New article just out:

http://www.vulture.com/2018/09/soon-yi-previn-speaks.html

Introducing Soon-Yi Previn – As controversies tumbled around her, the daughter of Mia Farrow and wife of Woody Allen stayed silent for decades. No more.

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Continuing the (disgusting) role of her life, Soon-Yi has broken her silence on Woody Allen’s molestation accusation and stands by her adoptive* incestuous father-figure man.

The article was written by one of Allen’s long-time friend. That in itself says a lot. Although Merkin does ask some pointed questions. In fact, I was surprised by the fact she presented them with: “I can’t help but wonder, I tell the couple, whether they got together to take revenge on Farrow, consciously or subconsciously.”  Which both Soon-Yi and Woody immediately dismissed as ridiculous. Even though this is exactly what they did. Did she present the question merely so they could publicly answer back?

*So, Allen never formally adopted Soon-Yi, but I’m using the term here in a de facto, not de jure way. Allen was her mother’s boyfriend, and not only that, as the above article makes clear, he took an active role in partially minding her siblings (Dylan and Ronan), i.e., being their father, in their household, where he also had contact with Soon-Yi. But that’s not the focus of the article, which is a hit piece on Mia.

This article could have been summarized as: “Mia was a negligent, dysfunctional, cold, unloving mother and I hate her but her boyfriend, on the other hand, started to show an interest in me, although it soon turned sexual, but neither of us will admit what that means” by Soon-Yi.

Soon-Yi’s complaints against Mia may be true – I haven’t come across any corroboration other than her brother’s (Moses) similar complaints. But I haven’t researched the topic. But I don’t have any particular reason to outright doubt Soon-Yi’s complaints, because it reasonably fits the impression I get from Mia: someone who had serious problems – starting with the most glaring fact that at 19 (19!) she starts a relationship with thoroughly disgusting mob man Frank Sinatra. None of Mia’s failings as a mother (or woman), however, take anything away from how criminal, manipulative, and vile Allen seems, and from the disgusting woman Soon-Yi turned out to be, by playing the role of Allen’s side-kick and collaborator to attack Dylan.

And here’s an interesting tid bit from the above article:

“in September 1991; she eventually majored in art. It was sometime during that fall that her affair with Allen began [she was 21]. Both of them are vague on how and when their friendship turned sexual — “It was 25 years ago,” she says — beyond the fact that it was a gradual process. ”

They both “don’t remember”? Something as important as having sex with your mother’s boyfriend? I believe they’re lying. And also, how convenient to claim that she was 21 “when it turned sexual” – even though it’s “all so vague”. Not to mention the nude photograph episode. Have they gotten amnesia about that too? You could almost have heard them say, “nude photographs? what photographs? It was so long ago, yes, there was something about some photographs, but it’s all so vague… we just don’t remember anymore…”

I think what jumped out most for me when reading the article is how much Soon-Yi hated and hates Mia Farrow (and she may be telling the truth about how Farrow was a bad (horrible?) mother to her).

Consciously or unconsciously Soon-Yi must have felt tremendous triumph in taking Mia’s boyfriend from her, and she could care less if Allen molested Dylan. In fact, my guess is that had Allen molested dozens of children, Soon-Yi would always stand by his side and claim they were all lying. She’s that kind of woman. Were she even begin to consider that she married a child molester who used her as a tool to cover it all up, her entire psyche would break down. Her entire life (and internal psyche) is built upon lying to herself about what kind of a man Allen is.

I believe Dylan.

Which reminded me of one of my past blog posts on the subject – excerpt:

Woman with inside knowledge of alleged Dylan Farrow’s sexual abuse: Ask Woody Allen’s sister what she knows

Buried among 1500 comments on the NYT (and counting) for Woody Allen Speaks Out By WOODY ALLEN FEB. 7, 2014, there was this comment copied below. Very, very intriguing

ANNIE – New York City:

1. I saw the video – any reasonably sane person — trained or otherwise — would tell you that that little girl was not making it up. Not a chance.

2. If the files of the NYC child welfare agency could “talk” and ever came out it would be a very very bad day for Woody Allen.

3. Same goes for the polaroids Woody took of Soon-Yi. Very naked/nasty pictures of her spread eagled on a bed.

4. As Dylan, the grown-up, rightly says, the final “legal” word comes not from Connecticut but from NY. Doesn’t “grossly inappropriate” say anything here? The state of NY ruled he should have zero contact with his children – zero. Why did he stop fighting for them?

5. Re: Point 2. Ask Woody’s sister what she knows. Her names everywhere in the NYC files.

6. A jury of his peers found OJ Simpson not-guilty of murdering his wife. Legally speaking he, too, is innocent. Yeah, right.

=================

This is a person who claims to have seen the video. Has the video been destroyed as well?

aside from the video that has been debated by other people, this is what struck me: “Ask Woody’s sister what she knows.“

What does Woody’s sister know? And are we in Joe Paterno territory here?

 

I hadn’t listened to Sergio Endrigo for some time, since it had been some time that I went on youtube and did a round of my favorite Italian singers. And lo  and behold today, I was telling someone about Endrigo today and so I went on youtube to get one of my favorite songs (Io che amo solo te) and then fortunately for my life, youtube started sequencing one Endrigo song after another and I was swept away in Sergio Endrigo heaven…

And thanks to youtube I discovered three recordings that I don’t think I had heard before – oh the greatness of the Internet! – and they are so lovely!

Sergio Endrigo ospite a Studio Uno 1965

Sergio Endrigo – La prima compagnia 

Sergio Endrigo – Le parole dell’addio

I almost cry thinking he is no longer alive…

 

It’s not a new issue, but it’s the first time that I have stopped to give it more consideration. The Catholic Church, with its confession practice, is a vile, disgusting, criminal mafia. And that includes every single Catholic person who supports the practice and the Church.

I was thinking about this today, given the news from Australia:

The Catholic Church in Australia has formally rejected a landmark inquiry’s recommendation that priests should be forced to report sexual abuse disclosed during confession.

The five-year inquiry found tens of thousands of children had suffered abuse in Australian institutions. The Catholic Church had the most cases.

