Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dear Pedro Almodovar

I think I've loved you my whole life. I don't even remember the first time I saw Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios, because I was very young. It's strange, you taught me about being a woman before I was a woman, when I was just a little girl wondering if I would ever be as interesting, crazy, or beautiful as the women in your movies.

Now I'm a young woman with a daughter who is a wild little dervish just like her mama used to be. I had to tell you these things because I've loved you for so long, and I wanted you to know me a little. Otherwise, I might have seemed faceless, nameless. No matter to you.

My name is Heidi, my daughter's name is Iris and I wanted you to know that you have disappointed me. I am grieved to see that you have signed the petition to free Roman Polanski from being extradited back to the US to serve time for a crime he formally pleaded guilty to.

I hold art in high esteem, it is what nourishes all people and hearts everywhere, even when the body goes hungry. I understand the desire to support a fellow artist whose work has touched your heart. I will not condemn that.

But there are things that should be worth more than art.

My daughter is beautiful, newly-made, innocent, unfinished. She is worth more than art. Her safety and freedom to grow unsullied by sexual abuse is worth more than art.

All children are.

Pedro Almodovar, I wish you would reconsider the petition you've signed and the message you are sending children about their worth. I will not argue this case with you, though you could read more about the crime you have supported in Steve Lopez's column in the Los Angeles Times. I only wanted to tell you that I am saddened by seeing your name on the petition. Though some people may say, they're only movies, I am heartbroken at the idea of not being able to share your films with my daughter with a free conscience.

Heidi W.

Los Angeles


Please feel free to address your own sentiments about the Free Polanski petition being circulated in Hollywood, here in the comments. Or just leave your name and location to show your solidarity against the petition to free him.



1st edit:
I don't think anyone should refrain from honestly expressing their anger, frustration and/or disgust here with language that is constructive. I will be deleting comments that are offensive to anyone, especially if sexually-explicit or sex-specific slurs are used. Thank you.

91 comments:

  1. Dear Mike Nichols,

    I was eight years old when I saw your movie "Working Girl". I was too young to quite understand the themes about sexual harrassment, the glass ceiling in business, the truly hurtful things women will do to one another in order to be accepted in the Boy's Club. All I knew was I loved the theme song, I sang with Carly Simon for years afterward, and waltzed around my bedroom with "Lady in Red" turned up as loud as my parents would let me.

    Your movie "Working Girl" and later on "Regarding Henry" cemented a love of the simpler things, reminded me not to forget where I've been on my way to where I'm going, and of course, allowed me to daydream about Harrison Ford. You introduced gay parents to me with "The Birdcage", at a time as a teenager in a small town, I didn't even know a gay person, let alone a parent. The humor aside, I could see that a gay couple could love their child just as fiercely as a straight couple.

    Those were movies that when I channel flipped, even though I'd seen them dozens of time, I still stopped and watched them to the end.

    That time has come to an end.

    When I was 13, I raced around my backyard looking for fire flies, climbed into creeks, chased lizards, and dreamed about having a pony. I was a child.

    So was Roman Polanski's victim.

    When I saw your signature supporting a child rapist, I realized I could no longer support your films. Past and future, when your name scrolls across the movie screen, I won't be able to get past seeing it linked to supporting a child rapist.

    Sadly, yours is not the only name.

    Lori L, Washington DC

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  2. I'm incredibly disappointed with the people who are speaking up in Polanski's defense, maybe especially all the WOMEN and MOTHERS who are defending this man. He committed a horrible, disgusting crime and there is no conversation you can have, no words you can throw at me that will make that okay or acceptable. I don't care how long ago this happened or that Polanski's an old man, he's not too old to be held accountable for drugging and raping a 13 yr old.

    Rebecca C.
    Los Angeles

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  3. Dear Tom Twyker,

    It is with a heavy heart that I inform you our relationship must come to an end. Now, now, before you get upset, let me assure you: it's not me, it's you.

    Run, Lola, Run was instantly my Favorite Movie Ever the moment I watched it, for its originality, its invention, but mostly for its powerful lead female character.

    Today, sir, you have sullied the character of Lola, her movie, and any other films you ever create by signing the petition protesting Roman Polanski's arrest and extradition. This man raped a 13-year-old girl, repeatedly. He confessed. He was convicted. He fled sentencing. These are simple, hard facts.

    And by signing that petition, you're saying that they don't matter, that we should look the other way on this case because he is an ~Artist~, because he is rich, because he has powerful friends who are lining up to decry his lawful, overdue arrest.

    Neither art, nor wealth, nor influential friends should override the responsibility of society to protect its women and girls. If you cannot agree with this sentiment, then I want nothing more to do with you, or your precious art.

    Rachel M., Portland, OR

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  4. I have no angry letter (I'm much too blinded by rate and heartache to be coherent right now); I'm merely appalled, dismayed and disgusted by ANYONE who can make apologies for a child rapist. It's as simple as that. What is WRONG with people?

    Joy M., Denver, CO

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  5. It's shocking to think that people in the film community think "Art Gods" like Roman Polanski have earned the right to be shown an extra measure of consideration when such matters arise. Not to "give them a pass" but to show a little compassion.

    So I suppose by this account, that anyone who creates art (and art being a relative term that you cannot define), should be offered the compassion that people like Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar, Martin Scorsese, Monica Bellucci, Tilda Swinton, and David Lynch suggest we give Roman Polanski.

    According to this equation because he recorded music, and created art, and because of those things he was someone's "Art God", that Charles Manson should be given compassion. He should be given a lesser sentence than what he deserves.

    I think we should ask Polanski what he thinks.

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  6. To so many of my heroes,

    I have read your petition, and I ask you, all of you, who are if nothing else seemingly intelligent individuals, to put yourselves in a place where it was you or your daughter or your mother or your neighbor or the girl who sat next to you in second grade or your sister or your best friend, who had been molested by a person of authority. Would you change your mind about this? Would you then ask that this man – no matter how talented – be brought to justice? Or would you sign your petition and not think once of the true victim?

    To all of you who have ever loved a woman: How shameful, to have your name in public, defending a man who so obviously does not value women. How shameful. May you pay the consequences.

    Jennifer. Cincinnati, OH.

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  7. I find it painful and appalling that these people are showing loud and public support to a man who raped a child.

    Shame on them for using their notoriety like this. It is utterly heartbreaking.

    Jenny J., NE England.

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  8. I never thought I'd see so many people, who I've respected for their work in the past, support a child rapist. To me it is plain and simple: Roman Polanski drugged a forced sexual intercourse on a minor child under the age of consent. He pled guilty and then fled and hid like coward to avoid punishment.

    There is no grey area, there is no blurring of facts. He committed a crime and was not punished for it. All of the people that think he should not be held accountable for his actions I hope you never have a child, sister, or friend that is hurt the way Polanski's victim was.

    It is not something that goes away or you get over. It is not something that should be forgiven. It is not something you can make go away just because the person involved is someone whose talent you value.

    I am sorely disappointed in any and all that think he should go free. Shame on you.

    T.B
    New York, NY

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  9. If you commit a crime, you should be punished for that crime, no matter how great, important or rich you are.

    I feel sick to my stomach that this is still considered debatable by anyone. I feel sick to my stomach that we are actively engaged in not only making apologies for a man who would rape a child, but that we are actively engaged in defending him, protecting him, keeping him from the punishment that is due to him, without regard for the SURVIVOR of his crime.

    I am sick to my stomach at the number of people whom I have respected as artists (and let me call you out, here: Woody Alan, Pedro Almodovar, Wes Angerson, Asia Argento, Darren Aronofsky, Monica Bellucci, Alfonso Cuaron, Jonathan Demme, Terry Gilliam, John Landis, David Lynch, Michael Mann, Martin Scorsese, Tilda Swinton, Tom Tykwer, Wim Wenders, Neil Jordan, Sam Mendes, Mike Nichols, Salman Rushdie, Steven Soderbergh...and you, Harvey Weinstein, for strongarming people into supporting the pedophile Roman Polanski) co-signing and endorsing the rape of a child. I am sick that I will never be able to watch another of your films, or look at any of you with anything but horror, anger and hopelessness.

    I love movies. I come from a family that loves movies. I have loved many of you. And now I feel like I never can again. That you have turned into something crawling and vile in my bed.

