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Archive for September, 2009

Polanski Addenda

[ 0 ] September 29, 2009 |
  • See Harding, McEwen, and Hess. Eugene Robinson’s column on the subject is so good that I suspect that as we speak Fred Hiatt is firing him so he can buy Anne Applebaum and Richard Cohen more crayons. Speaking of Applebaum, I guess one of the topics at that blogger ethics panel is going to have to be “dishonest or inept?”
  • Reading comments here and elsewhere it seems that the leading non-insane line of defense seems to be a porkbusters-type argument — i.e. given California’s fiscal problems why are they spending money to put away an old man? These arguments are perhaps even less persuasive than most such arguments. Like all porkbusters arguments, it has the obvious problem that the money involved is, in the context of California state expenditures, trivial. And while the isolated programs identified by porkbusters are sometimes (though not always) genuinely wasteful, compared to the other things the prosecutor’s office might plausibly spend money on bringing a child rapist who fled the jurisdiction seems pretty comfortably above the median in terms of priorities to me. Certainly, people making this argument explaining why we should assume that money that isn’t used on the case of the fugitive child rapist will be used in a clearly more efficient manner.
  • A related good point from Daniel Davies: “I hesitate to even make this point because I have so far had little success in finding a way to express it which doesn’t look like trivialising the actual crime, but more or less notwithstanding the crime, there has to be a general principle of especially harsh treatment of fugitives from justice. The system has to defend itself against people who undermine its authority by trying to lead lives which publicly flaunt the fact that they have escaped the prescribed social sanctions.”
  • Leaving aside the fact that nominally “consensual” sex between a 40 year-old and a (drugged) 13 year-old is plenty horrible, people asserting that what Polanski did isn’t “rape-rape” really do need to come up with some evidence that the victim lied to investigators and then lied under oath to a grand jury.
  • I’m glad JMM at least fixed his link to Wyman’s excellent review of Wanted and Desired.
  • And a good point here: I don’t recall many people rushing to argue that we should just live-and-let-live with elderly priests who molested children. Although I guess those victims were often boys, so they count more, and they probably weren’t sluts whose mothers totally set them up.

The Polanski Arrest

[ 0 ] September 28, 2009 |

You’ve probably heard that Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland. I think this is a very good thing, and find most of the outrage over it baffling.

One thing to note here is that Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired was an absolutely appalling whitewash. Bill Wyman has a great deal of detail about this, but you know that you’re in for a disgraceful rape apologia when early on the film conveniently truncates the victim’s testimony before she actually describes the rape, preserving the illusion that it’s a “he said/she said” case even though if you pay attention you’ll notice that nobody actually disputes her version of events. The film’s portrait of the judge is just as sloppy and morally odious; it’s not just that the details about his life are both irrelevant and not very damning (he may have had sexual relations outside the sacred bounds of matrimony! With two women!), but that the attempt to create hypocrisy where there isn’t any plays into the fundamental misdirection of the Polanski camp — i.e. that he was prosecuted for being a European roue just too sexually sophisticated for provincial Americans, not because he raped a 13-year old. And the way in which Zenovich allows people to speculate about the victim’s (again, completely irrelevant even if true) possible history of consensual sex is even more disgusting, although it inadvertently reminds us that one reason she probably went along with a far-too-light plea bargain is that she wasn’t looking forward to the similar victim-blaming that would have undoubtedly happened in court.

In addition to any issues with a conflict of interest, most of what Anne Applebaum says is similarly unconvincing. The fact that the victim forgives Polanski doesn’t give him a license to skip out on his punishment, first of all. Even worse is her bringing up alleged “evidence that Polanski did not know her real age.” Since the sexual relations were not even nominally “consensual,” I fail to see how this is relevant to anything — it’s OK to rape a 16-year old but not a 13-year old? And as with Zenovich’s film, the allegations of “judicial misconduct” remain frustratingly vague — there’s some evidence that he acted oddly, much less that he actually went beyond his legal discretion. In any event, the proper venue for determining whether the judge acted properly is a court of law, and Polanski has the resources to get a fair hearing.

I’ve said before that evaluations of Polanski’s art should be kept distinct from his crimes, but this cuts both ways — the fact that he’s produced great art shouldn’t give him immunity for a severe violent crime. As Kieran says with the proper acid, “I look forward to more detailed explanations of who the Real Victim is here, and more fine-grained elaboration of the criteria — other than “marvelous dinner guest” — for being issued a Get Out of Child Rape Free card.”

[X-Posted to TAPPED.]

