S1: The following podcast contains explicit materials.

S2: It’s Wednesday March 6th 2019 from Slate it’s the gist I’m Mike Pesca and now is when the Democrats should be passing H R one the bill H R one this bill would require 35 states with voter I.D. laws to allow would be voters to vote if they can provide a sworn written statement affirming their identity.

S3: It will create automatic voter registration it will require transparency for presidential inaugural committees. It will require paper ballot trails. It will push back on haphazard voting purges and a lot of other things a lot of necessary corrective as to the abuses of democracy that have gone on for partisan gain. And yet what is the Democratic caucus grappling with. You know what.

S4: But again we were looking for Illinois Omar there because that is a real distraction for Democrats right now from all of this other things they really need to be united right now.

S3: Yep now Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey was quoted in The Washington Post asking why are we doing this quote. We’ve individually and collectively already responded to the fact that we oppose all isms that do not treat people in this country fairly and justly to continue to engage in this discussion is an opportunity to give both the media and Republicans distractions from our agenda. We’ve got important work to do. Yup. So we heard from the media that was Casey hunt on MSNBC. Here now is Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin from New York. Happens to be the only Jewish Republican in Congress.

S5: And now they’re going to use tactics of distraction and diversion to talk about other topics other than anti-Semitism.

S3: I don’t know if it’s right for the Democrats to chastise strongly chastise censure use the term anti-Semitism or not. I don’t know how much if not most of the blame falls on Representative Omar herself who does seem more intent on criticizing Israel pretty and cautiously than in helping her own caucus achieve its goals. What I do know is this. It is terrible politics and it is a shameful distraction from H.R. 1. And if you want to know why I am an Obama cyst which is during the before times what we used to call centrists or moderates it’s not because of any beliefs I have about how we frame the discussion of Israel. It is because of my certainty that this going on right now is a self-indulgent distraction from American election law an issue where the Congress actually does have the power and responsibility to change things. I’m going to keep it short because I might say that and I said it’s a sickly. I also have a long spiel today it’s about Michael Jackson and truth and arguments that come in bad packages. But first Layla Sleiman she is the author of the perfect nanny which got inside the head of a flawed protagonist in the way that so many great novels do. Her latest not available in English until now is titled Adele which is also about a woman who society has distain for but whose alimony has great interest in so we get inside the head of this acclaimed novelist.

S6: Leila money is the author of the perfect nanny which was a literary sensation of a couple years back and the basic premise of that book was to take a character who from the outside is a monster is irredeemable and not to redeem her but to go deep into and to analyze and to spend some time in her head. The same thing is done with a very different kind of character. A character named Adele who is the title of this new novel by Layla Simone who’s here. Hello. Thank you for coming in. Oh thank you. So we were just talking a second ago.

S7: You are a Franco phone. You write in French and it gets translated to English. So what does that process do they just give you the final version and have you go through it as if you are the editor how does track how does translating work for you actually centered.

S8: He translator translated the perfect nanny and Adele and so he sent me some emails asking me questions about a word about sensation and atmosphere. I want to describe or to convey and actually I think that he understands me very well and there is something between he and I even if I have never met him but something very intimate and very rare that is difficult to describe. But the funny thing is that for our dad he sent me an email asking me about how to describe the genitals up to the different characters because you know in French you can describe the genitals by one word is the world’s sex loose sex of a man and the sex. And in English it’s not possible so we had to be more specific and to use different worlds and it was very funny to choose the words together.

S6: So we should say that Adele is I think an outsider would say a sex addict though as the author you don’t quite make that pronouncement and I don’t know that she ever says that but certainly her husband thinks that that’s the case. So we have to write about these things. Do you know if the English terms the vulgar English terms for the genitals carry the same connotation as the French terms and the reason I ask is in England you can say of her his vulgar term for a woman’s genitals that men call each other all the time and it’s one of the worst things you could say here and a TV presenter if they say that they have to apologize. So I’m worried I’m wondering if it carries the same baggage and stigma in French and English some of these terms.

