The vendetta against Amnesty Int becomes more blatant


by Sunny
21st February, 2010 at 4:13 pm    

When I started writing first about the Amnesty / Gita Sahgal / Moazzam Begg controversy I said that many of those taking up Gita Sahgal’s cause were people who actually had an agenda against Amnesty International. As yet she hasn’t even distanced herself from these fruitloops.

Evidence of this is further highlighted in today’s Sunday Times with a statement by Salman Rushdie. This is of course the same newspaper that blatantly misrepresented what Amnesty’s Asia director Sam Zarifi had to say to try and present it as another split.

Salman Rushdie was naturally a big supporter of the Iraq war externally driven regime change in Iraq and ideologically in the same camp as Cohen, Hitchens et al. The man who once said: “The only just cause for a war with Iraq is to liberate its population” – how’s that piece of advice working out for you?

Anyway, Rushdie’s blatant attempt to undermine Amnesty Int is so over-the-top that his mate Norm Geras distance himself from Rushdie’s agenda by saying: “Rushdie wrong about Amnesty“. Oh dear.

Meanwhile, a letter in today’s Observer lays out the contradictions that go to the heart of Nick Cohen’s facile approach to human rights:

Nick Cohen writes of his latest bogeyman, Amnesty International, that while they were “once the most principled defenders of human rights”, they have now “collaborated” with (ie defended) Moazzam Begg. He wonders what will happen when they realise that “the Islamists they embrace aren’t nice metrosexuals who support women’s rights”, and then hopes they will remember that “promoting human rights is a hard and often thankless task that has to be done regardless of the consequences”.

I’m baffled as to how this incoherent sneering is supposed to translate into a criticism of AI. If the organisation is to stick to its principles, as Cohen urges, then it has to oppose any transgression. Cohen manages to trumpet the fundamental value of universal and unconditional human rights, then point out the difficulties of consistently upholding these rights by using AI and Begg’s case as an example, then chastise AI for doing so (or is it not doing so?).

Update: Earwigca makes an excellent point:

I wonder if Rushdie was “suffering from a kind of moral bankruptcy” when he signed the petition in support of Polanski? You know, the man who raped a 14 year old then did a runner for decades.

Unbelievable hypocrisy.

Update 2: What next? The Chinese criticising Amnesty for being too nice to Muslims?


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  1. Malky Muscular

    RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: The vendetta against Amnesty Int becomes more blatant http://bit.ly/cBWBwG


  2. Robin Ince

    RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: The vendetta against Amnesty Int becomes more blatant http://bit.ly/cBWBwG


  3. earwicga

    RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: The vendetta against Amnesty Int becomes more blatant http://bit.ly/cBWBwG


  4. Neil Durkin

    RT @pickledpolitics Pickled Politics » The vendetta against Amnesty Int becomes more blatant http://bit.ly/9wcNwl


  5. Milena Buyum

    RT @pickledpolitics Blog post:: The vendetta against Amnesty Int becomes more blatant http://bit.ly/cBWBwG


  6. Nick Hider

    RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: The vendetta against Amnesty Int becomes more blatant http://bit.ly/cBWBwG


  7. Adam Casey

    RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: The vendetta against Amnesty Int becomes more blatant http://bit.ly/cBWBwG


  8. A. L. Kennedy

    Oh, Monday mornings… http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/7580 People could really give things a little more thought, surely ?


  9. Simon Ware

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  1. halima — on 21st February, 2010 at 4:49 pm  

    “I wonder if Rushdie was “suffering from a kind of moral bankruptcy” when he signed the petition in support of Polanski? You know, the man who raped a 14 year old then did a runner for decades.”

    Spot on. Makes sense, what with his supermodel and super young girlfriend and all that. Rushdie’s a great feminist isn’t he!? What a joke.

  2. Salil — on 21st February, 2010 at 5:19 pm  

    Sunny, Salman Rushdie did not support the war in Iraq. Terry Eagleton is responsible for giving that misleading fact currency; please see this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jul/09/iraq.usa

    Rushdie did support the idea that Saddam Hussein should go. Nothing wrong with that.