    Roman Polanski raped a child. HE RAPED A CHILD. That should be all that matters. Not what he did in the meantime, while he was running and hiding from his crimes.

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  10. I am baffled as to how anyone can defend this man, he raped a 13 year old girl, end of.

    Emily, England.

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  11. Rape culture indeed. NOT ON, Hollywood, NOT ON.

    Ruth, California

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  12. It's so sad that so many people we once admired have come out in support of injustice and abuse and violence. I don't have a letter, but there are so many names on the list of Polanski supporters that made me feel ashamed to have once openly loved those filmmakers.

    Polanski raped a child. He doesn't deserve anyone's sympathy, let alone half of Hollywood's.

    Amy, England.

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  13. Shame on you, Hollywood.

    Shame on all of you.

    Kita0610@livejournal.com

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  14. The actions of those so-called artists who want to "free" Polanski make me ashamed to call myself an artist.

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  15. The man is a pedophile, he is not a victim!

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  16. From the petition:

    "This extradition, if it takes place, will be heavy in consequences and will take away his freedom."

    ?! BOO HOO.

    You can still appreciate a person's artistic achievements without compromising your morals. Speaking up for him and saying he shouldn't have to face the consequences that come when you put your penis inside a child because it'll "take away his freedom" is so REPULSIVE that I just don't know what to say.

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  17. Dear Ms. Tilda Swinton, Ms. Whoopi Goldberg, Ms. Isabelle Adjani and Ms. Taylor Hackford,

    You all came to my attention for being unique, beautiful, strong and uncomprimising women.

    I'm sorry to say your support of a child-rapist NOT unique, beautiful or strong.

    It is cowardly. It is ugly. And, unfortunately, it's too common.

    I will find others to admire. Others who deserve it, earn it, who will not sell their soul for fame or sacrifice it on the altar of industry acceptance.

    Shame on you. All of you.

    Stephanie
    Jacksonville, FL

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  18. I want to add my voice to the outrage. I can't believe that, in 2009, we're having to explain to these people that what this man did was indefensible.

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  19. Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13 year old girl. He gave her champagne and drugs and performed oral, vaginal and anal sex on her, despite her repeated and terrified pleas for him to stop.

    These are the facts, proven in court. Not only did Polanski confess to these crimes, he fled the US before he was sentenced, and has been living a life of relative luxury in France ever since.

    It sickens and disgusts me that anyone can even fathom the idea of defending this man. He performed a heinous crime to an innocent child, and many big names in hollywood are calling to have the charges dropped. I am absolutely sickened by the names I see on the petition to free Polanski.

    I urge everyone on that list who has a mother, wife, daughter or sister to ask themselves if they'd be so willing to forgive Polanski if he'd violated one of their kin. It doesn't matter if he's an artist--making a few good movies in no way gives one a free pass to rape a child and get away with it.

    I'm beyond disgusted at the names on that petition. It's a repulsive reflection on all that's wrong with today's society and I will have no part in it.

    Siara

    Minneapolis

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  20. I realize I'm probably stirring the pot by posting this, but I just wanted to point one thing out, because it seems like some of you guys are misinterpreting:

    The petition that all these directors are signing has nothing to do with thinking it's okay for Roman Polanski to rape a 13 year old. The petition is specifically worded to avoid mentioning Polanski's specific crime because it's NOT the point of the petition.

    The point of the petition is this:

    "By their extraterritorial nature, film festivals the world over have always permitted works to be shown and for filmmakers to present them freely and safely, even when certain States opposed this.

    The arrest of Roman Polanski in a neutral country, where he assumed he could travel without hindrance, undermines this tradition: it opens the way for actions of which no-one can know the effects."

    Let's say you're a filmmaker from, I dunno, North Korea. You make a movie condemning Dear Glorious Leader and the NKPD trumps up a charge to arrest you with. You flee the country. Your film receives international acclaim, and you travel to Switzerland to receive an award for it at a film festival. The Swiss police arrest you at the airport and ship you back to North Korea so you can go die in a labor camp.

    Obviously, this is a far cry from Roman Polanski pleading guitly to ass rape and booking it out of the country. And certainly the "tradition" that this petition alludes to is an unspoken rule and not a letter of law (i.e. it's not ILLEGAL for the Swiss cops to arrest Polanski at a film festival).

    But let's face it-- it's not like the guy has been living under a rock for the last 30 years. He's been making movies. If the US really wanted him, they could have made it happen way before now. Don't get me wrong, I'm as glad that he's been arrested as you all are, but I also understand that doing it at a film festival is a move that opens the door to endanger a lot of other filmmakers who HAVEN'T raped 13 year old girls (not to mention that it breaks the air of trust that allows festivals like Zurich to happen in the first place). I can certainly understand why this upsets a large number of people in the international film community.

    TO REITERATE: MIKE NICHOLS DOES NOT SUPPORT CHILD RAPISTS. TILDA SWINTON DOES NOT SUPPORT CHILD RAPISTS. The petition in question does NOT condone or defend Polanski's actions, nor does it suggest that he shouldn't be arrested for them. The petition simply raises issue with the way he was arrested, and the precedent that it sets for other filmmakers and future film festivals.

    Whether you agree with what they're saying or not, boiling the issue down to "you signed this, you support child rape". is a pretty gross oversimplification.

    Okay? Okay. We can all go back to liking our favorite directors again.

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  21. SixKiller42 - Sorry, but I think that child rapists should be arrested at film festivals. I think they should be arrested at grocery stores and at malls and on sidewalks and in airports and while filling up their gas tanks.

    If you think that a film festival should be a safe haven for a child rapist, then I don't want to pay money to see any of your movies. Period.

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  22. sixkiller42 -- I appreciate your effort to offer context, but whatever the stated or actual motivation behind the petition, the fact is that these people are fighting Polanski's extradition, and THAT is my problem with anyone who signs this petition.

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  23. Yes, my heart bleeds for all those child-raping filmmakers who now feel they can no longer travel the world with impunity. What a shame.

    Those filmmakers who haven't committed heinous crimes probably shouldn't really feel that their liberties have been in some way compromised. Although clearly they do. I didn't realize making films exonerated you from justice. Silly me.

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  24. sixkiller42 - I replied to you elsewhere with this, but let me do so again.

    As you say, political protest is a far cry from Polanski pleading guilty to rape and then booking it out of the country. We - America, Switzerland, France, elsewhere - can and do give political asylum to people escaping inhumane regimes and ensure their safe passage around the world (like gay Brazilian filmmaker Flavio Alves), and if this was the case here I would totally be behind what they were saying; Polanski, however, was not fighting for human rights or political freedom, he was trying to avoid being punished for raping a young girl. I think, as a culture but more importantly as the human race, we should be able to distinguish between fighting totalitarianism and child rape.

    The U.S. had made several attempts to have Polanski arrested, though admittedly not very hard (he is, after all, a rich and influential celebrity). They didn't get an international warrant for him until 2005 and since then he has avoided traveling to countries such as the U.K. which have extradition agreements with the U.S., and if he ever did it wasn't like he sent advance notice. The only reason they got him this time is that the film festival in question was specifically honoring HIM with a lifetime achievement award, and confirmed it publicly. Thus, the authorities knew ahead of time that he was going to be there, and they could arrest him. If they didn't get him then, how could justice ever be served?

    If filmmakers didn't want someone to be arrested at their film festival, maybe they shouldn't have awarded, invited, announced, and publicized the attendance of a man who had an international warrant out for his arrest. They might not support child rape, but in signing this petition they are supporting the continued freedom of a child rapist, and I'm sorry, but I can't draw a line between those two points.

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  25. sixkiller42 - did you miss this part in the petition?

    "This extradition, if it takes place, will be heavy in consequences and will take away his freedom."

    How is that NOT about excusing what he did, and supporting the further evasion of his punishment?

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  26. Dear Sam Mendes,

    You have a beautiful daughter and a beautiful stepdaughter. I don't know you, but I do know what it's like to be a little girl who looks to her father for protection and safety.

    By supporting Roman Polanski's release, you are doing your daughters a great disservice. Your movies have long explored the idea of stolen innocence. Roman Polanski's crime was not a movie. It wasn't about art. It wasn't about an expression of the deep-seeded pain he'd experienced in his own life. It was about stealing the innocence of a 13-year-old girl while she begged him to let her go home.

