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From the Pages of The Nation: “What It Means to Defend Woody Allen”

We know that most false claims of child sex abuse occur in child custody disputes in which a child is coached by one of the litigants. 

We know that a seven year-old child can be coached into imagining and believing events have occurred when in fact they have not. 

We know that Mia Farrow and Woody Allen parted after Farrow discovered the ongoing sexual relationship between Allen and Soon-Yi Previn, Farrow’s adopted daughter (with ex-husband André Previn). 

We know Soon-Yi Previn was nineteen to twenty-one years old when Allen started seeing her, and that they eventually began a twenty-plus year marital relationship. (And there are significant differences between a seven year-old girl and a twenty-one year-old woman.) 

We know that in August of 1992, Allen sued for full custody of his three children with Farrow, claiming that Farrow had concocted the story of Allen’s sexual abuse of his daughter Dylan. 

We know that Dylan and Mia Farrow’s accusations of sexual abuse against Woody Allen were thoroughly investigated by child welfare and law enforcement officials at the time, and no credible evidence of abuse was found. 

We know that the testimony of the psychologists, medical examiners, babysitters, and family friends involved in the case is either inconclusive or exculpates Allen. 

We know, too, that Allen’s former girlfriend Stacey Nelkin defends him, refuting both the accusations of child abuse and the more obtuse allegations that Allen habitually acted as though he wished to seduce his daughter. 

We know that there are many false claims and distortions being made in the media and by the public about all of these events. 

We know many of those in the media and the public are turning this case into an emotion-fueled, irrational public execution. I say “irrational” because most of the facts now being presented in the media are inaccurate. Some are claiming, for instance, that Allen and Farrow were married; in fact, they were never married. Those making such claims, or similarly inaccurate ones, should check up on the background of the events now being discussed before commenting here and making misleading claims. (So please post reliable and verifiable links to any claims you choose to make in this space, not mere hearsay or other self-serving comments made by Mia, Dylan, or Ronan Farrow. And remember that probable cause for conducting an investigation or trial does not determine guilt, no matter what the raging horde claims.)

Notably, Dylan’s brother Moses is one of Allen’s foremost defenders, saying in a recent interview, “Of course Woody didn’t molest my sister.” It’s also worth noting that Allen passed a polygraph test relating to the allegations made against him, even as one of his accusers, Mia Farrow, has refused to take one.

All the facts I’ve stated above are true, even as much of what passes for discussion of the allegations against Allen comprises rank falsehoods. If you wish to understand the facts of this story, and excuse yourself from the media execution of Woody Allen, you can find salient facts here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/01/27/the-woody-allen-allegations-not-so-fast.html.

     –C.M. Rosko/The Nation

Posted 02/05/14
Statement of Concept: It's increasingly difficult to distinguish between the opinion pieces posted on major media outlets (like The Nation and Salon) and the comment-field remarks made by those who follow these outlets but are not sanctioned by them. A new opinion piece from one of the hundreds of untrained bloggers major media outlets have permitted to use their imprimatur, filled as it likely is (if past is precedent) with misquotes, misrepresentations, misstatements, misapprehensions, and other forms of misleading rhetoric, is distinguished from the comments made upon it only by the fact that the former is edited (thus, vulgarities and other overtly offensive material have been removed or left out in the first instance) and it bears an implicit stamp of approval from a major U.S. institution. These distinctions are insufficient for us to privilege one opinion source over another, unless we wish to lionize institutions as such and praise mere decorum to the detriment of honest journalism. I have no opinion on the Woody Allen brouhaha now in the news, but I also, as someone who blogs for a major media outlet myself and therefore knows how fallible we bloggers can be, don't see much daylight between the speciousness of opinion pieces on The Nation or Salon and the speciousness of most of the comments on those sites. If comment-fields are filled with bigots and bullies, which they are, they're also (at times) filled with individuals more willing than are media organizations' sanctioned bloggers to state the facts of a case in a way designed to provoke reasoned debate rather than provoke site traffic. With all this in mind, this conceptual poem aggregates the comments of a "C.M. Rosko" on Jessica Valenti's recent opinion piece for The Nation, "Choosing Comfort Over Truth: What It Means to Defend Woody Allen" (http://www.thenation.com/blog/178203/choosing-comfort-over-truth-what-it-means-defend-woody-allen) and posits this content (edited by the author in the same way The Nation might edit a newly submitted opinion piece) as being every bit as much "from the pages of The Nation"--and, importantly, every bit as likely or unlikely to be true--as is Valenti's piece. This poem is not a statement in support of, or opposition to, any position in the current debate over Woody Allen's past conduct, nor does it vouch for any of the facts presented by Rosko (no more than The Nation does for facts presented by Valenti); instead, it is a statement in opposition to sharing and retweeting opinion pieces as though they were news, and in opposition to media outlets publishing this content in the first instance without adhering to basic standards of journalism (e.g., not permitting misrepresentations of other articles to appear in opinion pieces, nor unsourced statements of fact, et cetera).
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