  3. Salil — on 21st February, 2010 at 5:21 pm  

    Here’s what Eagleton wrote in response:

    “Sincere apologies to Salman Rushdie for falsely claiming that he supports the war on Iraq (Letters, July 9). I am, however, dismayed by his implications that he might have supported an invasion under different circumstances. My general point, I think, still stands that he and other writers have ceased to challenge the global system which lies at the root of the war.”

    Yes, Eagleton does say that he is dismayed by Rushdie. But then many of us are dismayed by Eagleton’s politics :-) so that’s neither here nor there, I’m afraid.

  4. Sunny — on 21st February, 2010 at 5:25 pm  

    Rushdie did support the idea that Saddam Hussein should go.

    By magic?
    Anyway, thanks for correcting that – I’ll change the post.

  5. Salil — on 21st February, 2010 at 5:28 pm  

    And @Swift, Rushdie did not block the former bodyguard’s book. He asked the former bodyguard (he was a chauffeur, first of all, not a bodyguard) to issue a “declaration of falsity” at the beginning of the book – meaning, to say that what he wrote was a bunch of lies. And the publishers who had marketed the book as “facts” realized the folly of publishing fiction as facts. In a country where libel laws stifle free speech, Rushdie’s approach – of getting the author to admit falsehoods, and not to seek a ban – is exemplary.

    Once again, it would be nice to use facts. But then facts have an inconvenient way of interfering with theories. How nice if Rushdie had remained a critic of Thatcher, and never said a word about the Ayatollah in “The Satanic Verses” (he does mention the cleric, btw), and played by the rules set by the multi-culti industry!

  6. Salil — on 21st February, 2010 at 5:32 pm  

    No, Sunny, not by magic. But I suppose the would could have continued to wait for the wise men at the UNSC to decide, we could have waited and watched, as Saddam would’ve died a natural death, Udei and Qusay would have fought a civil war, and the mayhem we see today would have played out in any case – but without a brittle government in charge. Or he could’ve met a violent death in a coup Iran supported. I doubt Saddam would have made a concessional speech after an election defeat, somehow. My point: perfect solutions are not always at hand, and we should never underestimate people’s ability to be cruel to one another.

  7. Shatterface — on 21st February, 2010 at 5:36 pm  

    ‘When I started writing first about the Amnesty / Gita Sahgal / Moazzam Begg controversy I said that many of those taking up Gita Sahgal’s cause were people who actually had an agenda against Amnesty International. As yet she hasn’t even distanced herself from these fruitloops.’

    When your vendetta against Saghal began you sounded slightly less hysterical. Now you want her to vet every supporter?

    ‘Evidence of this is further highlighted in today’s Sunday Times with a statement by Salman Rushdie. This is of course the same newspaper that blatantly misrepresented what Amnesty’s Asia director Sam Zarifi had to say to try and present it as another split.’

    So are you saying the paper misrepresented Rushdie or are you simply lashing out at the paper his comment was published in and hoping to dismiss his arguments – none of which you even attempt to counter – by association?

    ‘Salman Rushdie was naturally a big supporter of the Iraq war and ideologically in the same camp as Cohen, Hitchens et al. The man who once said: “The only just cause for a war with Iraq is to liberate its population” – how’s that piece of advice working out for you?’

    And how’s YOUR *continuing* war in Afghanistan panning out? I’m not sure a supporter of one invasion has the moral highground to attack the supporter of another.

    If you’d actually read Rushdie’s whole comment about Iraq you might have got to the bit where he said that a ‘war of liberation might just be worth fighting. The one America is currently trying to justify IS NOT’. (My capitals) Hardly a ringing endorsement and a world away from your jingoistic enthusiasm for Afghanistan.

  8. Roger — on 21st February, 2010 at 5:41 pm  

    “I wonder if Rushdie was “suffering from a kind of moral bankruptcy” when he signed the petition in support of Polanski? You know, the man who raped a 14 year old then did a runner for decades.”
    Does this deprive Polanski of his rights, then?