    By petitioning for his freedom, you are telling your daughters that rich, powerful men are more important than their safety, their childhood, and their innocence.

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  27. @sixkiller42

    I'm actually in agreement with you, that there needs to be a safe-space for international artists to meet and engage each other without having to fear unfair persecution or being arrested or detained by the corrupt governments they might have fled. I would probably sign a petition for that.

    But this is being called the Free Polanski petition, and in no way does my interest in safe spaces for artists trump my interest in protecting children from rape and sexual abuse. You cannot deny that by freeing Polanski, we're not just upholding the sanctity of the film festival space, we're freeing a convicted child molester from being held accountable for his crime.

    I do not actually think Tilda Swinton is a child molester (but thank you for undermining my intelligence with your patronizing comment), but by signing the petition, she and other artists cannot escape the underlying implications that exist when you advocate the release of a convicted sex offender.

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  28. SixKiller42- I would tell you what you could do with your moral equivalencies but that would be uncivilized.

    Political bullshit 'crimes' are NOT EQUIVALENT to RAPING A CHILD and that's the arguement you are trying to make!!!! And I don't care WHERE Polanski was picked up or where he was going when he got nabbed, he had an INTERNATIONAL WARRANT out on him.

    THIS IS NOT ABOUT THE ART IT IS ABOUT THE CRIME. The folks who signed that petition are naive if they think otherwise.

    The elitist artiste crowd who want him 'free' need to take a different tack on all this if they really want to ensure that artistic expression is not hobbled by political dogmatism and religious extremism. THAT is a good fight but it is not this one.

    Stephanie
    Jacksonville FL

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  29. "sixkiller42 - did you miss this part in the petition?

    "This extradition, if it takes place, will be heavy in consequences and will take away his freedom."

    How is that NOT about excusing what he did, and supporting the further evasion of his punishment?"

    I don't follow. The part of the petition you're quoting is simply explaining what will happen to Polanski. Do you disagree that his extradition will result in heavy consequences and will take away his freedom? How does explaining this excuse what he did or support the evasion of his punishment?

    Heck, if you wanted to undermine my argument, you should have gone for the next paragraph on the petition:

    "Filmmakers, actors, producers and technicians - everyone involved in international filmmaking - want him to know that he has their support and friendship."

    Again, based on what the rest of the petition is focused on (objecting to his arrest at a film festival), I take "support and friendship" to mean support over his being arrested in this manner.

    Maybe I'm just an apologist living in denial. Certainly the fact that Polanski has been able to continue making major films points to the disconcerting idea that many in the film industry just don't give a shit about his heinous crimes. The petition is certainly poorly worded, but I still don't think it's about supporting child rapists or suggesting that they get a free pass from the law-- rather, it's simply saying that arresting Polanski in such a way breaches the trust that allows festivals like Zurich to take place and harms the international film community as a whole. It's about objecting to the WAY he was arrested, not he fact that he was or the reasons behind the arrest.

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  30. I am appalled that anybody would want to find a way to defend Roman Polanski. Time doesn't erase rape, being an "art God" doesn't excuse rape, being a good father does NOT make raping a child ok, or like some of my fellow countrymen have said, turn raping a 13 year old girl into a "youthful error". NOTHING justifies what he did. He should pay, no matter how long ago it all happened. I am ashamed to be French today because of all those names listed in that petition, people whose work I've always admired, women I thought I should be looking up to... What is WRONG with everybody who's trying to justify what he did? These people make me sick.

    Perrine
    Lyon, FRANCE.

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  31. Simply, I agree with the article and as a girl not long out of the terryfing and exhilirating years that were my young teens I cannot imagine the devastation Polanski's act caused to this womans life. There is no excuse for it and nor should one try to be made.

    Holly
    England

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  32. A repulsive coward such as Polanski does not deserve defending; who was there to defend the child he raped?

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  33. @sixkiller42
    "You cannot deny that by freeing Polanski, we're not just upholding the sanctity of the film festival space, we're freeing a convicted child molester from being held accountable for his crime."

    That's a valid point. But I think the people who signed this petition would argue that if there is to be such a thing as "the sanctity of the film festival space", it has to exist for everyone-- not just the filmmakers whose plight are sympathetic to the community at large. Again, take from that what you will. I'd like to keep my personal opinion out of it, but I will admit that to a certain degree I'm trying to play devils advocate here-- I don't necessarily AGREE with the petition, I just think that it's not what people are making it out to be.

    "I do not actually think Tilda Swinton is a child molester (but thank you for undermining my intelligence with your patronizing comment)"

    This was not my intent and I apologize if you felt patronized to. To be fair, the phrase I used was "supports child rapists", which is exactly what the people in here are accusing the signers of that list of doing-- since I disagree with that assessment, I was just trying to further clarify my point (if a bit angrily, I'll concede).

    "Political bullshit 'crimes' are NOT EQUIVALENT to RAPING A CHILD and that's the arguement you are trying to make!!!!"

    This is in no way what I said or the argument that I'm trying to make, but thanks for putting words in my mouth. I was just trying to explain the precedent that arresting might set and why members of the international film community could be uneasy about such a precedent.

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  34. ack that last bit should say "the precedent that arresting POLANSKI might set". Sorry.

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  35. @sixkiller

    "I was just trying to explain the precedent that arresting POLANSKI might set and why members of the international film community could be uneasy about such a precedent."

    Can you explain what you believe this precedent to be? That other people in the film community who have broken the law shouldn't be arrested? REGARDLESS of what film festival they are at.

    Please clarify.

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  36. To sixkiller42:

    And artist who has escaped a repressive political/religious regime and is living abroad will, by general rule, avoid international travel that could put them at risk of extradition back to their home country.

    Being an artist has not ever been a guarantee of safe passage in the world. And the arrest of fugitives at events that they have incentive to attend is neither unheard of unethical. Polanski wrongly assumed that because he had been able to travel under the radar to Switzerland on a regular basis, this high-profile visit would afford him the same safety (you'll note please, that he has made a rule of avoiding travel that he reasonably believed would result in his extradition, including the UK).

    However, the nature of the visit (i.e., announced in the media in a way that provided specific information about when and where he would be in the country) allowed time and opportunity for the US authorities to go through the proper channels and work with the Swiss authorities to act on a standing and properly enacted international warrant.

    What his defenders are doing is arguing that recognized treaties should not apply in this case, because Roman Polanski is good at his job. You'll also want to be aware that the French government is already backpedaling from the unequivocal support and demands for release: http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&ct2=us%2F0_0_s_0_0_t&usg=AFQjCNEHHecLIBKNaq4JQqR7IqgGuFN8RA&cid=1440649730&ei=rNbDSvClA5bOMYTK1mc&rt=SEARCH&vm=STANDARD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fartsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com%2F2009%2F09%2F30%2Fsofter-tone-on-polanski-from-french-official%2F

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  37. @sixkiller42

    Thank you for your comment. I think it's helpful that you've clarified exactly why people are signing the petition. But as someone else has stated, this is a petition for another time, for another artist, for another fight. Polanski is a criminal who evaded sentencing for a sex crime he pleaded guilty to, not a political refugee. The petition deserves fair consideration. It will never be fairly represented to the American people as long as it is tied to Roman Polanski.

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  38. Jen

    I believe, or rather (bear with me), I believe that the signers of the petition believe that artists screening films or being honored at international film festivals should be, unofficially if not legally, protected from arrest and extradition for crimes they have been charged with in other countries.

    Arresting Polanski by using the Zurich film festival as a means to catch him opens the door for the same thing to happen to any other filmmaker, regardless of the legitimacy of the charges they face.

    This is not to say that filmmakers should not be held liable for their crimes. It's just to say that using an international film festival as a sting operation to nab a fugitive from the state breaches the trust that allows such film festivals to exist in the first place.

    Furthermore, the only way to rebuild such a trust, however ugly it may be, is to release Polanski to show that film festivals are indeed "safe" for filmmakers to attend.

    Again, I'm not trying to say that the argument the filmmakers on the petition are making is valid. I'm just saying that they're not condoning Polanski's actions or suggesting he shouldn't be punished for them. If you want to know my personal opinion on the petition, I think it's a crock of shit: Yes, arresting Polanski at a film festival where your country is honoring him is a dick move. But filmmakers aren't UN ambassadors and film festivals shouldn't be international waters. But I'm willing to acknowledge that holding such an opinion as the directors on this list do does not make them supporters of child rape or of violent criminals in general.

