I am not going to lie about this. I do not see parental units of any stripe as being automatically worthy of respect and praise. I do not care what anyone else thinks. Just because you are a parent does not mean I should treat you as if the sun shines out of your arse.
Yes, I have a little sister who is a parent now. To no less than three children, two of whom were born on the same day. Although I have not seen her much since she moved out of Queensland and eventually to South Australia, I have noticed serious differences in her approach to parenting compared to those of my parental units.
For one thing, my sister took her time to become a mother. Ten years (the rough difference between her and her and my mother’s ages at the birth of their first child) makes a hell of a big difference. Whether Christers, big-family fanatics, and other scum like this or not, the age of the mother at the birth of a child actually makes a big difference in the future of that child. Multiple studies of social-economic outcomes have confirmed this.
A good, hard read of stories about abuse confirms the very worst that I have long believed. Child abuse is a universal thing. It is not confined to one class, one race, one type. It is a scourge common to every permutation of Human that one can possibly think of.
Allegations of child abuse have followed the director named Woody Allen for about twenty years now. The adoptive daughter of Allen and Mia Farrow, his girlfriend at that time, has accused Allen of sexual molestation. In fact, the allegations were made in 1993, approximately twenty-one years ago. Dylan Farrow has stated that around the time she was seven years old, Allen did things to her that no adult should ever do to a child.
I will disclose this first in order to get the counter-claims out of the way. I have no love of Woody Allen. I have never watched any of his films, but what I have seen in MAD Magazine satires was more than enough to make me decide I did not want a bar of his work.
Probably the best way that MAD Magazine has put it is in an article where they made humorous points about the public images of various celebrities. About Oprah Winfrey, for example, they stated that she proved it was possible to succeed in a field where your only real competition is Phil Donahue. (Each celebrity generally had four points written about them.) About Woody Allen, they stated that he claims he is a typical New Yorker, which should frighten the daylights out of other New Yorkers. Given the misogyny and neurotic whining components of the reptuation that precedes him, I feel no compulsion to give his work the time of day, and plenty of compulsion to take MAD Magazine‘s word for it.
(I also think he is full of shit when he claims that he is a typical New Yorker. New York is a very big place, with tens of millions of people in it. For one person to claim that they are a typical example thereof is pretty arrogant.)
But this is not about Woody Allen’s professional life as a director. As I have commented on earlier, Vincent Bugliosi wrote at great length why he believes former professional footballer O.J. Simpson to be guilty of two of the most savage murders that have occurred within my lifetime.
When I speak of Woody Allen today, I am putting on my Bugliosi hat. No, I am not a professional prosecutor, and even if I were, I doubt I would rise to Bugliosi‘s level of brilliance at it. But whilst I hate the phrase “common sense” like the intellectual dick-extension that it is, words fail me at finding another way to describe how guilty Allen’s behaviour really makes him look.
Dylan Farrow has stated that whilst others view the case as a “he said, she said” type of case, it is anything but for her. I understand that perfectly. In multiple places, including this here journal, I have made allegations against members of my biological family that make a lie out of the commonly-held belief that all parents have their childrens’ best interests at heart. I understand perfectly why Dylan says this about her allegations.
Now, note that I said allegations. I am not going to lie and say that I absolutely know that Woody Allen is guilty. The only two people who know that with a hundred percent certainty are Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow.
The first reason why I tend to believe Dylan Farrow, however, is the story she tells of being brought before an endless parade of professionals in medical and mental health, all of whom she describes in different wording as seemingly dedicated to making her disbelieve her own story. This happens to victims of all kinds of abuse, and so constantly that it is one of the great shames of modern society. It demonstrates that the blame the victim culture we cry about so much now is anything but new.
Children are not born evil. They have to be taught to be evil, and whilst the technique of doing so varies a lot from case to case, one thing I do possess when it comes to insight into children is a good memory. I remember well when my peers and I were tasked with writing stories for our teachers to assess our linguistic and handwriting developments (this was the early to mid 1980s, remember). Some children wrote poorly. Some wrote well. Some (*pointing at self*) fixated on certain subjects to such an extent that even teachers’ attempts at interventions did nothing.
But one commonality between all groups of children was that their writing was based on fantastic things that they would like to be part of. Children generally write of happy, sunshiny, pleasant things. That Hollywood trope about the strange little child drawing a picture of a big monster killing their mother is a Hollywood shortcut. When clues are offered in childrens’ self-expressions, they are generally much more subtle. When writing creatively continues into adulthood, it is only then, and in graduating steps starting around adolescence, that “reality” starts to seep in. So when I tell you that a seven year old would not make up the kinds of things that Dylan Farrow has alleged Woody Allen did to her as a seven year old, I tend to believe her on that basis alone.
The sheer effort that both health professionals and Woody Allen’s defenders have put forth trying to convince the world that Dylan is making things up has me gobsmacked. One of the worst examples is the counter-claim that Mia Farrow has convinced Dylan somehow through some form of coercion to say these things.