    I have no doubt that A.I. would campaign for Polanski’s rights, just as they have campaigned for Segg’s. However, I think they would recognise the foolishness of inviting Polanski to speak about human rights; unfortunately they did not recognise the foolishness of inviting Begg, whose idea of human rights is rather different to A.I.’s, to speak about human rights.

  9. Salil — on 21st February, 2010 at 5:43 pm  

    Sorry – I mean the “world” could have waited – and not “would” could have waited. I blame jet lag.

  10. Salil — on 21st February, 2010 at 5:48 pm  
  11. Shatterface — on 21st February, 2010 at 5:50 pm  

    ‘He blocked a Pakistani film “Interntional Guerillas” mocking him from being released in the UK’

    Like fuck, he did. It was his personal intercession which got the film released:

    From Wikipedia: ‘The British Board of Film Classification refused to allow it a certificate, as “it was felt that the portrayal of Rushdie might qualify as criminal libel, causing a breach of the peace as opposed to merely tarnishing his reputation.” This move effectively banned the film in Britain outright. However, two months later, Rushdie himself wrote to the board, saying that while he thought the film “a distorted, incompetent piece of trash”, he would not sue if it were released.’

    So Rushdie actually supported a movie calling for his murder. And a censorship-happy Hundal calls him an enemy of free speech.

  12. Sunny — on 21st February, 2010 at 5:57 pm  

    But I suppose the would could have continued to wait for the wise men at the UNSC to decide, we could have waited and watched,

    Decide over what? Saddam was a tyrant but are we to draw up a list of every country to invade when people start dying?

    How about Congo? No Korea? Colombia? Darfur? Why haven’t we invaded anby of those yet? And who will pay for lying about the WMDs?

    And a censorship-happy Hundal calls him an enemy of free speech.

    I said he had a vendetta against Amnesty and he was hypocritical re: Polanski. I didn’t say he was an enemy of free speech. You can’t read shatterface.

    I have no doubt that A.I. would campaign for Polanski’s rights, just as they have campaigned for Segg’s

    On what basis? Allowing a rapist to go scot-free? You really are delusional.

  13. Sunny — on 21st February, 2010 at 6:06 pm  

    ahhh, crap number of typos – sorry salil – a bit distracted today.

    I want to go back further than you’re starting from. Why was the drumbeat against SH raised in the first place, given we’ve shown no propensity to invade other countries purely on humanitarian grounds. Why don’t we invade countries like Columbia? (I’m all in favour of that).

  14. Roger — on 21st February, 2010 at 6:19 pm  

    I have no doubt that A.I. would campaign for Polanski’s rights, just as they have campaigned for Segg’s.
    On what basis? Allowing a rapist to go scot-free? You really are delusional.”

    Are you trying to say that if Polanski had his rights he would go scot-free? Or do you mean that people accused of rape should have no rights, to ensure they do not go scot-free? If not, what are you trying to say?

  15. Salil — on 21st February, 2010 at 6:29 pm  

    Sunny, It is fair to raise those “but-what-about” scenarios, and in an ideal world, I’d say “yes, yes, yes” to most well-thought humanitarian interventions. I had no problem with Vietnam getting rid of Pol Pot, with India aiding Mukti Bahini liberate Bangladesh, with the Tanzanians aiding Ugandans to get rid of Idi Amin, with the British in Sierra Leone to stop Foday Sankoh, and the removal of Slobodan Milosevic.

    Then we come to the specific question: what about Darfur, etc. And in an ideal world yes, just as there should have been an intervention in Rwanda. (Don’t agree about Colombia, but I wouldn’t dismiss your wishing to raise the issue out of hand).

    From the perspective of doctrines, the Iraq war has severely curtailed the intl community’s willingness to intervene under the responsiiblity-to-protect (R2P) principle. And that is a problem. For that reason, a smarter, better-thought intervention in Iraq would have been better.

