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Workers Vanguard No. 948

4 December 2009

WV Defends Polanski


Good Job!

10 October 2009

I just got my WV in the mail and saw what I was looking for. Thank you for defending Polanski. These little liberals like Katha Pollitt are like wind up dolls or robots. As with Yugoslavia, and Obama: The ruling class programs them and winds them up, and they start frothing at the mouth, or cheerleading. Disgusting!


Cancel Our Subscription!

Oct. 26, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

We are writing both to cancel our household’s subscription to the Workers Vanguard as well as to request that Spartacist Publications return to us the remaining portion of our subscription money, which is $9.00 [we have received two issues of the Workers Vanguard at $.50 each so far].

My wife and I are deeply disgusted by the “reporting” on the Roman Polanski case in the most recent issue of the Workers Vanguard [9 October 2009], in which a Workers Vanguard writer falsely reported that Polanski had consensual sex with the girl in question. This is contrary to the published account from the actual trial, which recounted, according to the victim herself, Polanski drugging her with Quaaludes—which the article refers to as “fashionable sedatives”—before having unwanted sex with her. I have no idea what interest the Workers Vanguard has in defending a big-wig like Polanski who clearly thinks he’s above the law because of his fame and money, but we are beyond repulsed at the sexist tone of the entire article, which includes referring to the 13 year-old victim as “precocious”. Creepy victim-blaming Lolita subtexts, anyone? We are equally alarmed at the random information included about the young woman, such as that she had previously taken Quaaludes and had sex. SO?? This is classic victim-blaming, which is only a breath away from outright screaming, “You weren’t really raped because you liked underage sex and drugs in the past!!” It is a common silencing technique against women and girls in our culture.

As feminists and as women in general, my wife and I cannot conscionably allow our hard-earned money to go to your publications any longer. Again, please cancel our subscription and send our $9.00 to:

Meredith M. [address—ed.]

Shannon W.
Meredith M.

WV replies:

We usually figure we’re doing something right when we get cancelled subscriptions, as, for example, after our article, “Stop Vendetta Against Roman Polanski!” (WV No. 944, 9 October), which included a reprint of our 10 February 1978 article on the Polanski case. Two main—and contradictory—objections are raised to our defense of film director Roman Polanski: first, that young people, especially women, are so immature that they can never possibly consent to sex with an older person; second, that despite this immaturity, whatever they may say must be unconditionally believed as the absolute truth. Obviously, we disagree with these liberal and feminist shibboleths, which have done great harm, not least to youth and women.

Democratic rights are indivisible. Thus Polanski, even if he is a rich, famous, white male, has as much right to be listened to as his accuser. What is sneeringly called “random information” about the young woman’s sexual activity with her boyfriend and drug use is actually important in assessing what happened. Rape uniquely involves an act the circumstances of which determine whether the act is a crime or voluntary sexual intercourse. In the 1930s case of the Scottsboro Boys—nine black youths falsely accused of raping two white women—it was necessary for the defense to bring up the immediate prior sexual activity of the two women. To deny the legitimacy of such evidence is tantamount to saying that any time a white woman claims a black man raped her, she must be believed—which was indeed how Jim Crow “justice” operated to terrorize black people.

The prosecution’s case against Polanski—who after being in prison for two months has finally been granted bail by Swiss authorities for an outrageous $4.5 million—was never believable. Now that the teenager’s 1977 grand jury testimony has been splashed all over the Internet, we stand by what we wrote over 30 years ago: “What happened was hardly a case of rape.” Grand juries—which determine whether there is enough evidence for a trial—are a weapon of the prosecution where a witness cannot even be cross-examined by the defense. Moreover, the grand jury testimony in Polanski’s case “proves” nothing other than that the prosecution’s case rested on very shaky ground. In the midst of providing much obviously coached detail (like the year of the champagne she and Polanski were drinking), the young woman at one point admits: “I can barely remember anything that happened.” Indeed, all charges against Polanski were dropped except for “unlawful sexual intercourse”—i.e., that he had sex with a minor—to which he pleaded guilty. Now an adult, Samantha Geimer (then Gailey) has come forward several times requesting the prosecution drop its charges against Polanski.

