and Homophobia (Austria 2009)
-The exile of FVSports poster Str8EastCoastin
-Victims of 9/11
-ADD and ADHD
It is worn by trade union members on Workers' Memorial Day (April 28), to commemorate workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work. It is also a symbol used by 4 R Kids Sake whose mission is to protect our children from preventable injuries and death in and around cars. They were the driving force behind purple ribbon month in CA.
On the website FVSports.com, poster Horns21 is using the purple ribbon wrapped around a bottle of wild turkey as a symbol of support for banned poster Str8EastCoastin.
Testing times for disabled people
The new eligibility test for people on sickness benefit will only intensify the massive disadvantage faced by disabled people
There are some good principles behind the new Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), but what does the accompanying eligibility test actually mean for disabled people? The first full set of figures to show its impact suggest that more disabled people could end up in poverty.
A year ago the ESA was introduced to replace Incapacity Benefit (IB). At the same time the "work capability assessment", was introduced. Now the figures showing the impact of this new assessment have been published.
Essentially, they show that the new assessment is considerably tougher than the old one, so fewer people are being found eligible for the benefit. As eventually all existing recipients of IB will also be retested under the new assessment, the figures also show us that many people currently in receipt of IB will be found ineligible for the new benefit when retested.
Their circumstances won't have changed, their impairment will not have altered, but as the new test is tougher, they will no longer be eligible.
Disabled people still face massive disadvantage in the labour market. They are far less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people, and when in work likely to earn less. A recent survey of human resources professionals found that nine out of 10 agreed that employers would choose a non-disabled candidate over an equally qualified disabled candidate. Disabled people are also twice as likely as non-disabled people to have no qualifications, and twice as likely to live in poverty. It is clear that a benefits system that does more to help disabled people to find work, while also better supporting those furthest from the labour market, could potentially play a massive role in challenging disability poverty.
The new ESA is meant to offer disabled people better and more personalised support to get back to work. But if the assessment is made so tough that people are not getting the benefit in the first place, then they will also not be getting the support that could help them get into employment.
The benefit also includes a higher rate for those not expected to return to work. Of course this is positive, but the basic rate is just £5 more per week, and will not even begin to lift people out of poverty. The best way to save money in the long term would be to ensure disabled people have the support they need to get into work.
The extent of disability poverty in the UK should be a national scandal, and the benefits system should be a key weapon in changing the situation. Disabled people want to work and there is a crucial role for an active, engaging benefits system that offers support, challenges the continuing barriers to employment and works to lift those furthest from employment out of poverty. The key must be to get disabled people the support that they need and not to push them away from it.
If God Had Wanted Me To Be Accepting Of Gays, He Would Have Given Me The Warmth And Compassion To Do So
I don't question God. The Lord is my Shepherd and I shall put none above Him. Which is why I know that if it were part of God's plan for me to stop viciously condemning others based solely on their sexual preference, He would have seen fit—in His infinite wisdom and all—to have given me the tiniest bit of human empathy necessary to do so.
It's a simple matter of logic, really. God made me who I am, and who I am is a cold, anti-gay zealot. Thus, I abhor gay people because God made me that way. Why is that so hard to understand?
Here, let's start with the basic facts: I hate and fear gay people. The way they feel is different from how I feel, and that causes me a lot of confusion and anger. Everyone knows God is all-powerful. He could easily have given me the capacity to investigate what's behind those feelings rather than tell strangers in the park they're going to hell for holding hands. But God clearly has another path for me. And who am I to question His divine will?
Compassion, tolerance, understanding, basic decency, the ability to put myself in another person's position: God could have endowed me with any of those traits and yet—here is the crucial part—He didn't. Why? Because the Creator of the Universe wants me to demonize homosexuals in an effort to strip them of their fundamental human rights.
I'm sorry, but you can't possibly ask me to explain everything God does. He works in mysterious ways, remember?