What kind of a world do we live in? A “recommendation”? The fact that these disgusting people would rather all the children in the world be abused than to denounce a single perpetrator is just unbelievable. That is the mind of the most vile kind of human being.

There is no excuse, no justification, nothing that could ever warrant the torture of any child, that could ever give priority to hiding the truth of the abuse and torture of children to protect the guilty. Nothing.

Could priests be prosecuted?

The state of South Australia has already unveiled new laws – to take effect in October – that will legally compel clergy to report abuse.

However, Church leaders have vowed not to adhere to it. State officials say this may lead to prosecutions, resulting in fines of up to A$10,000 (£5,570; $7,250).

Church leaders have vowed not to adhere to it because they are monsters. And look at the ridiculous amount of the fine. First of all, if they don’t report, they need to go to jail – and stay there. Second, the fine needs to be upped so that it stings, including taking property and assets from this garbage of this Church. At least the new laws will compel clergy to report the abuse. We need this kind of legislation worldwide.

Nothing less is acceptable.

 

Here is my list of absolutely essential consequences that must take place regarding the vile, criminal, corrupt Catholic Church. In short:

1. Investigation in all states/countries.

2. Accountability in how investigations are carried out with full report

3. Catholics must demand for Catholic Church to make public all its finances in all countries – follow the money, if you want to clean the rot! As long as homo and other abusers and the gay mafia in the Church have access to millions to protect themselves, not much will be achieved

4. Mandatory reporting of any criminal act that is communicated during confession. If they fail to report, jail for a long time.

5. Change statute of limitations to allow victims to go after all the guilty now.

6. End obligatory celibacy immediately.

Perhaps the only silver lining in the current CC scandal is that it’s exposing even more clearly how evil LGBTs are, how they have thoroughly corrupted the Church, just like any other institution where they gain power.

Another crucial point is that until people demand to have complete transparency to how ever penny is spent by any Catholic body/clergy/Vatican person at any level, the rot will remain in place, and the Church will continue to think and behave like the criminal mafia that it is.

I have been following the Vigano aftermath and it seems the entrenched rot, led by Francis, will win the internal civil war. Of course, that partly depends on what kind of documents he has. We also need to wait for the developments on all the criminal investigations of the Church in whatever states carry them out.

Lastly, many of the accounts of the abuses coming to light now are so horrendous, I can’t bear to read the details. The Church is by far one of the world’s most vile organizations. Just like LGBTs, putrid.

Just today, I was the target of two sleazy looks by lesbian/bisexual pigs.

 

 

From a good article on Jezebel – which is usually just ideologically awful, more on the letter trying to defend the bisexual pig Avital Ronell regarding her sexual harassment:

The letter lays out a series of defenses for Ronell similar to the arguments used to justify sexual misconduct committed by powerful men: “We wish to communicate first in the clearest terms our profound an enduring admiration for Professor Ronell whose mentorship of students has been no less than remarkable over many years. We deplore the damage that this legal proceeding causes her, and seek to register in clear terms our objection to any judgment against her,” the letter states.

Lauding her “brilliant scholarship” and “intellectual generosity” and noting that the French government recently bestowed a prestigious award upon her, the writers continue, “We testify to the grace, the keen wit, and the intellectual commitment of Professor Ronell and ask that she be accorded the dignity rightly deserved by someone of her international standing and reputation.”

If she were to be fired or “relieved of her duties,” they continue, “the injustice would be widely recognized and opposed.”

The insular world of academia, like many other industries in which a hierarchical power structure offers rewards and protection to those at the top and enacts a steep price on those with little institutional clout, is beginning to reckon with the rampant sexual harassment and abuses of power that are endemic within its walls. In October of last year, The Atlantic posed the question, “When will the ‘Harvey effect’ reach academia?” Two months later, a crowdsourced project asked people to submit stories of sexual harassment they had experienced while in academia; to date, it has collected more than 2,400 entries.

More students—almost always women—are beginning to speak out about the harassment they face from professors and those in power—almost always men. The institutional response has been unsurprisingly uneven, often determined by the value of individual faculty to a university.

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And, more on Ronell’s defense:

In a statement to the Times, she described the email exchanges as mutual conversations between two consenting adults. (It’s worth noting that she doesn’t dispute the content of their emails, but rather Reitman’s framing of them as harassment): “Our communications — which Reitman now claims constituted sexual harassment — were between two adults, a gay man and a queer woman, who share an Israeli heritage, as well as a penchant for florid and campy communications arising from our common academic backgrounds and sensibilities. These communications were repeatedly invited, responded to and encouraged by him over a period of three years.”

She doubled down on those claims in a response published in the German publication Welt, describing the emails they exchanged as “hyperbolic gay dialect.”

“I never touched or hurt Reitman,” she told Welt, before labeling him “miserable” and “needy.” As for their student-mentor relationship, Ronell claims that Reitman asked her to help turn his dissertation into a book. In rough translation, she said: “He was incredibly angry because I did not have time for that.” She added, “I did not expect the unstoppable attacks that came then.”

Ronell has continued to go on the offense. On Thursday, she released a statement through her attorney that detailed her interactions with Reitman and the language he used in email communications with her. In the emails, Reitman purportedly called her “beloved and special one,” “baby,” “sweet beloved.” Her statement questions why he waited until graduating to file his complaint and notes that he was unable to find a tenure-track position before concluding that “[t]he inability of Reitman to find a job and not any actual or perceived, sexual harassment of him by email, is what this case is about.”

====================

There are lots of very good comments to the article. Here are some:

Ugh. Enough already with the damn “this person has done a lot of good, therefore they could never have done anything wrong” letters. I can understand it’s hard to accept that a friend or idol might not be who you thought they were but keep yourthoughts to yourself.

Anyway, even if it were true that it was all consensual, there was a clear power imbalance.

Yup. I’m also v tired of the “—of Jewish heritage—” shit casually thrown in there. Like, who gives a flying fuck about your heritage, not sure how it’s germane to possible sexual harassment, etc.

Yup. This line really says it all to me: ‘“People know that she is very friendly and open and crosses traditional boundaries in relationships with her students,””

WHY DID YOU FUCKING LET THAT GO, UNIVERSITY. THAT IS NOT OK.