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  39. Katie,

    Great response, and thanks for the additional information. I agree with you 100%.

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  40. UGH. I am so appalled and saddened by the priorities of people who I would once have unquestionably thought knew better: Salman Rushdie, Milan Kundera, Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Frears, David Lynch, Penelope Cruz, Jeremy Irons ... One imagines that the ability to be a great artist must include some form of wisdom: the ability to understand the reality of human lives and the relative importance of things. I would have assumed that these great actors, of all people, would be capable of the leap of empathy that enables people in positions of power to understand how despicable and inexcusable the rape of the powerless is. I would assume that these great writers and directors would have the clear sight, the basic intelligence, required to understand that justice sometimes imposes costs; and that their concern for the loss to their community involved in this extradition ought to at least be weighed up against the concern of all human beings, everywhere in the world, to ensure that privilege and power don't enable people to buy their way out of the demands of ordinary criminal justice. At the very least, you would expect such clever, talented, witty, wise people to understand the proposition that drugging and raping children of thirteen is wrong. It's horrendous that they seem not to understand that or, having understood it, to assume it matters less than the proposition that Artists Are Special.

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  41. I am absolutely opposed to there being any kind of blanket "safe space" for anyone: artists, academics, clerics, politicians, ANYONE. The is NO environment that should be safe from the long arm of the law if the crime warrants action. Political activities and freedom fighters can seek asylum--and, as others have said, they can avoid travel to the countries that put them at risk of extradition.

    I appreciate the arts at every level...life would hardly be bearable without them. Life is UNbearable if any artist, any PERSON, anywhere, who has been CONVICTED of RAPING A CHILD can be free to go about their lives simply because they are lauded by the public. No. Absolutely not.

    So, if this is why these people signed the petition, they are still so extraordinarily, shockingly wrong.

    There is no sanctity of awards presentations--are you kidding me??? Nor should there be. Or churches or schools or restaurants or museums. There shouldn't be sanctity of a private bathroom in a situation like this.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Oy. you people.
    "Furthermore, the only way to rebuild such a trust, however ugly it may be, is to release Polanski to show that film festivals are indeed "safe" for filmmakers to attend"

    You are speaking nonsense, as many have tried to point out. No one shot at the filmmakers. Or manufactured charges against them. Or tried to censor them in any way.
    Festivals are indeed safe for 'filmmakers'

    but there is NO SAFE PLACE FOR CONVICTED RAPISTS. NOR SHOULD THERE BE.

    The fact that you, and that entire petition, label Polanski as an artist first, and convicted RAPIST who fled before sentencing second, if at all, IS A PROBLEM.

    Maybe these film people need to try to justify their long association with a known child rapist by downplaying his crime, or denying it altogether. But, no, reality must intrude on this collective fantasy. He is guilty, and they are utter shitheads for not ostracizing him.

    ReplyDelete
  43. To all those supporting Polanski being freed rather than serving the term he agreed to serve when he came to a plea agreement after having raped a child:

    If you succeed in getting his extradition blocked, you are telling rapists, murderers, and other criminals that the thing to do is to make a plea agreement and then run to another country where there is no extradition. Wait 30 years and then the crime will "no longer matter" and they should be allowed to do as they please. Which they will already have done, having fled the country and not been punished for their crime.

    Polanski is no different than any other man or woman who has committed a crime. That he is an "artist" has no bearing on that fact.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Oh, John Landis. I've been a fan of your work since I was - funnily enough - the same age that little girl was when Roman Polanski drugged and raped her. You break my heart, man.

    God. Why is this even a topic for debate. The world disgusts me right now.

    ReplyDelete
  45. responding to Sarah Bewley:

    Exactly. Either run to another country or Or show up at a film festival so the international artists' community can rally around its "sanctity."

    ReplyDelete
  46. THANK YOU, Heidi, for this excellent letter/essay that exposes some smaller part of Hollywood as a place where "artistic" is valued above the sacred innocence of our children, our society, and ourselves.

    This man violated not only the innocence of a child, he impacted her life for all of these years in ways she may not even know. But I pray that she has learned two spiritual tools: forgiveness is most powerful, and in the worst experience lie the seeds of something of great benefit. So, instead of focusing my anger at this man, who showed such cowardice on top of his despicable acts, I am embracing his victim, knowing that Spirit has healed her and has moved her forward in her life.

    Now, without hijacking your intended topic, too much, I also want to offer some thoughts of some of part of Hollywood that makes a living by titillating viewers who want to watch the INNOCENCE of others be destroyed.

    In the larger context that "innocence" is not JUST about sexual innocence, it is in addition a larger battle in which those who are all about being OF this world and IN this world have dominance over efforts to spread the spiritual truth that we are spiritual beings living in a temporal physical world.

    Here, let someone better able than me express the warning of which I speak. Please consider "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats (Irish poet—written just after WWI), the first stanza of which follows:

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The CEREMONY OF INNOCENCE is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.


    Like most, I find Hollywood entertainment sources that are enlightening and fulfilling. But like too few, I also see how sometimes, by letting the destruction of innocence be THE entertainment itself, we deprive ourselves of a resource that can only be accessed through a kind of innocence.

    I speak of the exercise of FAITH and HOPE. When things fall apart is the very time we need to express our faith that this temporal world is NOT the final expression. It is when times are bad that our basic beliefs can be challenged, since we must then have the strength of FAITH and HOPE to know the "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

    But sometimes, when a part of our entertainment thrives by selling to us the everyday "here and now", of focusing so much upon what happens in this temporal world, it deprives us of access to our real inner selves. And that undermines the courage it takes to forsake what the senses tell us, and instead to believe our spiritual truth. And so the innocence of which I speak is the antidote: it is crucial in giving remembrance to who we really are, thus freeing the exercise of FAITH and HOPE.

    Remember near the end of "The NeverEnding Story" when the scary wolf (Gmork) speaks? He says that the world in which they "exist" has no boundaries since it is the world of human fantasy, every part of which is a piece of the dream and hopes of mankind.

    But The NOTHING has grown stronger because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. The NOTHING is the emptiness that is left: it is utter despair destroying this world. So The NOTHING grows stronger because people who have no hopes are easy to control
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDHBZlSNO6w&NR=1

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  47. I endorse this article.

    B., New Zealand.

    ReplyDelete
  48. My father was a pedophile.

    Let me just let that sit there for a moment.

    My father, the man who brought me into this world, is now in jail for being a pedophile. I don't know the exact nature of his crimes--it hurt a little too much, a little too close to home--but I know enough. My father's sentence is fifteen years. Do I think that is too long, for my father?

    No. I think it's too short.

    When you violate somebody in such a way--whether they are thirteen or thirty or old and gray and wrinkled, whether they are a man or a woman, whether they have ingested alcohol or are completely sober, if they do not say "Yes," and you violate them--you have committed a horrible crime. Nothing is going to undo that crime. No matter how you atone, how long you suffer, or even when you die--that crime cannot un-happen.

    Maybe you are a good person otherwise. Maybe you donate to charity and love your spouse and do thousands of other good deeds. But you have committed a terrible crime, something that a child is going to have to grow up with, maybe blaming themselves for it, maybe feeling dirty, maybe hating themselves. There are so many ways that child's mind is, frankly, fucked up from that moment on. I cannot forgive my father for what he has done to children. There will be nothing he will be able to say that will make me go "Oh, well it's all right then, you're not so bad after all." When my father is released from prison, every time I see him I will think "You have done something terrible to a child." If I have children of my own, I may never let them meet their grandfather.

    Perhaps this is cruel to my father, but there is something simple he could have done to avoid it. He could have not molested children. Yes, I think that would not have been asking too much of him. But he did molest children. So now he is in jail, and I think he deserves every year and more of that sentence, and I will never trust or forgive him.

    Now then. I would like somebody to tell me why Polanski gets to be treated any better than my father.

    Sincerely,
    Sam
    Baltimore, Maryland, USA

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  49. Dear Salman Rushdie,

    I don't remember the first time I heard you read Haroun and the Sea of Stories. I was probably in a car, driving somewhere, falling asleep. I do know I listened to it until the tape broke. I don't remember when I realized it was my favorite book. As soon as I was old enough to realize what a favorite book really was, it became that. The poster from the theatrical adaptation I saw is still on my door. Hearing you speak my freshman year of college and having you sign my book was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I admit that I have not read the books you are most famous for, or the one that forced you into exile. That doesn't mean that Haroun and the Sea of Stories is any less important to me, or that you are less important. You are one of the most influential authors in my life.

