Exonerating the Friedmans
November 26, 2012 5:27 AM   Subscribe

At the time of the release of the documentary "Capturing the Friedmans," filmmaker Andrew Jarecki was criticized by some for not clearly advocating for the release of Jesse Friedman. However, eight years later, Jarecki is still working on assembling interviews and footage of victims recanting their testimony in an effort to overturn Friedman’s 1989 Great Neck molestation conviction.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates (15 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The original documentary began as a a day in the life piece on the older brother, who had a successful party clown business in the city. Nobody in their right mind would dare to bring up even a proximal involvement with a child abuse case if they didn't want to see their extremely child-centered business evaporate in an instant.

Years after seeing this, it still doesn't make sense.
posted by dr_dank at 6:13 AM on November 26, 2012

I'm getting a virus warning on the "However, eight years later" link.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:01 AM on November 26, 2012

Hmmmm, don't know why that would be. Here is another article that covers the same territory - actually, it's even more in-depth than the other article.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:16 AM on November 26, 2012

When I saw this story, I found myself thinking of this MeFi OPP earlier. The Friedman conviction was very much part of the same panic, except that this witch-hunt coincidentally turned up an actual witch. Not that the Friedman's father actually did any of the things he was convicted for---the story is so physically ridiculous it's a wonder the judge didn't laugh it out of court--- but he was one of the few people convicted in that wave who really did have some pedophiliac tendencies.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:06 AM on November 26, 2012

Every time this documentary comes up, I feel the need to point out that while Friedman probably didn't molest anyone, he admitted to pedophiliac tendencies and, more importantly, to purchasing and owning child pornography. Which is hardly a victimless crime.

I have felt the need to point that out ever since I watched this documentary in college and watched somehow an entire class of presumably rational mostly-adults turn into a bitch session about how unfair the entire situation was and how police and communities are so quick to engage in witch hunts, isn't it a tragedy. I believe, to this day, that it occurred because we were shown the video in the context of a larger class discussion on unjust persecution in the criminal justice system, and they firmly believed that the professor wanted them to come away from the documentary bemoaning the injustice of a system too quick to settle on a villain, when in fact the story is rather more complex than that.

In sum: Milgram is alive and well and dwells wheresoever it pleases
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 8:55 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

The article is not about that Friedman.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:01 AM on November 26, 2012

There's another Friedman who was imprisoned for molestation charges and had a documentary made about him that was enabled in large part by his own hobby of filming his family?
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 9:13 AM on November 26, 2012

Yes. His son. You might want to read the articles. They are very interesting.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:14 AM on November 26, 2012 [6 favorites]

This is not really related to anything, but I feel I might be the only person who is aware that Arnold Friedman worked on some Home Computer instructional LP from the 80s. I randomly discovered it while looking through my record collection.

Just wanted to share that info.
posted by cloeburner at 11:08 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Play that record backwards for any hidden messages, cloeburner. You might be holding an 80's artifact linking both pedophile and satanic panics.
posted by dr_dank at 11:30 AM on November 26, 2012

Interesting that someone who has "some pedophiliac tendencies" gets described as "an actual witch." Apparently the hysteria that led to the persecution of Jesse Friedman is still out there, waiting for the next witch hunt to begin.
posted by layceepee at 11:39 AM on November 26, 2012

It's an unfair world where Jesse is in jail while Thomas Friedman runs free, ruining so many more lives.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:48 AM on November 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

Jesse is not in jail. (I know you're joking, but still.)
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:53 AM on November 26, 2012

someone who has "some pedophiliac tendencies"

IIRC he admitted to molesting two young boys, but years earlier. I found the film very confusing because of this point and the general tone which made the accuser(s) seem credible.
posted by cell divide at 11:57 AM on November 26, 2012

isn't it a tragedy

Wasn't it, though? Notwithstanding Friedman pater's proven crimes - there's certainly a case to be made that he and his son were jailed on the basis of very flimsy evidence for crimes they didn't actually commit. I mean far out, if that's not a tragedy - people being jailed for crimes they didn't commit - what the freak is? Or do you think we should just lock up and throw away the key for any crime at all connected with children?

I find the, hmmm, scapegoating is not the right word and nor is hysteria, the discourse around child sex abuse and western society's attempts to, draw a line around pedophiles as somehow outside society, a unique and not-understandable evil quite self-serving - and ultimately in a lot of ways reinforcing a culture of denial and silence around child sexual abuse.

Most kids are abused by people who are well known to the family, mostly by relatives, I believe. But when all society throws up is dark, Manson-like cyphers, it's very difficult to reconcile that with the more complex realities of abuse and abusers - something the documentary did very well in explicating I thought. This leaves people in denial about the actual profiles of child abusers, and concomitantly actual child abuse.

This is not to argue on the side of "anyone could be an abuser!" hysteria - I am a man, and was a childcarer for five years, I know all about that (though I think it exists more as a thing people rail against than an actual thing in the world, at least in my experience).
posted by smoke at 3:28 PM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

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