I found it a bit eerie that you could just search-and-replace the names in this article with those of any of the recent powerful-man-harasses-woman-at-work stories and have it be pretty much identical, right down to the “but he/she is really good at their job!” defenses.  Yay equality?  Also:  yuck.

Also, let’s retire the “This is how she is!  You just don’t GET her!” argument. Nope, sorry— being wacky is not a good excuse to sexually assault your graduate student.

Yeah, what does that even mean? She’s more communicative than other profs?Cool. More handsy? Ew.

The things she said to him are NOT ok to say to a student let alone an advisee. Those things alone without taking into account her intentions or his consent makes her in the wrong here.

Yep. If your personality is built around whackiness and lack of boundaries you probably shouldn’t be in a supervisory role.

DON’T CROSS BOUNDARIES!! That’s a blatant act of aggression, Ronell.

Exactly. How do you solve a problem like Avital? Fucking fire her.

Thank you. The messages exchanged are horrendously inappropriate for any advisor to send to any advisee under any circumstances. That said, the awful victim-blaming responses by her colleagues are embarrassing, but not surprising. I work in academia and it regularly closes ranks around abusers, particularly tenured ones with power. The reason they’re so quiet about #MeToo is because they’re terrified of what will happen if it ever hits their institutions.

I don’t care how great you are, if you call your student your “cock-er spaniel” there is something fucked up going on

I cannot understand how anyone past the age of 20 can still cling to the notion that outer appearances mirror the inner person. You simply don’t know what a person get up to in their personal life, and you take that as a given and go from there. If anything, the more a person tries to perfect their outer persona the more their actual person is rotted out.

And what someone may actually think matters very little. LBJ was pretty racist, and yet he still passed the Civil Rights Act. The idea that someone’s “inner beliefs” matter more than their actions is the usual bullshit version of “enlightenment” that gets passed off as some sort of deep insight.

Actions matter, the rest is totally meaningless.

Lauding her “brilliant scholarship” and “intellectual generosity” and noting that the French government recently bestowed a prestigious award upon her,

Roman Polanski won an Oscar.

Bill Cosby had multiple honourary degrees.

Kevin Spacey was knighted.

That prestigious award doesn’t mean shit.

“Everything I say is queer hyperbole”…. FU lady. Your student felt pressured to engage with you and get sexually harasssed bc you held their future in your hands and then you say he resents you bc he didn’t get a job or any gains from being harassed by you for years…. yeah no shit he’s angry and feels violated, no shit he feels used and hurt, what victims will deal with in order to get through life is absolutely horrifying. When scumbags say “ Well, how come they put up with it for so long if they felt violated?” Or “How come they didn’t need report what happened right away? How scared could they have truly been?”….. I just want to burn it allllll down bc to me it’s common sense, we will do anything to keep our abusers at bay, we will nod, we will laugh at their dumb jokes, we will pretend to be ok with their behavoir if it means we can eventually make a safe exit, knowing what an abuser can do to you once you tell another person (the police, a friend, a neighbor etc) is terrifying.

Right? There is nothing to “make”of this beyond another sexual harasser protected by their shitty friends. Being female, queer, feminist or Jewish doesn’t preclude anyone from being an abuser. And any person of any gender is entitled to file a Title IX claim. This isn’t rocket science. I am also annoyedthe article gives SO much editorial space to said shitty friends’ victim blaming nonsense, and buries the victim’s actual testimony (the most compelling part of the article) way down near the bottom. This is no anomaly, it’s classic abuse of power.

I don’t know if anyone outside academia understands how uniquely terrifying it is to go up against the machines of institutional power there, especially as a grad student. You pour your entire life’s work into your degree and (if your advisors are unscrupulous) put up with all types of abuse because you know these people are the gatekeepers of your entire professional future. It doesn’t matter if your complaints are justified; the minute you raise your voice, you’re done. His career was over the second he filed that Title IX claim. The fact that such high-ranking intellectuals have chosen to pile on further is disappointing but not surprising.

All of this. I had no idea academia was so fucked up until I started working in it. So much is excused by “But they’re brilliant at their research!” Or even worse, “They were so brilliant 20 years ago. Saying/doing something now would tarnish their legacy.”

I was a graduate student around the same time with the alleged victim, in a different department. I cannot give you much detail, because I would like to stay anonymous. I took Avital’s classes, but she was not in my diss committee. I’m commenting on an article for the first time, but I felt like what I know should be part of the conversation. Avital loves power games, she has groupies, she adores male students, and many other things I can list here on this academic whose power went into her head. BUT, the alleged victim, man, he was also something. He enjoyed every bit of power and privilege of being Avital’s pet. He thought he had a right to treat his peers like sh*t, while hanging out with the super famous theory bunch, whose one word would make careers. He blamed people for being antisemitic, when someone called him out on his actions. He demanded special treatment, because he was Avital’s pet. They are both miserable pieces of humanity. But we need to remember, in such cases of power abuse, there are always others down the ladder that suffer the consequences.

They both sound like utter assholes, but the onus is on the person with power not to initiate inappropriate communications and relationships.

 

But it’s interesting to hear the inside scoop. And yes, I’m sure being shat on by both of them was a nightmare for the other students in the vicinity.

Very true, but let’s play devil’s advocate and assume Honeyfoot’s account of this guy is spot on, and he’s just a creep. So what? Not all abuse victims are pleasant people. It isn’t just the saintly who get abused. Even bullies can be assaulted.

I think, as a society, we have a tendency to dismiss abuse claims made by anyone who hasn’t led a perfectly spotless, middle class, upwardly mobile existence. That’s a real problem.

We certainly see this attitude directed at female accusers.

Oh, she sleeps around. She couldn’t have been abused.”

“She’s done drugs at some point. We can’t trust her.”

“She’s a bitch. She’s probably just trying to cause trouble.”

yeeeeeeeah, nothing I’ve seen makes me think this is a “well what should we do” handwringing type situation. she was shitty and abusive, she should lose her job

Well, she did get suspended for a year, aka what every academic wants so they have time to write another book that they can assign to their students as required reading. She’ll learn her lesson, I’m sure.

In this case the people who wrote the letter in support of her clearly hadn’t seen any of the evidence that we’ve now been privy to, and they didn’t expect their letter to go public. I would like to think that if they’d had that information, they may have refrained from making any statement, however private.

