Polanski's Post-Death Beaver Hunt Draws Sour Grapes From Soul-Dead Editor

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A few days after 9/11, I talked with an old friend who had spent most of that lousy day looking for his wife, an employee at World Trade Center 7 (the building that was destroyed when neocon conspirators detonated explosives placed in the foundation by a professional demolition team of Israeli art students). Like most of the people in that building, she survived, but as my friend put it, "For most of that afternoon, I thought I was a widower."

"Yeah?" I replied, "Were you already thinking about how you could use your my-wife-was-killed-on-9/11 sob story to get laid?"

To his credit, he conceded that he had given this idea this idea some thought, so I guess neither of us dast blame Roman Polanski for the now-discredited claim in Vanity Fair that he tried to get a sympathy fuck shortly after his pregnant wife Sharon Tate was butchered by Charles Manson's followers. The celebrated director recently took advantage of the UK's absurdly broad libel laws—and even won a special decision allowing him to sue and testify without entering the UK—to dun Vanity Fair for $87,000. The libelous claim: that while flying from London to Los Angeles for Tate's funeral in 1969, Polanski stopped over in New York and put the moves on a "Scandinavian model" while dining at Elaine's.

Now Graydon Carter, the hollow man who edits VF, seeks some payback with a long retrospective of the suit (bearing the mind-numbingly shitty title "Roman Holiday"). Carter is clearly out to injure Polanski: He spends 554 words detailing the circumstances of Polanski's 1977 arrest for raping 13-year-old Samantha Geimer and his subsequent guilty plea (the reason the filmmaker is unable to enter the U.S. or the UK), but just one word detailing the potentially sympathy-generating circumstances that supposedly landed him at Elaine's on the occasion the magazine described (describing Tate's demise as a "brutal murder" rather than just a "death"). It's understandable that Carter wants to tar his opponent, but when he says that "once our evidence had been collected, I believed that the gist of our story was true, and I wasn't going to say otherwise," he's either lying to us or lying to himself. The trial established that Polanski did not stop in New York on his trip to the funeral, and the only third-party witness who could place him at Elaine's in the year 1969 (done-wrong woman Mia Farrow) claims he was there at a different time.

Worst of all is the part that Carter seems to have thought was his ace in the hole: that VF's original source for the Polanski story and star witness at the trial was none other than mummified Harper's editor Lewis Lapham. Lapham, as readers of Reason know well, has his own problems with telling made-up stories with a clear intent to deceive and a demonstrated penchant for fudged timelines. In Carter's mind, the fact that Lapham is "a patrician throwback to old-school editing values of intellect, curiosity, smoking, and drinking" seems to mean all that other stuff shouldn't matter, as long as the story he tells is, you know, sort of close to accurate.

Alas, not close enough. That British libel laws are insane, and that the circumstances in the Polanski case may represent a dangerous new precedent for venue-shopping, should be obvious to everybody. That Polanski is a shameless horndog and an admitted sex criminal is beyond dispute. That he, at some time or other, used the sad story of his wife's murder to score some tail I can absolutely believe. But the story printed in Vanity Fair was wrong; Carter should have retracted it while he had the chance, and he should stop trying to make it seem like it's close enough to be almost true now. That doesn't mean the magazine should be raked over the coals in London, or made to pay 87 large—but then Vanity Fair pays kill fees that are probably bigger than that.

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  1. Avenue shopping?

  2. Would someone please explain to me how, if Polanski is wanted for sex crimes in the UK, he was allowed to file suit and testify in UK courts without ever entering that country?

    Does that make sense at all? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

  3. “Yeah?” I replied, “Were you already thinking about how you could use your my-wife-was-killed-on-9/11 sob story to get laid?”

    To his credit, he conceded that he had given this idea this idea some thought,

    To his credit? Ewww, what a dick.

    (bearing the mind-numbingly shitty title “Roman Holiday”)

    Oh come on. Pun involving a cultural reference- might not be a terribly clever one, but that’s so identical to a typical H&R headline, it’s silly.

