IF THE MOOD DOES NOT FIT, YOU MUST ACQUIT
A woman has accused Woody Allen of having “sexually assaulted” her when she was seven years old, twenty-one years ago.
Naturally, the queen of populist confusion, Oprah Winfrey, jumped on the bandwagon of indignation, now that her co-jet setter Obama has given her the “Medal of Freedom”. She howled all over that “child molesters are child rapists”. If so, then rape is just molestation, and soon murder will be confused with spanking.
I knew this gory story not, I hate people abusing children, & don’t particularly love Mr. Allen’s movies (I have seen none for years).
However there was a problem we meet all the time: are there more sophisticated ways of telling lies from truth? How can we stay one mental analysis ahead of liars, and detect them?
It’s easy enough when plutocrat Pelosi comes around and disingenuously rises her plastic surgery eyebrows to the sky, looking like a fish out of the water, affecting stupefaction: ”We should have done single-payer!”, she croaks, blatantly lying about Obamacare, aka Pelosicare.
Lying is to be suspected when people claim having endured traumatic facts, yet, the mood they exhibit, through facial expression, body language, or expressed facts or emotions, do not reflect trauma, but a completely different mood (say vengeance, or flippancy). This is the case with Mr. Allen’s accuser: strong moods are in evidence, which are not coherent with the alleged facts.
I found stories of alleged sex abuse interesting as an occasion of trying to find out if one could distinguish patterns of veracity or falsehood, be it from the Vatican, or Dylan Farrow. Her letter was in the New York Times. Let’s quote:
(A note from Nicholas Kristof: In 1993, accusations that Woody Allen had abused his adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow, filled the headlines, part of a sensational story about the celebrity split between Allen and his girlfriend, Mia Farrow. This is a case that has been written about endlessly, but this is the first time that Dylan Farrow herself has written about it in public.
It’s important to note that Woody Allen was never prosecuted in this case and has consistently denied wrongdoing; he deserves the presumption of innocence. So why publish an account of an old case on my blog? Partly because the Golden Globe lifetime achievement award to Allen ignited a debate about the propriety of the award. Partly because the root issue here isn’t celebrity but sex abuse. And partly because countless people on all sides have written passionately about these events, but we haven’t fully heard from the young woman who was at the heart of them. I’ve written a column about this, but it’s time for the world to hear Dylan’s story in her own words.)
(BTW, assaulting children is not just “sex abuse”) .
Dylan’s story hinges around a vague, but grave, accusation: “Woody Allen sexually assaulted me“. That’s vague in light of the fact that she gives plenty of much more innocuous specifics, including accusing him to have put a “thumb” in her mouth. She is specific for her mouth, but nebulous for the much graver “sexual assault“. Why that discrepancy?
She indulges in elaborate descriptions of the non legally prosecutable: “I didn’t like how often he would take me away from my mom, siblings and friends to be alone with him. I didn’t like it when I had to get in bed with him under the sheets when he was in his underwear. So imagine your seven-year-old daughter being led into an attic by Woody Allen.”
with the flippant. Dylan starts her letter with: “What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set.“. Lots of irrelevant, innocuous details here, whereas the accusation of abuse takes just two words: ”sexually assaulted”.
It’s weird: I was assaulted, with potentially lethal force, more than three times, and I don’t like to talk about it, but if I volunteered accusations, I would have details. One does not forget them, these things happen in slow, dramatic motion, before and after blacking out.
Details are central to clean journalism. Kristof, one of the NYT’s top reporters, ought to be specific: lay it out, or shut up, because it’s just vicious gossip otherwise.
Later on we learn in “Dylan’s” story that “Woody Allen” is her “father“. Although he is also called a “predator”..
The alleged victim comes back twice on the necessity of mixing movie preferences and a totally unrelated thing, liking a movie director. Thus, by this blatant mix-up, she flaunts her worship for highly emotional confusion. Con-fused. She is fusing together completely unrelated subjects, because of a passion she has.
There was once a young and bright mathematician named Oswald Teichmüller. A fanatical Nazi, he died on the Eastern Front. However, if someone told me that my preferred Teichmüller space is of import in a discussion of Teichmüller’s Nazism, I would think that person is deranged.
In the letter published by Kristof she claims that: ”I didn’t know that my father would use his sexual relationship with my sister to cover up the abuse he inflicted on me.” If that sounds bizarre it’s because it is: Mia Farrow had also adopted a child with Andre’ Previn whom Mr. Allen later married (not Previn, but the child). (Also Mr. Allen’s child with Farrow looks like Frank Sinatra. with whom Farrow kept having a relationship, although it was officially ended. while being, more or less, with Allen.)
I would gather from this the modus operandi that inhabits the alleged victim of Mr. Allen: she confuses for all to see fact & fiction, the vague and the grave, with passion all over, associating Mr. Allen to a number of contradictory concepts.
So, just from this letter, I guess her accusations are lies. This is very different from the situation in the Catholic Church, where systematic abuse of children has been systematically decriminalized, as just charged by the United Nations.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child urged the so called Holy See to “immediately remove all known and suspected child sexual abusers. The committee is gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators,”
The Holy See is the Holy No See, the oldest pedophobic, misogynistic organization in the world. except, of course, when it was managed by the Borgias (when women were definitively loved, as the Pope fathered more than 100 children). The Vatican tells us it celebrates god, but then it despises woman, we know it is lying (as woman is obviously one of god’s crucial creatures).
The point is that the mood of the Catholic Church, avoiding women as if they had the plague, and being outrageously familiar with children as if it had fathered every single one of them (“my child. my son,” etc.) is conducive to exactly what it has been doing for 2,000 years: tending to make children into symbols who are all too loved.
Traditionally, when emulators of Sherlock Holmes try to find the truth, they search for revealing contradictions between facts. I suggest to detect lies with a more general method:finding contradiction between what is expressed and the moods that should underlay them. This is especially important with system of thoughts.
A recent example is found in SOTU 2014. Obama pontificated that “ordinary” people had nothing to fear from his secret services. Nice idea. However, this reflects a mood that distinguishes between “ordinary” and non-”ordinary” people. In other words, a mood of spying on all people, be it only to find who is ordinary, and who is not. His underlying mood was not coherent with his statement.
Moods have to fit the facts. When there is a discrepancy between alleged facts and moods, one has to suspect lying.