How is that different than any other shitty defense-of-abuser letter?

“I have no idea what happened here, but I know my friend would never do anything bad so I support her 100%!”

“I would never have supported this awful person in writing if I knew people would find out!”

It’s only now, with the language around the MeToo movement, that I’ve been able to look back at what happened to me in graduate school and recognize that it was sexual harassment. Because my advisor was a woman (as am I) everyone just said “she’s hard to work with.” Without a doubt, that experience changed my career trajectory (I ended up have to drop out of a top-rated PhD program) and while I’m very happy with where I’ve ended up, I am still kind of angry that *that* is the thing that made those decisions for me. And I’m angry that even I didn’t have the words at the time to call her out as a sexual harasser.

Women do not get a pass on this because they’re women. Certain kinds of people will abuse their power when their victims have no recourse. Maybe men are more likely to take advantage of that situation, or maybe it’s just that men have traditionally, and currently, occupy almost all positions of power. Either way, we need to hold women to the same standard of professionalism and consent as we are starting to do with men.

I don’t know why it’s so hard for people to believe the victims. People with power can abuse that power – regardless of gender or sexual identity.

I understand that it’s difficult for people to reconcile seemingly disparate sensibilities – scholarly feminist and sexual abuser – but how many times have we looked at murderers, rapists, and other criminals and said, “But they come from such a good family! / There were no warning signs! / They were always kind and gentle!”

None of these cases are easy or clear-cut.

Oh, she was clearly trying to fuck him. Also, she’s not a lesbian – she identifies as queer. Not the same.

Intriguing that Zizek says he knows male professors who do much worse, but appears to have little inclination to condemn, intervene or protest THEIR behavior. “Well, men are much nastier, so Avital Ronel gets a pass.”

There is a real danger the right could use harassment cases to intimidate leftist thinkers, but there is little evidence offered of that here (one way or the other); in fact, without knowing the full particulars of the case, it is impossible to make anyjudgment. One thing is absolutely true in academia, however: if your rock-starthesis advisor is not supporting your search for a faculty position, you’re pretty much toast in the field for which you just earned a PhD.

1. Believe victims. He was a victim.

2. Women in power abuse their power, just like men. Why? Because PEOPLE with power, if they are weak or fucked up, always abuse their power.

3. I love my dissertation advisor. LOVE him. Ours is perhaps the most intellectually stimulating relationship I’ve ever had. He has never touched me. He has never said anything inappropriate or remotely sexual to me. He does not even know where I live or have my home phone number. I genuinely don’t know what he thinks of me personally, but I know he genuinely wants me to succeed. And that is all. That is how it should be for EVERYONE. I am so, so sorry for anyone who experiences harassment during the most precious and formative experience of their academic lives.

I’m reading this article thinking “Okay, but did she harass him or not? Who cares if she was a good teacher or not.” Then I get about halfway through and read the actual behavior and messages, which she doesn’t deny, and think “What the holy fuck where those people doing trying to defend her?”

Academia is one of the most fucked up work environments on the planet. I’d be very happy if a shipload of the biggest offenders were removed. And you can bet that some of the people who came to her defense are also harassers and abusers. I saw the same thing happen in a religious institution involving rape and molestation. They always stand up for each other.

Professor here. There are several rules we cannot break without jeopardizing everything. On this list is “Don’t do anything with students that can be misconstrued as a sexual advance” or whatever formulation you’d like. I’ve had students drunk email me, stop by my office to give me gifts and then want to study there, etc. Once, when I had a tiny little office with all my books everywhere, barely room to turn around, a young woman seemingly intentionally dropped a pencil and very slowly picked it up (this is long ago, when I was young and not so droopy). I’ve never tried to reprimand a student for this (although perhaps I should), but I definitely run away. It’s not just losing your job, it’s also realizing that any such behavior is always misguided, either through motive or the power of the relationship. I’m not necessarily attractive or unattractive, but sometimes professors who are introducing people to exciting material can be powerfully attractive. It’s not me, it’s the role I’m playing in their lives. I suppose you could confuse the two, but you’d have to stupid, high, or extremely vain. I mean, this pertains to all my work. Sitting around talking I’m just me, but when I start talking about my studies I feel like a spiritual medium, connected to all my teachers, the scholars I’ve read, and the artists I’ve studied.

Here endeth the lecture.

 

In a Chronicle of Education article, some Slovenian “philosopher” jumped to defend the bisexual pig, Avital Ronell, who was convicted of sexually harassing a NYU student (see recent posts on this subject). (bolding below is mine)

Avital definitely is a type of her own,” Slavoj Žižek, a Slovenian philosopher, wrote. “In short, she is a walking provocation for a stiff Politically Correct inhabitant of our academia, a ticking bomb just waiting to explode.”

He argued that the professor’s “eccentricities” are all on the surface. “There is nothing sleazy hidden beneath her affected behaviour, in contrast to quite a few professors that I know who obey all the Politically Correct rules while merrily screwing students or playing obscene power games with all the dirty moves such games involve.

First point, and a somewhat minor one, but a point nevertheless, this guy is from Slovenia, you know, that bastion of the crusade against sexual harassment and assault, the world’s leading country in the fight against sexual harassment, right? Oh yes, when you think of fight against sexual harassment, what comes to your mind? Eastern Europe, of course!

But now, the important point, and my question. Notice the part I have bolded in his statement: in contrast to quite a few professors that I know who obey all the Politically Correct rules while merrily screwing students or playing obscene power games with all the dirty moves such games involve.

Apparently no one took notice of what this professor stated, or they simply don’t care. This Žižek not only knows of several professors that are “screwing around students” (with all the entanglements and lack of ethics that usually accompany that practice), but more importantly, he also knows of several professors who are “playing obscene power games with all the dirty moves such games involve.”

“Obscene power games”? “All the dirty moves such games involve?” What does that sound like to you? It sounds like this guy knows of a lot of sexual harassers or perpetrators of other activities that violate students’ fundamental rights. And Mr. Žižek, also like all those vile bishops in the Catholic sexual abuse scandal, keeps his little mouth shut to protect the guilty professors.

Isn’t it striking that no one (no one!) asks Mr. Žižek who is playing these “obscene power games with all the dirty moves such games involve?