  4. the mind-numbingly shitty title “Roman Holiday”

    How about “Roaming Polanski”?

  5. Or “Roman Hands”? “Roman Over the Line”? “Roman Charges”?

    Graydon Carter may be a weasel, but I’m still stuck on the ploy of using one’s wife death to snag some sympathy sexage. Especially in the case of the guy who thought about it while not sure whether his wife was still alive. That’s pretty disgusting.

  6. Sharon Tate isn’t getting any deader.

    But that poor girl that Polanski raped isn’t getting any less traumatized. Someone needs to pop a cap in his ass pronto, no matter how good Rosemary’s Baby was.

  7. Would someone please explain to me how, if Polanski is wanted for sex crimes in the UK, he was allowed to file suit and testify in UK courts without ever entering that country?

    It’s not just the United States. The world is a fucked-up place.

  8. Jesus, that reminds me, I let my subscription to Vanity Fair lapse. No wonder they sent me all that mail back around 1980…

  9. Sharon Tate isn’t getting any deader. But that poor girl that Polanski raped isn’t getting any less traumatized.

    Er, jf, did you click the link that says “Samantha Greimer?” She seems to have dealt with everything pretty well over the years.

  10. Using a dead spouse for sympathy fucks is understandable once the period of mourning is over, but to have such thoughts within hours of realizing your spouse might be dead? I concur with Stevo and Dead Elvis: Tim’s friend is a dick. I feel sorry for his wife.

  11. By that point, I was not feeling particularly encouraged. But as we headed to lunch, I had a moment’s uplift. A nice-looking older fellow who was part of the city’s maintenance crew was walking toward us, moving at a brisk pace and talking on a cell phone. Barely looking at me, he said “Love your magazine” as he passed. I turned around and said “Thanks!” He didn’t stop or even slow down.

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Graydon Carter had some sort of electronic device implanted in his head which repeated “Love your magazine!” at random intervals in different voices to make it seem like the whole world was forever singing his praises.

  12. That Geimer story is messed up. She was even more traumatized by the media when the story came out. What assholes, the media. Leave people alone, forgodsakes.

    But the story Tim linked said she was “raped”. W/ scare quotes. WTF?

  13. OneState–

    Polanski gave her drugs first, and kept going after she said “no.” Sounds like rape to me. The problem, I think, is that not all rapes are created equal–what happened to her, though bad, was probably a lot less traumatizing than, say, having a complete stranger rape you at knifepoint in an alley somewhere. Yet sometimes, I detect this faint idea that unless the woman was bruised, bloodied, and so traumatized that she can no longer function, it wasn’t “really” rape.

  14. Isn’t a question like that grounds for an ass-whipping?

  15. “Yeah?” I replied, “Were you already thinking about how you could use your my-wife-was-killed-on-9/11 sob story to get laid?”

    Isn’t a question like that grounds for an ass-whipping?

  16. “the Polanski case may represent a dangerous new precedent for venue-shopping”

    Actually, Tim, people have been forum shopping their defamation cases to the UK ever since NYT v. Sullivan made it almost impossible for public figures to bring defamation suits in the US: http://slate.msn.com/id/2080100/ However, according to the following article, British courts are increasingly cracking down on that conduct: http://www.dwt.com/related_links/adv_bulletins/CMITFall1998USMedia.htm

    And here’s another Slate item on defamation suit forum shopping: http://slate.msn.com/id/2080384/

  17. Phil:

    Oh, so she “seems to have dealt with it ok”. Guess that makes it all better, doesn’t it?

  18. Fuck, I’m not Randall Robinson! But anyone stating that just because someone learned to cope with being raped at 13 everything is fine and dandy is a douchebag.

  19. Emme–

    Since the guy said “yes,” I’d say it’s a sign that Tim knows his friend pretty well.

    But he’s still a dick. Christ. If I died I wouldn’t expect my boyfriend to be celibate forever, but I like to think he’d wait more than a fucking hour before figuring out ways to use my death to his sexual advantage.

  20. I wouldn’t even mind the thought of his using my life insurance to buy gifts for his new girlfriend. Just wait more than an hour, is all I’m saying.

