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The following open letter to French ministers Bernard Kouchner and Frédéric Mitterrand (who both supported Polanski) has been published in the online edition of the French newspaper "Le Monde" (I don't know whether it is also in the printed version):

http://www.lemonde.fr/opinions/chronique/2...47376_3232.html

The author, writing under the pseudonym "Manu A" (and saying he's now handicapped and unemployed)

writes that 20 years ago, he has sex with a 14 years old girl, whom he thought was consenting. He was charged for rape, waited for 2,5 years before the trial, and then spent more that 6 years in jail (it didn't write what the official sentence was).

He said that during his stay in jail, he finally realized, with the help of a psychoanalyst, that such a young teen-ager is far too young and immature to be really consenting, and that it was fair that he was convicted for rape.

He then criticizes Kouchner and Mitterrand for their attitude (and calls it an insult for all the inmated convicted for similar facts and now in jail).

He also talks about the fact that now, 20 years about the rape he had committed, a new law has forced him to go to the police twice a year to confirm his address, and blames Kouchner and Mitterrand for their lack of coherence because they support such a law (actually he writes that they voted for that law, but I think it can't be true in the case of Mitterrand, who never has been a deputy): they say that Polanski should not be extraded because the facts happened decades ago, but former criminals have no "right to be forgotten" even for those who have spent years in jail and paid their debt to society...

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I'm quite at home with dealing with opinions on history, art, military science and even politics without waxing fell and wroth, but this subject is none of those. It is current events and about the present operation of the law. My concern is for the civil rights of everyone, and the right of the individual against the power of the state. This whole thing carries with it the potential for endless mischief against the people and is not merely the simple pursuit and apprehension of a felon.

And no, I will not indulge in hypothetical examples. Your father was a wise man, Drew.

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Good for you, Drew! I assume this means we may express our opinions on the other mods, non? :) Of course, I don't have any opinions on them myself, but there may be those who do.

Drew was not 'expressing her opinion' on Mel or any other moderator, Patrick. Please don't stir the pot -- and keep to the topic under discussion. Thanks again to all.

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I'm quite at home with dealing with opinions on history, art, military science and even politics without waxing fell and wroth, but this subject is none of those. It is current events and about the present operation of the law.

There is also the matter of enforcement of the law.....

I would say one of the most interesting aspects of the Polanski case is that it is no longer only a question of law, and indeed many of Polanski’s defenders have been in effect arguing that his status as an artist makes him somehow outside the law.

He also talks about the fact that now, 20 years about the rape he had committed, a new law has forced him to go to the police twice a year to confirm his address, and blames Kouchner and Mitterrand for their lack of coherence because they support such a law (actually he writes that they voted for that law, but I think it can't be true in the case of Mitterrand, who never has been a deputy): they say that Polanski should not be extraded because the facts happened decades ago, but former criminals have no "right to be forgotten" even for those who have spent years in jail and paid their debt to society...

Thank you for posting that letter, Estelle. Some of the new laws regarding sex offenders in this country are applied just as foolishly and without discrimination in regard to individual circumstances.

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I am surprised how little has been actually addressed to the victim in almost all of the posts of this thread. It as if she is a not a real person in this whole affair and her experience is not the significant evil event.

All the reported legal shenanigans are about selling newspapers not about justice for the victim.

Stuff the supporters of Mr Polanski whose absolute world - wide status once again is not as an artist but as a child rapist. Get the legal process right and swift for the sake of the victim and the accused. The world is watching this case and American society needs to show the world that it can operate its own laws in the name of justice using timely procedures. This is a case that never went away and the inability of American justice to bring this high profile perpetrator to court is being covered in the international press and I suggest the failures leave a bad taste in the mouths of good people in America and everywhere that newspapers are read.

I am glad that Mel clarified the US law in respect of the statute of limitations for legal prosecutions.

Ps http://www.reporter.bz/archive/view/3463/

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It is indeed poignant to see that the victim in the case is probably the only one to have contact with this sordid mess who has enhanced her reputation and estimability by her conduct during this phase of it. Her statements have been the most respectable things about it.