Who exactly is Mr. Žižek protecting with his silence?

 

 

 

the Chronicle:

Even after Ronell’s sanction was confirmed this week, it was that draft letter written on her behalf, which first circulated in June, that remained at the center of the discussion. The note, signed by dozens of prominent scholars, was dated May 11 and addressed to NYU’s president and provost. It urged that Ronell be given a “fair hearing,” cited her academic credentials, and said she might have already been damaged by the proceedings. The backlash was swift: Critics accused the signatories of creating a double standard for a woman accused of sexual harassment and of unfairly maligning the victim.

“Feminists aren’t a monolith,” tweeted Dana Bolger, a founder of Know Your IX, an organization that advocates for victims of gender-based violence, on Tuesday. “First, it should go without saying that the quality of somebody’s scholarship has absolutely nothing to do with whether they harass their students. Period.”

The views of the scholars who wrote the letter on Ronell’s behalf “shouldn’t be attributed to every feminist everywhere, many of whom vehemently disagree with them,” she wrote.

Beatrice Louis, an international lawyer, went further, writing that “the scholars who have signed a letter supporting Professor Ronell are sabotaging the plight of victims and the #metoo movement in ways that are truly reprehensible.” “There is nothing in feminist thought, activism, or belief that justifies this terrible overture of support to an accused person who seems to have been afforded due process,” she wrote.

[…]

The first signatory of the letter was Judith Butler, a nationally renowned professor of critical theory and comparative literature at the University of California at Berkeley who is president-elect of the Modern Language Association. [and by what wikipedia says, a major lesbian pig!] In an email late Wednesday, she said she had some regrets about the wording of the letter, which she said had been written in haste by a group of authors.

“We ought not to have attributed motives to the complainant, even though some signatories had strong views on this matter,” Butler wrote. “And we should not have used language that implied that Ronell’s status and reputation earn her differential treatment of any kind.” [But the lesbian pig did exactly that! And she and co. wouldn’t have thought it a problem if her little vicious letter upholding impunity for sexual harassment hadn’t gotten out to the public!]

When the letter was written, Butler said, the group understood that the Title IX investigation had been completed and that Ronell had been cleared of the most serious charges against her.

“When we learned that termination of employment was under consideration, we were bewildered by the severity of this possible sanction,” Butler wrote. “It seemed incommensurate with what we understood at that time to be the investigation’s outcome. We did not have access to the file or the findings, nor were we fully apprised of the facts of the case.” [And yet, as everyone knows by now, they pounced. Notice the horror the lesbian pig feels in thinking that one of their own might lose their job for sexually harassing students! No, no, they demand a slap on the wrist or they pounce. See how corrupt LGBT pigs and people who think homosexuality is normal are? They aren’t the only ones, but they are clearly garbage of people.]

==========

As a result, Ronell has been suspended from the university, and any future meetings she has with students must be supervised, he says. The university is also examining Reitman’s subsequent claims of retaliation, and any violations found could result in extra sanctions.

I think the supervision requirement is a good move. Of course, it can always be sabotaged, it all depends on who does the supervising, doesn’t it? But overall, it goes in the right direction.

 

Brian Leiter reports (excerpt):

Avital Ronell affair makes NY Times, which adds new details to the case

The NYT has published an informative, front-page article about the case that was first revealed on this blog back in June after a philosopher in Europe sent me the now notorious “letter of support” for Ronell by the “theory illuminati.”  Among the new revelations from the NYT article (some of which contradict earlier reports):

2.  Among the details of the harassment revealed:

In the Title IX final report…Mr. [Nimrod] Reitman [the victim] said that she had sexually harassed him for three years, and shared dozens of emails in which she referred to him as “my most adored one,” “Sweet cuddly Baby,” “cock-er spaniel,” and “my astounding and beautiful Nimrod”….

Mr. Reitman…says that Professor Ronell kissed and touched him repeatedly, slept in his bed with him, required him to lie in her bed, held his hand, texted, emailed and called him constantly, and refused to work with him if he did not reciprocate…

The problems began, according to Mr. Reitman, in the spring of 2012, before he officially started school. Professor Ronell invited him to stay with her in Paris for a few days. The day he arrived, she asked him to read poetry to her in her bedroom while she took an afternoon nap, he said.

“That was already a red flag to me,” said Mr. Reitman. “But I also thought, O.K., you’re here. Better not make a scene.”

Then, he said, she pulled him into her bed.

“She put my hands onto her breasts, and was pressing herself — her buttocks — onto my crotch,” he said. “She was kissing me, kissing my hands, kissing my torso.” That evening, a similar scene played out again, he said.

3.  Professor Ronell adopts what we might call “the McGinn defense” (minus the Israeli bit!); I here quote:

Professor Ronell, 66, denied any harassment. “Our communications — which Reitman now claims constituted sexual harassment — were between two adults, a gay man and a queer woman, who share an Israeli heritage, as well as a penchant for florid and campy communications arising from our common academic backgrounds and sensibilities,” she wrote in a statement to The New York Times. “These communications were repeatedly invited, responded to and encouraged by him over a period of three years.”

Professor Ronell’s lawyer denied the story about physical contact and NYU did not find her guilty of sexual assault.

4.  As I suspected, NYU is, according to the Times article, now investigating the “retaliation” issues raised by the now infamous letter.  I would not be surprised if the one-year suspension turns into an early retirement under the circumstances.

5.  Part of Prof. Ronell’s defense was to suggest the complainant was simply “frustrated because he just wasn’t smart enough”:

“His main dilemma was the incoherency in his writing, and lack of a recognizable argument,” Professor Ronell said in a January 2018 interview submitted to the Title IX office.

I admit this did make me laugh:  it’s really hard to imagine that anyone’s writing could be less coherent and less lacking in recognizable argument than that of the “theory illuminati”!

One thing that goes unnoted in the NYT article (I assume because they were unaware of it) is that the former Chair of the NYU German Department has written a damning account of Professor Ronell’s tenure in the department that will appear in a German magazine early next month.  I was sent a copy, and will post about it, and translate some bits, when it offically appears in early September.

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Can’t wait to read it.