Try to understand. If I were capable of thinking and acting any other way, then I'm sure I would, but God seems to be quite adamant about this one. He's just not budging at all. So unless our almighty Lord and Savior decides to change His mind about my ability to empathize on even the most basic level—which I find highly unlikely—then everyone is just going to have to accept the fact that I'm going to keep on hating homosexuals. And I know that He will fill me with the strength to remain mindless and hurtful in the face of adversity.
Which isn't to say that my faith hasn't been tested. Believe me, there have been times when I've drifted from the bitter and terrified life God has chosen for me. When my younger brother told me he was gay, it shook my faith to its very core. But here I am, 27 years later, still refusing to take his calls. Just the way God intended.
It's actually pretty astonishing how many complaints to the school board you can make regarding the new band teacher you've never met when you are filled with the Light of Christ and devoid of any real kindness or mercy toward His other children.
At the end of the day, I'm just trying to lead a good Christian life. That means going to church on Sunday, following the Ten Commandments, and fighting what I believe to be a sexual abomination through a series of petty actions and bitter comments made under my breath. Sure, I sometimes wish God would just reach into my heart and give me the ability to treat all people with, at the very least, the decency and respect they deserve as human beings. But unfortunately for that new couple who moved in three houses down, He hasn't yet.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have God's work to do.
Common Roman Polanski Defenses Refuted
Roman Polanski, the 76-year-old filmmaker who was accused of drugging and raping 13-year-old Samantha Geimer in 1977, has been arrested in Switzerland. Polanski, who was convicted of having sex with a minor but fled to France before he could be sentenced, is currently facing extradition back to the United States, where he could finally be sentenced for his 32-year-old conviction. In the wake of Polanski’s belated arrest, commentators have posed dozens of arguments in the Oscar-winning director’s defense. Most of them are bullshit.
“But he’s already paid his price, because everyone knows he’s a rapist, and he can never work in Hollywood.”
As Patrick Goldstein wrote in the LA Times, “I think Polanski has already paid a horrible, soul-wrenching price for the infamy surrounding his actions. The real tragedy is that he will always, till his death, be snubbed and stalked and confronted by people who think the price he has already paid isn’t enough.”
Ahh: “the real tragedy.” Some people may be under the impression that a 13-year-old being drugged and raped by a 44-year-old man constitutes a “real tragedy.” Others may contend that both Polanski and his rape victim have suffered “real tragedies” in their lifetimes. But no, there can only be one the real tragedy, and it is that people have “snubbed” Roman Polanski because he raped someone and skipped town. If only the recognition of the Academy Awards, the BAFTAs, the Berlin International Film Festival, Cannes, the Directors Guild of America, the Golden Globes, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Stokholm Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival, and dozens of other awards organizations could begin to heal that wound.
“But he escaped the Holocaust / his mother died at Auschwitz / His wife was killed by Charles Manson”
Talk about real tragedies: These, of course, are real tragedies. Upon hearing of Polanski’s arrest, French Minister of Culture Frederic Mitterrand announced that he “strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them.”
This is a fair argument—and one that can be made about many, many people convicted of crimes in the United States. A lot of the people who are locked up behind bars have endured unspeakable traumas in their own lives—sexual assault, poverty, drug addiction, gang life, homelessness, and mental illness. Why are they held accountable for their actions, while Polanski gets to be like, “Peace, I’m just going to chill in France for thirty years, try not to rape anybody else, and maybe win an Oscar. See you guys later”? It’s not because of what he endured. It’s because he makes movies.
But let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Polaski isn’t getting a break because he’s famous, but rather because he’s had a hard life. When France decries “the ordeal” being “inflicted” on Polanski, what the country is really saying is that rape is not important because it’s not as horrific as the Holocaust, and not as evil as Charles Manson. And that’s a pretty fucked-up standard, oui?
“But he made The Pianist / Chinatown / Rosemary’s Baby / Revulsion.”