S9: No I don’t think so I think that in France it’s it’s very different. And actually when you use this word in France it’s me. It means that you are lucky if you have this thing that I won’t say in French if you feel free no government regulation. So if you say I value the shots it means that you are very lucky. So it’s positive world.

S10: So the French now also here’s just another maybe perhaps lost in translation at one point she gets a croissant I think from the the worst bakery near her office.

S11: Would that be the best bakery near my office. No no no it’s too bad it’s still there. Have you been to that Grassley is it bad. GROSS Have you been to all bombed Pan. No. You know what that is. No but it is the McDonald’s of course OK. Oh my God no.

S10: And the name book but it’s very often very trivial I don’t like that there is a part in in where the husband talks to the wife and corrects her language about a word that happens twice what I didn’t pick up on that what was that.

S9: Yeah that’s in a certain way he wants to control his wife and he wants to educate her because she’s like a child she doesn’t belong to the same social class. So she’s like a little child and he has to make her education right.

S10: So she has and you know she betrays the marriage vows maybe hundreds of times over and she does she’s very masochistic. I think we would say if we’re putting labels on it and he’s not perfect but I think by the definition of what you know society says how they want the husband to act he acts like that and how they want the wife to act.

S1: She acts in almost exactly the opposite way.

S9: But to what extent are you blaming the husband I guess is the question I’m blaming No I know that’s not my job to blame anyone as a writer I tried just to understand people to save them to feel empathy for them. I’m not here to blame them or to judge them. And I think that’s probably why I love literature and I love to read because it’s a time and a space where you can stop judging. Yeah because in real life you’re always judging these people and putting them in a box. His good his bad his like this is like that. And when you read a book you figure it out that it’s more complex and that people are more complex than those books as we’re putting them on.

S10: Well did you write specifically about literature and I think it used to be true of the arts but now especially when some piece of art reaches a critical mass. Manjoo the critics come out saying that this literary character did not act in the right way or a way we would like them to reflect. But I do think novels still are a niche where mostly you can get away with portraying perhaps a terrible person who would think of his terrible not acting in the right ways. But the artist and the creator don’t have to apologize for it.

S8: Exactly and you know a great friend of mine is a lawyer and she was a lawyer of a very famous serial killer in France and she was the first female lawyer to defend serial killer and she was very criticized because of that. And she told me you know I’m not going to do on court and saying that he’s not guilty because he is but I want to tell his story because even monsters have a story and I never forgot this sentence. And I think that she’s right. Even monsters have a story and we have to admit and to accept the fact that even monsters are human beings and that they are like us they share something with us.

S10: And as a writer highlight to to find this humanity in everyone did this character was it inspired by a news event or just the phenomenon of the sex addict the woman who will pursue this at any cost now but just after the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair.

S9: A lot of French news spoon newspaper wrote articles about sex addiction right saying that Dominique Strauss-Kahn was a sex addict and that it was a pathology and it was a disease.

S8: And so I was very intrigued by this. This is disease and I interviewed some psychiatrist asking them is there something like sex addiction is it possible to be addicted to sex like you are addicted to drugs or to alcohol and naturally it is it does exist. And so I decided to write a book about a woman who would be a sex addict.

S10: So when you first heard about DSK did you think as most people did. Well this is just a legal excuse to save him from culpability. They’re trotting this out to cleanse his image in the public eye to pathologies it and say it’s not his fault.

S9: Yeah probably. I think that it was used as a justification maybe because not only as a justification. Maybe it was the that people didn’t understand his life and didn’t understand how it was possible that someone who has so much powers much work who was at the head of one of the most important organization of the world was at the same time a Predator and having sex with so many women and going to hotels very nasty hotels and Neil. And so I think that sometimes when you don’t understand you want to put a label on people so it’s easier to to say okay. He’s like that he’s a sex addict so it’s just maybe the fact that we didn’t understand him.

S10: But you know I remember when he tried to justify it. The word he used was libertine. I don’t know if that’s translates directly but I Thanks Sarah. And it seemed to me that he was trying an elevated version of explaining his behavior I am part of this tradition that goes back to you know Don Juan or Casanova or whoever that was in flying. The public didn’t really buy that. And so now the more since we’ve become so pathologies as a culture or cultures that the sex addict came out and I think that somehow because when you claim some things in addiction and forward thinking people are supposed to have different opinions about addiction than they do moral failings I think that goes further than just the excuse oh I’m a libertine.