Sunday "The Right Reaches a New Low" Blogging

[ 0 ] September 28, 2009 |

Shorter Dan Riehl: Was Bill Sparkman murdered for trying to rape children? It would be irresponsible not to speculate.

H/t Joe.

Safire

[ 0 ] September 27, 2009 |

At his best, he was a clever writer with a commitment to civil liberties increasingly absent from the Republican Party; at his worst, he used his establishment credentials to push the most unabashed wingnuttery. If you replace “civil liberties” with “moderate advancement of the welfare state,” in other words, a classic Nixonite. R.I.P.

Welcome Aboard!

[ 0 ] September 27, 2009 |

It is difficult for me to convey my pride in the announcement that a man decried by no less an authority than Jeff Goldstein as “a sophist and a hamfisted prevaricator,” and “a liar and a fraud” will be joining Lawyers, Guns and Money. That’s a recommendation that money… could probably buy. In any case, give a hale and hearty welcome to Scott Eric Kaufman!

Patuxent Naval Campaign

[ 0 ] September 27, 2009 |

I have a review of Flotilla: The Patuxent Naval Campaign in the War of 1812 up at ID. Check it out, if you dare.

Hmm, I’m Not Sure About This Pick Again…

[ 0 ] September 27, 2009 |

At least she did grow up in the Bronx, a mitigating factor…

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

On Embracing Our Contradictions

[ 0 ] September 26, 2009 |

It should go without saying that I a) substantially agree with all of Scott’s critiques of major NCAA athletics, and b) will be cheering heartily today for both the Cats and the Ducks. For the former, I think this exchange is appropriate:

Moe: All right, Homer, I’m not gonna lie to you. There’s a good
chance you can beat Tatum. But you gotta visualize how
you’re gonna win, okay?
Homer: Gotcha.
[dreams on about his victory]
Announcer: A congenital heart defect has apparently felled Tatum moments
before he could step into the ring.

Go Cats! Go Ducks!

…. Question; do people actually beat rented mules, or is that just an expression?

In Defense of Exploitative Cartels

[ 0 ] September 26, 2009 |

In comments, Nerdlinger writes:


No, I don’t support that rule change, because then you don’t have college athletics as we know it. You wouldn’t have 120 I-A football schools, and you wouldn’t have 342 basketball schools. You’d have, I don’t know, 45 football schools and 80 or so basketball schools. Paying a fraction of today’s player base — many of whom will go pro anyway — more, so the vast majority of today’s player base will get much less, or nothing. And almost certainly killing most of the interest in college football and basketball along the way, along with most of the non-revenue sports like swimming, wrestling, gymnastics, etc. Whee.

The problems here:

  • The biggest problem is the utter implausibility of the scenario. In case you haven’t noticed there’s no competitive balance in college athletics now. Most football programs have no chance of competing consistently with Florida or USC, and many football programs aren’t profitable, but this hasn’t killed interest in college athletics. Many other schools maintain “non-revenue” sports either without football programs or with football programs that are a financial drain. Good programs also greatly outspend programs in many of the approved (i.e., those that don’t allow players to be fairly compensated) ways — coaches, facilities, recruitment, etc. Other schools play football without even offering scholarships — they won’t be affected. I see no reason to believe that permitting universities to fairly compensate players if they choose will dramatically change the landscape of college sports.
  • If you think these arguments are awfully similar to those used to oppose unionization and free agency in baseball — according to the owners, we had to pay players a fraction of what they were worth to preserve the competitive balance of the glorious fifties, when New York teams constituted 70% of World Series appearances — well, you’re right.
  • Even if parts of this “nightmare” scenario actually came to pass, I wouldn’t say they remotely justified the gross exploitation of players. I’m not sure what’s sacrosanct about having 120 Division 1-A football teams, exactly. Nor do I think there’s anything sacrosanct about the specific number of athletic scholarships (as opposed to other kinds of scholarships) being currently offered. I’m happy to let the chips fall where they may.

Bithermercial!

[ 0 ] September 26, 2009 |

Tom Vu, come back, all is forgiven…

Ertugrul Osman RIP

[ 0 ] September 26, 2009 |

Ertugrul Osman, heir to the Ottoman Empire, died yesterday in Istanbul. I profiled his dynasty here. The head of House Osman is now Bayezid III, who was born in Paris, lived in New York, and once served in the US Army.

Today in NCAA Peonage

[ 0 ] September 25, 2009 |

Just in case you forgot, NCAA rules seem to derive from the concept that everyone should be able to make as much money as possible off of college athletics except for the athletes who actually create the value and take the (often severe) physical risks themselves. Because if they made even a dime from things like, say, their likenesses being sold to videogame companies that would be unethical.

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