Congratulations, the Huffington Post’s Kim Morgan: You win the prize of penning the most disgusting defense of Polanski I’ve read to date! Morgan prefaces her post by saying she is “not going to go into my Roman Polanski defense,” but suffice to say she is “not happy about his arrest.” Instead of getting bogged down by the legal gobbledygook, Morgan shoots off a blog post entitled “Roman Polanski Understands Women.” Seriously.
“One should not,” she writes, “take Polanski’s films literally, for they are often heightened versions of what occurs naturally in our world: desire, perversion, repulsion.” Okay, but how about his rape of a 13-year-old girl? Are we allowed to take that “natural occurrence” literally? Morgan doesn’t directly address that question, but she does argue that Polanski’s very brilliance is a product of his relationship with human “darkness”:
Polanski’s removed morality is exactly why he is often brilliant: He is so empathetic to his characters that, like a trauma victim floating above the pain, he is personally impersonal. He insightfully scrutinizes what is so frightening about being human, yet he doesn’t feel the need to be resolute or sentimental about his cognizance. He is also, consciously or subconsciously, aware of the darkness he explores, especially in his female characters, who could be seen as extensions of himself.
Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kim-morgan/roman-polanski-understand_b_301292.html
You know what I find revolting? When a film critic prefaces her work with a disclaimer about how much it sucks that a rapist is getting arrested for raping someone, and then uses the rapiest imagery possible to applaud his film work. Nope! Sorry! Understanding Women is not a valid defense against rape. Similarly, being a really marvelous film director doesn’t mean that you get to rape someone and not go to prison. Even if you made The Pianist.
Remember: making The Pianist and being a rapist are not mutually exclusive.
Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kim-morgan/roman-polanski-understand_b_301292.html
Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kim-morgan/roman-polanski-understand_b_301292.ht“not happy about his arrest,” and goes on to defend “Roman Polanski Understands Woman”
“But the girl’s mother made him rape her.”
Oops, nevermind, this one is actually an even more disgusting defense of Roman Polanski, also on the Huffington Post:
The 13-year old model ’seduced’ by Polanski had been thrust onto him by her mother, who wanted her in the movies. The girl was just a few weeks short of her 14th birthday, which was the age of consent in California. (It’s probably 13 by now!) Polanski was demonized by the press, convicted, and managed to flee, fearing a heavy sentence. I met Polanski shortly after he fled America and was filming Tess in Normandy. I was working in the CBS News bureau in Paris, and I accompanied Mike Wallace for a Sixty Minutes interview with Polanski on the set. Mike thought he would be meeting the devil incarnate, but was utterly charmed by Roman’s sobriety and intelligence.
So, Polanski is just a really special guy who was practically forced to have sex with that 13-year-old girl by her mother. It’s almost as if Roman Polanski was raped by that 13-year-old girl. Also, no, the age of consent in California is not “13 by now,” it is 16 18 (!!). By the by: the author of this little gem is Joan Z. Shore, co-founder of Women Overseas for Equality. Thanks, Joan, for your deft approach to women’s issues!
“But he didn’t know she was 13.”
Please, Anne Applebaum. Polanski had to ask her mother for permission to shoot her for Vogue.
“But 13 is old enough to consent to sex”
Let’s assume that, like Joan Shore and others have suggested, age 13 is old enough to consent to sex, and Polanski is merely a victim of the Puritanical sex laws of the U.S.A. If that’s true, then surely 13 would be old enough to say no to sex, right? Because here’s what Geimer said happened at the one-on-one Vogue shoots:
According to Geimer in a 2003 interview, “Everything was going fine; then he asked me to change, well, in front of him.” She added, “It didn’t feel right, and I didn’t want to go back to the second shoot.”
Geimer later agreed to a second session, which took place on March 10, 1977 at the Mulholland area home of actor Jack Nicholson in Los Angeles. “We did photos with me drinking champagne,” Geimer says. “Toward the end it got a little scary, and I realized he had other intentions and I knew I was not where I should be. I just didn’t quite know how to get myself out of there.” She recalled in a 2003 interview that she began to feel uncomfortable after he asked her to lie down on a bed, and how she attempted to resist. “I said, ‘No, no. I don’t want to go in there. No, I don’t want to do this. No!”, and then I didn’t know what else to do,” she stated.