  21. Is he really a beneficiary on your insurance? How sweet.

  22. Poco–

    We are each other’s beneficiaries. One of us drops dead, the other makes out pretty well. Financially, at any rate.

  23. I found Rosemary’s Baby boring. Chinatown is where it’s at.

  24. Chinatown was pretty good, although why Polanski didn’t cast Jack Nicholson instead of a cardboard cutout of Jack Nicholson is beyond me.

  25. Ya’ know, I saw Chinatown for the first time in about 20 years recently, and found it didn’t age very well.

  26. Jen: You have life insurance?
    (leans back in chair, strokes chin)
    Veeeeery interesting…

  27. I wonder if Tim’s friend was going to use the line “If I don’t get laid, the terrorists have won?”

  28. I wonder if Tim’s friend was going to use the line

    Good one. Or “Why do people who won’t have sex with me hate America?”

  29. American blue balls make Bin Laden smile.

    Dick.

  30. Jennifer, I think you’re right about rapes not all being equal. What’s interesting is that I’d always thought Polanski was guilty of statutory rape. (That might even merritt the quotes.)

    Why the media protect this guy by creating the illusion that he didn’t really rape her is beyond me. What a pig.

  31. “Either you have sex with me or you have sex against me.”

  32. “Emission Acomplished”

  33. If he needs to resort to pity-fucks to overcome certain. . .ah. . .shortcomings, he could excuse it by saying “You get laid with the penis you have, not the penis you’d like to have.”

  34. Why the media protect this guy by creating the illusion that he didn’t really rape her is beyond me. What a pig.

    I remember a bunch of years ago seeing Woody Allen doing some ceremony, and he hadn’t really been seen much since marrying his daughter, but here he was, the all celebrity audience loved him and gave him a standing ovation, and I thought- That’s it. There isn’t anything a celebrity can do and not have it forgotten and forgiven. Celebrities always get away with more than everyone else, it’s just now very official that they can get away with anything.

  35. Don’t worry, dead elvis, if you marry your adopted daughter, I’ll still cheer for you!

  36. Marrying your girlfriend’s daughter is sleazy, but it’s still a far cry from drugging and raping a 13-year-old.

  37. Sha wasn’t his daughter. Mia was married to some other guy when she adopted Soon Yi; uh, whatever her name is.
    Certainly, he is old enough to be her grandfather.
    She never thought of him as a father, just someone who her adopted mom was once married to.

  38. GODDAMNED MUTHERFUCKING STUPID FUCK OF A FUCKING SERVER! GOD DAMNIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I wrote a long reply, and I’m sure it’s going to show up TWENTY SEVEN THOUSAND TIMES NOW. But in case it doesn’t:

    jf and Randall Robinson: Eat a bag of dicks, kids. I didn’t say everything was “fine and dandy,” nor that “that makes everything better.” I said that Greiner seemed to have coped well, and neither you two nor anyone else has the right to try to read her mind and gainsay her for your own purposes.

    This same thing came up when Polanski was nominated for the Oscar in 2002, and I got in a lengthy online fight with the spokeswoman for a rape-victim advocacy group. They were protesting the nomination, which is fine, although people can disagree whether Polanski’s work as a director should just be judged on its own merits. But the group was also using Greiner’s name as if they were speaking for her, and as if she had signed on to their cause, which she clearly has not.

    Her public statements indicate that she’s coped, and she’s moved on, and is not interested in making a big deal out of it politically or publicly, or hurting Polanski’s career. If that’s how she feels, who are you to tell us all how traumatized she is and continues to be? She’s got a mouth, let her use it.

    Polanski, meanwhile, should be in prison, and if he ever deigns to step foot here again, I hope the U.S. Marshals can’t cuff him fast enough.

  39. If it’s any consolation, Phil, I also had a reply vanish. I hit the button to submit and got a message stating that my post was being held for review because it was my first time posting, which of course it was not.