I had intended to use the phrase "operation of the law" as an irregular locution to subsume the whole range of due process. The execution part is one of the things that drives me birds about it. Just as Polanski gets no skating privileges from long delay (the matter MUST be brought before a court), the prosecution has done itself no favors in allowing a pursuit to drag on for such a long time. Legal precedent on desuetude vitiates a prosecution. The court which will sort it all out will have its hands full. I suppose I am moved to give a Mercutian "a plague o' both your houses" to both the subject and the state.

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It will certainly be interesting. Failure to pursue a well funded and defended fugitive's case vigorously for decades could be a strong argument for dropping any charges if the charges had not already been settled, but Polanski's case is different, which is probably why his lawyers made their ill-advised attempt to get the charges dismissed without Polanski's having to appear.

I am surprised how little has been actually addressed to the victim in almost all of the posts of this thread. It as if she is a not a real person in this whole affair and her experience is not the significant evil event.

We don't want to dwell in detail on what happened to her for reasons I trust are obvious, leonid. Those horrible details are readily available online for those who are interested and I believe we may take it as a given that everyone here at BT has nothing but sympathy for her. She reached a settlement with Polanski in a civil case for an undisclosed sum awhile back. Naturally she wishes only to put the case behind her and if Polanski's arrest does nothing more than force him to settle this business once and for all, that will definitely be a good use of government time and money.

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A fascinating article about Hollywood in the 1970's appeared in today's Independent; though I think the author seems to come close to excusing a lot of questionable behaviour because the films made at the time were exceptionally good.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertai...es-1796029.html

And yesterday I heard on the news that the French government is now furiously backpedalling regarding their earlier announcements (Quelle surprise), probably realizing that supporting a rapist is a sure vote loser. I wonder if those Hollywood characters busily lobbying for Polanski's release may also wake up to the fact that they aren't doing their popularity with the general public an awful lot of good.

On the subject of idiot politicians, I heard the UK Minister of Culture state on TV last night that he wasn't familiar with Polanski, his films or his crime: a woeful lack of efficiency on the part of his handlers who clearly failed to brief him adequately before letting him loose on a current affairs programme. Although the Minister clearly isn't up to speed regarding the world of film, I like to think he can tell an attitude from an arabesque, can list the names of all Mozart's operas and can distinguish a Monet from a Cezanne, otherwise what is he doing in the job?

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Thank you for posting the article, Mashinka. The "Hey, it was the Seventies!" rationale is not likely to go far, although it's possible the blase reaction of some movie folk is related to the possibility that Polanski may well be a choir boy compared to some. (The incident took place in Jack Nicholson's house. If those walls could talk, etc.....) There were indeed some wonderful movies made during that time. I remember Martin Scorsese saying something to the effect that he made some of his best movies high as a kite.

Some famous names in Hollywood signed a petition that was carelessly worded, to say the least. There are indeed people out there who bash Hollywood for a living, but in this case the industry managed to shoot itself in the foot.

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Here is an interesting discussion on the matter:

"Interesting" is a word I use when I don't want to commit myself. I will attempt to be a little more specific. I thought this Huffington Post blog article to be little more than a rant, as well as being factually incorrect on at least one point.

P.S. Please don't interpret my remarks as somehow "pro" Polanski. My beef is that we need less ranting and more rational factual discussion of controversial issues in this country.

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Thank you for the link, SanderO, although I'm inclined to agree with Sandy about it. However, one truth about the Internet is that there's all kinds. There's been a lot of intelligent and informed writing on this particular issue, some of which has been linked to on this thread :clapping: and some of the opposite as well. (This case is unusual too in that quite a few primary sources are available.)

On the subject of idiot politicians, I heard the UK Minister of Culture state on TV last night that he wasn't familiar with Polanski, his films or his crime: a woeful lack of efficiency on the part of his handlers who clearly failed to brief him adequately before letting him loose on a current affairs programme. Although the Minister clearly isn't up to speed regarding the world of film, I like to think he can tell an attitude from an arabesque, can list the names of all Mozart's operas and can distinguish a Monet from a Cezanne, otherwise what is he doing in the job?