That’s rape, whether you are 13 years old or 14 or 16 or 44 or 76.
“But the American justice system is fucked up.”
Granted. But if we’re going to talk about the fuck-up-edness of the U.S. legal system, surely we can find a better martyr than a famous rich guy with the best lawyers in the world who drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl, struck a plea deal in order to get off with the lesser charge of “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor” (or statutory rape), and then fled the country when it looked like the plea deal may not be honored? I’m all for Polanski being tried legally and fairly. Over the years, Polanski has repeatedly attempted to appeal the case—a really cool feature of the American legal process he purposefully evaded—but he refuses to appear in court.
Excuse me while I play the world’s tiniest piano, but if the American legal system is broken, the fix is not for rapists to just choose their own adventure (in this case, France).
“But his victim has forgiven him”
From Applebaum’s column: “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.”
It’s certainly a relief to hear that Geimer, after three decades and a settled civil suit against Polanski, has moved on from her childhood sexual assault. Of course, a victim’s should always be considered over the course of a trial. At the same time, forgiveness, sympathy, and identification with one’s attacker are fairly common in sexual assault cases, and these sentiments don’t make sexual assault any less damaging—or any more legal. Again, you can argue that Polanski is an example of how the American legal system unduly punishes its criminals, but until you’re willing to free all the nation’s sex offenders and make them promise to just keep their cool until their victims get around to forgiving them, it’s not a very solid argument.
“But his victim doesn’t want to have to relive her assault again.”
Now we’re getting somewhere. Samantha Geimer, like many victims of sexual assault, is justified in holding a grudge against the criminal justice system. When a rape victim decides to report her assault to the police, she’s looking at years of intense police, legal, and media scrutiny. She will have to relive her assault over and over again over the course of trial and investigation. She will have her sexual history dredged up and put on display. These are all big deterrents to reporting sexual assault. But while a sexual assault victim may never personally recover from the trauma, the public scrutiny, at least, usually ends with the sentencing.
Unless, of course, your attacker is a famous movie director who refuses to be sentenced, in which case you will be forced to relive your assault: a) every time your attacker attempts to cross another country’s borders; b) every time your attacker releases a new film; c) every time your attacker attempts to have his conviction overturned; d) every time your attacker does anything noteworthy. The fact that Geimer’s childhood sexual assault has haunted her in the press for 30 years is a real tragedy, and one man is responsible for that: Roman Polanski.
Reminder: Roman Polanski Raped a Child.
Roman Polanski raped a child. Let's just start right there, because that's the detail that tends to get neglected when we start discussing whether it was fair for the bail-jumping director to be arrested at age 76, after 32 years in "exile" (which in this case means owning multiple homes in Europe, continuing to work as a director, marrying and fathering two children, even winning an Oscar, but never -- poor baby -- being able to return to the U.S.). Let's keep in mind that Roman Polanski gave a 13-year-old girl a Quaalude and champagne, then raped her, before we start discussing whether the victim looked older than her 13 years, or that she now says she'd rather not see him prosecuted because she can't stand the media attention. Before we discuss how awesome his movies are or what the now-deceased judge did wrong at his trial, let's take a moment to recall that according to the victim's grand jury testimony, Roman Polanski instructed her to get into a jacuzzi naked, refused to take her home when she begged to go, began kissing her even though she said no and asked him to stop; performed cunnilingus on her as she said no and asked him to stop; put his penis in her vagina as she said no and asked him to stop; asked if he could penetrate her anally, to which she replied, "No," then went ahead and did it anyway, until he had an orgasm.
Drugging and raping a child, then leaving the country before you can be sentenced for it, is behavior our society should not tolerate, no matter how famous, wealthy or well-connected you are
Can we do that? Can we take a moment to think about all that, and about the fact that Polanski pled guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, before we start talking about what a victim he is? Because that would be great, and not nearly enough people seem to be doing it.
