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It seems that the French government minister so avid in his defence of Roman Polanski has a questionable sexual past of his own.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8296578.stm

Oh dear,

The damage that this is doing to arts right across the spectrum is sad and worrying; that a handful of "liberal thinking" aesthetes/artists and ministers have so vociferously voiced their opinions publically with such litte regard for the facts and wider implications of their rather petulant outbursts is embarrassing. And the way that this is being seized by far right politicians and factions, not only to condemn Polanski, but liberal thought and politics is frightening, but probably not that surprising.

At best the artistis came across as deeply stupid with no regard for legal process and at worst louche libertines, but this Mitterrand revelation opens up a whole new can of worms. To be fair, he may be telling the truth and using boys as a synonym for youths of legal age, but then again what the hell was he doing writing that in the first place when he was in the public eye? French art, especially literature is endemically louche, with a long history of sado masochism, paedophilia and sexual perversion being enshrined in words and philosophy, giving it a sheen of if not respectability then intellectual validity - I'm sure Mitterrand thought himself quite the libertine when scribbling that purple prose.

But what is worrying and saddening is that the link between paedophilia and homosexuality, that the two are synonymous which exists in the mindset of many can only be reinforced and validated by the Polanski and the revelations of his defendants.

I've been re-reading some of my posts on this thread and think I came across as a little too strident, which I can only say is a product of how emotive and inflammatory this subject is. When Christian was challenging the subject of age of consent, I did think that there are several lobbies which advocate age of consent being dropped altogether in order to "protect" children, arguing that the consent age actually stops kids from seeking help if they've been abused of gotten themselves into trouble and stops discourse on these subjects, rendering children voiceless - there is some truth in that in as much as child abuse has always been a silent crime, trading on taboo and blind eyes, it protects paedophiles, that mentality of "it doesn't happen." But I also think we need a far more evolved society than the one we have if abandoning consent laws in favour of openess, self policing and responsibility were ever to work.

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It seems that the French government minister so avid in his defence of Roman Polanski has a questionable sexual past of his own.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8296578.stm

"Mr Mitterrand said the US' behaviour, in seeking his extradition, was callous and "horrifying".

I wonder what descriptive terms he would apply to Polanski's acts with his young victim. Given his admission in his book, it makes him sound like "Birds of a Feather........."

What is acceptable in law between consenting adults remains quite different to the acts of both Mr Polanski and Mr. Mitterand's admissions.

Given that alcohol and drugs were administered to a child of 13 which presumable affected her ability to make clear consensual judgements, surely the crime of Mr Polanski is not just a sex crime it is also a crime of violence.

If, we are on a world wide slippery slope in respect of child abuse ( as statistics indicate) and we believe that prosecution and hopefully imprisonement and shame is a deterrent, Mr Polanski's sentencing has a significance that goes beyond his personal notoriety and hopefully will give encouragement to young people to come forward and denounce perpetrators of such crimes.

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I don't think the problem is that the world is on a slippery slope, it's always existed and always will, I think it's actually a hopeful sign that paedophilia so long granted safety due to a culture of silence is coming "out of the closet" as it were, that it isn't acceptable.

Like Polanski many of the sex crimes against children being prosecuted go back decades, in the London Borough of Ealing last week a Catholic priest was sentenced to 8 years for abusing the boys of the school where he was a teacher, those crimes dated back 30 years. And of course there's the ongoing shennanigans with the Catholic Church in the US.

The thing is though that Polanski and Priests are high profile and will be actively and vigorously tried both in court and in the media, but they are the tip of the iceberg in terms of the ongoing abuse of children happening daily througout the world, crimes and cases which will never be known or see a court room - 30 year old cases of high profile members of society is one thing, it's peanuts compared to the real face of child abuse.

Mitterrand rather stupidly admitted to being a sex tourist, though his "crimes" are none, he went to a country where children are used as chattel, where the Government refuses to do anything about the sex slavery of kids for fear of losing out on the billions brought in through sex tourism. There are several lobbys and support groups in the West such as "Don't Buy Thai" which advocates a cessation of all foreign trades with Thailand until the Government behaves responsibly towards its children. Like I said before Japan only made child pornography illegal in 1999 and only after continuing and repeated pressure from the US.

The threat of trial and imprisonment is absolutely no deterrant to paedophiles, it's not like murder of theft, which are choices, paedophilia is a sexuality, a compulsion; sex crimes are notoriously impossible to curb or control for precisely that reason - and Polanski going to prison will do nothing for paedophilia except give paedophiles a new martyr, or poster boy.

