Thursday, November 05, 2009

Unbreak my heart

File this under: Oh, thank God. Emma Thompson might just unbreak my heart. Of all the names on the Free Polanski petition, her signature hurt the most. There are others who disappointed, of course, by signing onto the celebrity rape apologist parade: Tilda Swinton, Natalie Portman, Penelope Cruz and Kristin Scott Thomas, among them. But Emma, well, her late addition to the ranks was a shock to the system. No, not our Emma.

Our Emma, the fierce fighter of sex trafficking, the advocate against fiddling with your face, the unapologetic smartie, the bawdy wit and the champion of always eating dessert. No, not our Emma.

And now, it seems it really will be no, not our Emma after all. The prodigiously talented Oscar winner has said she will remove her name from the petition. And we have the courageous work of Shakesville reader Caitlin to thank for her change of heart. You see, Caitlin, a student at Exeter University, knew she was going to have the opportunity to meet Emma at a campus event. So she set up a petition online, gathered 400-plus signatures of her own, and then took them to Emma to ask her to reconsider her signature on Roman Polanski petition.

And wouldn’t you know it, but Emma listened. As Caitlin wrote to Shakesville:
Emma did not have much time between meetings, but she gave me all of the time that she had. I asked her why she had signed the petition, and she explained about how well she knows Polanski, how terrible his life has been, and how forgiving the survivor of the rape all those years ago now is. She said she thought the intentions of the judge were unclear, as were the intentions of those who arrested him recently. She told me that a lot of her friends had rung her up asking her to sign the petition, so there had been a certain amount of pressure. She said that she had already been thinking a lot about the petition, as others had expressed their dismay at her signing it.

I handed her our petition and the comments. She read them both through thoroughly, and came back to me. She said, while she supported Polanski as a friend, a crime is a crime. I don't know whether she had realised the extent of Polanski's crime, but she is now fully aware. She will remove her name from the petition – in fact, she said she would call today and sort it out. Even though, she stressed, Polanski has had some truly terrible experiences in his lifetime, experiences that we couldn't even imagine and which should not be taken out of the equation, she agreed that she could not put her name to a petition asking for his release....

She left me with this, to pass on to everyone who has signed the petition/raised awareness of this issue: “Know that I will remove my name because of you, and all of the good work that you have been doing. I have read your petition. I have heard you. And I will listen.”

Never underestimate the power of one person to effect change. We forget this sometimes, amid a crushing sea of injustices. But sometimes all it really takes is one voice to pierce the darkness. Thank you, Caitlin. And thank you, Emma, for listening.

UPDATE: Emma is officially OFF THE PETITION. Broken hearts really can be mended. Recommence loving every inch of her great big magnificent brain...and other bits.


Big Shamu said...

Makes me wonder how many signed without bothering to understand all the facts in the case. Even worse, all those who do know and signed anyway.

Thanks Emma, for listening and acting according to your conscience.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Caitlin!!!! Well done!!! Thank you, Emma!!! And thank you, DS, for reporting the story!!

Norma Desmond said...

I was SO RELIEVED when I read that yesterday. Of course, I'll be MORE relieved when her name actually comes off the list, but, for now, I'll just be happy the intention is there. Thank God no our Emma.

pebbles said...


Steph said...

I was very pleased to hear this, also.

I mean, if you leave out Maine, it's been a pretty good week. Natalie Portman hinted towards a reconsideration of orientation (the sexy kind), and Kate Winslet had happy times in court-land.

Unknown said...

Thank you Emma and Caitlin. Many more survivors of sexual assault, rape will thank you.

;) babs said...

I was so happy when I read it!

emma thompson really broke my heart when she signed the petition, I just couldn't believe it and was devastated.

I only hope she really does it.

;) babs

dc said...

Bravo Emma. Bravo Shakeville.
This makes me wonder about reaching out to some of our other until-now-icons like Tilda Swinton, Natalie Portman and others.

If anyone has a means of reaching them & would like a petition signed expressing our disappointment & anger at their supporting Polanski's release, I'd sign.

Anonymous said...

"not our Emma"?
Whose Emma?
Um I'm not on your: "let's celebrate every single white woman on Earth train" and in fact I am wondering why in your article that appeared on AfterEllen you hype some obscure secondary blonde haired characacter on the new series "V" instead of promoting the Latina: Elizabeth Morena who is the star of the damn show? Was it because the other actress is white? I see that After Ellen has all of its writers in lock step with der fuhrer Sarah Warn.

Read the complete scathing review at:

Anonymous said...

Makes me love her even more

Anonymous said...

Umm... if you are going to go on a rant about Dorothy Snarkers article on AfterEllen and her adulation for Elizabeth Mitchell on "V" and not for the "latina actress" as you put it, than I would ask that you at least get your facts straight.