  40. Posting tip:
    When writing a lengthy post, highlight all the text and copy before you hit the post button.
    If there is a problem with the posting, you can try again in a bit just by pasting.
    If you have to go to the can or something first, or restart your computer, paste the text into a program such as Notepad for later recovery.

  41. Marrying your girlfriend’s daughter is sleazy, but it’s still a far cry from drugging and raping a 13-year-old.

    I’ll certainly grant that.

    I had had the impression that although he technically hadn’t adopted her, he was basically the “father” of the household, which kind of makes it the same in my book. But perhaps I’m wrong.

    And goddamnit, I can’t believe I got sucked into celebrity gossiping.

  42. You post with the server you have, not the server you’d like to have. And I’m so very, very depressed about the loss of my last post. Wanna fuck?

  43. Using a dead spouse for sympathy fucks is understandable once the period of mourning is over, but to have such thoughts within hours of realizing your spouse might be dead? I concur with Stevo and Dead Elvis: Tim’s friend is a dick. I feel sorry for his wife.

    I agree with Stevo, Dead Elvis, and Jennifer, too. He’s a dick. And you’re a dick for thinking up such a question, Tim. (Although I concede you must know him well if you can get away with asking such a bluntly crude question.) And don’t get all mad, I’m not singling you and your friend out: an endless sea of guys are total dicks.

  44. I’m just wondering how either homely or lacking in personality a guy has to be, if he has to resort to THAT to get sex. Jesus.

  45. Do Dickhead and his wife have children? Because otherwise, I’m wondering why the hell they just don’t get a divorce. Seriously, I’m trying to imagine this: there’s a huge terrorist attack, and there’s a good chance my significant other is dead, and one of my first thoughts is “Hey! I can use this to GET LAID!?!”

    This is a sign that the relationship is fucked.

  46. I’m just wondering how either homely or lacking in personality a guy has to be, if he has to resort to THAT to get sex.

    Really? It makes me wonder how detached some people are about sex. It would surprise me that he would be already thinking about “sex” and not missing “sex with ‘X'” (‘X’ being name of departed spouse, not the letter (or the band)).

  47. “Soon-Yi was 8 years old when adopted by Ms. Farrow and the conductor Andre Previn during a trip to Korea.”
    From: http://www.ishipress.com/soon-yi.htm

  48. Smacky–

    Just to clarify, I’m not insulting Dickhead for fantasizing about sex with someone other than his wife–people do that all the time, and there’s nothing dickish about it. But to have such thoughts on the day his wife might be dead, and to have such thoughts before he’s even found out whether or not she is, and furthermore to think if she is I can use this to get laid are all the signs of a dick.

  49. Tim,

    Plus you threw Gary Gunnels off of Hit and Run, so you already had that against you to begin with, IMHO.

  50. Actually, Smacky, throwing off Gary was a wise move on Tim’s part. It’s throwing me off that gave our Mr. Cavanaugh something in common with his friend.

    Although I doubt even Tim went to a bar that night and said “I’m depressed because I had to kick somebody off my blog. Wanna fuck?”

  51. Will you persecute/prosecute Tim’s friend, or anyone else for that matter, for what he thinks? Who can throw the first stone in that kind of tussle? You might have some grounds for sanctions if he actually was chasing tail right there and then, but it seems that all he did was confess to a possibly random thought. But then, who is ever innocent in the eyes of the thought police? Not me, not Tim’s friend. I suggest that judgement is better reserved for actions, rather than for thoughts.

  52. Not persecuting or prosecuting, Curmudgeon, just saying he’s a dick.

  53. how about simply wrapping them in cling wrap?

    i knew a guy from college who used the “wife and baby died in a car crash” one for pity fucks (after graduation back in NYC). i don’t know if it ever worked, but man was he creepy in school.

    and the best pick up line i ever saw was:

    [a drunk +++++ + ++++++ walks up to ++++ +++++] and says, “wanna fuck?”
    she pauses and looks at him. “sure.”

    off they go.

    my other friend and I just stood and stared.

    ah, college.

  54. The mind can be a terrible place.
    I have many, many thoughts through the course of a day. It’s like there is a spontaneous thought generator in my head.
    Fortunately, I forget many of them.
    What was I thinking?