Without seeing the interview, it's possible that he was simply trying to duck the issue by retreating to the relative safety of ignorance. A lot of boldface names have embarrassed themselves recently.

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The case raises all sorts of ethical, moral and legal issues. The underlying facts which precipitated this case which I believe Polanski plead guilty to seem troubling to me, regardless of whether the woman now in her 40s has forgiven and wants to move on. It would be pretty tough to live with vengeance for 30 years anyway. So her wanting not to revisit these events of her puberty are understandable.

The courts, the prosecutors, the judge and so forth may have erred for technical reasons. I am not a lawyer and not personally familiar with the intricacies of the case. Whether a plea bargain was struck or not, reneged on or withdrawn or not is not as important as two main points. Polanski had no business doing what he did to a child and he did not pay for his "crime" in full satisfaction of the court and fled. If he felt he was being railroaded to a long sentence he should have had his lawyer petition the court for a mistrial, re trial, filed an appeal or made some attempt to pay for his errors, whatever he pleaded guilty to. Apparently he fled and decided to carry on with his life.

Was justice served? I think not. He may not have to face a new trial on his conduct with the child, but he now is a fugitive and has spit on the court. That's bad. I believe he yet has some answering to do. I don't think the matter has been settled by the passage of time or his talent.

Justice delayed is justice denied.

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What I find most egregious is the notion put forward and perpetuated by the letter of Hollywood luminaries, that Polanski's exile from America was some form of penance, according him the status almost of Aung San Suu Kyi's House Arrest in Burma - that in some way he suffered for those actions by being divorced from his greatest love.

That argument is so banal and specious. Hollywood did everything in their power for 30 years to employ him and keep him working a part of the establishment as was humanly possible. Major studios funding his films, distributing his work even honouring his work with Academy Awards and every accolade. Those 30 years weren't spent in exile nor were they in any way punative - as far as Hollywood was concerned he was in the office every day. When one compares that to the destruction of careers in Hollywood during Mccarthyism, when hugely talented individuals were declared toxic for even having a whiff of communism about them, the double standards and blind eyes turned by the movie powers that be becomes nauseating.

There is very much a sense that the boy's club closed ranks in an act of sympathy, that Polanski's crimes were just another day at the office for them, only he had the bad luck to be caught. I'm also so disappointed in some of the people who signed that grim petition, not least Tilda Swinton, an actress of such rare intelligence and education and whose work I admire greatly, putting her name to that just confounds me.

And that double standard permeates all of the pro Polanski arguments for the defence. His early years escaping Nazism, the horrific and unimaginable murders of Sharon Tate and his unborn child are rendered crass when used as any part or form of excuse for his crime. It renders them bathetic - as brutal, evil and needless as The Third Reich and Manson are and the horrendous effect they must have had on Polanski's psyche and sanity they at the same time cannot be used in any way shape or form to mitigate the rape, if they are not to be cheapened.

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Here is the petition and the signers.

http://www.altfg.com/blog/directors/roman-polanski-petition/

What impresses me is the absence of legal reasoning for his not answering the fact that he fled a sentence. The most appalling paragraph refers to the fact that he assumed he was in a safe country and he was arrested. Safe from what I wonder? He obviously was aware that he was on the lamb and had avoided "something" in the US justice system for years. His behavior in that sense reminds me of other crooks who escape to countries with no extradition treaties. I am surprised at some of the people who signed such a document which seems to demand his release because their club couldn't honor him. I will boycott movies with those actors in them until this matter is settled. But then again I don't bother with most Hollywood rubbish.

How sneaky of the authorities to change the extradition laws without notice to Polanski and the film academy. I would think Mr. Polanski would have his lawyers paying extra special attention to these laws and they could have kept him from entering countries which had extradition treaties.

The fact that he is a film maker, good, bad or indifferent, has no bearing in this case whatsoever.

The fact that he fled 30 years ago should have no bearing in this what so ever.

The fact that he plead to some sort of sex with a child horrible as it is has no bearing in this matter.

The issue is whether he served a sentence in full satisfaction of his crime according to the sentencing judge and if the sentencing process was flawed. The clock has been reset apparently and he is in custody for fleeing a sentence which does not help to make his case that the sentencing process was flawed.