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this Mitterrand revelation opens up a whole new can of worms. To be fair, he may be telling the truth and using boys as a synonym for youths of legal age,

I agree up to a point and indeed have an acquaintance who is always waxing lyrical over 'beautiful boys', but having met a couple of them I'm aware that they are young adults and certainly not children. If Mitterrand has a taste for rent boys surely such people are available in France; it's the trips to Thailand for that activity that sound worrying.

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this Mitterrand revelation opens up a whole new can of worms. To be fair, he may be telling the truth and using boys as a synonym for youths of legal age,

I agree up to a point and indeed have an acquaintance who is always waxing lyrical over 'beautiful boys', but having met a couple of them I'm aware that they are young adults and certainly not children. If Mitterrand has a taste for rent boys surely such people are available in France; it's the trips to Thailand for that activity that sound worrying.

Mashinka,

In my second year of uni I went backpacking in Thailand with friends, words just simply cannot describe that place, they literally sell, eat their own. It's satanic the abuse of human rights which is ubiquitous there, every single perversity can be easily found and indeed is offered to tourists openly without fear of censure or arrest by police - political and civic corruption is mundane.

The tourists fall into two major camps the backpackers and the sex tourists (huge generalisation there) but what is evident is that if what you're looking for is no holds barred indulgence of every sick fantasy that could possibly be had, Thailand is your utopia.

And yes, I agree with you, any man of a certain age waxing lyrical about Thailand's delights is suspect to say the least, and one in such a hugely influential position of political power so brazenly boasting is just an idiot of the highest order.

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And yes, I agree with you, any man of a certain age waxing lyrical about Thailand's delights is suspect to say the least, and one in such a hugely influential position of political power so brazenly boasting is just an idiot of the highest order.

Actually, that autobiographical book was published 4 years ago, and back Frédéric Mitterrand was not into politics but was just known as a TV person and film maker (and as the nephew of the late president François Mitterrand). I guess the public reaction back then would have been completely different if he had been the minister of culture then.

"Like Polanski many of the sex crimes against children being prosecuted go back decades, in the London Borough of Ealing last week a Catholic priest was sentenced to 8 years for abusing the boys of the school where he was a teacher, those crimes dated back 30 years. "

In France, the prescription laws are a bit different: for a rape committed of a children below 15, if I remember correctly, the prescription delay is 10 years after the victim turns 18 (so a crime committed 30 years ago couldn't lead to a trial if nothing has been done since then).

Mitterrand rather stupidly admitted to being a sex tourist, though his "crimes" are none, he went to a country where children are used as chattel, where the Government refuses to do anything about the sex slavery of kids for fear of losing out on the billions brought in through sex tourism.

Actually, it could be considered as a crime under the French law, if the "boys" were below 18 (there are laws punishing sex with prostitutes under 18 which also apply for facts committed by a French national in other countries. But those laws are recent and have been applied very seldom- I guess that it's because in general, it's hard to get any proof, to find the identity of the victim, etc.)

So much of the debate now is whether the prostitutes were older than 18 or not.

I'm sure Mitterrand thought himself quite the libertine when scribbling that purple prose.

I've read only excerpts of the books published in the press, but actually it books seems to include quite a lot of guild and self-deprecation.

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French art, especially literature is endemically louche

Simon, I'm not try to argue, just calm things down a bit. This is a very slippery slope ... what will we do with Rimbaud and Baudelaire and even Diaghliev if we follow out this thinking? And the English Baudelaire, Swinburne?

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French art, especially literature is endemically louche, with a long history of sado masochism, paedophilia and sexual perversion being enshrined in words and philosophy, giving it a sheen of if not respectability then intellectual validity -