S9: Yeah but I think that there is a difference between the best not and the fact that you can have a lot and lot of of affairs of sexual intercourse and I have no problem with that people do what they want with their their body and the fact that you lose the ability and freedom to say no that you become the slave of your own sexuality you’re not in control of your body and of sexuality so it’s not Lee Betty Nash anymore right. Because it becomes addiction like addiction to drugs or addiction to alcohol because you lose this freedom to say no it’s exact.

S10: It’s very much like addiction. The difference between an inner file and a an alcohol. Yeah. Yeah. Now with DSK though male and with most other kinds of addiction you could be a gambling addict male and female probably similar paths you could be a shopaholic male or female. And of course an alcoholic with sex addiction it’s very different. And it’s interesting to me that you were thinking about it in the DSK story but your protagonist is a woman.

S9: Yeah. For a woman it’s very different for a man you would say that he’s as you said a role and his kinky Sardar he’s going to he needs dad because a man he needs to to have sex and his desire is so so powerful so he needs really to. In French research. Exactly. It is soon to get. That’s outside of him. For a woman it’s very different. She’s a slut she’s a parish he’s marginalized a woman who wants to have sex all the time. She has a problem. Yeah she’s not a good woman. She can’t be a mother. She can’t be a sister she can be a wife if she’s like that. There is something going wrong with her. She’s she’s not in her in her role in the social role we are giving her so that’s what was very interesting for me and this well nymphomaniac nymphomaniac means that you’re you’re crazy that you you can’t control yourself and when you speak of women you say control your women behave. Control yourself and that is incapable of controlling herself.

S10: I hear you and I’ve long heard this argument that when a man has multiple partners he’s a stud he’s a con keeps the door in a woman’s slot and that has changed. And yet I do think that the professionals would say. And your book portrays that the toll it takes upon a woman is actually fundamentally different and there is a masochistic element to it with a woman. The man could be hurting himself especially if he’s making choices about his money and his time. But there is a masochistic like bodily herding element to a woman who has a sex addiction that’s very much present your book it was it seemed to me very much an area you wanted to explore and I don’t think you necessarily get that when you talk about a male sex addict.

S9: Yeah I think that you’re right. That’s true. And she wants to feel something. Yes. She just wants to feel. And when I was writing the book one day my publisher said you know she wants to feel so much and she wants so much to experience something that she will of course experience violence and she will ask someone to hurt her because when you feel nothing with your body when you can’t have an orgasm when when you feel nothing at the end you you ask for violence because you want to know how far you can you can go.

S6: Yeah. So this is a character who acts on her fantasies I guess but they’re not fulfilling fantasies and many of them include some form of what we’d call violence against her and yet several times she expresses a fear of being raped in the real world. Why why why does she have that fear other than the fact it’s a natural fear. But why do you put it in the book and pointed out so often given the juxtaposition which how with how she acts.

S9: Yeah I wanted to show the paradox between the fact that she’s very scared of the streets of being alone of men that she met on an industry men that she doesn’t know and the fact that she acts in a very dangerous way and that she puts herself in danger. And sometimes it’s a you can act in a way that is very bad. Sadly that is a paradox you don’t do things that are rational. I hated the idea when people say but I don’t understand. There is a contradiction between what she says and what she does. Yes but we all have a command. Yeah we all have so many contradictions and as a writer it’s very interesting not to try to build gags elsewhere like caricatures and because everything is so clear and so obvious. No I want to to put a light on this contradiction because that’s what makes her so human I think now we are having the meteor movement here in the United States.

S6: I know France has a version of this I know this from the New York Times reporting so maybe I’m just getting it through a filter and I don’t really know. But has this book and what is the what is the French version and abridged by last pull. Yeah Brigitte Bardot said some crazy things she always does. That’s her brother. She’d be a good character. There you go on aging and not just someone like her full of hatred and stupidity loving animal just likes animal people. That makes her a good person. And like the animals would care. But has this book been sucked up into that discussion at all even used in ways that maybe you didn’t like.