 

So…! I hadn’t heard about this scandal until yesterday. And boy, did I ever enjoy reading about it, especially because if it wasn’t for an incident that no one was really counting on, the whole case would have been kept under wraps, just like the majority of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse cases are.

And now the sheep has hit the fan! Big time, on major news media.

In a nutshell:

Professor Avita Ronell, a world-renowned professor of German and comparative literature, released a statement on Friday in response to a lawsuit filed against her this week by the former student and advisee, Nimrod Reitman.

In the lawsuit, Reitman said he was subjected to unwanted kissing and groping, and he said he received many messages that made him uncomfortable.

Ronell denied having any sexual contact with her former student and said their emails contained “exaggerated expressions of tenderness” because they are both gay, not because she was sexually harassing him. [Note: it appears that Ronnel uses the word “queer” to describe herself, not lesbian and not gay, which would most naturally be interpreted as a bisexual pig].

She also said her messages were reciprocated. In her statement, she included several purported excerpts of their emails, in which she alleges Reitman referred to her as “beloved and special one,” ”Baby” and “Sweet Beloved.”

Reitman, who received a doctorate from NYU in 2015, said the professor created “a fictitious romantic relationship” and sabotaged his efforts to get a teaching position. He also is suing the university, alleging administrators failed to take action after he told a vice provost about the misconduct while still a student. He is seeking unspecified damages.

NYU’s Title IX office concluded that Reitman was sexually harassed and suspended the professor for a year and stipulated that any future meetings with students be supervised. It cleared her of allegations that her actions amounted to sexual assault.

It said it did not believe that filing a lawsuit against it “would be warranted or just.”

In the lawsuit, Reitman accuses the professor of demanding he address her in “over-the-top, effusive language, including that he constantly express his love for her, and his failure to do so would result in Ronell angrily reprimanding him and refusing to work with him.”

Ronell said she uses the same type of flowery language in her emails with many others. She said that Reitman reciprocated this language to her while simultaneously telling others she was a “witch,” ”evil” and a “monster.” Ronell said the lawsuit is really about “the inability of Reitman to find a job,” and not sexual.

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Her former student, Nimrod Reitman, now 34, accused the 66-year-old of physical and verbal harassment, detailing how she kissed and touched him repeatedly, slept in his bed with him, demanded he lie in her bed, held his hand, texted, emailed and called him constantly, and refused to work with him if he did not reciprocate.

In emails, she referred to him as “my most adored one,” “Sweet cuddly Baby,” “cock-er spaniel,” and “my astounding and beautiful Nimrod.”

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Mr Reitman says he is “gay” and is now farcically “married” to a man; Ms Ronell says she is “queer”.

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She denied accusations of harassment, telling The New York Times: “Our communications — which Reitman now claims constituted sexual harassment — were between two adults, a gay man and a queer woman, who share an Israeli heritage, as well as a penchant for florid and campy communications arising from our common academic backgrounds and sensibilities. [as in both of them are sexual pigs!]

“These communications were repeatedly invited, responded to and encouraged by him over a period of three years.”

The university, however, upheld Mr Reitman’s complaints of sexual harassment, although she was cleared of sexual assault, stalking and retaliation. 

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Then there is this great development in the case, which made the sheep hit the fan. After word of the sexual harassment complaint got out to other academic “colleagues”, a “feminist” lesbian pig called Judith Butler (name slightly familiar) jumped to simultaneously rally a defense of Ronnell and carry out a vicious attack on Reitman. And she did so by asking several other famous academics, who are her pals, to co-write a letter that was sent to NYU’s President and Provost, no less. Fortunately for society, the letter ended up being publicly posted on some professor’s blog. And that’s how we in the public know today of Butler’s actions.

In the letter, Mr Reitman was described as “the individual who has waged this malicious campaign” against Ronnel. The letter, however, totally mimics the support shown to prominent men accused of harassment and assault as part of the #MeToo movement. Not only the #metoo guys, but also child abusers such as Polanski, Woody Allen, Frédéric Mitterrand, etc.

Apparently the professor who posted the letter is Brian Leiter. Anyways, he has a great blog post on it (excerpt):

Blaming the victim is apparently OK when the accused in a Title IX proceeding is a feminist literary theorist

That would seem to be the takeaway from this remarkable letter (written, I am told, by Judith Butler) in support of Avital Ronell, who teaches in German and Comparative Literature at NYU:   Download BUTLER letter for Avital Ronell.   The signatory list reads like a “who’s who” of “theory” (as they call bad philosophy in literature departments), from Butler to Zizek (with a few honorable exceptions, of course).  But far more revealing is the content of the letter.

From the remarkable first paragraph (boldings added by me):

Although we have no access to the confidential dossier, we have all worked for many years in close proximity to Professor Ronell and accumulated collectively years of experience to support our view of her capacity as teacher and a scholar, but also as someone who has served as Chair of both the Departments of German and Comparative Literature at New York University.  We have all seen her relationship with students, and some of us know the individual who has waged this malicious campaign against her.  We wish to communicate first in the clearest terms our profound an enduring admiration for Professor Ronell whose mentorship of students has been no less than remarkable over many years. We deplore the damage that this legal proceeding causes her, and seek to register in clear terms our objection to any judgment against her.  We hold that the allegations against her do not constitute actual evidence, but rather support the view that malicious intention has animated and sustained this legal nightmare.

Imagine that such a letter had been sent on behalf of Peter Ludlow, Colin McGinn, John Searle, Thomas Pogge or anyone other than a feminist literary theorist:  there would be howls of protest and indignation at such a public assault on a complainant in a Title IX case.  The signatories collectively malign the complainant as motivated by “malice” (i.e., a liar), even though they admit to knowing nothing about the findings of the Title IX proceedings–and despite that they also demand that their friend be acquitted, given her past “mentorship of students”.  (I imagine many faculty members found guilty, correctly, in a Title IX proceeding have also mentored lots of students, chaired a department, and produced notable scholarship.)  If Professor Ronell had any role in soliciting this letter, it looks to me like a clear case of retaliation against the complainant that will compound her and the university’s problems.