    I have been disappointed by the various responses I have seen to Roman Polanski's arrest, by celebrities and media alike. In some ways, your name is one of the less disappointing, or at least the less surprising. When I think of artists who would want a safe space for artists, who would want protection, you are the person I think of. When I think of exile, of living life on the run, you are the person I think of. My own father was the one who explained to me what had happened to you, all those years ago when I first heard Haroun and the Sea of Stories, that you were living your life in hiding, that there were people who would come and kill you if they knew where you were.

    He told me you wrote that book for your child. He told me you couldn't see him.

    I tried to think of not being able to see my own father, of how much I loved him, of how he sang me to sleep and read to me. I remember that I thought you must have read the book aloud because you wanted your son to be able to listen to it, because you were far away from him and you couldn't read to him before he went to bed. I thought here is a father who loves his children.

    No one else on the list--not the directors I admire, not the actors I respect--made me as conflicted as you did. Because I remember you speaking. I remember what artistic freedom means to you. But I cannot imagine you think Roman Polanski's years of living in France are comparable to your years of the living with the fatwa. What Roman Polanski did and how Roman Polanski was arrested have nothing to do with art. Roman Polanski did not make a controversial movie. Roman Polanski's political views did not offend a political power. Roman Polanski raped a little girl, a girl about the same age I was when I realized that Haroun and the Sea of Stories was a book that would be with me for my entire life. He pleaded guilty to this--he admitted he did it. He fled because he was afraid of his sentence. This is not about his art. This is about his crime.

    Maybe I have your reasons for supporting this position completely wrong. Maybe you know Roman Polanski. Maybe the two of you are friends. Maybe it's one of a thousand other reasons. And I hope it's not, because as much as I would love to say that I will boycott every person who is supporting that petition, it would be impossible for me to cut you out of my life. So I hope that this is about beliefs you have about art in general, beliefs you have because of the life you've led. Because while I can't agree with that position, I can at least understand it.

    So I'm not going to finish this by saying that I'm so disappointed in you that I will never read your books again. I'm not going to say that I'm done with you. But I will say this: I doubt I will ever be able to think of you without thinking of this, and of how different it is from what happened to you, and how unhappy I am that a man who I've always associated with a heartbreaking love of his children doesn't understand what people supporting Roman Polanski means to girls like me, and to our parents, and to our future daughters and nieces.

    And I don't think that will ever stop making me sad.

    Yours truly,

    Charlotte
    Boston

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  50. Art does not excuse crime. Even if it was thirty years ago, he raped a thirteen year old girl, a girl barely old enough to fully understand what's happening to her.

    Zoe, NYC

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  51. Dear "Free Polanski" petitioners,

    Let me tell you about my godchild.

    I didn't assist at her birth (though I did her sister's). I can imagine it was similar, though, a tiny person bursting out, helpless but strong enough to scream, her eyes dark and strangely knowing, her body melting against her mother's the moment she heard her heart.

    I met her two days later. She'd been nearly twelve pounds and her face was fat and beaming, dimples pressed into cheeks like pink bread. It was probably gas, but I felt like she was smiling at me when I made faces over her cradle. You feel like the strongest person in the world when you make a crying baby happy.

    I remember other things. Her mother, me, and her in a wading pool in the backyard, screaming with laughter, showering each other with handfuls of water. Her offering her tiny jacket when I shivered watching the aurora borealis. Her tenth birthday, where she solemnly introduced me to a string of friends as her "aunt". Us singing every song we knew to her when she was sick, stroking her hair until she fell asleep. Teaching her about geological history while we walked along the lakeshore. Going on an Easter egg hunt in her yard and turning over the leaves of a bush together to find the best one of all--the lavender egg, which she loved because of is color, not its contents. The look on her face when I gave her her first laptop, a hand-me-down and a pile of inexpensive accessories that she still uses to get As in school (and listen to Beyonce). I remember her squealing when she saw the temporary streaks we'd put in her hair. Now she's not scared of anything, but when she was little we used to hide from storms in her mom's room, singing to drown out thunder. She texts me blurry pictures of my favorite bands from teen magazines, their heads cut off and her thumb on the lens, because she knows I love them. She picked out two housewarming gifts for me when I moved into my current apartment, and when she came to stay the weekend a few months ago, she stared at them on my end table like she'd expected them to be gone. I opened up the carved soapstone box and showed her what I'd kept inside--the dollar coin she gave me out of her savings, gold for luck.

    Every time I see her, something's changed. She's curled her hair with an iron, she's found a new and dazzling way to put on her makeup, she's got a new song she wants me to hear over and over, she's lost weight, she's gained weight, she has an almost-dirty joke she heard from a kid at school. She texts me all the time with "u"s and "d00d"s and numbers for words. She mimics her mom's tone and turn of phrase when she tells off her little sister. She is painfully conscious of what's cool. She surfs Aeropostale and A&F sites. She won't wear hemmed pants anymore and hoards her pennies for a cell phone upgrade. But every time she sees me, she hugs me and mumbles, "I love you."

    The last time I talked to her, she'd just bought a back-to-school outfit with her savings and was on her way to a down payment for a car. After that, she told me confidently, she would put aside all her babysitting and table-waiting money for college. What about fun? I asked, and she said she had her friends for that. What about school? Oh, she was doing really well, and she didn't work on weekends. I shouldn't worry. She had it all figured out.

    I'm so proud of the mature, balanced, responsible, happy woman she's becoming, but every time I see her--even with makeup, even with fancy clothes, even with a streak in her hair--I see the child I love.

    She's fourteen years old, and that's one more year of innocence than Roman Polanski left his victim.

    I've enjoyed your work, "Free Polanski" petition signers. But unless you remove your name and publicly rescind your endorsement of this cause, I never will again. I don't even have kids and I know that there is no art that equals their innocence.

    ReplyDelete
  52. I've talked to a lot of people about this, and I've read a lot of people's opinions. Whether you think it was appropriate to arrest him at the film festival or not, the POINT is that this man raped a child.

    He raped a child, pled guilty, then ran away when he found out he might be punished harsher than he originally thought. Now, the US court system is flawed and if he was led to believe his punishment would be one thing while the courts were planning another, that is an injustice. But 42 days in a mental institution does not make up for a lifetime of trauma. It just doesn't, and no one can defend that.

    Whatever reason these people I once respected have for signing the petition - because they are behind the man, the artist, or God forbid the act - it does not change the facts of what he did. It also does nothing to dismiss the insinuation that by putting their signatures to that petition - and making no attempt to explain why beyond what is featured as their reasons - they DO condone the act.

    Lastly, I want to say that it is not only those who have signed the petition in whom I am ashamed. I am ashamed of every member of the Hollywood and film industry who will use their voice in support of so many things, but not in the condemnation of this man.

    It's been said, but SHAME ON YOU, HOLLYWOOD.

    T.Wilson
    Virginia

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  53. @sixkiller42

    I get your point. I really do. Your example of a North Korean filmmaker suffering from a trumped-up charge is a compelling one. Obviously some laws protect horrible people and unfairly maligned people equally.

    But as far as I'm aware, this petition isn't intended to do anything other than support. What I mean by that is, it's not a legal document, something that will trigger a certain decision by virtue of a watershed number of signatures. If your straw-man Korean filmmaker was sentenced to death because he was awarded for a political movie, and all these names were on a petition "supporting" him, I'd be proud. But they didn't. These luminaries chose of their own will to speak out about Polanski's case, not about some political refugee, to show "friendship". This petition won't free him. It's not being structured, to my awareness anyway, by some process that will alter international law. They're not saying "DEFEND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTS" or "PROTECT NEUTRALITY" on their little badges, they're saying "FREE POLANSKI". And while that's their choice, no amount of washing takes the bad taste from my mouth.

    Perhaps if they'd acknowledged the monstrousness of Polanski's crime but used your argument to explain how what happened threatened the international film community (both on the petition and in interviews) I could try to understand their reasoning. If I heard more soundbites from the signers explaining the sacredness of neutrality and fewer like Whoopi's "well it wasn't RAPE-rape", I'd be more forgiving.