  55. Ok, I’m not persecuting anybody, first of all.

    I suggest that judgement is better reserved for actions, rather than for thoughts.

    I think that although actions speak louder than words, thoughts are powerful in themselves, too. If I don’t judge people on their thoughts but only their actions, does that mean, according to your suggestion, that I should make friends with some neo-Nazi bigot, just because he hasn’t actually done anything protest-worthy? Nonsense. Criticizing people’s thoughts are how people organize themselves and differentiate friends versus refuse.
    And remember, Curmudgeon, it’s called a blog; it’s a place where people can freely criticize other people’s actions and thoughts.

  56. wait a sec, Cur.

    I’m a good first-stone-thrower. Yeah. yeah. and you have to have thoughts to have impure ones. just ask jimmy carter.

    but lighten up – Smacky and Jennifer were noting that it takes a special kind of guy who plots going after sympathy fucks before the corpse is sent to the set of Six Feet Under. Granted, not as special as the one who actually goes for WTC-rubble coitus, but rather special, nonetheless.

    you know, like the special type of guy who likes show tunes, cling wrap, and skipping down the wooded paths of many-a mountain community landfill.

  57. Jennifer, i’m with you. If I were that wife, I’d sure consider this grounds for divorce.

    I wonder if she reads H&R?

  58. Linguist:

    she may have, but we have suspected for a while that she canceled her subscription.

    you know, annuller l’abonemment… or somthing like that 🙂

    (check this out – as a linguist, you’ll appreciate it)
    http://paul.merton.ox.ac.uk/language/gruntled.html

    and using the word “gruntled” is perfectly cromulent. it embiggens the smallest souls.

  59. drf,
    Nice! Would you like to join my lobby to make “coolth” a term of common usage?

  60. it is evitable that it will happen.

    can we then wrap the dictionaries in cling wrap?

  61. Only if we then smear them with non-fat mayonnaise.

  62. If there is any justice in the world, Tim’s friend will spend the rest of his life permanently flaccid.

    Dick.

  63. Jennifer,
    I concur again.

    But that also would punish the wife. She would REALLY need a divorce then!

  64. Exactly, Linguist. That’s the whole point–let her divorce her floppy-dick husband and find someone who would have the decency to mourn her death for at least a day or two before thinking “Now that my wife’s dead, maybe women will feel sorry for me and I’ll manage to get laid!”

    Dick.

  65. Hey, speaking of dicks: Tom Delay got indicted! Whoo hoo!

  66. I know I’m kinda late to the discussion, but I’ve always thought of sympathy sex as something of an urban legend.

    …I guess guys should try whatever, but sympathy doesn’t seem to trigger any kind of sexual response in the women I’ve known. I’ve never known one to go, “You know, I feel so sorry for him. …I think I’ll have sex with him!”

    I suspect there’s something oedipal about men looking for sympathy from the women in their lives. …but if you’re lookin’ to score, you don’t want to trigger any kind of maternal impulse. I don’t think most women are lookin ‘ for a man to mother. …and if they are, they don’t associate that impulse with sexual activity.

    Where in the science of evolution do you find females looking for males for whom they can feel sufficient pity? …I suppose the sympathy thing might work as an opener, but I’d suggest tryin’ to close the deal with something else.

  67. Tom–

    I was wondering that myself. My guess is Dickhead figured he could use his pretend sorrow to make himself look like some Sensitive type.

  68. Some women will have sex with a guy because they feel sorry for him.

    Not with me, though.

    Oh, God — the pain!

  69. “Some women will have sex with a guy because they feel sorry for him.”

    Some’ll have sex with barnyard animals. …but I wouldn’t use that approach either.

  70. Where in the science of evolution do you find females looking for males for whom they can feel sufficient pity?

    You’d probably find them in women who are always compensating for others’ shortcomings. Probably the same type of women who date alcoholics and chronic liars. Maybe these women fall under the category of “naive”?

    …I suppose the sympathy thing might work as an opener, but I’d suggest tryin’ to close the deal with something else.