    But we should stop this thread: from Amnesty, Gita Sahgal, and Moazzam Begg, we’ve returned to the divisive debate on Iraq. Before long, we’ll end up discussing Palestine, a conflict where fewer people have died in 50 years than in the DRC in a decade, but human rights groups like CagePrisoners and Stop the War haven’t marched against the conflict in Congo, the last time I checked.

  16. Boyo — on 21st February, 2010 at 7:04 pm  

    “just as there should have been an intervention in Rwanda.”

    There was wasn’t there, by the French (who shot down the President’s plane and kick-started the genocide…).

    Just because Salman Rushdie may have done some stupid things (and also written some great books) does not affect the validity, or otherwise, of his current argument.

    Is every opinion of Sunny’s to be judged by every previous opinion he has ever held? ;-)

  17. Sunny — on 21st February, 2010 at 7:06 pm  

    Salil – point taken, and agreed with what you’ve said. I’m not excusing Muslim groups and their hypocrisy over human rights. I just don’t want to be lectured to by Salman Rushdie and Nick Cohen.

    Roger: Or do you mean that people accused of rape should have no rights, to ensure they do not go scot-free? If not, what are you trying to say?

    Accused of rape? I suggest you do a bit of reading before you embarrass yourself even further.
    http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2009/09/28/polanski_arrest/

    There would be no reason for Amnesty to intervene and for Salman Rushdie to accuse Amnesty of “moral bankruptcy” is just risible.

  18. Roger — on 21st February, 2010 at 7:27 pm  

    Polanski pleaded guilty as a result of plea-bargaining, a different matter to an absolute confession of guilt.

    My point, however, is that you seem to be just as eager to discard the human rights of people you know are rapists as the government and armed forces of the U.S.A. are to discard the human rights of people they know are islamist terrorists. Human rights apply universally. The reason people are concerned about A.I.’s association with Begg is that there is reason to suppose that he does not share the same definition of human rights as A.I. or think that human rights are universal.

  19. Tory — on 21st February, 2010 at 8:03 pm  

    “Gita Sahgal is a woman of immense integrity and distinction and I am personally grateful to her for the courageous stands she made at the time of the Khomeini fatwa against The Satanic Verses”

    I fear the work of the neocons is behind this…

    What a naughty chap he is eh Sunny?

    Bad Rushdie – BAD

    The only good to come out of all of this is that its now harder for lefty campaign groups to support Taliban activists.

  20. Lunium — on 21st February, 2010 at 11:38 pm  

    What is the relevance of including, rather approvingly, Earwigca’s comment as an update to the main post? As far as I know, there were many other signatories to the petition in support of Polansky. Are they all ‘morally bankrupt’ for the same reason?

    I guess the other interpretation of Earwaigca’s comment could be something like this – if Rushdie could support someone ‘so evil’ like Polanski, there should therefore be no problem with Amnesty Int supporting someone like Begg. I am really confused.

    I would really appreciate if Sunny could answer the first part of my question.

  21. Lunium — on 21st February, 2010 at 11:53 pm  

    Following from my last comment, a partial list of people (other than Rushdie) who signed the petition for Polansky can be found at this link below:

    http://www.indiewire.com/article/over_100_in_film_community_sign_polanski_petition/P1/

  22. Lunium — on 22nd February, 2010 at 12:20 am  

    Truly sorry about my misspelling of Polanski (not Polansky, the Russian:). From next time I’ll not ignore all auto spell-checker suggestions. Looks like it’s good with checking certain proper nouns too.

  23. soru — on 22nd February, 2010 at 12:37 am  

    Anyone notice how each time Sunny tries out a new contorted argument to defend Amnesty’s handling of this situation, another 5 people pop up saying ‘hey, that argument is bogus?’

    Every time someone says something ‘collaborated (i.e. defended)’, then another 10 people read that and say ‘hey, that doesn’t match the facts of the case at all, these people are either idiots or deliberately lying: what have they go to hide’

    Give amnesty a few hundred more ‘defenders’ like Sunny, and Rushdie could ironically turn out to be right that the organisation will be seriously damaged by this affair.