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  54. Dear Free Polanski Petitioners:

    You're wrong.

    Sincerely,

    Everyone Else.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Dear Hollywood supporters of the Free Polanski Petition:

    We are done professionally.

    No love,

    Me.

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  56. Every single person who has signed the petition in support of Roman Polanski or spoken publicly in his defence are dead to me. I will never watch or support their films or any projects to which they are affiliated ever again. In fact, I wouldn't turn on a garden hose if it would save them from a burning building. They are disgusting, disgusting human beings to defend a child rapist in any measure and should be mortally ashamed of themselves.

    And, furthermore, fyi, film festivals aren't sacred things. They are film festivals, where people go to be entertained, talk to other rich, pretentious "artists" about rich, pretentious artist concerns, and/or to have their over-inflated egos blown up even more. Get over yourselves! Get some perspective! THE MAN DRUGGED AND REPEATEDLY RAPED A CHILD!!! HE IS A PEDOPHILE! He should never have seen the outside of a jail again, and now that he is in custody again, I hope he dies behind bars.

    Rachael
    Tampa, FL

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  57. "Art" is not more important than rape.

    Film festivals are not more sacred than consent.

    He pleaded guilty to drugging and raping a child. I would hope - if I had been the child he raped or if that child had been a cousin or a niece or nephew or friend or child of mine - that there wouldn't be a place on earth that would place his so-called art over that violation.

    Whatever his art is or was, whatever his so-called reasons for his crime, whatever he has done with his life in the thirty years since he was declared guilty (since he pled guilty), it does not make what he did right or okay. A film festival is not a sacred place, where the film mkaers or actors are above the law.

    If he were a teacher or a truck driver or a priest or a news anchor or a doctor or a CEO or a short order cook, I doubt this would even be in question. He should not walk free - free when the girl he raped was not free to make her own choices, when she was not free to have a safe, rape-free life - simply because he makes films.

    Chase
    Massachusetts

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  58. As someone who was sexually assaulted at the same age as Polanski's victim, I just want to say, to every person who signed that petition, that you are not just supporting a child rapist. You are contributing to the never-ending damage that the rape culture inflicts upon victims. The assault on me happened fifteen years ago, but right now, it feels like it happened yesterday.

    Thank you for this petition, and thank you to everyone who voiced their opposition to this horrifying petition.

    Ana
    Los Angeles, CA

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  59. Hollywood Petitioners,

    Compassion from the victim aside, this man deliberately set out to have sex with a drunk and drugged 13 year old child and then cover it up. How is this different to the Phillip Garrido case? Do you expect 42 days to be a sufficient sentence for his crimes if the victim says it's ok?

    Belinda
    Sydney, Australia

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  60. Dear Hollywood,

    This isn't the first time we've disagreed about something. I'm still having a hard time believing that anyone could be so deluded and so happy to ignore the facts of the case and attempt to excuse a rapist in the guise of protecting art.

    Is there ANY excuse for someone to flee their punishment? The very concept of "he thought he was safe to travel in Switzerland" screams that he KNOWS he's WRONG. He knows he's wrong and he's afraid of being caught. He knows what he did and like every other sad, pathetic creature he's trying to avoid being RESPONSIBLE and being held ACCOUNTABLE.

    Basically, what half of Hollywood is trying to tell me right now is that once you reach a certain level in society you don't need to be responsible or accountable.

    The point is, Roman Polanksi is a criminal. It doesn't matter how he was victimized in his own life (and frankly I'm getting sick and tired of that old excuse). Being a victim doesn't give you the right to turn around and victimize someone else. Being a genius doesn't give you the right to ignore the laws established of the people, for the people, by the people.

    Polanksi needs to be held accountable. He needs to serve the sentence he so keenly fled from. He needs to grow up and be an example. Take it on the chin man, because you had your fun times. Now it's time to say, yes, I did wrong, and I'm going to be an adult and accept my punishment for the betterment of society.

    I want to believe in justice, because it's what our society in this country was supposedly founded on. I hope that the prosecuting attorney sticks to his/her guns in this case. I hope that justice, in the interest of all victims, of potential victims, of all people who avoided being a victim because justice was served, is actually served this time.

    I have to hope that someone is willing to stand up, put down all of the excuses and do the right thing.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Not on, Hollywood.

    Be better than this.

    Meghan
    Ontario, Canada

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  62. Thank you for you Heidi for your open letter, these words in particular

    "My daughter is beautiful, newly-made, innocent, unfinished. She is worth more than art. Her safety and freedom to grow unsullied by sexual abuse is worth more than art."

    Speak for themselves, we have a duty to protect not just the children in our own charge, but also the children that have no-one else to speak for them. I would protect my kids with my life and will live and die happy if they live a happy and pain free life. The semantics of this man's crime DO NOT MATTER. He drugged a little girl, he raped and sodomised her, it doesnt matter if she went to his house willingly, she was a child, he took away her innocence and got away with it for years. Now we are supposed to forgive because he created some good films.

    We have a responsibility to children who are suffering abuse and sexual abuse all over the world to let them know what is happening to them is wrong, that it isnt their faults, that the people doing this to them are committing a crime and will be punished. In supporting this man and this vile petition, these people are doing the opposite. They are sending a message to these kids that what is happening to them is acceptable, and that their lives, bodies, mental well being and innocence, are worth far less than this man's 'creative genius'.

    Mags (mrstotten)

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  63. Dear Free Polanski Petitioners:

    I remember the outcry only weeks ago, at the injustice Kanye did to poor, defenseless Taylor Swift ... and really, I'm not condoning Kanye ... but to then put your names down in support of the outrage done to Polanski's truly defenseless, drugged, 13 yo victim ... it boggles the mind.

    All of you were ready to lynch Kanye for interrupting Taylor's acceptance speech ... but you want Polanski set free after he -- as a 40-something yo man -- drugged a 13 yo girl and forcibly put his penis inside her mouth, vagina, and rectum -- then admitted in open court that he had ... what, she's not important enough to deserve justice?

    Hollywood, your double-standard is showing!

    Like most of the others commenting here, I will also be taking names, and not supporting you.

    And Whoopi, please, define RAPE-rape. I am unclear under what conditions 'drugging a 13 yo and forcibly putting a penis inside her mouth, vagina, and rectum' doesn't = rape. Please explain in great detail. I'm OCD and 'not having permission to put any part of your body in someone else's body' has been the measuring stick by which I have always defined rape, with drugging the victim to help prevent escape being a particularly heinous addition to the original crime. I am not saying penetration has to happen for it to be sexual assault -- that can happen w/o any physical contact even. But I am anxious to understand what your definition of RAPE-rape is, that it so differs from mine.

    BTW, as a child about the same age and during roughly the same time frame give or take 5 yrs, I was touched inappropriately -- on the leg -- 1 time, for 30 seconds or less. To this day, I will not wear skirts, unless to a Wedding or Funeral, and then they must be mid-calf or longer. This may seem to be a trivial thing -- not wearing skirts -- but think about it the other way -- less than 30 seconds of someone else's touch has affected EVERY clothing decision I have made since! And that's only the effect I'm aware of; there are probably others I'm not aware trace back to that. I cannot imagine the trauma that girl has lived with for 30 yrs.

    So please Whoopi, and the rest of you. Explain to me how this pervert needs to go free!

    ReplyDelete
  64. Dear Pedro Almodovar,

    This will not do.

    Vilina
    Oulu Finland

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  65. Dear Whoopi Goldberg,

    You called a rape victim a liar. Yes, you did. Yes, you DID. You took the word of a man who in the KINDEST interpretation would give a 13-year-old drugs to have sex with her that the sex was consensual, over the word of the girl that it was not. You called her a liar.

    Nothing you have done for women can stand against that.

    Nothing.

    Lucy Gillam

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  66. Dear Signers of the Free the Rapist Petition:

    I break with thee, I break with thee, I break with thee.

    And then I throw dog poopy on your shoes.

    Signed,

    The mother of an 8 year-old girl who hopes she never has to rely on any of *you* for protection

    ReplyDelete
  67. To those who signed the Free Polanski petition:

    I wish there could be a rating category on all future media you produce to make it easy for the rest of us - SCR - Supported Child Rapist.