NO. This kind of generalization does not legitimately grow virally out of Mitterand's wannabe libertinism. There is probably more great 'louche' French literature --certainly way more than English - but that's not nearly all the French literature, of which there are all kinds. And certainly not 'French art'. Olivier Messiaen's music is not louche, and neither is Jean-Louis Barrault. As for the 'louche' art and literature, it has to do with the French ability to go beyond puritanism and prudishness of Britain and other nations, not even getting to American prudery--hardly a liability that one great Western nation was able to do it to my mind. I don't care if somebody hates Genet and Sade and the rest, but just as all arts (as we were discussing on the paper somebody says they're writing about ballet's uniqueness, etc.,) have their unique manifestations in different cultures which have a need and compulsion to produce them, as Italian and German opera, ballet in Italy, France and then Russia before Balanchine finally, then literature also was going to need full expression of these 'forbidden subjects', and they did need to be explored and made it explicit, including Sade. Iif it is worthless, attempts to give it 'a sheen of respectability' do not work. But they could do this kind of literature. More recent attempts, as in Michel Houellebecq's novels, which as I recall, have gone into Thailand hedonism to some degree, as in 'Platform' (but I don't think there's talk of the paedophilia in that one; actually, I know about the Thai sex business more from Nicholas Kristoff's excellent crusades in his NYTimes op-eds, which he's been doing for years, and has actually even rescued several young girls), I do tend to find pretty worthless myself, weird episodic pornography and then just call it a novel, but he's got his ardent followers. But libertinism in literature and life does not necessarily include paedophilia, and I don't think anyone has yet come to the fore as a 'Friend of Paedophiles'. At least I'm not. It may be that, as you say, 'paedophilia' is a compulsion, unlike other crimes, and for that reason, I am most grateful I have never had the least attraction to it.

But there is no greater Arts culture in the West than the French, it is extraordinarily varied, and there is not a single domain omitted. This even goes into the arts of living to a greater degree than most, as in food (including simple food), clothing, and sex. As far as the latter goes, even without taking into consideration the 'perversions', the French have a more balanced way of allowing sex to exist within the context of life instead of various forms of recoiling from it IMO, and for the most part, you get a pretty balanced bourgeois society that is NOT based primarily on outrageous acts. Whether there is more paedophilia in France or Britain I don't know, but there has always been a specific English resistance to many French attitudes, and understandably so. But primarily, if someone doesn't care for the 'louche literature and art' of France, that's just like the 'watercooler jurisprudence' someone brought up, they don't have to and they can say so, but it doesn't have much effect. It's possible, although I don't know, that this easy sexual atmosphere that leads to a mostly comfortable attitude to sex in France has both advantages and disadvantages. I certainly don't support child rape, whether done with some kind of precious calculation like this seems to be, or just the rough vicious form, but I don't make generalizations about the moral fiber of a great nation like France based on what some of their elite figures make about Polanski. I studied with one of the most overt CATHOLICS in modern times for a year, and believe me, you find out why they've got so many cathedrals, convents and monasteries when you work with one of these non-sexual sadistic types (I don't mean 'sadistic' badly, she was magnificent, but yeah...). France is not necessarily greater, at least not because I like it the best, but it's certainly unique, and its enormous variety needs to be always pointed out, when people tend to think of it as a land of 'too-looseness', 'louchensss', or whatever perjorative term you want to use for their attitudes in these areas.

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Guys, why do you think being endemically louche is a bad thing? I read philosophy at Uni and went on to do a post grad in philosphy concentrating on 19th & 20th century French lit and philosophers. The more egalitarian and open approach to sex and sexuality was what rang my bell. Certainly it enflamed my imagination far more than english & american lit.

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We don't think it is a bad thing, although I can't speak for Quiggin, of course. We thought you did. You wrote it that way, by not including what else it is, and talking about 'respectable sheen'. You have to say it in a different way if it's to be understood. Mainly, you could call a lot of it louche, but French art and even literature is not endemically louche.

So, therefore, even though I may not think it is a 'bad thing', that is just to respond to the fact that there is a lot of French literature that concerns itself with these matter, vast amounts. Mainly, I ust don't think it's accurate, not only for the poets Quiggin mentions, but for thousands of others that don't even get especailly sensuous, much less sensual.

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I hope that those of you who seem to delight in throwing stones don't live in glass houses. I for one, unlike many here apparently, haven't lead an unblemished life. I've done things I am not particularly proud of. Must be nice to be so pure and innocent.

IMHO, there's more to this thread than just a discussion of facts and issues. At least some of it seems to have its roots in personal resentment, and perhaps anger, toward certain classes of people one has decided to dislike or even to dismiss. As someone else noted, there is a whiff of fundamentalism here.

I'm disappointed.

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Great post and development, Patrick, especially how with France...

you get a pretty balanced bourgeois society that is NOT based primarily on outrageous acts

The Anglo-Saxon world -- perhaps with the help of the Murdoch press -- seems now to be structured so that it's only defined by outrageous acts -- or just the endless possibility of outrageous act.