Gore Vidal, who was working in the movie industry at the time, recently responded to an interviewer (Atlantic online, 28 October) who asked him about Polanski: “Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she’s been taken advantage of?… The idea that this girl was in her communion dress, a little angel all in white, being raped by this awful Jew, Polacko—that’s what people were calling him—well, the story is totally different now from what it was then…. Anti-Semitism got poor Polanski. He was also a foreigner. He did not subscribe to American values in the least. To [his persecutors], that seemed vicious and unnatural.” To his interviewer’s question as to what are “American values,” Vidal responded: “Lying and cheating. There’s nothing better.”

To which we’d add massive hypocrisy. Youth are ruthlessly prosecuted as adults by the government when it so pleases—including sentencing 13-year-olds to life in prison. Recall the hysterical day-care witchhunts of the Reagan-era 1980s, when as the Reaganites sought to abolish day-care centers for poor and working women, its prosecutors browbeat the poor kids into ever more outrageous stories and whipped up mass hysteria over alleged bunny slaughters, sexual abuse and Satanic rituals, for which, of course, no evidence was ever found.

As to our supposed “victim-blaming Lolita subtext,” youth do have sexual desires and they act on them—desires that sometimes involve significantly older people. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. For us the guiding principle for sexual relations is that of effective consent, meaning mutual agreement and understanding, as opposed to coercion. It is especially ridiculous to present the sexually experienced, post-pubescent teenager in the Polanski case as an unwitting child. To lump together sex with a minor or morning-after regrets with rape is to trivialize and belittle the savage brutality of the crime of rape.

Sex with men is not the source of women’s oppression, contrary to feminist writ. The bourgeois family, that straitjacket of sexual monogamy for women, is. Bourgeois feminists have done much damage to the cause of women’s liberation by fueling the arguments of the capitalist sex police. Criminalizing sexual activity for young people has always been a war cry of the fire-and-brimstone religious types and other right-wing forces. When feminists took up the cause of repression by arguing that pornography was “violence against women,” they helped make renewed anti-sex Puritanism more mainstream. Meanwhile, the “date rape” furor pushed by feminists on campus has reinforced the Victorian sexual dual standard that while men are naturally lecherous, of course “decent” women actually do not like sex. The assault by “family values” feminists on men as sexual predators has also fed into the government’s relentless hounding of convicted “sex offenders” beyond their prison sentences. This has driven many out of their homes, even into tent cities, where they are driven further into the wilderness if found out. Many of these individuals are guilty of nothing, just consensual acts with youth, that is, “minors” without any civil rights, who are themselves trapped under the oppressive control of parents or the state.

As apostles of such Puritanism, the feminists are joined by pseudo-socialists like Workers World Party (WWP). In “Polanski, Rape & Justice,” (Workers World online, 8 October), WWP accepts the prosecution’s story without a blink, declaring: “It is clear from the grand jury testimony” that “Polanski drugged and raped” Geimer. In a chilling call for Polanski’s head, with a hint of bizarre and sick vigilantism, WWP adds: “Why aren’t celebrities circulating a petition supporting Geimer and all survivors of sexual abuse and condemning Polanski and his defenders? In fact, why not call for a women’s tribunal—made up of survivors of sexual assault—to decide his fate?”

Our defense of Roman Polanski, like our longstanding defense of NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association) and others persecuted for not conforming to the norms of bourgeois society, is based on our Marxist program for women’s liberation through socialist revolution. It is also based on our understanding that this state upholds in every way it can the inherently oppressive bourgeois family, including enforcing sexual repression and fear. This repression includes a host of vindictive and peculiar state laws which reveal more about the sadistic and repressed character of capitalist society than anything else, as does this seemingly endless persecution of Roman Polanski. Hands off Polanski! Drop the charges!

Workers Vanguard No. 948

WV 948

4 December 2009


In Defense of Medical Science

Capitalist Reaction and Anti-Vaccine Hysteria

Free H1N1 Vaccinations for All!

For Free, Quality Health Care!


Court Imprisons Leftist Attorney

Free Lynne Stewart, Mohamed Yousry and Ahmed Abdel Sattar!


2009 Subject Index

Issues No. 927 (2 January) through No. 948 (4 December)


On the Centrality of Marxist Theory

(Quote of the Week)


WV Defends Polanski



On Steroids Article



German Trotskyists in 1989 on Opening of Berlin Wall:

“Workers Soviets Must Rule in All Germany!”


Police Assault UC Protesters

Drop All Charges Now!

(Young Spartacus pages)


Protest Gag Order Against Ray Luc Levasseur


Thirteenth National Conference of the SL/U.S.

“Dog Days of the Post-Soviet Period”


“There Is Grandeur in this View of Life”