Thursday, October 1, 2009

The past is another place

All the raging over Roman Polanski brings a few interesting arguments to light.
As some people say, if Polanski was not famous and widely admired then there would not be so many people standing up for him. If he was an obscure person found years after getting away with what he did, few people would bother taking his side. So why does being talented and famous excuse something pretty nasty?
On the other side, people say he has suffered a lot in life already. True, but that doesn't help his victim to cope with what he did. Too much excuse making for the wrong-doer goes on already.
It's worth noting that the young victim's mother put her in that situation, where she was at the mercy of an adult who did this. Was the mother so fixated with making her daughter a show-biz success that she put the daughter at risk? So much for the shallow view of life that without being rich and famous life is not worth living.
My own ten cents worth is this: in some ways, Roman Polanski's behaviour was symptomatic of the seventies. If you recall the 1960s and 70s, or read about them, it wasn't all as good as some people say. What was called the 'sexual revolution' aimed to break down all taboos about sex, and 'liberate' people. What actually happened was some important social restraints were broken down. Very young people became sexualized. On the one hand, they were encouraged by parts of society to 'experiment', or 'find themselves', or 'discover their sexual identity', and all that. On the other hand, they were no longer considered off-limits for such involvement. Those who raised any objection were howled down as 'fascists' or sick repression cases.
Too see the seventies from inside, look at what they produced. One famous and widely read novel of that period was "Papillion", by French author Henri Charriere. In the novel, (though not the film), the narrator describes seducing his 13 year old sister in law. While living with Venezuelan Natives, he marries a woman and also has her younger sister. At the time, this was widely admired literature, considered a modern classic. The school where I worked had copies for student reading. Nowadays, that passage from the novel would be considered a glamorization of paedophilia.
A famous film of that era was 'The Summer of '42', in which a fifteen year old boy is sexually initiated by an adult woman. At the time this too was considered fine artistic entertainment about a young man's 'awakening'. Today, the female lead character would be considered criminal.
But that was the 70s. Anything except openly coercive rape was legitimate. It was 'liberated'. If a person regretted any sexual involvement afterwards, they were accused of being too 'hung up' or 'inhibited' and in need of getting used to it. I'm utterly sure there were people living in the 1970s who thought an adult enticing a 13year old into sex was simply 'liberating' them, helping them get free of their 'hang-ups'. That was the 70s. There were psychologists who had intimate relationships with their patients, and called it part of the therapy. There was a lot of interest in Sweden where, it was said, children as young as 13 sometimes had children and even married. That was the 70s.
So what Polanski did was criminal, right enough. But he might not have considered tyring it on in a different social climalte. I believe that some of the so-called 'progressive' thinkers of the time have a lot to answer for. They tried to tell us all that we should do whatever we wanted and 'be free'. The idea of ethical restraint in sexual behaviour was ridiculed.In that sort of climate, there were probably a lot more incidents like the one for which Polanski is indicted. Some of them involved female adults on male children. Some of those pointing fingers at Polanski now were probably jealous at the time that he did what some of them would have liked to. That sounds harsh, but it might be true all the same.
The 1970s was another place from today, and in some ways a much worse place. People in millions scorned the notion of God holding out guidance for living, thought they had better ideas and made a shocking mess. Polanski might only be a symbol of much that was wrong with that era.
We need to get back to God's way. When that gets forgotten, the results can be dreadful and the realization too late.


Deep thoughts... said...

Andrew, your comments are true. I was a teen in the 70's. I recall an incident in high school that in the 70's would have been considered it "bullying," however by today's definition would be considered sexual assault. These are indeed different times. Things that would have been considered appalling "back in the day" are considered mainstreme. Our society has become desensitized to things that were unacceptable when you & I were young. The things Paul writes about in Romans 1:18-32 are becoming more and more true! Thanks as always for your thoughts.

Andrew Clarke said...

Agreed! Your recollections of the 70s sound similar to mine. People today sometimes call them the 'silly seventies' and that's putting it kindly. It's good to hear from you again, by the way.

Marshall Art said...

"...if Polanski was not famous and widely admired then there would not be so many people standing up for him."

If he was a Catholic priest then there wouldn't be so many people standing up for him, either.

As to the 70's, I've made the same arugment many times. All the sex-related ills of today can be traced to the loosening of sexual morals back then (likely back to the late 50's, actually). I always think it's ironic to consider that in light of God's guidelines regarding sexual behavior. Shows God knows what He's talking about, doesn't it?

Andrew Clarke said...

Agreed, Marshall. God knew what He was doing when He set out the guidelines for humans to live by. As soon as people start thinking they know better, they step into a mess.

Hendrick Nicolajsen said...

What bugs me about this story is how the press in Europe has covered it, that it was all in the past and that a grave injustice was being done by extraditing Polanski. Typical European attitude towards sex...

Andrew Clarke said...

Agreed, Hendrick. Europe seems to be 'post-Christian' in the worst way. People think they've become too clever for Christianity and can reject it't teachings about sex, and all else. "Professing themselves wise they became fools."