S9: No. Because you know actually the book went out in France in 2014 so it’s right. Long before the meta movement better of course as sometimes I ask myself what would it be today. How would people react today. And it’s exactly like the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair. I think that today after the meta movement we would react in a very different way to this to this affair because when you think about it no one in France didn’t really have some many attention to the victim. No one told you about Nafissatou Diallo. She was just OK. She was the victim of a rape but everyone was just about Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the sex addiction and who he was and everything but no one really cared about this this woman. And I think that probably today it would be different.

S6: Yeah yeah. I mean they investigated the woman she was the she was a maid in the hotel. Yeah. Right and they went to her village in Africa and it was almost like doing background and tries to facilitate there was a plot or right now that you mention it. Oh my gosh. Later Leslie money is the author of Now available in English. Adele a novel. Quite a thing. Thank you for coming in.

S12: Thank you.

S3: And now the spiel. But now you may have had the chance to watch both parts of the documentary leaving Neverland about the predations of the most successful solo recording artist of all time. And a lot of thoughts about the techniques used and the focus of the documentary and issues of narration and power. But one of my thoughts never was. I wonder if he really did it because I don’t know that Michael Jackson did it. I just know that the testimony of the two men then boys plus a massive amount of supporting evidence suggests Michael Jackson molested children specifically these two when they were children. It’s also true that every bit of evidence that is in any way ambiguous to me is easily explained without a big logical leap. These men whose names are safe Chuck and Robson I think they are telling the truth. I think that’s all over their faces. I think it’s in the words I think it’s in the details. I think it’s in the supporting evidence. I think it’s all in keeping with what we know about child molestation and abuse and the legal system. Now the three areas of defense are let’s give them credence. A There are many young men Michael Jackson didn’t molest OK like me and you unless you’re one of the ones that he did B that Wade Robson testified under oath that Michael Jackson didn’t molest him. The question then is was he lying then or is he lying now. The answer is he was lying then. Let us move on to say that Robson and safe Chuck are after the money. I’m not saying they’re not. When I interviewed the director Dan Reid he didn’t say they weren’t because victims of horrific abuse are entitled to compensation from their abusers. The wrongly convicted are entitled to money from the state users of defective products get money from companies and people discriminated against in the workplace get money from their employers or would be employers by the way the main purveyors of this argument that safe Chuck and Rob center in it for the money are the lawyers for the Michael Jackson estate. Now estate is a fancy word for Michael Jackson’s big pile of money and we all know that the lawyer’s motivation is that they’re in it in order to protect the huge pile of money. Now that fact itself by itself doesn’t discredit the lawyer’s arguments or the executive’s arguments. But we know that we accept it and we should price it in as it were. So if we believe the lawyer’s arguments then we are believing the argument of people being paid to argue the fact that you can’t believe the arguments of people who are in it for the pay. Let’s start with that one so as I said the main purveyors of the Michael Jackson did Intuit line are the lawyers. Well maybe in the upscale precincts of media where I like to dwell but in fact for every white shrewd lawyer shooing away the suggestion that Michael Jackson was a monster. There are tens hundreds of thousands of online enthusiasts eager to defend their idea of a hero in some cases. These people are related to the Jackson family like tag Jackson son of Tito.

S13: Here’s the thing Wade Robson was the first defense witness on the stand. You then my uncle molested him for seven years. Put him on the stand as his first witness. I mean that’s the dumbest thing you could possibly do in front of all those sheriffs and all those people.

S3: I’d say the dumbest thing for a non child molester who was cleared of rape at trial is to continue sleeping in bed with little boys. Here is Tage Jackson on Sky News.

S14: I can tell you I’ve I’ve been around people where I’ve just gotten that energy and it’s like it’s an energy that you’re like. That’s a bad person. I’ll stay away from them and I think if I ever felt that way about my uncle just one hint of it I wouldn’t be here defending him I wouldn’t.

S3: Not a hint. Now I have no reason to believe that Taj Jackson’s motives are anything but sincere sincerely believing that his dead uncle is innocent. But it must be said to the extent that his father Tito or him. He is a recording artist too. To the extent that they have a public interest in their careers it is certainly due to their association with Michael Jackson with beloved musical superstar Michael Jackson.