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I don't think the problem is that the world is on a slippery slope, it's always existed and always will, I think it's actually a hopeful sign that paedophilia so long granted safety due to a culture of silence is coming "out of the closet" as it were, that it isn't acceptable.

I think there is a problem of using the word paedophilia in this current context as not all persons in this classification are sexual abusers. I understand national psychology institutions are looking to change/clarify the terms of description of typographies curently established.

As to slippery slope in the present context, you are right that many more children are brave enough to speak up and as I described earlier sex education in England is informing children in a way probably not allowed in many countries.

I have to assume that child pornography was not that widely available in the past. The internet changed all that and I see no reason not to believe that such sites may be seen as encouragers for those interested in sexual abuse of children given reports of the content of videos seized by police that had been downloaded from the internet.

" The thing is though that Polanski and Priests are high profile and will be actively and vigorously tried both in court and in the media, but they are the tip of the iceberg in terms of the ongoing abuse of children happening daily througout the world, crimes and cases which will never be known or see a court room - 30 year old cases of high profile members of society is one thing, it's peanuts compared to the real face of child abuse."

I think it is much more than "peanuts." I believe it is a symbolic confirmation of the desired morality of the majority of most populations and a smack in the eye for those that condone Mr Polanski's cruel act.

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this Mitterrand revelation opens up a whole new can of worms. To be fair, he may be telling the truth and using boys as a synonym for youths of legal age,

I agree up to a point and indeed have an acquaintance who is always waxing lyrical over 'beautiful boys', but having met a couple of them I'm aware that they are young adults and certainly not children. If Mitterrand has a taste for rent boys surely such people are available in France; it's the trips to Thailand for that activity that sound worrying.

I agree, Mashinka. Trips to Thailand are bad news.

I too once knew an older gentleman who was inclined to burble on about beautiful honey haired boys, etc., but they weren't actual kids and I am certain he would never have laid a hand on a child no matter what allurements the saucy lad was offering. Mitterand may well not have meant 'boys' to be taken too literally.

Sandy, I think Helene took care of the 'fundamentalism' question very efficiently earlier and refer you to her post.

People, although some of the comments recently posted have made good reading, we are again wandering off the reservation a bit. Thanks.

leonid, I don't think Polanski is a pedophile in the compulsive sense. He reminds me more of Chaplin (who was not a rapist, although he could have been nicked under statutory rape laws on occasion) who eventually made a lasting and mostly happy marriage with a much younger woman, much as Polanski seems to have done. (Polanski's wife is only a year or two removed in age from Polanski's victim, although I believe Seigner was twenty when they married.)

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WHERE is my last post???? Did someone delete it?? If so, I was not contacted in any way. That is unacceptable! I have no power in this situation, so my options are limited, but at a minimum, I would like to be sent a copy of that post. I want a copy of my words. Hopefully, I do not have keep my own copy of every post I make on BT just in case someone deletes it without notice.

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I deleted a post just now because it made another reference to 'fundamentalism' and for reasons I hope are plain that is not a word to be hurled around on BT.

I'm now closing this thread. I had hoped that I wouldn't have to, but the discussion is repeating itself, it's getting personal, and I no longer have the time or energy to monitor the thread and neither do any of my fellow moderators. Thanks.

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leonid, I don't think Polanski is a pedophile in the compulsive sense. He reminds me more of Chaplin (who was not a rapist, although he could have been nicked under statutory rape laws on occasion) who eventually made a lasting and mostly happy marriage with a much younger woman, much as Polanski seems to have done. (Polanski's wife is only a year or two removed in age from Polanski's victim, although I believe Seigner was twenty when they married.)

I was drawing attention to the fact that the majority of paedophiles are not sex abusers and to add, that sex with children is frequent associated with abuse of power or the perversion of power as described in the context of the Catholic Church in America, which has paid out more than 2 billion in compensation to child victims of sexual abuse in their care. Polanski's victim was of course, in Polanski's care. In both cases

the compensation is not enough.

The trauma of sexual abuse carries it with a legacy of varying debilitating conditions including, post traumatic stress, depression, mania, anxiety, phobias, long term eating disorders, learning difficuties, problems with sociialising and is associated with an increased incidence of age- concurrent and adult psychopathology etc.

When you say, " I don't think Polanski is a pedophile in the compulsive sense. " I think you are right as researchers have found that the frontal cortex, the part of the brain involved in cognition and reasoning, was less active in patients with “extreme paedophilic behaviour.

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