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Jeff Norman

Jeff Norman

Posted: January 4, 2010 01:29 PM

Polanski: To Hate or Not to Hate

What's Your Reaction:

One reason I don't hate Roman Polanski is I don't know exactly what he did with or to Samantha Geimer in 1977. Moreover, compared to those who perniciously enable systemic corruption by obsessing over the punishment of one person, I think Polanski's reaction to evident judicial misconduct is laudable. Why should anyone take that crap?

HuffPost blogger Michael Seitzman is one who repudiates the defendant's stealth, and ignores the reason for it. On December 27, he insisted: "Fleeing prosecution is illegal. Period. There are no mitigating circumstances that are recognized by a society with a legal system."

Beware when anyone says, "Period." Often, the professed certainty is false, much like when Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley claimed in reference to the Polanski case, "The plea is airtight."

A December 21 California Court of Appeals decision exposed Seitzman and Cooley as unreliable on the matter.

From the ruling:

Without returning to the United States or dropping his battle against extradition, Polanski may, through counsel, request that the trial court conduct the never-yet-held sentencing hearing in absentia pursuant to section 1193. If the trial court approves this request, then Polanski, through his counsel, will be able to obtain the evidentiary hearing that is so urgently required to establish the facts of what occurred in 1977 and 1978. The trial judge now presiding over the matter, Judge Espinoza, has already indicated that at a sentencing hearing Polanski would be able to fully litigate the allegations of misconduct and a prior pledge by Judge Rittenband as to Polanski's punishment.

For all intents and purposes, the issues Polanski has been invited to argue from afar are the "mitigating circumstances" Seitzman believes "are [not] recognized by a society with a legal system."

In my December 10 post, I uncovered a due process failure that could cause Polanski's "airtight" guilty plea to be withdrawn, and on December 29, I broke news about what the filmmaker will face if extradited. I also criticized the Los Angeles County District Attorney's strategy, and blasted Polanski's more disturbed detractors when I wrote: "Just because a lot of pathetic people need to dwell on the director's supposed indecency to make themselves feel decent in comparison, doesn't mean that normal evidentiary standards should be abandoned in the Polanski matter. Unlike certain judges and prosecutors, Polanski nowadays poses no threat to anybody."

Seitzman, who proudly and loudly presents himself as Polanski's moral superior, responded by cattily deconstructing my post, but only the parts which castigate people of Setizman's ilk. If he were truly committed to ensuring Polanski is held to account for whatever the accused did in 1977, Seitzman's focus would instead be on the information I disclosed, and how the case is being handled by the jurists who are in charge.

But because he seems to be interested in only his cheap emotions, Seitzman never even addressed my main argument.

Seitzman's fraudulent intent was immediately evident when he mocked the following sentence as if I had condoned Polanski's confessed act: "The offense for which Polanski's extradition from Switzerland is sought is barely considered a crime in Europe, where the age of consent is as low as 13."

As I explained in the comments section below my Dec. 10 column, I brought up the age of consent in reference to societal attitudes in Europe, and Cooley's dubious expectation that the Swiss will extradite Polanski - even though the defendant's guilty plea is probably invalid - to be sentenced for a consensual sex crime.

Seitzman conceded he's "struggling with [my] assertion that...prisoners beat up child molesters because they don't like themselves." I guess we shouldn't expect the patient to readily notice, but cognitive dissonance is one of the most widely recognized concepts in psychology. It refers to an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. For example, prisoners realize they're on the lowest rung of society's ladder. But since that pill is a bitter one to swallow, they convince themselves child molesters are more despicable than all other inmates, including murderers. Thus, what is really a feeling of inadequacy, is experienced as a feeling of superiority.

Whatever Seitzman's condition is called, it's demonstrated by his inability to recognize how intensely or often he assails Polanski's character. Rather than deal with my actual observation, Seitzman pretends I'm an unreasonable guy whose beef with him is only that he has a low opinion of Polanski, and that I think "we should let Polanski off the hook." Thus, Seitzman attempts to escape scrutiny of his hate crusade by shifting the focus, inaccurately, to me.

Why the need to relentlessly vilify Polanski and eschew analysis of the case?

According to my adversarial blogger with blinders, I'm wrong to have opined, "Unlike certain judges and prosecutors, Polanski nowadays poses no threat to anybody." Seitzman's complaint is that I didn't "provide any evidence to back up that assertion."

Here's my evidence: Polanski is just one person, a 76-year-old married man under house arrest who hasn't been accused of bothering anyone for 32 years. By contrast, there are thousands of judges and prosecutors actively engaged in the corrections business, some disreputably.

To me, it seems rather obvious who among that crowd stands out as the person most incapable of causing harm at this point.

Although Seitzman doesn't care, coverage of the Polanski case is highlighting incompetence and malfeasance that would otherwise be ignored and allowed to persist.

It's sad that when I say I don't know what Polanski did, many people hear it as approval of child abuse. Some HuffPo commenters are so attached to their crazy misinterpretations, they treat me as a suspected molester. Several claim to be "reporting" and "watching" me, and have urged others to do so as well.

Seitzman may be no more rational. Like the less celebrated pontificators who share his need to chronically condemn Polanski, Seitzman dismisses my position as "creepy" and "laughable." But it's really my maligner who's a bit creepy and laughable for carrying on as if he's more fair-minded than due process advocates who see right through him.

When one of Polanski's attorneys announced his client was trying to meet the bail requirements of Swiss authorities, Seitzman decried "the sheer audacity, the outrageousness, the tone-deafness, and the stunning arrogance" of the effort. It's a mystery why Seitzman felt Polanski shouldn't attempt to win release in accordance with the demands of his incarcerators, and a sign of how self-involved he is that Seitzman didn't feel it necessary to explain why only this particular defendant was expected to forgo bail and intentionally remain in prison.

While the Seitzman types are busy hating Polanski, I'm more interested in Steve "Airtight" Cooley and Judge Espinoza, because the justice system has failed to resolve a criminal matter that's been lingering for 32 years.

Although they should be asking me to join forces with them, the haters have made it clear they don't even want me to act as a watchdog. But they haven't explained why their theatrical vomiting is a better way to make sure Polanski gets what he deserves.

UPDATE, 1/4/10, 7 PM PST: After Polanski's lawyers reportedly requested a closed-door meeting with Judge Espinoza and prosecutors, a public hearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court is now scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Anyone think sentencing in absentia won't be discussed?


 

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