    This case isn't complicated. It isn't a gray area. It is very, very simple.

    I am gravely disheartened and disappointed.

    Sarah M,
    North Carolina

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  68. I don't see what it matters where Polanski was arrested - at a film festival, at the airport, at his home, on a film set, etc. If members of the international film community are law-abiding citizens and don't force sex on a 13 year old child, plead guilty to the crime and then flee the country before sentencing, they have no reason to fear traveling to a film festival anywhere in the world, do they?

    ReplyDelete
  69. I just found a name I can't ignore.

    Dear Natalie Portman,

    I've been a huge fan of yours ever since Leon (The Professional). I think you're beautiful, talented, and intelligent. You microcredit, understand the power imbalance between the sexes, and support giving women power over their sexual reproductive rights. You say you've always had a sense of injustice.

    How, HOW do you square any of those values with supporting a child rapist?

    You were 13 when you starred in Leon, with Jean Reno. In my recollection, your mother insisted that the romantic undertones between your character and Reno's be toned down. According to imdb, you "turned down the title role in Adrian Lyne's Lolita (1997), due to [your] feelings about young adult actors/actresses being exposed to sex in films."

    Once again I am at a loss to understand. Surely you remember yourself at 13. Can you not put yourself in the shoes of Polanski's victim? Can you read her testimony without your stomach dropping, as mine does?

    Shame, Natalie.

    Sarah M, again.

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  70. What I find the most absurd about this whole Hollywood Free Polanski petition is that Harvey Weinstein (the petition's creator) said that Hollywood-which takes every single real, authentic feeling in the world and makes a schlocky, melodramatic, sentimental mockery of it-is "the best moral compass".

    I can't help but laugh in bewilderment at the people who would honestly believe that.

    This only further proves that Hollywood isn't just a 'boy's club', it's a weird, insular bubble that has no idea what living in the real world is like.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Comparing political oppression to rape?

    Wow, I am feeling disgust, anger and disappointment. But not surprised, not surprised at all. So many people whose films I love but will now always associate with this fauning, sanctimonious little document.


    Teddy

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  72. The arrogance of the Hollywood elite is beyond measure. Being a celebrity does not mean you are above the law. The intentional seduction and rape of a child is inexcusable, illegal and punishable by a court of law regardless of how famous or wealthy you may be. The support of these actions are equally disgusting and reprehensible. If the everyday person stopped paying attention to these people, the world would be a much better place, where morality and decency are not optional.

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  73. Dear Peter Fonda,

    I don't find the arrest of Roman Polanski a 'waste of time'. Proof that the justice system (and society) is interested in holding rapists accountable for the rape of children is not a waste of time. 30+ years late, it's more like...it's ABOUT time.

    I wish you'd reconsider your words and how harmful they are.

    ReplyDelete
  74. To all those film-makers, actors, writers, and artists who have worked so hard to reshape the narrative of Roman Polanski's arrest into something they can feel comfortable defending;

    This man is not the maligned and persecuted hero you are looking for. He is not Jean Valjean. He is not Andy Dufresne. He is not Sgt. James Allen as played by Paul Muni. No matter what story you try to tell, there is nothing that can change this plot point:

    California Penal Code section 1320.5 states that anyone who has been charged with or convicted of a felony and, while released on bail, "willfully fails to appear as required" is guilty of a felony. If they do not appear within 14 days, they are assumed to be attempting to evade the process, and are subject to a maximum fine of $10,000 and/or a maximum jail sentence of one year.

    Roman Polanski could have been 100% inocent of the charges leveled against him, and leaving the country still would have made him guilty of a felony and subject to an arrest warrant. The fact that he committed and pleaded guilty to the horrific underlying crime makes it all the more dispicable that people who enjoy the priviledges of celebrity, money, and power come to his aid.

    In addition, for everyone who attempts to shut down discussion by claiming that the crime was so long ago and Polanski has not broken the law since, I ask them to recognize that every day that he did not return to the United States was a day that he broke the law. He, and he alone, is the reason that this process has been dragged out for thirty years. His inability to accept responsibility for his actions has perpetuated the crime every single day since February 1, 1978. That he has been nice to those in his industry, good at his job, and presumably non-violent does not excuse the fact that he has done so with full knowledge of his crimes and awareness that he was still wanted in connection with them.

    Lord knows that that storytellers of all media have often blurred line between crime and heroism, both factual and fictional. But sometimes, we need to admit that the main character in our story story is the villain.

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  75. Dear Tilda Swinton,

    Do me a favor. Go visit the set of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Look your former co-star, Georgie Henley, in the eyes, and tell her you believe a man who raped a girl HER AGE should not have to pay for his crime. If it had been her instead of a stranger, would you even countenance supporting the man?

    It doesn't matter how long ago it was. Thirty MILLION years would not make that okay. :-(

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  76. Dear Wong Kar Wai:

    I understand that you are from a different political context than most of the people on this list, but neither your nor his background or profession should be taken into consideration during the process of justice, justice that has already waited, unfairly, over three decades. If there is anyone who ought to understand that time elapsed does not result in forgetting and forgiving, it is you.

    I have loved your films, including the entanglements of memory that is 2046, and have treasured the atmosphere and emotion and painful beauty of them. Art is important, I truly believe that, but the humanity of society is even more so.

    Having created art is no excuse for crime, and it actively hurts me (and really, all women everywhere and probably a lot of the men, too) to know that you and so many others think Roman Polanski shouldn't be treated like the rest of us, despite not only the nature of his crime but really, its mere existence.

    Just because someone is your friend, or friend of a friend, or someone you respect for whatever reason, doesn't mean they don't deserve to pay in full for their crimes, however long ago. It just doesn't.

    With hope,
    --jen from San Diego, the Chinese-American daughter of immigrants, who wishes she could still in good conscience name you as one of her favorite filmmakers.

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  77. Although I don't have an official letter, I would like to express my disappointment in those who signed the Polanski petition. I've been a tremendous Guillermo del Toro fan for years, and am extremely disheartened to see his name among others of men and women whose work I respect.

    Oftentimes, I separate an artist's personal viewpoints from his or her artwork; I'm simply not going to be able to respect every opinion of every person whose work I enjoy. But this....this is too much.

    A man's art, no matter how good (which is, of course, subjective), does not place him on a pedestal above anyone else. We're all on the same plane here; none of us working with anything more than what we've been given. It's outrageous to believe the rules simply don't apply to some of us -- that some of us are simply better than others.

    Truthfully, I feel heartbroken at the ignorance that's on display here.

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  78. Dear Free Polanski Petitioners,

    My name is Jeanine and I have a fourteen-year-old daughter. She's a beautiful child. Sometimes I look at her and I can't believe she is real. She has this heart, you know, and it's so big.

    She's really into the arts. Music is her great love and she's been writing melodies and lyrics since she was ten. She plays several instruments but especially loves the guitar. She'll strum her own songs, or covers, or come up with something silly on the spot. Sometimes she makes up songs just for me--she makes me smile.

    Sigur Ros is her favorite band. Have you heard them? Their music is really beautiful. She was touched when she watched their documentary and cried through a couple of songs. She's like that--music moves her. She saved up her allowance to donate to a local listener-funded radio station because they are the only station in the area with a library diverse enough to play Sigur Ros. I am proud of her for doing that. I think that she's proud of herself too.

    She is also a visual artist. She experiments with different mediums, going through phases using acrylics, or watercolors, or pastels. Right now she's really into drawing with charcoal. I like to watch her sketch, inking out some idea taking shape in her head. She sticks her tongue out and touches it to her upper lip sometimes when she's concentrating really hard, which makes me laugh. She likes to sew clothes for herself too. She'll take bits from several different outfits and bring them together to make a new piece. In the morning, it's fun to see what she comes up with to wear.

    When I drop her off at school, she always gives me a hug goodbye and says, I love you, Mommy. I say, I love you too. Have a good day! She likes Literature class best. When she comes home, we talk about what they read in school, and often these are stories I know well; I like hearing her thoughts. She's a voracious reader on her own as well, favoring Francesca Lia Block's brand of punk rock fairy tales.