First, if you are talking about the "lead" on "V" being the actress that plays the leader of the visitors, Anna, that would be Brazilian born actress Morena Baccarin.
Second there is also costar Lourdes Benedicto (American born and whose parents are Filipino and Dominican/Spanish born).

As for Elizabeth Mitchell, seeing as "After Ellen" is a web site that caters to lesbians and bisexuals, Elizabeth has long been a "lesbian icon" from her appearances opposite Angelina Jolie in "GIA" as well as playing lesbian Dr. Kim Legaspi on "ER".

As far as Dorothy not "promoting the latina"... why is it her job to promote anyone? Dorothy was simply writing an article that contained her opinion...

delurk said...


elle said...

way to go caitlin....awesome!!!!

elle said...

damn! 'anonymous at 11:57 a.m.'---that big fat chip on your shoulder obviously hurts!---sheez!

Making Space said...

I do like to hear news like this. Thanks for sharing.

JanuskieZ said...

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Dee said...

I am glad to read that Emma reconsidered. Polanski had a hard early life, I know. Does that excuse raping a little girl?! I have two adopted children who have been through terrible abuse in early life and in orphanages, and yet they are sweet, good kids. Early childhood trauma should not excuse his or anyone's behavior. A crime is a crime.

Carol said...

Oh, Lord - I didn't even KNOW Emma was on the list until now - when I also learn she's taking it off! I truly adore Emma and I'm just freakin' grateful that I didn't know until now. That would've been a pissed off disappointment I could do without in my life.

Dorothy: Quite seriously. Is there any way of contacting Caitlin to thank her for getting hands-on involved???? She's *my* weekend crush.

And Anon 11:57? Also quite seriously, what are you on? Besides your way off base accusation of racism (Have you read her all her Padma crushings? Any other postings? At all?), Dorothy is pretty consistent on her "product" here. If you don't like, find some other blog that you do. And good luck with that.

Carol said...

Oh, PS - I just realized you have a link to Caitlin's blog. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Hey there,

Thanks for the kind comments. Just to confirm that Emma Thompson has officially rung and requested that her name be removed from the petition now.

Apparently it's going to be in the arts section of The Independent tomorrow (Saturday 7th Nov) if you want to check it out.

Here's hoping we find some way to contact the other celebrities on the petition. If media interest increases on this, I'll do my best to use it to ask others to follow in Emma's footsteps.

Love to all


TechFem50 said...


Great work! I'm relieved Emma is pulling her signature after she reviewed the facts. I'm sure alot of these actors who signed it are not aware and hope they will reconsider their support.

For our Anonymous fan of Morena Baccarin. She is an amazing actor who I've followed since Firefly with Joss Whedon. I'm sure you'll find Ms. Snarker is an equal opportunity lesbian. Cote de Pablo, Sarah Shahi and Sara Ramirez have graced her blog a number of times. These aren't the only latina women.


Becky said...

That's fantastic! I was saddened when I read she signed it. Good for her for having a conscience and once again proving her good judgment.

Kudos to Caitlin for bringing this up!

Anonymous said...

Emma Thompson has proven herself to be a very superficial crowd pleaser. If she was not aware of the "facts" why did she sign the Polanski petition in the first place and exactly what "facts" caused her to flip flop. Did she bother to find out why others like Natalie Portman signed the petition or do their "facts" not matter also? One does not have to look very deep to realize that Geimer's testimony and Polanski's plea may both be false. The "facts" are that without a trial one cannot conclude what the truth is as it lies somewhere between Polanski knew Geimer was 13 and persisted in the assault despite her saying no or Polanski thought Geimer was much older and Geimer was "willing". We have several contradictory pieces of evidence.
1. Geimers testimony claiming that she said no.
2. The probation report claiming that there is evidence that Geimer was “willing”.
3. Polanski’s plea bargain claiming he knew Geimer was 13.
4. Polanski’s autobiography claiming he did not know Geimer was 13.
5. Three witnesses testified that Geimer could have passed for around 18.
6. Geimer states she thinks Polanski knew her age but apparently did not tell Polanski her age.
7. Geimer later stated that although she said no, she was not raped.
8. Geimer intended not to ever report the incident.
9. Geimer’s mother who reported the incident did not show up at her daughter’s testimony.
10. Geimer apparently pushed for the plea bargain whereas Polanski had to be convinced.
The "facts" are that in its current state of murky ambiguity the Polanski case is a very poor one with which to make a point about rape cases because we really do not know the "facts" of what actually happened. We cannot even conclude that beyond a reasonable doubt that any crime took place since an affirmative defence to “unlawful intercourse” was that the accused did not know the victim’s age.