  24. Sunny — on 22nd February, 2010 at 12:47 am  

    Anyone notice how each time Sunny tries out a new contorted argument to defend Amnesty’s handling of this situation, another 5 people pop up saying ‘hey, that argument is bogus?’

    It’s the same five ppl soru – and people I generally ignore anyway. Nice try though, you guys are getting desperate to try and pretend this isn’t an agenda against Amnesty. It’s amusing though to find some of these people suddenly discover human rights and feminists.

  25. Lunium — on 22nd February, 2010 at 1:28 am  

    ‘Update 2′ of the main article, i.e. – “What next? The Chinese criticising Amnesty for being too nice to Muslims?” is confusing as well.

    The generalization implied here, that Amnesty, in providing a platform for Begg of the CagedPrisoners fame, was trying to be nice to all Muslims is totally wrong. Actually by showcasing Begg in numerous of their functions and tours (like an irresistible freak show item), AI was ONLY being nice to a TINY segment of Muslims of the fundamentalist mindset. It didn’t do any good for liberal Muslims like me (or like Rushdie, for that matter) who have been struggling very hard to keep the religious fundies at bay in our South Asian homeland for last several decades. Unfortunately the AI top brass probably genuinely believed that they were being nice to all Muslims by doing so, but that is definitely not the case for a majority of non-fundamentalist muslims.

  26. Lunium — on 22nd February, 2010 at 1:44 am  

    Sunny,

    you have not yet replied to my question in comment# 21.

    Fyi, note that I am not one of the ‘same five people’ who might have a malicious agenda against you. In fact I agree with your viewpoints, as published in this blog and elsewhere, more often than not.

    Regards,
    Luni

  27. Roger — on 22nd February, 2010 at 2:46 am  

    A.I. wasn’t trying to be nice to muslims. It has been and is concerned with an egregious and world-wide attack on human rights. Begg’s rights were ignored. He was detained without trial under inhumane conditions for several years, tortured and mistreated, and the rights of many others have been and are disregarded in the same way. All of this was done by or with the approval of the most powerful country in the world.
    The problem is that Begg himself doesn’t share A.I.’s general concern for human rights and supports people who also disregard human rights or deny that people have the rights A.I. claims they do. A.I. have disregarded that fact and failed to distinguish between Begg the victim and Begg the supporter of totalitarian organisations. Psychologically people seem to find it hard to accept that human rights should be universal or that people are complicated. We seem to assume that because Begg’s rights were ignored he must be a good man with no dubious qualities or that because someone supports murderous bigots or has committed a crime they have lost their human rights. There are psychologically similar arguments here: people have argued that because of his alleged personal faults, Rushdie’s arguments should be disregarded without looking at the validity of his arguments. If there is a vendetta against A.I., the way to deal with it is to deal with it is not to start a counter-vendetta but to deal with the srguments made against A.I., refuting those without validity and taking steps to make sure that those that are justified. As it happens, I am a member of A.I. and have no intention of leaving. I agree with Geras, that Rushdie is wrong and that A.I. is a valuable organisation, but it is not perfect and only fools would suppose it could be.

  28. Roger — on 22nd February, 2010 at 3:32 am  

    There’s something wrong with the edit function.
    Please remove previous post

    A.I. wasn’t trying to be nice to muslims. It has been and is concerned with an egregious and world-wide attack on human rights. Begg’s rights were ignored. He was detained without trial under inhumane conditions for several years, tortured and mistreated, and the rights of many others have been and are disregarded in the same way. All of this was done by or with the approval of the most powerful country in the world.

    The problem is that Begg himself doesn’t share A.I.’s general concern for human rights and supports people who also disregard human rights or deny that people have the rights A.I. claims they do. A.I. have disregarded that fact and failed to distinguish between Begg the victim and Begg the supporter of totalitarian organisations. Psychologically people seem to find it hard to accept that human rights should be universal or that people are complicated. We seem to assume that because Begg’s rights were ignored he must be a good man with no dubious qualities or that because someone supports murderous bigots or has committed a crime they have lost their human rights.