    We spend a lot of time together--playing board games, taking walks, or having impromptu dance parties in our living room. We like watching television together, our favorites are So You Think You Can Dance and Supernatural. She was stoked when Jeanine Mason won the title of "America's favorite dancer" last season. She thinks Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles are super dreamy. Her current fictional crush is Finn Hudson, the singing and dancing high school quarterback on Glee. In real life there is always a new boy with a crush on her. I can hear her talking in hushed tones into the phone after she's supposed to have gone to bed for the night. I pretend to mind. But I don't.

    One of our very favorite activities is watching films. She just joined an after-school classic movie club. She's excited for them to watch and discuss Breakfast at Tiffany's soon because she really adores Audrey Hepburn. Her favorite movie is Amelie and when I told her Audrey Tautou has been likened to a French Hepburn, she said, Maybe, Mom. I love to share my best-loved movies with her, some of which I've been saving for when she got older. I am sad there are more than a few I will have to take off that list now.

    ...continued below due to character limit

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  79. continued from above...

    My daughter wants to go to university to study music after she graduates from high school. Or live on the beach and surf all day. Or hold a career in a field in which she helps people. She isn't sure yet which she will do.

    She is attuned in Reiki healing practice, using her hands on other people and animals to make them feel better. If a friend gets a headache at school, she'll heal them right there. Some kids call her a freak and make fun of her, but she doesn't mind too much. She listens with her heart, believes in giving to others, and stands up for what she thinks is true. My daughter makes me proud to be her mom, happy to have her in my life, and feel lucky that I have the chance to watch this little girl grow up.

    Last month my daughter was beaten, pinned down on a gravel road, and sexually assaulted by three grown men.

    Whether supports of Polanski consciously realize it or not, by suggesting that he not be held accountable for his actions the message they are sending to me, to my daughter, and to all survivors of sexual abuse is simply this: Your innocence and your physical, emotional, and mental well-being matters less than someone's art.

    I believe in the sacredness of art. I believe in the right of every woman or man to safely express themselves creatively. But I do not believe Polanski has the right to avoid serving a sentence for the crime he pled guilty to. And in light of the facts surrounding this particular case, I think it is disgusting that anyone would petition against his extradition. Some of my very favorite writers and directors are on his list of public supporters. I will never pay money to watch their films again.

    My name is Jeanine and I have a fourteen-year-old daughter. My daughter is worth more than your art.

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  80. Dear Natalie Portman,

    I'm a Star Wars geek and I love all of the Star Wars movies. Your brief stint in those films was probably just a job or slumming for you, but the character you helped bring to life captivated the imagination of a new generation of kids and kids-at-heart and inspired them.

    But playing a hero is a totally different thing from being one. And there's nothing heroic about selling the idea that elites are above the law.

    Natalie, we've been on the outs for a while anyway. I really wanted to like you because you seemed like a sensible kid raised in a nice family. You pursued your college education instead of staggering bleary-eyed out of Hollywood night clubs. But then I started seeing chinks in your image. At first it was dumb little things but then it got to be more and more obnoxious. But this, THIS takes the cake. Do you ever think for yourself or do you just go like a lemming for whatever the cool kids are doing this week? All of that stuff about empowering women and all of that stuff about helping little children is phony, an act. You don't give a crap about women or children...if you did, you wouldn't touch that petition with a 10-foot-pole or go anywhere near this guy. No, like the rest of the girls with pretty faces and empty heads, you just slavishly follow what the alpha males in Hollywood tell you to do. What kills me is you signed it AFTER there was a public outcry, and by doing that, you've likely sullied your career forever. I'm beginning to think you really graduated from Harvard Community College. But on the other hand, there are some things so stupid, only an "intellectual" can believe them.

    We're so done. I hope you never come to a convention, not even when your career has fizzled and you're old and nobody wants to put you in their (f)arthouse movies anymore. Thank God your character got whacked at the end of Episode III so there's no chance of seeing you in anything else.

    In closing, you suck.

    No Love,
    One P*ssed Off Star Wars Fan Who Hates Rapists And Pedophiles
    California

    (Thanks for the opportunity to vent.)

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  81. I am so angry at so much of Hollywood for asking that a sex offender and rapist go free, simply because he makes art or it's been so long or because he had a bad life. None of this excempts him from having to live in a world where violence and rape are not tolerated. I will not give another dollar to anyone who has signed the petition, whether by choosing not to see their films or by other means.

    Sincerely,
    Christa D. Terry
    Beverly, MA

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  82. I am absolutely sickened by every single name, famous or not, that wishes to defend Polanski. Rape is rape is rape; stop contributing to the rape culture of today. No matter how fine of a person you may exhibit yourself to be in other areas of life nor how talented you are, you are still a rapist. Especially considering Polanski PLED GUILTY THEN FLED, how can there be any question of what is the right thing to do here?

    I am paying attention to those who are supporting this petition and will not contribute to your funds again.

    Here's a link to a list of celebs who have spoken out against defending Polanski. http://chrismm.dreamwidth.org/577422.html It's encouraging to know that not all of Hollywood believes in it's wealth and superiority to avoid justice.

    Samantha P.
    Michigan

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  83. Dear Marty Scorsese

    I have been a fan of your movies for many years - and I've long felt a bond to you, as a fellow New Yorker, and as someone who, like you, spent my formative years in the shadows of cosa nostra (you in Little Italy - me working in the construction industry in this city for the past two decades).

    I've always enjoyed the deep strain of morality in your gangster movies - especially "GoodFellas" and "Casino".

    It's also obvious from those two films that - like me - you have a deep revulsion for the casual matter-of-fact sexism of the world of organized crime.

    So, it is appalling to me that you would come to the public defense of a common child rapist, sodomizer and excaped felon, just because he's a movie director!

    As a man with a deep sense of morals and justice, you MUST understand, that Roman Polanski deserves to spend the rest of his life in a maximum security prison.

    Any good that Polanski had done, and any great art that he's created, have been totally negated by his decision to brutally and violently drug, rape and sodomize a 13 year old child actress in his employ.

    Polanski deserves to spend the rest of his days in a jail sell and Marty, you know that as well as I do!

    So, please please please Mr Scorsese, remove your name from that rotten petition!

    GREGORY A. BUTLER
    New York, NY

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  84. Sixkiller--Switzerland doesn't have an extradition treaty with North Korea, but how do you think it's remotely possible for a North Korean director to make a film bashing Kim Jong Il? State-controlled media. Your filmmaker wouldn't get out of the country. Your scenario isn't realistic, given the lack of diplomatic relations with North Korea.

    The US couldn't kidnap Polanski from France. The French refused to extradite him, and the Swiss had been reluctant to do so. The current political pressure on the Swiss banking system made the Swiss gov't. act in this case.

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  85. Hollywood,

    What if that girl had been you?

    What if it had been your daughter, your sister, your cousin, the girl next door?

    Would you still say her rapist should be let off the hook? After all, he's done SO much for the movie industry. He's an artist! It doesn't matter that he completely destroyed a girl's innocence; you have to look at the big picture here!

    Please just use your common sense, Hollywood. Don't give in to peer pressure. All the cool kids aren't either.

    - Jessica, Belgium.

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  86. I'm a simple person... Polanski: justice for you is castration. Those protecting him... hmmm.

    -socialtruth

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  88. How can art be worth anything if we put it above the worth of people, of humanity? Art's worth doesn't just exist in a vacuum, it is deemed worthy by the way it engages and alters us. If we put it above the worth of our children, what will become of art?

    By refusing to allow art to be more important than each other, we're saving art...from becoming unrelateable, obsolete, cruel. I wish people would think this way, before choosing Roman Polanski and his art above the worth of a child.

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  89. I can't stop reading about this case. my heart goes out to the survivors and mothers and caring people who have written such impassioned letters about why this matters so much.

    i'm also a survivor -- the man who raped me was my fiancee. when i got the law involved, all his friends got involved too. they called me a liar, said i should 'get over it', and told me to let it lie. the courts eventually dropped my case due to lack of evidence, and my rapist is still walking the streets. he helps organize a resource church for the homeless, but nothing will ever change what he did. my heart has been in my throat watching the reactions to this case. thank you for speaking out, and adding more voices saying that rape is NOT okay no matter who you are.


    Natalie -- Santa Cruz, CA

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  90. I am in disbelief that this is even a reality; that even a handful of people that claim to be in their right minds would support excusing a child rapist because he's an artist.....

    Who someone is, or what their vocation is has ZERO to do with justice served against a person who would commit a crime like that.

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