But you get a real sense of the hypocrisy and entitlement of these precious “theorists” in the concluding paragraph of the letter addressed to the NYU President and Provost:

We testify to the grace, the keen wit, and the intellectual commitment of Professor Ronell and ask that she be accorded the dignity rightly deserved by someone of her international standing and reputation.  If she were to be terminated or relieved of her duties, the injustice would be widely recognized and opposed.

We may put to one side that Professor Ronell’s “grace,” “keen wit” and “intellectual commitment” are irrelevant in a Title IX proceeding.  What is truly shocking is the idea that she is entitled to proceedings that treat her with “the dignity rightly deserved by someone of her international standing and reputation.”  Apparently in the view of these “theory” illuminati dignity in Title IX proceedings is to be doled out according to one’s “international standing and reputation.”  So while Professor Ronell “deserves a fair hearing, one that expresses respect, dignity, and human solicitude,” other “lesser” accused can be subject, without international outcry, to whatever star chamber proceedings the university wants.  Moreover, only one outcome of the process is acceptable, regardless of the findings:  acquittal.  Any other result “would be widely recognized and opposed,” I guess because grace, wit and intellectual commitment are a defense against sexual misconduct and harassment.

With friends like these….

ADDENDUM:  Several readers asked how I got the letter.  A Continental philosopher in Europe was solicited as a signatory (he declined), and passed it on to me.

FURTHER THOUGHTS:  On the retaliation issue, even if Prof. Ronell had nothing to do with the letter (I have no reason to think she did), its signatories include many NYU faculty, thus making NYU liable for retaliation (I am not a Title IX expert, but from what little I do know, this looks like classic retaliation in violation of the law).   In addition, of course, the letter is probably defamatory, since it basically calls the complainant a liar (though without naming him/her).

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As I have been blogging here for years, LGBT pigs corrupt every organization they infiltrate, they are constantly perpetrating sexual harassment and violence.

The West is a sewer.

 

 

 

 

 

[Of course, there are spoilers below!]

OK, so let me start by saying that I had heard of this movie awhile back, watched the trailer, and was not in the least interested in watching it. I don’t remember exactly why, but I have a vague memory of thinking it was probably stupidly dark and mediocre. It’s nothing of the kind.

The writing and the directing/acting are excellent. So are the visuals (camera, lighting). The editing is also very well done, although I would have cut about 15 minutes, shortening several scenes, since the movie began to drag. Since I was watching via streaming, I performed this “cutting” myself by slightly jumping with a click of a mouse several times.

I followed my preferred way of watching movies which is, I watch, then I read the reviews. I want to watch with a “clean” mind, no outer influences or predispositions. This can often mean that I will miss some important, even very important information, even misunderstanding fundamental aspects, but so be it. Prior, I watched a trailer and read some short plot/topic descriptions, then sat down to watch the movie. I was missing some important information, but it actually made the watching more enjoyable.

First, although I had been told the story of Job (from the Bible) before, I completely forgot about it, and no longer had any idea what it referred to. So, although I had read some references that said the movie was a retelling of the Job story, I was oblivious to what that would be. Second, I also just read a very brief description about Hobbes’ Leviathan saying that it discussed the power of the state over an individual, but no more, so I couldn’t really appreciate any deeper inquiry in that regard. Vulture has a very nice short take: Leviathan’s title evokes Thomas Hobbes’s classically grim work of political philosophy — that’s the one where he argues for the value of monarchy and that life is “nasty, brutish, and short”.

The point of the Job tale in the Bible is exactly to instill in Christians total passivity to anything and everything that happens to them or anyone else. They are told that everything is God’s will, so if something bad happens, that also must be God’s will. Consequently, if it’s God will, and God can’t be wrong, and God is utmost good, it only follows that there must a good reason for all the evil that happens. What exactly that good reason is is never explained or discussed, because the point is just to instill passivity and subservience to evil – along with complete submission to religious authority (especially of the corrupt kind) and to stop complaining and just shuffle along. Which explains why every Christian society has been to date profoundly corrupt, evil, and violent – it’s the passivity and collaboration with evil. (The same applies to any similar religion or ideology which preaches this same passivity, by the way). This does not mean in any way that everything that Christianity preaches is bad, it’s a mixture of great extremes in terms of good and evil.

So, in Leviathan, we have Kolya (Alexey Serebriakov), a simple mechanic who lives in some dismal town in the Russian North in his little property. The place is actually quite beautiful in its own way, as all seaside places are, but it’s magnificently made dismal and despairing in the way it is filmed.

Then a corrupt local politician, Vadim (Roman Madyanov), the mayor, sets his sights on Kolya’s beach-front property, and decides to appropriate it via a compulsory purchase order and by paying him peanuts for it. Kolya, naturally very hot-headed, is outraged. First, he doesn’t want to sell his property, and certainly not for peanuts, and he doesn’t want to move, and he wants to fight the mayor. So he asks for the help of an old army buddy, Dima (the handsome Vladimir Vdovichenkov), who is now a self-assured, fearless Moscow lawyer. From what I understood of the character, Dima must have been used to fighting cases in court, not in the real word of raw power. So he naively thinks that he can bluff his way in this case, by threatening to expose Vadim via some dirt obtained from some Moscow colleague, after normal legal actions are stalled due to the corrupt locals. It was never clear to me how close Dima was to this Moscow guy or how he got the dirt. After reading some reviews, it appears such plot aspect is just that, unclear. In any case, the entire small town is a corrupt structure, and it’s not the law, but raw power that rules. The head of the rot is the mayor, but he obviously doesn’t work alone, he has full support of several other civil servants, a militia of thugs, etc. And, very importantly, that includes the local Orthodox bishop. Dima, thinking himself very smart, threatens the mayor with the dirt obtained. And this is where he gets in way over his head.

Meanwhile, in terms of family, Kolya’s adolescent son is lost and rebelling, especially against Kolya’s live-in and second wife, Lilya, correctly described by the Guardian as the ‘seductive, mysterious Elena Lyadova’. So Kolya’s life is a particular mess, but Elena seemed to love Kolya and vice-versa. Their bond being the only thing that seemed to be standing firm in the entire story. What happens next, for reasons that I couldn’t fathom, is that, after Dima enters their lives, Elena goes off to have sex with Dima.