What happened to accountability and personal responsibility?

Oh yeah, that's for the little guys who are sent to Rikers for years for some reefer.

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I will boycott movies with those actors in them until this matter is settled. But then again I don't bother with most Hollywood rubbish.

Plenty of people signed who make/act in films that are far from being "Hollywood rubbish" and indeed have nothing to do with Hollywood--but as you and others on this thread have argued, the issue for the legal system to confront should not be whether someone is a great artist or a rubbish artist or no artist at all. I think that in a more general discussion of the issues and emotions raised by this case and its consequences, the same argument applies.

This Sunday's NYTimes had a piece in the Arts and Leisure section treating of "French" attitudes towards an elite of artists and intellectuals when it comes to certain kinds of crimes. (I put the word "French" in quotation marks, because I'm not persuaded that the divide is really between the French and the Americans in quite the way the article implies and I have a hard time taking seriously any social/cultural analysis that does not give much or any attention to the fact that all the examples it considers involve crimes by men against women.)

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/04/weekinre...tml?_r=1&hp

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.......because I'm not persuaded that the divide is really between the French and the Americans in quite the way the article implies....

I agree. It was hard to figure out if the writer was debunking cultural cliches or more or less endorsing them and he seemed to be rattling off names and cases without any deeper consideration.

It renders them bathetic - as brutal, evil and needless as The Third Reich and Manson are and the horrendous effect they must have had on Polanski's psyche and sanity they at the same time cannot be used in any way shape or form to mitigate the rape, if they are not to be cheapened.

I would add that there are many prisoners who also have horrific personal stories to tell. They're still in the slammer, though.

What happened to accountability and personal responsibility?

Oh yeah, that's for the little guys who are sent to Rikers for years for some reefer.

I take your point but I would like to request that we maintain a reasoned tone in our comments here. Thanks.

....but as you and others on this thread have argued, the issue for the legal system to confront should not be whether someone is a great artist or a rubbish artist or no artist at all.

Indeed. I think we have a consensus on that point. (It's off topic, perhaps, but Polanski's case life and art have intersected in curious ways, though, and in the past have affected responses to his work. I think the initial reaction to the Jon Finch - Francesca Annis film of Macbeth, for example, might have been quite different if another director's name had been on it.)

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The intersection of an artist's professional work / lfe and his or her private conduct cannot be ignored in many, perhaps most cases. There are some artists who try to have as little as possible exposure to their private affairs and shun all publicity expecting their work to stand on its own merits (as it should).

Yet we all know that an artist's work is often informed by his or her life experience and so there is a natural tendency to want to look at more than the work to understand it more deeply. Painters are know to even write descriptive narritives about what their work is about certainly moving away from letting the work speak for itself.

As it's pretty hard to escape the nexus of publicity / public relations and the work of an artist as they will use almost anything to draw attention to themselves and in the best of all worlds to their work / art. Many consider any publicity good for them regardless if it casts them in a negative light because it draws people to examine their work. That's creepy, but it's out there. And of course, when one accepts the notion that an artists is also a business person, getting attention means income so the private and the public work of many artists have become inseparable as one "opus". This is particularly common in pop stars who trade on celebrity.

Stepping out into the public square to present views about current affairs is often avoided because it can offend admirers of the artist's work just as it can solidify support. As a politically progressive person, I am affected in my arts consumption by the political expression of artists, that is I support what I like and don't support what I don't like. I suspect many others do the same.

We have also seen concepts such as the blue wall of silence and similar where professions show almost an official solidarity with members of their profession without respect to the facts of a case. I consider this unethical behavior whether it comes from police, lawyers, doctors, actors or any identity group. It appears that in this "free Roman" petition by actors and film people, this is exactly what is at play. And so those who live by the sword must realize that they too, can die by the sword. For whatever it's worth when artists take political positions which I don't agree with it influences me to perhaps not support their work. And why not?

As stated earlier this case is not cut and dry, but raises many troubling issues. Most who comment, including myself are not up to speed on all the facts and offer opinions based on media supplied information which they happen to consume. That's the nature of opining.