The French press, for instance (at least according to the British press) is describing Polanski "as the victim of a money-grabbing American mother and a publicity-hungry Californian judge." Joan Z. Shore at the Huffington Post, who once met Polanski and "was utterly charmed by [his] sobriety and intelligence," also seems to believe that a child with an unpleasant stage mother could not possibly have been raped: "The 13-year old model 'seduced' by Polanski had been thrust onto him by her mother, who wanted her in the movies." Oh, well, then! If her mom put her into that situation, that makes it much better! Shore continues: "The girl was just a few weeks short of her 14th birthday, which was the age of consent in California. (It's probably 13 by now!) Polanski was demonized by the press, convicted, and managed to flee, fearing a heavy sentence."
Wow, OK, let's break that down. First, as blogger Jeff Fecke says, "Fun fact: the age of consent in 1977 in California was 16. It's now 18. But of course, the age of consent isn't like horseshoes or global thermonuclear war; close doesn't count. Even if the age of consent had been 14, the girl wasn't 14." Also, even if the girl had been old enough to consent, she testified that she did not consent. There's that. Though of course everyone makes a bigger deal of her age than her testimony that she did not consent, because if she'd been 18 and kept saying no while he kissed her, licked her, screwed her and sodomized her, this would almost certainly be a whole different story -- most likely one about her past sexual experiences and drug and alcohol use, about her desire to be famous, about what she was wearing, about how easy it would be for Roman Polanski to get consensual sex, so hey, why would he need to rape anyone? It would quite possibly be a story about a wealthy and famous director who pled not guilty to sexual assault, was acquitted on "she wanted it" grounds, and continued to live and work happily in the U.S. Which is to say that 30 years on, it would not be a story at all. So it's much safer to focus on the victim's age removing any legal question of consent than to get tied up in that thorny "he said, she said" stuff about her begging Polanski to stop and being terrified of him.
Second, Polanski was "demonized by the press" because he raped a child, and was convicted because he pled guilty. He "feared heavy sentencing" because drugging and raping a child is generally frowned upon by the legal system. Shore really wants us to pity him because of these things? (And, I am not making this up, boycott the entire country of Switzerland for arresting him.)
As ludicrous as Shore's post is, I have to agree with Fecke that my favorite Polanski apologist is the Washington Post's Anne Applebaum, who finds it "bizarre" that anyone is still pursuing this case. And who also, by the by, failed to disclose the tiny, inconsequential detail that her husband, Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski, is actively pressuring U.S. authorities to drop the case.
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.
There is also evidence that Polanski raped a child. There is evidence that the victim did not consent, regardless of her age. There is evidence -- albeit purely anecdotal, in this case -- that only the most debased crapweasel thinks "I didn't know she was 13!" is a reasonable excuse for raping a child, much less continuing to rape her after she's said no repeatedly. There is evidence that the California justice system does not hold that "notoriety, lawyers' fees and professional stigma" are an appropriate sentence for child rape.
But hey, he wasn't allowed to pick up his Oscar in person! For the love of all that's holy, hasn't the man suffered enough?
Granted, Roman Polanski has indeed suffered a great deal in his life, which is where Applebaum takes her line of argument next:
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.
Surviving the Holocaust certainly could lead to an "understandable fear of irrational punishment," but being sentenced for pleading guilty to child rape is basically the definition of rational punishment. Applebaum then points out that Polanski was a suspect in the murder of his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, a crime actually committed by the Manson family -- but again, that was the unfortunate consequence of a perfectly rational justice system. Most murdered pregnant women were killed by husbands or boyfriends, so that suspicion was neither personal nor unwarranted. This isn't Kafkaesque stuff.
But what of the now-45-year-old victim, who received a settlement from Polanski in a civil case, saying she'd like to see the charges dropped? Shouldn't we be honoring her wishes above all else?