Then, in what is supposed to be a subsequent festive birthday party, Dima gets violent with Elena. Did she threaten to tell Kolya about them? I was at a complete loss. The audience is not shown the altercation. Regardless, Kolya finds out about his wife’s betrayal with his best friend.

Meanwhile, the mayor who was not to be taken down, and certainly not without a fight, has figured out his counter attack and acts, quickly and decisively. He has the lawyer beaten, threatens to kill him, and tells him to run back to Moscow. Dima, understanding that things work differently when corruption dictates the rules, is on the first train to Moscow. Then Elena, after a rather forceful intercourse with Kolya, goes off to gaze at the sea and apparently commits suicide because she is next found dead. The police blame Kolya for her death, saying she was murdered by a blunt hit on the head. He is taken in custody, charged, convicted and his son is about to be sent to an orphanage, but is saved from this horrible fate by a couple that were Kolya’s friends. Therefore Kolya loses his loved wife, his son, his old friend, he gets blamed with his wife’s murder, and is sent to a maximum security prison for 15 years (or so). His life is completely ruined. All returns to the “norm” in the little seaside city. In the final major scene, the mayor attends church with his elegant wife and small son, and all the rest of his people, and the priest pontificates about how God is truth, and how It is bringing truth back to Russia, etc.

The Atlantic has a very good description of several plot aspects and the main issue of the story about how can an individual fight a structure of corrupt power, in this case, the state. But whether the structure is the state or not, it’s irrelevant.

How to fight a corrupt and powerful enemy is the central question of the movie. When a person suffers great injustice and wants to fight back, that is the question to be asked: can they fight back or will this means “committing suicide” – that is, suffering violent retaliation from the powerful people who committed the injustice in the first place?

In the middle of the story, Dima, being Kolya’s friend, presses Kolya to just forget the house, the maddening injustice, leave the property to the mayor, and take his family to Moscow and start anew there. Certainly he would be able to scrap off a living and move on from there, his friend tells him. But Kolya is burning with the injustice that he is the target of, and he is dying to fight back. What he doesn’t realize, and neither does his naive lawyer buddy, is that to fight you need arms (of whatever kind), but you need enough of them. And to expect the mayor to buckle with the mere threat of exposure was not enough arms. The powerful always will use whatever they have to maintain their power and impunity for their injustices. Dima underestimated the mayor. So did Kolya.

Kolya ends up paying a horribly heavy price for their mistake. Had he let himself be completely robbed by the mayor, and moved on to Moscow, he would have started anew in good health, with his wife by his side (question mark, though, given her previous senseless adultery), and his son. A move that I imagined would have then presented as the greatest danger the son starting to hang out with bad people in Moscow. And maybe him losing Elena to Dima or whoever. But overall, much better than the horrors he would face by losing his wife and spending 15 years in a maximum security Russian prison.

Which is what I call the ‘Polish woman question’ (just for the sake of a short label). I think I blogged about this Polish woman case, but I just did a short search and could not find it. Some years ago, I came across an article which mentioned the story of a Polish Jewish woman who was sent at the end of WWII to a concentration or extermination camp. I don’t remember which. Because she spent about a year there, not more, before being liberated, and obviously because of other details that I no longer remember, she survived her ordeal. She then returned to her native village in Poland to reclaim her house that the local Polish villagers had robbed her of when they sent her to what they probably thought would be her death. The reaction of the Polish villagers to her trying to get her house back was to kill her.

That’s the story in Leviathan. “What then shall we do?” In trying to fight for justice against horrible perpetrators who have power, one must always consider how vicious the perpetrators are and how they will retaliate. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about this. And sometimes the only thing you can do, unless you want to get yourself immediately killed, is to walk away, leave everything to the criminals and see if you can start anew elsewhere. At least you have your head connected to your neck, and are not being tortured.

At the same time, not everyone that fights for justice, even when running extreme risks, loses or ends up dead. The price you may be required to pay for justice must always be weighed and considered.

Lastly, basically all Western critics of this film jumped at the chance to scream about the “corruption in Russia” problem depicted by the movie, by which they mean “Putin’s Russia”, which could be further specified as “corruption in the only country where there is corruption, which is Putin’s Russia, because, you know, everything bad in the world has to do with Russia and it’s Putin’s fault”.

The director himself said that living in Russia is like living in a minefield. The Guardian:

Oscar contender Leviathan is a frank portrayal of a corrupt Russia. In a rare interview, its director talks about his country’s ‘eternal curse’ and why voting there would be a ‘completely pointless step’

Svyagintsev: “It’s like being in a minefield, this is the feeling you live with here. It’s very hard to build any kind of prospects – in life, in your profession, in your career – if you are not plugged in to the values of the system. It’s a stupid construction of society, and unfortunately the eternal curse of our territory. The ideas of the rule of law, of equal rights are hardly discussed here. There is discussion in society, but it’s pointless. I have a feeling of the absolute futility of pretending to the right to have a say in any situation. I’ve turned 50 and I’ve never voted in my life. Because I’m absolutely certain that in our system it’s a completely pointless step.”

At the same time, Svyagintsev pointed out that this movie is based on a real event that happened in the… United States.

What is so annoying about the West is that it’s always pointing fingers at other countries to draw attention away from how corrupt it is, often at the same or worse levels.

In what country in the West don’t powerful people completely wipe out defenseless individuals time and time again? Not only within their borders, but when Western countries go commit mass murder and torture abroad, or supply the arms and technology for others to do so?

“The ideas of the rule of law, of equal rights are hardly discussed here. ”

And in the West, people blabber about rights all day while violating them in plain view all the same. How nice if we didn’t have to live in such an insane finger-pointing farce.

p.s. I couldn’t find answers to some questions I had about the plot, namely, what happened during the birthday party brawl and who killed Elena, and given that I was skipping short segments of the film, I went back to watch parts of the movie again to see if I had missed any information and then updated my initial reflections above.

I confirmed something very interesting about the way this story is written. Some things are purposefully not shown nor explained. This is very interesting. We don’t see what Dima did to Elena at the birthday party, nor the reaction of Kolya and the men. Nor do we see Elena killing herself, although in the latter case, it’s pretty obvious that’s what happened.

Overall, very, very good movie. I hope good movie making doesn’t die in Russia now that the Soviet Union is gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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