The jury is still out on this one and as we all know even juries can return the wrong verdict at times so it's unlikely that this case will ever free itself from strong opposing views about what happened and what is the appropriate resolution.

Stay tuned.

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.....where professions show almost an official solidarity with members of their profession without respect to the facts of a case........It appears that in this "free Roman" petition by actors and film people, this is exactly what is at play. And so those who live by the sword must realize that they too, can die by the sword.

Do you have any evidence that this is what is motivating the petition signers? Is this pure speculation on your part? Without any direct evidence how would you know what the internal motivations of other people are?

Most who comment, including myself are not up to speed on all the facts and offer opinions based on media supplied information which they happen to consume. That's the nature of opining.

I don't accept that this is "the nature of opining." I have opinions, lots of them :), and I don't always do the best possible job of doing research before I express my opinion (I wish I did), but I guarantee you that it is quite possible to have opinions while staying within the facts that you do know, and without simply regurgitating what the media says.

In a related thought, if I give my opinion on, say, the quality of a ballet performance, I am free to say pretty much whatever I like since I am simply expressing my own personal sense of things without requiring me to be a mind reader. But giving an opinion as to why and how others think the way they do, or why others do what they do, is a waste of time IMO, and can even be harmful. There is only one way to find out why people think what they think, or do what they do, and that is to ask them.

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.....where professions show almost an official solidarity with members of their profession without respect to the facts of a case........It appears that in this "free Roman" petition by actors and film people, this is exactly what is at play. And so those who live by the sword must realize that they too, can die by the sword.

Do you have any evidence that this is what is motivating the petition signers? Is this pure speculation on your part? Without any direct evidence how would you know what the internal motivations of other people are?

Sandy,

The problem with the professionals in the film and entertainment industry who have signed the two petitions is exactly the wooliness of their motives and banality of the prose accompanying their signatures.

There is a total glossing over the facts and legal ramifications of the act and a total almost infantile concentration on Polanski's film-making skills and this is exactly the problem, were they actually to address the morality of their request and the legal position of Polanski and actually give valid, albeit highly personal reasons and rationale to their decision then, perhaps only then would their petition be a consideration. At one point they write "we demand the immediate release", they demand? On what grounds? It becomes truly peurile when Polanski's supporters pass off the event as "a mistake of youth" at 43? Come on.

The stupidity of the celebrity backing becomes truly vile when Whoopi Goldberg wades in and starts talking about "rape rape", in her mind what happened wasn't "rape rape", indeed Goldberg's knowledge of the chain of events of that evening is so in depth, that one can only assume she was there and in which case should be tried as an accessory. Otherwise I cannot see how she can go so far as she does, implying even that the girl was lying or distorting the truth. The fact is Goldberg is doing what any good defense lawyer does to the rape victim on the stand, call them a slut and a liar - so Sandy what then can we take as being Goldberg's motives for wading into the debate and the petition?

This is where it becomes abysmal, indeed I take exception with your hair splitting over the use of brutal in regards to rape, as opposed I daresay to a kind and loving rape? What exactly in drugging, raping vaginally and anally isn't brutal? By brutal I assume you mean he didn't also beat her up to subdue her, no he did what any great artist does before forcibly deflowering and sodomising a child, he gave her her first taste of champagne, in a jacuzzi and drugged her with narcotics - what a prince, no way brutal can be applied to those acts, especially as it was in jack Nicholson's house, and indeed one wonders where was Nicholson when all this was going on?

Sandy, I see that you want to split semantic hairs, give opinion and argue the issue, that's fine, but the argument that we cannot know why the petition is signed is a weak one. It's the fact that it is signed - that it exists that's the problem.

Indeed were a coalition of serving sex offenders, rapists and paedophiles to take the "c'lebs" example and rustle up their own petition to free Polanski, one of their own, would you be equally as accepting and non judgemental of the act and their motives?

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Do you have any evidence that this is what is motivating the petition signers? Is this pure speculation on your part? Without any direct evidence how would you know what the internal motivations of other people are?

Sandy, I'd say we can never know private motivations, but we can make judgments based on what they do and say -- and statements to which they put their signature, although one never knows how careful signatories of petitions have been about reading them.