S7: Once that association becomes with reviled child molester Michael Jackson their earning potential will plummet too. It doesn’t disqualify them from making an argument but it informs the argument just as they say Robson supposed financial motivation informs their argument. There is a prominent print piece that defended Michael Jackson it was cited in Slate and other places as raising serious questions about the integrity of leaving Neverland. Writing in Forbes Joe Vogel argues quote as someone who has done an enormous amount of research on the artist interviewed many people who were close to him and been granted access to a lot of private information. My assessment is that the evidence simply does not point to Michael Jackson’s guilt. Now Vogel who hadn’t seen the documentary when he wrote the aforementioned sentence has also taken to Twitter to advance his argument and to re tweet what he believes are compelling defenses. He’s frequently quoting people who knew Michael Jackson and saw him with children at the time who said they never ever thought that Michael Jackson would in any way harm a child. In other words he’s quoting people who if they’re wrong countenance child molestation.

S1: That’s a motivation there. He also focuses very much on the dynamic that this is a black man accused in the public if they believe in leaving Neverland are believing white accusers. Here’s a quote from the Forbes article. It’s no accident that one of Jackson’s favorite books and movies was to kill a mockingbird a story about a black man Tom Robinson destroyed by false allegations that could be your favorite book and you also could have abused little boys. This is in fact what I believe happened. Vogel writes dozens of individuals who have spent time with Jackson as kids continue to a certain nothing sexual ever happened. This includes hundreds of sick and terminally ill children such as Bella Farkas for whom Jackson paid for a life saving liver transplant and Ryan White whom Jackson befriended and supported in his final years battling AIDS. Yes Michael Jackson never had sex with a young boy who had AIDS. Michael Jackson didn’t sexually abuse Bella Farkas who I looked into this he apparently met twice one while Bella was in a hospital and then two years later for what appears to be a news reports are hard to come by a day or part of a day when Michael Jackson was playing Budapest. The main charge as always is that Robson once said that Michael Jackson did an abuse him testified under oath in fact and then changed his story when the Jackson estate turned him down for a job.

S7: Now all of those things could have happened in fact they all do happen. Wade Robson said that that statement of a timeline. I said he didn’t abuse me. I testified in an abuse me I applied for the job I was turned down for this job as choreographer. It all happened but also that Michael Jackson abused him. I have to tell you I wasn’t surprised at the weakness of the argument. I have to admit I have a pretty low opinion of Forbes. It is dicey editorial is that Fox News or The Daily Mail. It’s not not bright barter celebrities Ingo dot biz or whatever but there there does seem to be very little quality control over there and then inkling who’s in Forbes aligned with another feeling that I was constantly having as I evaluated the arguments of the Michael Jackson defenders. They felt like the online impassioned ramblings of the 9/11 truth hurt or the unhinged. Hillary is a sex trafficker types or the peak oil crowd. If you remember them. Their screens flash and blink their clip art grates. Their sentences are often ungrammatical. Their youtube videos go on forever their Twitter handles have for a mojito in them. So on the one hand I say to myself You are being a snob. Maybe a perfectly composed argument snob. And you know it’s sometimes true that good arguments come in shabby packages. On the other hand it’s like all those miracle cures available only by Mailer or in this exclusive TV offer. I mean if it really works don’t you think doctors would use it. Maybe America’s retailers would want in on that. When an argument comes in an indulgent. Or off putting or unprofessional package maybe B costs. Well not necessarily because the argument is bad but I think what happens is a good argument would have attracted a better journalist a higher quality publication a professional TV crew somewhere to put forward the better version of the argument better than this 30 minute hit job from YouTube which just seeks to destroy Wade Robson Wade and now claims what triggered his realization that he had allegedly been sexually abused by Jackson as a child was watching his one and a half year old son and imagining and visualizing him being sexually abused.