    There are psychologically similar arguments here: people have argued that because of his alleged personal faults, Rushdie’s arguments should be disregarded without looking at their validity. If there is a vendetta against A.I., the way to deal with it is not to start a counter-vendetta but to deal with the arguments made against A.I., refuting those without validity and taking steps to make sure that those criticisms that are justified are responded to effectively.

    As it happens, I am a member of A.I. and have no intention of leaving. I agree with Geras, that Rushdie is wrong and that A.I. is a valuable organisation, but it is not perfect and only fools would suppose it could be.

  29. Lunium — on 22nd February, 2010 at 5:08 am  

    Roger, hats off to you for your substantive comment above which some posters here will consider rather uninteresting because of the lack of any clear vendetta. I agree with you mostly, except for a minor point that Rushdie used the phrase ‘kind of moral bankruptcy’ rather than ‘moral bankruptcy’, although I am not sure if that makes any real difference in the meaning.

  30. Sunny — on 22nd February, 2010 at 5:09 am  

    The problem is that Begg himself doesn’t share A.I.’s general concern for human rights and supports people who also disregard human rights or deny that people have the rights A.I. claims they do

    Yes, you guys keep stating this without any proof. And yet if Begg says that he does actually care for human rights for all – you just don’t believe him.

    Lunium – the answer is simple. I just don’t believe Salman Rushdie is in any position to lecture others on “moral bankruptcy” when he has so little credibility himself. That’s like Dick Cheney trying to sound credible on human rights – it just doesn’t wash.

  31. Salil — on 22nd February, 2010 at 8:02 am  

    So Rushdie is supposed to be wrong for defending Polanski, and hence whatever he says about Amnesty or human rights cannot be taken seriously. Right. And at the same time Begg is supposed to be right when he defends Awlaki, gives him platform on his website, calls his work “inspiring”, and we should take at face value his claim that he defends the rights of everyone, anywhere, and all the time. I know Amnesty believes that; Begg may have asserted that; but as the woman in the Wendy’s commercial asked, where’s the beef? Where is Begg’s praise of Khan Abdul Gafar Khan and the Khudai Khidmatgars, the non-violent activists inspired by Gandhi, who offered an alternative paradigm for self-determination in precisely the region between Afghanistan and Pakistan that is considered ungovernable today?

  32. Roger — on 22nd February, 2010 at 8:13 am  

    ” And yet if Begg says that he does actually care for human rights for all – you just don’t believe him.”

    I don’t.
    Either his present politico-religious opinions are very different from the ones that made him think Taliban-ruled Afghanistan worth settling in with his wife and children or the human rights for all he favours are very different fron those espoused by A.I.

  33. cjcjc — on 22nd February, 2010 at 8:53 am  

    When you look at the delightful people promoted by CagePrisoners – eg Awlaki – it is quite difficult to believe Begg, isn’t it?

  34. MiriamBinder — on 22nd February, 2010 at 10:20 am  

    There is a vast difference between highlighting conditions under which individuals are kept and promoting the world-view which the individuals hold.

  35. douglas clark — on 22nd February, 2010 at 10:36 am  

    Salil @ 31,

    What is it with the burden of proof? Could the anti-Begg faction please provide some evidence that he is what you say he is? Repetition of a mantra does not equal proof.

  36. soru — on 22nd February, 2010 at 12:10 pm  

    It’s the same five ppl soru – and people I generally ignore anyway.

    Well if all those people commenting for the first time are sock puppets, someone is doing a pretty good job – they don’t all have the same writing style or apparent background.

    you guys are getting desperate to try and pretend this isn’t an agenda against Amnesty

    I can assure you I don’t have any agenda other than reacting to what is posted. If you write ill-thought-through nonsense on, say, regional transport or geography education, I’ll point that out too.