Simon, I did ask earlier that we put a lid on the whole matter of 'brutal' and I'd like not to reopen that particular can of worms. (This is in no way intended as a criticism of your point, which is a perfectly fair one.) I would also like to avoid too much graphic detail about the circumstances of the assault, which are well documented elsewhere.

As a point of fact, the victim was not a virgin, as some defenders of Polanski have been eager to emphasize, in the recent documentary for example. I'm not saying this matters to me, mind, just pointing out that the term 'deflowering' does not apply here.

I rather like the idea of a Sex Offenders for Polanski movement.

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......so Sandy what then can we take as being Goldberg's motives for wading into the debate and the petition?

The only way to know her motives is from her words (as is true for any of us at any time). Do you have a quote of hers where she explains her motives? If so, I'd like to read that. The world would be a happier place if every time the question of "what then can we take as being XXX's motives" comes up, the answer to that question were to be found in the words of the person who motives are being examined.

.....as opposed I daresay to a kind and loving rape?

(Sorry dirac, I must answer this misconception somehow. I will do it as briefly and without inflamation as possible.) SimonG, I request that you read my words more carefully. I never created the possibility of a "kind and loving rape". What I did say was that there are few, if any, crimes other than ripe where the same physical actions (physical in the sense of not considering any internal emotional, mental, or feeling aspects, but considering only the physical actions themselves) can be felt by those involved as either a crime (rape) or an expression of love (love making). I never used the words "kind and loving rape", or any words approximating such words -- indeed those words make no sense to me, they are a complete contradiction in terms.

Sandy, I see that you want to split semantic hairs, give opinion and argue the issue....

This is a good example of the very thing I am talking about. You seem to know my motives. How can you know what they are? You haven't asked, but I assure you I am not interested in splitting semantic hairs. I actually think that even world peace hangs in the balance of the issue of assuming the motivations of others. In my world, I hardly consider that a game of semantics.

....but we can make judgments based on what they do and say...

I couldn't agree more. Indeed, I think that is my entire point. I await the posting of the actual words of someone like Goldberg so we could have a meaningful discussion as to what she does and says. My objection is about speculating as to why others say and do things. Perhaps it is too bad we can't read minds, but we can't; so the only avenue we have is to ask others and then to listen to what they say. (Of course society must make exceptions to this wise principle. For example, if you are on a jury, you might have to make a judgment about why someone did something in spite of what they say when asked; but look at how carefully the society manages this exception. Our laws, courtroom procedures, "beyond a reasonable doubt" criterion, and so forth are all in place because we as a society have learned how dangerous it is to make judgments about the motivations of others beyond what they say.

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Sandy,

Your posts and arguments take me back to university, I read philosophy. Anyway, I remember those endless tutorials in the first year when green and keen to prove to the world how greatly intelligent we were we'd argue points endlessly, picking the tiniest morsal, point of weakness (perceived on our part) to attack debate endlessly - tutors, lecturers, each other, even though a great deal of the time we weren't attacking for any real, valid or rational purpose except to argue for arguments sake. An endless ringing of one hand clapping.

We kind of calmed down in the second year once we'd grown a bit and realised how senseless and pointless much of our debate was, indeed much of the time we'd been proslytizing to such an extent we'd forgotten what the original point actually was. , and then we faced up to the fact that we were nowhere near as clever as we thought we were, and then and only then did we have something worth saying. But thank you for taking me back to those halcyon days.

By the way, if you're at all interested Whoopi's "rape rape" diatribe is on Youtube. And dirac is quite right arguing the "brutal" point any further is tedious and banal. But please feel free to continue, just don't bring me into it, cheers.

Your point why people say and do things? I think the only real why that matters is why a grown man of 43 decided that drugging and raping a minor was something fun and frolicsome to do.

The why here isn't the issue, the crime's a done deal, as is Polanski's admission of guilt - the real why we could ask is why after admitting culpability did he flee when it dawned on him he wasn't going to be offered a free pass. And would he have ever admitted guilt had he known beforehand that he may very well face a full jail term.

Dirac, she wasn't a virgin at the time? I didn't know that, there's nothing like responsible parenting.

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