“how the hell did it get here so soon?/I don't wanna grow up”
Batsman T.A. Frayed acknowledges his brilliant 50 to the crowd at Lords
On 24 December I will celebrate, slit my wrists mark 50 years on our rapidly disintegrating planet.
I started this five-decade-long journey in Nairobi, Kenya, in the middle of the Mau Mau rebellion. Who knows what kind of rebellion will be taking place in the Philippines as I celebrate my fiftieth in the White Horse Tavern (Dylan Thomas’s favourite Greenwich Village bar) and the Village Vanguard (the jazz joint where Bill Evans recorded our most loved jazz record, Sunday at the Village Vanguard). By a happy coincidence, 24 December 2006 is also a Sunday and the Village Vanguard is hosting a residency by the 72-year-old Cedar Walton, one of the last surviving bebop pianists. Sounds like a pretty good plan to me.
Alternatively, I may just buy a tiny guitar, muss up my hair, go under the table, and pretend I’m Tom Waits. Because the video below is exactly how I feel, I tells ya.
Anyway, if I bumped into you anywhere along this long road, either here or in the so-called real world, thanks for keeping me company for some of the way. Bless you all … well, nearly all of you anyway! Take it away Tom ...
Video directed by Jim Jarmusch (longer version can be found here). Thanks for the song Butch.
Perhaps unwisely, I can’t resist tiptoeing around the jagged rocks of the verdict in the Subic rape case.
First off, I was very surprised by the guilty verdict for Lance Corporal Daniel Smith as I thought the judge would do the politically expedient thing and acquit.
I also thought there were strong similarities between the events in Subic and those raised by the movie “The Accused”.
In both the question of the victim’s own complicity in the rape was raised. In the movie, the audience was asked to decide whether, by dressing and behaving provocatively, the Jodie Foster character was “asking for it”. The film made the case very persuasively that wearing a short skirt should never be interpreted as an invitation to commit an act of violence.
Similar questions were raised in the Subic case. What was this young woman from an army camp in Zamboanga doing in a Subic bar frequented by US servicemen? Given the long and well-known links between the US military and the Philippine sex trade, what did she expect to happen when she got drunk in the bar? These are the sort of questions that the judge would have had to examine in reaching his verdict on whether the sex between Daniel Smith and “Nicole” was consensual.
Another similarity between “The Accused” and the Subic rape was the presence of a male audience during the sex. As I recall the movie, the rape took place on a pool table before a slavering mob of cheering drinkers. In the Subic case, Smith and Nicole had sex in the back of a van while the marine’s three companions were reported to have shouted “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”
I don’t know about you, but these applauding drunks make an already sordid act seem even more gross and brutish. I was actually a bit surprised that the other three soldiers in the Subic case got off scot-free, especially on the grounds that, although shouted obscenities were heard from the van during the rape, “there was no sufficient proof of who uttered those words”. Huh? Who else would have “uttered those words”, the driver? And weren’t the soldiers at the very least present during a serious crime that they did nothing to stop, and in fact seem to have encouraged?
As in all such cases, the Subic trial hinged on the extent to which the sex was consensual. The case got me thinking about how most couples decide to sleep together the first night. In some cases I suppose the decision is a verbal one, but in many it just “happens”—a look, a touch, and off the couple go with very few or no words spoken. So if there were no words spoken, how can you prove there was consent? Of course if you were one of the parties, you would know, but proving it to a third party might not be easy, especially in a court-room.
Just to complicate matters further, the sex between Daniel Smith and Nicole took place under the influence of considerable amounts of alcohol, as is common in both consensual and nonconsensual sex. In fact the drunkenness of Nicole was an important plank in Judge Pozon’s strongly worded ruling.
[Smith] admitted having sexual intercourse with the complainant, who he knew was intoxicated and rendered unconscious by the accumulated effects of the different alcoholic drinks she had previously taken in succession at the time of the felony. Thus, she could not have consented to the bestial acts of the said accused.
However, and to show just how tricky this whole area is, in a similar recent case in the UK, the judge reached exactly the opposite conclusion, arguing that the extreme drunkenness of the woman in question meant that he could not be convinced that she had not consented to sex and therefore he could not convict the accused.
Finally, although civil society groups in the Philippines do great work, I wasn’t too keen on the protests bordering on intimidation that took place inside and outside the courthouse. I find it hard to believe that many of the protestors had actually weighed the rights and wrongs of this particular case—certainly, the language of the protests implied that once the demonstrators knew the accused was an American soldier and the complainant a Filipina their minds were made up.
It is impossible to entirely divorce this case from all the historical and cultural baggage that surrounds it of course, but this was a young woman seeking justice and a young man facing the possibility of spending most of his life in jail. They both deserved a rational and dispassionate appraisal of the facts of the case. Although I am sure that that is what Judge Pozon delivered, I could have done without all the grandstanding and shouting from militant groups.
Women, most especially, should be taught that "womanhood is precious and noble so it is not right for them to be flaunting it around," Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan said Tuesday.
"They should not make themselves appear cheap and practically inviting to be violated by men," he said the day after a Makati judge sentenced Lance Corporal Daniel Smith to up to 40 years in prison after finding him guilty "beyond reasonable doubt" of raping an intoxicated Filipino woman identified in the media only as "Nicole."