S15: Apparently he needed to imagine and visualize his infant son being sexually abused to be able to muster up any emotion that he could build on his own story of alleged childhood sexual abuse. Mind you visualizing things that he wanted to turn into reality was no stranger to Wade. In a 2002 interview he said learn how to visualize if you have a goal you’ve got to visualize every little aspect of it.

S7: That video so far has three quarters of a million views. You might be saying especially if you’re on the Michael Jackson is innocent side. You might be saying but are at all correct ideas. Didn’t didn’t they once come across as crazy and aren’t a lot of crazy ideas weren’t they once thought of as right. Example of the first the moon landing example of the second dunking witches. But here are some counterexamples. Most every other idea ever. Look around you. I’m looking around me right where I am. What do I say. Desk skyscraper cannot Seltzer plastic fork. None of these ideas were actually wild or deemed impossible or thought unattainable. I mean to a crow magnet man sure. But since progress innovates the builder of a forty eight story skyscraper maybe the first one in the world certainly thought I think we could build a 50 storey one or if that guy was associated with the Trumps he’d just call it a 50 storey one. My point is I think we go way overboard in making excuses for the implausible with the general notion that things that are in the category of implausible are often correct. I don’t have the stats. I just don’t think they’re often correct. I think they’re more often than not incorrect and fiction doesn’t help in this matter. How many times have you seen a character who’s out there peddling conspiracy theories in a movie and he seems wild maybe as a homeless person remember the movie Conspiracy Theory with Mel Gibson on his militia groups survivalist type.

S16: Right wing site. They say that they’re defending the country from the U.N. troops. These guys are yelling so loud. My theory is. That they are the U.N. troops and that they’re in place the infrastructure ready. When the time can take over.

S7: Robert Downey a Scanner Darkly. Or John Goodman playing a prop. In the movie 10 Cloverfield Lane.

S17: Our work. How long do we have to wait until it’s safe. Approximately the closest place one year maybe two.

S1: Well in that movie he was right to prep in our stories in our fictional stories. There is a disproportionate number of crazy easily dismissive bull theories that turn out to be correct because that’s dramatic. And while we know it’s not true in real life we do know that right. I still think because we experience the story of Michael Jackson as a story on a screen doesn’t seem so much different from the story of 9/11 or the story of Benghazi and it can be treated with a tweet or a long long YouTube video. I think there are some other dynamics at play. One is I think the vast majority of people who watched the documentary or thought much about the accusation against Jackson beforehand pretty much came to the conclusion this guy’s guilty. No need to dedicate our lives to it but the people who believe he’s innocent. For them it becomes a cause they’re more invested all the passion is on one side the wrong side. I think and thinking about this. I have to admit that now normally I would say about three years ago I chalk up the quality the poor quality of the evidence in the Michael Jackson is innocent camp. I would even chalk up the packaging of that evidence as an indication that there just doesn’t exist good evidence that it’s probably the case that the guy is guilty not only because the evidence comes across as shoddy in how it looks but how it sounds and how it appeals to logic everything about it is screaming This is bad evidence. So I still think that what’s different is back then I would take all these wild and poorly presented claims the fact that they were so poorly presented as an indication that that version of events was failing. No serious people were taking it seriously and I have to admit that the extremely impassioned connected but wrong cohort has advantages in terms of morality and in terms of resilience that I hadn’t counted on before Michael Jackson’s misdeeds are appalling. The rebuttals to Michael Jackson’s misdeeds are a shambles. But you know the fact that this ham handed and tawdry propaganda campaign might be enough to prevent us all from achieving consensus agreement and insight. That’s actually depressing.

S18: And that’s it for today show Daniel Schrader NPR BMA produced the hell out of this one. They watch Fisher King and Cloverfield and scanner darkly in Eraserhead and now they’re both ranting ceaselessly about laser beams in the Empire State Building. They’re not wrong to your office. A senior producer of Slate podcasts has three emojis in her Twitter handle and can tell you even if gold doesn’t lose its value. That’s beside the point if you don’t have the right bunker to store it in the gist actually and I do wish I’d thought of this during this lemony interview. There is a unisex word for genitals. Going back as far as the song tick tock. That word of course is junk. Thank you Kesha. Translators haven’t. Improved their Perugia Peru. And thanks for listening.