Posted tagged ‘Roman Polanski’

Beneath It All

October 5, 2009

After writing post yesterday about Roman Polanski and Beef Inspections, thought about some poems that might connect.  Here’s one:

Beneath it all

Beneath the red over blue sky,
she walked a beam, its wood dark
as charcoal; just below it, gravel.  Still,
she held arms out
to her sides
as if balancing on a narrow ledge, in
a harsh wind,
pretending.  Pretending too
that she was still a little girl, while
also pretending to be older.
To be younger and older both
felt cute, like wearing,
with conscious insouciance,
a too-short skirt over legs
that had learned allure.
Sure of the man watching, she
pretended to slip, then
caught herself, smiling in mock
relief, the feel of control surging through her
like growth itself.
She had much to learn and
would have a hard time at it.

(All rights reserved.  Karin Gustafson)

Roman Polanski and Beef Inspection

October 4, 2009

My short attention span was caught by two very different articles in the New York Times today.  One, by Michael Moss, was “E Coli Path Shows Flaws in Beef Inspection.”  The other is really a group of articles about Roman Polanski, “The Polanski Case – A Gallic Shrug” by Michael Kimmelman, and “Room for Debate:  The Polanski Uproar” which features a group of views by writers, professors, lawyers (Geraldine Ferraro).

What struck me about the beef article is the degree to which safety standards in the industry are “self-regulated.”  According to the article, the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows grinders to devise their own safety plans, including self-testing, which the grinders then scrupulously ignore.

What also is impressive (i.e. scary) is the factory-like nature of beef processing; the fact that burgers are produced like cars, with parts shipped from multiple venues, both within and without the U.S., then hurriedly assembled (or in the case of beef) smushed together.

Frankly, many of the “beef products” going into hamburger can only be called “beef” in that they, like e coli and the manure that feeds it, were produced, at some point, by a cow.   Contamination seems almost a by-product of the system.  Everything is done too fast, with an emphasis on saving cents on the pound.  No one wants testing because no one wants an expensive recall.   Many producers will not even supply to grinders who test;  instead many want their products to be mixed up (and confused) with other products, then quickly sold to consumers who, it is to be hoped, will cook the life out of them.

There seems to be a kind of magical thinking going on here;  producers don’t want a system of testing because they don’t want (a) a timely finding that there is something wrong with their particular beef product, and (b) to have to do something about it.

Sadly, the only enforcement mechanism that seems to be effective is a heft law suit generally brought because of the death or paralysis of an e coli consumer.  A law suit happens, or threatens to happen, which, perhaps unfairly, clobbers a couple of players whose products are traceable and  suddenly, those players (and hopefully others)  literally clean up their acts.

Which somehow brings me to Roman Polanski.  I feel great sympathy for Roman Polanski.  He has suffered truly horrific events in his lifetime.  I cannot even begin to imagine the pain of these events.   I am guessing (like the rest of the world) that his pursuit of terribly young girls in the Seventies was probably a by-product of some of this pain.

I also believe that the Los Angeles County system of justice, and the greater federal justice system, probably have more urgent tasks on their current agenda than chasing him down in Switzerland.

But none of that is an excuse for drugging and raping a thirteen year old.

I hate to say it but all the reasons Hollywood and France brings up to exonerate Polanski just don’t make sense:

Yes, it’s true that many many people have done awful things and gotten away with them.

Yes, the girl’s mother bears blame.

Even the fact that the girl, now woman, has forgiven Polanski doesn’t excuse him from law-breaking.

Yes, Polanski has made some great films.  Yes, thirty years have gone by and Polanski appears to have a settled life.  These factors bear on issues of clemency, the likelihood of repeating the crime, whether he’s a danger to society (I don’t think he is) etc. etc.  But they don’t excuse him.

Even the fact that Polanski’s suffered a great deal in his life doesn’t exactly excuse him, at least not in the way the Hollywood people use the phrase—”he’s suffered enough.”  (He has suffered a great deal, but most of this suffering doesn’t seem to have come as a result of the rape incident.)

We have a criminal justice system. It is supposed to at least try to treat people equally, without regard to whether the perpetrator of a crime can pay off the victim, or can please other people with their movie-making.  It is also a system which people are supposed to face up to.  It can’t reward people for flight from its strictures;  it can’t simply ignore this kind of flight because someone is famous.

What to do with a case like Polanski’s?  I have to say that if I were a law enforcement official, I would not have ordered a concerted search for Polanski at this point.  At the same time, if I’d been Polanski himself, I would have been careful to lay low in France.

I guess this is part of what connects him to the beef producers in my mind:  first, the magical thinking, and second, the ad hoc quality of his pursuit (which reminds me both of the testing process, and the law suit process.)  But the fact is that if you are not going to self-regulate, then it’s possible you may eventually be walloped by the law.   Certain things (including both e coli and warrants for arrest and extradition) don’t  just go away on their own.

I should note here that I’m a vegetarian.  And was raised as a Lutheran.

Roman Polanski – Swiss-U.S. Relations

September 27, 2009

I make no comment here on Roman Polanski’s crime, punishment, or long evasion of the U.S. judicial system.

I only wanted to note that the Swiss must be madder than ever at us (the U.S.) right now.  Not only have we wrought havoc on their bank secrecy laws, but now we are invading their Oscar (should I say “Oskar”) ceremony.

I’m guessing that it might be a good time to stock up on chocolate;  it may be very hard to get the good stuff soon.

(PS – I have to say I really don’t know what the Swiss attitude is to all this yet.  It really is a guess.  I also don’t mean to sound glib about Polanski’s original crime.)