My own mother has written along similar lines concerning the statements I make about both her and my male parental units’ actions. Specifically, she has stated that she thinks I just saw such things on television (or other media sources) and imagined myself experiencing such things.
To her, I have a question. Which is it, mother? Tony Attwood says that I have an IQ of 140+, and when you are wanting to plant the idea in my head that I am lazy as opposed to suffering a severe set of adverse circumstances, you profess agreement with him. But in order to believe the claim I have outlined above, you would have to simultaneously believe I am the most stupid and suggestible person who ever lived.
This is what I am talking about when denialism comes across as confirmation where child abuse is concerned. The sheer extent to which people with a vested interest in disbelieving allegations against a person will bend reality is beyond mind-boggling. And the extent to which it makes them look guilty in the eyes of people who have experienced abuse would shock many of these idiots.
When O.J. Simpson was on trial, his defenders alleged something so preposterous that even today, it beggars belief. They proclaimed that detectives working on the case were such extremely racist people that they dodged up as much evidence as they could to make O.J. look guilty. Numerous problems exist with this claim, of which O.J.‘s defenders offered not a shred of evidence, but probably the highest of these is that at that time people who were found guilty of trying to frame a person for a murder where the death penalty may apply were subject to the death penalty themselves.
In other words, the downside to making the allegation becomes so great that the accuser can only be motivated by it being true.
Making an allegation of child abuse, especially child sexual abuse, is like that but in a different way. Making such allegations is all downside for the victim, for starters. The psychological battery that they must undergo in order to just get their accusations documented and put on record is absolutely mind-boggling. Yet Dylan Farrow did it anyway. And in spite of numerous people trying to make her believe their belief that she made it up, she continues to make these allegations in public fora to this day.
As I briefly alluded to above, Allen’s responses to these allegations have had similar effect to what O.J. Simpson’s behaviour in response to murder accusations had. That is, they have convinced me of guilt.
One of the big principles of modern justice systems, period, is that the accused gets their “day in court”. That is, a chance to answer the allegations against them in the way they can best prepare and submit. And it is not as if Allen is at any kind of disadvantage in this system, unlike the thousands of people who are getting railroaded in the American criminal justice system due to lack of funds. Not only can Allen afford bail (by itself an enormous advantage), he can easily afford reputable lawyers to help defend him (again, by itself an enormous advantage).
Allen has chosen to let these allegations go unanswered. It is true that authorities decided to not go ahead with prosecuting him when the accusations were made in 1993. But the accusations have been repeated multiple times since then, and not once has he chosen to respond to them in any meaningful way. Since the prosecution made the fateful decision to not go ahead with the case, Allen could even take Dylan Farrow to court and demand that she stop making the allegations to the public, based on having insufficient evidence to meet the burden of proof. If I were to proclaim to the public that, say, born-again nutcase Dave Mustaine molested me when I was a boy, he could even sue me for libel or slander, based on the fact that Mustaine and I have never met. (And I apologise in advance to him for using his name in this example.)
I find Allen’s lack of meaningful response to Dylan Farrow‘s accusations more damning in this case than I do the accusations themselves. Whilst Farrow complains about the well-documented code of silence and culture of coddling that exists in Hollywood about accusations like these, I doubt that any of the creative artists I truly admire would want to live their lives with whispers like these circling around them. Even when one can easily prove a statement made about them is utterly false, having to live with it influencing what others think of you is highly unpleasant.
That Allen has basically shielded himself from these allegations and done his level best to ignore them, not even attempting to personally discredit them, makes him look guilty. I will not ever tire of repeating that.
(This is also to say nothing of how the behaviour of other members of the family towards Allen, especially Mia and Ronan Farrow, makes him look.)
Dylan Farrow‘s open letter about the matter can be read at this link to the NY Times site. Whilst the note from Nicholas Kristof is correct in stating that like all accused individuals, Allen deserves a certain presumption of innocence, my belief is in Farrow‘s allegations because of the manner in which Allen has behaved and continues to behave in regard to them.
For the record, Dylan, I do not have a favourite Woody Allen film. I said earlier that I have never watched any of his work, but that is not quite true. When I wrote DVD-Video reviews, I believe I was given one disc (maybe two) featuring his work for review. What I saw made me feel so uncomfortable inside that whilst I do not know the man personally, I would likely punch him in the face if I ever met him. The subject matter of the film is just icing on the cake regarding this matter.
What I am getting at here is that we live in a culture that not only condones and coddles rape, we live in a culture that coddles child abuse. To be clear, the system of justice we have is designed so that the person making accusations assumes all burden of proof, and I would not change that for anything. But not only does Woody Allen’s behaviour since the allegations come across as a flip-off to the people who have endured abuse, it screams guilt.
In closing, I would just like to wish Dylan Farrow all the best in future. Whilst I do not live with exactly what she does, I know how difficult it can generally be, and I will contend that she, like all Human beings, deserves better.