In a word, no. At least, not entirely. I happen to believe we should honor her desire not to be the subject of a media circus, which is why I haven't named her here, even though she chose to make her identity public long ago. But as for dropping the charges, Fecke said it quite well: "I understand the victim's feelings on this. And I sympathize, I do. But for good or ill, the justice system doesn't work on behalf of victims; it works on behalf of justice."
It works on behalf of the people, in fact -- the people whose laws in every state make it clear that both child rape and fleeing prosecution are serious crimes. The point is not to keep 76-year-old Polanski off the streets or help his victim feel safe. The point is that drugging and raping a child, then leaving the country before you can be sentenced for it, is behavior our society should not -- and at least in theory, does not -- tolerate, no matter how famous, wealthy or well-connected you are, no matter how old you were when you finally got caught, no matter what your victim says about it now, no matter how mature she looked at 13, no matter how pushy her mother was, and no matter how many really swell movies you've made.
Roman Polanski raped a child. No one, not even him, disputes that. Regardless of whatever legal misconduct might have gone on during his trial, the man admitted to unlawful sex with a minor. But the Polanski apologism we're seeing now has been heating up since "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," the 2008 documentary about Polanski's fight to get the conviction dismissed. Writing in Salon, Bill Wyman criticized the documentary's whitewashing of Polanksi's crimes last February, after Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza ruled that if the director wanted to challenge the conviction, he'd need to turn himself in to U.S. authorities and let the justice system sort it out. "Fugitives don't get to dictate the terms of their case ... Polanski deserves to have any potential legal folderol investigated, of course. But the fact that Espinoza had to state the obvious is testimony to the ways in which the documentary, and much of the media coverage the director has received in recent months, are bizarrely skewed."
The reporting on Polanski's arrest has been every bit as "bizarrely skewed," if not more so. Roman Polanski may be a great director, an old man, a husband, a father, a friend to many powerful people, and even the target of some questionable legal shenanigans. He may very well be no threat to society at this point. He may even be a good person on balance, whatever that means. But none of that changes the basic, undisputed fact: Roman Polanski raped a child. And rushing past that point to focus on the reasons why we should forgive him, pity him, respect him, admire him, support him, whatever, is absolutely twisted.
― Kate Harding
Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!
1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.
2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!
3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!
4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.
5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!
6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.
7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.
8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.
9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!
10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.
And, ALWAYS REMEMBER: if you didn’t ask permission and then respect the answer the first time, you are commiting a crime- no matter how “into it” others appear to be.
the Williamses are suing the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (formerly the Royal Group of Hospitals Trust) for damages for their mental distress, social discredit and breach of contract under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.
'I felt very angry and betrayed,' he says. 'We'd placed all our trust in the hospital and one person's mistake had ruined all our futures.
'It's not so bad when we all go away on holiday, but at home I've given up picking up my son from school and we don't go out as a family any more.
DO NOT EXPECT YOUR DOCTOR TO SHARE YOUR DISCOMFORT
Involvement with the patient's suffering might cause him to lose valuable scientific objectivity.
BE CHEERFUL AT ALL TIMES
Your doctor leads a busy and trying life and requires all the gentleness and reassurance he can get.
TRY TO SUFFER FROM THE DISEASE FOR WHICH YOU ARE BEING TREATED
Remember that your doctor has a professional reputation to uphold.
DO NOT COMPLAIN IF THE TREATMENT FAILS TO BRING RELIEF
You must believe that your doctor has achieved a deep insight into the true nature of your illness, which transcends any mere permanent disability you may have experienced.
NEVER ASK YOUR DOCTOR TO EXPLAIN WHAT HE IS DOING OR WHY HE IS DOING IT
It is presumptuous to assume that such profound matters could be explained in terms that you would understand.
SUBMIT TO NOVEL EXPERIMENTAL TREATMENT READILY
Though the surgery may not benefit you directly, the resulting research paper will surely be of widespread interest.