    It is amusing to note how exactly your overall line of argument matches Dick Cheney’s: you shouldn’t criticise Amnesty/America, because on the whole they are in the right. Those who do so have an undefined sinister agenda that invalidates any point they may have…

  37. Brownie — on 22nd February, 2010 at 2:17 pm  

    Anyway, Rushdie’s blatant attempt to undermine Amnesty Int is so over-the-top that his mate Norm Geras distance himself from Rushdie’s agenda by saying: “Rushdie wrong about Amnesty“. Oh dear.

    Rushdie and Geras disagree about the level of AI’s moral bankruptcy. They agree that AI should not be collaborating with Begg. So how does your “vendetta” against AI stack up? There are plenty of people out there pointing out the strategic error of AI partnering with Begg, not all of whom think AI is beyond redemption.

    The reason why there are people still criticising AI is because Sahgal remains suspended. Oh, and because Begg is still being touted.

    Could you clarify for us who, precisely, you regard as being engaged in this “vendetta” against AI, and who are the sincere, albeit misguided, critics?

  38. douglas clark — on 22nd February, 2010 at 2:34 pm  

    Brownie,

    Spell out what you have to say about Moazzam Begg, why don’t you. So far this is just yet another HP smear campaign.

  39. somebody else — on 22nd February, 2010 at 2:35 pm  

    Brownie,

    Where is your evidence against Moazzam Begg? We have been waiting and waiting….

    douglas clark

  40. persephone — on 22nd February, 2010 at 3:02 pm  

    “Polanski pleaded guilty as a result of plea-bargaining, a different matter to an absolute confession of guilt.”

    So he pleaded guilty to some of the ‘lesser’ charges to avert a trial by jury & full evidence being used. This plea bargain & his subsequent actions hardly sanitises him. He pled guilty to rape of a minor.

    Going by wikipedia, his plea bargain was as below:

    “In an effort to preserve her anonymity, Geimer’s attorney arranged a plea bargain which Polanski accepted, and, under the terms, five of the initial charges were to be dismissed.He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of engaging in unlawful intercourse with a minor, a charge which is synonymous under Californian law with statutory rape.The judge received a probation report and psychiatric evaluation, both indicating that Polanski should not serve jail time, in response the film maker was ordered to a 90 day psychiatric evaluation at the Chino state prison. On January 28, 1978 Polanski was released after 42 days. Despite expectations and recommendations that he would receive only probation at sentencing,the judge “suggested to Polanski’s attorneys” that more jail time and possible deportation were in order.Upon learning of the judge’s plans Polanski fled to France on February 1, 1978, hours before he was to be formally sentenced. As a French citizen, he has been protected from extradition and has mostly lived in France, avoiding countries likely to extradite him. Because he fled prior to sentencing, all six of the original charges remain pending.”

  41. Lunium — on 22nd February, 2010 at 4:55 pm  

    Sunny @5:09 AM:
    “Lunium – the answer is simple. I just don’t believe Salman Rushdie is in any position to lecture others on “moral bankruptcy” when he has so little credibility himself. That’s like Dick Cheney trying to sound credible on human rights – it just doesn’t wash.”

    Well, thank you anyway for the (non) answer which I kind of anticipated. So according to you, only Salman Rushdie among the list of signatories of the Polanski petition is the ‘morally bankrupt’ one, because? Because ‘he is like Dick Cheney, an enemy of humanity, who has lost all credibility’, according to you.

    What did he do to loose his credibility this way? For marrying a supermodel? Or for writing Satanic Verse? Or for supporting Iraq war (a claim which I see you have retracted lately).

  42. Der Bruno Stroszek — on 25th February, 2010 at 5:27 pm  

    Where on earth are we getting this idea that Sunny is saying Salman Rushdie is somehow worse than the other people who signed the Polanski petition? I literally cannot see anyone making that argument here. Yes, people here have criticised Rushdie for signing the petition. No, people here have not criticised – say – Tilda Swinton for signing it. This is not because we think the others were right to sign it and Rushdie wasn’t. It’s because Rushdie is the only name on that list that’s relevant to the discussion we’re having.

    For the record, if anyone on that list tried to start a conversation about justice or human rights, I think it would be relevant to mention that they think wealthy, talented rapists should be given a free pass.

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