    Tom,

    Unintentionally or otherwise, that sounded incredibly manipulative. 😉

    By the way…aren’t you the poster who had to change his thread handle because of a stalker ex? ^_^

    (random coincidence? or divine retribution for past manipulations?) (hee hee…)

  71. …And post #69 makes mention of sex with barnyard animals.

    All is good and in order at Hit and Run.

  72. A dingo-server just stole my post-baby!

  73. “Unintentionally or otherwise, that sounded incredibly manipulative.”

    I was talkin’ about strategy. I have a strategic mind. I get paid to strategize.

    …and for most guys working with most women–be it in or out of a relationship or marriage–the sympathy strategy isn’t gonna work.

    ” By the way…aren’t you the poster who had to change his thread handle because of a stalker ex?

    I don’t wanna be the cause of or the solution to any woman’s problems. There are at least two women out there who see me as the solution to their problems–and themselves as the solution to my problems too. …but they’re projecting that last bit. I don’t have any problems that I need someone in a relationship to fix.

    …and they both have flying monkeys. …and I hate flying monkeys.

  74. You lost your baby, Stevo? You poor, poor dear.

    You know, I was thinking of having sex with you, but nothing kills eroticism faster than sympathy. So I’ll just give you some reassuring pats on the shoulder instead.

    There, there, there. (pat, pat, pat)

  75. Stevo,

    I’d offer to give you reassuring pats on the shoulder like Jennifer, but being smacky, I can only, well, ….smack.

    I’d offer to give you reassuring smacks…

    …but we’d come full-circle to the eroticism thing that Jennifer just mentioned. So that won’t fly.

    I will salute you my condolences.

  76. Stevo – LOL!

    Wait, is pity sex that same thing as sympathy sex? Cuz pity sex does exist.

  77. linguist — As I interpret it, sympathy sex is the same as pity sex.

    Unless the “pity” in pity sex is specifically pity because the guy is not getting any sex elsewhere. In that case, “pity sex” would be a subset of “sympathy sex.”

  78. Thank you, smacky.

    Although it’s ironic that on another thread, under a false name, I posted some arcane knowledge of non-mainstream erotica that caused you to shudder in horror. (One can pick up much odd information by surfing the Web, is all I’ll admit to.) I apologize for creeping you out, though.

    Now. For all of you following along at home, let’s recap by stating that the following strategies will NOT help a dude in bedding the chicks:

    1) Evoking sympathy.

    2) Creeping her out.

    3) Evoking laughter. (Often said to be helpful, but claims are probably exaggerated. As Dave Barry once said, women often say they look for “a sense of humor,” but by “sense of humor” men and women actually mean different things. For men, “a sense of humor” means “makes jokes and laughs a lot.” For women, “a sense of humor” means “looks sort of like Hugh Grant.”)

  79. “If I don’t get laid, the terrorists have won?” “Why do people who won’t have sex with me hate America?” “Either you have sex with me or you have sex against me.” “Emission Acomplished”

    And to finish….

    Won’t someone think of the children that might be produced by all this sex?

  80. Y’know guys, maybe he wasn’t planning to use the line as such, but when Tim asked him he thought about it and figured that, “yeah, I’d probably have used it sooner or later,” and answered accordingly. I mean, I have a hard time imagining what kind of bastard would have actually have thought of that immediately after his wife’s apparent death. Maybe the bennefit of the doubt is in order? Just sayin’s all.

    Unrelated; best pickup line I’ve ever made work- “Hey baby, want some friction?” Terrible hit/miss ratio though. Something like 2 for 5. Although, to be fair there were extenuating circumstances that probably helped it though one of those times.

  81. Maybe the bennefit of the doubt is in order?

    What kind of fun is that?

  82. maybe he wasn’t planning to use the line as such, but when Tim asked him he thought about it and figured that, “yeah, I’d probably have used it sooner or later,” and answered accordingly. . . .Maybe the bennefit of the doubt is in order?

    Unless Tim posts a clarification I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he actually meant what he posted.

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