PAY YOUR MEDICAL BILLS PROMPTLY AND WILLINGLY
You should consider it a privilege to contribute, however modestly, to the well-being of physicians and other humanitarians.
DO NOT SUFFER FROM AILMENTS THAT YOU CANNOT AFFORD
It is sheer arrogance to contract illnesses that are beyond your means.
NEVER REVEAL ANY OF THE SHORTCOMINGS THAT HAVE COME TO LIGHT IN THE COURSE OF TREATMENT BY YOUR DOCTOR
The patient-doctor relationship is a privileged one, and you have a sacred duty to protect him from exposure.
NEVER DIE WHILE IN YOUR DOCTOR'S PRESENCE OR UNDER HIS DIRECT CARE
This will only cause him needless inconvenience and embarrassment.
One year after its damning report into the delivery of health care to disabled people, the Disability Rights Commission, the statutory watchdog organisation for people with disabilities in England, Wales, and Scotland, says in a new report that little has changed to bridge the gap in health care.
An investigation into healthcare given to people with mental health problems and learning disabilities shows they often get worse treatment than others.
The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) - which examined eight million health records - says the government could face legal action unless things change.
The study concentrated on primary care in England and Wales, which will soon fall under new equality laws.
The government says it has already started acting on the report.
The 18-month investigation shows that people with learning disabilities and mental health problems are more likely to have a major illness, to develop a serious health condition younger and to die sooner than the rest of the population.
Such people were less likely to have routine tests and screening to pick up signs of a problem in its early stages.
The DRC also found that people with learning disabilities and mental health problems face "real barriers" when accessing services.
"The acid test of a national health service is not whether it works for those who are generally healthy, but whether it benefits those with the greatest risk," said DRC chairman, Bert Massie.
He said that the response from the government and the NHS was "deeply inadequate", a situation which was made worse by "a dangerously complacent attitude and a lazy fatalism" on the part of the medical profession.
"This is completely unacceptable - we need to see a radical change in the commissioning, targeting and delivery of health services in order to close this gap quickly."
The British Medical Association (BMA) has described the findings as "extremely worrying".
"As doctors, we believe it is unacceptable for the healthcare needs of this group of people to be ignored," said Dr Sam Everington, who co-chairs the BMA's equal opportunities committee.
He said the report would be discussed by GPs at the BMA in the near future.
The Department of Health said it would be working with the DRC to develop a full response to the investigation.
Mental health charity Sane said it was "disturbing" that people with mental illnesses were at greatest risk of becoming physically ill through neglect.
The charity's Marjorie Wallace called for a "new drive amongst all health professionals to ensure that each time a person with mental illness receives medical help, they are given a physical health check".
Eight million records
The investigation spoke to senior health professionals, policy makers and disabled people themselves.
Researchers analysed eight million health records in three primary care trusts (PCTs) in England and one local health board in Wales.
The DRC says that in spite of increased needs of these two groups, important checks are provided less often.
For example, people with learning disabilities who have diabetes have fewer measurements of their body mass index, while those who have had a stroke have fewer blood pressure checks.
The investigation identified a problem known as "diagnostic overshadowing" - where symptoms of physical ill health are often seen as part of a patient's mental health problem or learning disability and are not properly investigated or treated.
More than 50% of people who spoke to researchers said they experienced difficulties when trying to see their GP.
They identified the attitude of reception staff, inflexible appointments and inaccessible information as being some of the causes.
A few said they were not registered with a family doctor or had been struck off the list for being too demanding.
The report did identify areas of good practice but the DRC says services are frequently working in isolation and initiatives developed by specialists have not become part of the mainstream.
The government is being urged to put in place a number of improvements to "close the gap".
"We agree with the broad thrust of the DRC's recommendations and have already started to act," said health minister Rosie Winterton.
She said £7m had been made available to almost 90 PCTs to employ "wellbeing nurses" to help mental health patients.
The department has also allocated £42m to PCTs to help them to implement further measures to improve the care of people with learning disabilities.