I, Tonya (movie) and her guilt/innocence

They’re figure skaters. They’re all evil.

Tonya is a living example of Ron White’s line: “You can’t fix stupid”. Talent out the wazoo, potential for mucho success…and she pissed it all away.

Respectfully, Weinsrein has nothing to do with this. In Weinstein, the victims of abuse are complainants. If charges are brought on the basis of their complaints, they still need to be proved to the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard.
That does not mean, and generally did not mean immediately prior to the Weinstein revelations, that there is some presumption that complainants are lying. A jury does not have to be satisfied a complainant is lying in order to acquit. Indeed, a jury might conclude that a complainant is probably telling the truth, but if their level of satisfaction goes no higher, then that is not high enough, because the standard of proof is a high one. Even so, that still does not mean that a jury may not convict on the word of a complainant alone, just that to do so, they must find her account sufficiently compelling to reach the brd standard.

Perhaps misconceptions or distortions of these ideas have contributed to cultural assumptions that lead to disbelief of complainants in these sorts of cases, but the law does not, and at least in recent times has not, required a starting position of active disbelief. I say in recent times, because in the past there have been requirements to warn juries about the desirability of corroboration. In many (most?) jurisdictions derived from common law, that has been done away with as a universal principle. It is manifestly unjust to victims.

All that is worlds apart from a case where someone is using abuse as a shield, as in Harding’s case. The question in such cases is not whether the person in Harding’s position has been abused at all. That is merely an incidental issue. The question is whether she criminally participated in the assault.

She claims she did not, because she did not know about it in advance. This means that the prosecution must prove, at the least, that she did. The issue of prior abuse might be relevant to any penalty later to be imposed, but is barely relevant at all in determining if she knew.

Her claim falls in a class of claims to similar effect. The class includes, for example, cases where the suspect claims they did not know about things apparently done on their behalf, such as people found in possession of drugs who claim that they had no idea the drugs were there and someone must have planted them, to people who claim that they did not know that one of their colleagues in a robbery they admittedly participated in was carrying a gun, to (at an extreme level) the Hitlers of the world on whose behalf it is claimed that they did not know of vile things apparently done in their name.

The existence of this broad class of cases does not reverse the onus of proof, and I do not say that the class is a formal juridical one. Rather, I identify it for illustrative purposes.

In cases where something is done for the manifest advantage of an accused, there is open an obvious inference that they knew about it, or perhaps even instigated it. This is not a formal proposition of law, but an example of common sense reasoning that juries are called on to apply all the time. The claim that the person for whom the crime was committed did not know about it is typically a weak one.

The reason it is weak is that while it might superficially explain, in a self-serving way, the state of mind of the accused, it does not explain the state of mind of the villains who acted in advancing the accused’ interests. In the case of the robbery, the person who supposedly wields the gun without any of their colleagues knowledge has a powerful interest in advance to make sure everyone is on board with it. Robberies have to be planned to go smoothly, with everyone aware of their role. Throwing a huge spanner in the works like the unexpected presentation of a gun would mean that the reaction of the gunman’s colleagues would be unpredictable. This is so manifestly contrary to the smooth running of a robbery that it is much more likely that the presence of the gun would be discussed in the planning stages.

Shortly put, the “But I didn’t know” claim only satisfactorily explains things from the perspective of the accused. It does not explain things from the perspective of all the other important players.

In the Harding case, the Kerrigan assailants are taking a huge risk. To take that risk without knowing in advance what Harding’s response will be is to compound the risk enormously. They cannot know in advance, despite any asserted history of abuse, that she will not put them in, or will not withdraw from the competition in shame for what was done ostensibly for her. There are many possibilities of what she might do that could undermine the whole enterprise if she was not locked in in the first place. They cannot know in advance that she has been sufficiently cowed by abuse into compliance after the fact. Putting them in, for example, might be her ticket to freedom from the abuse.

It is very unlikely that they would undertake the assault of Kerrigan with such a gaping hole in the plan. Her assertion that she did not know myopically explains only her position. It does not satisfactorily explain the motivations of the whole group. They certainly could not, in advance, have reliably predicted that she would tell lies for them.

After the event, it is possible to speculate up any number of “perhaps” narratives that seek to explain things. But the critical time to consider is before the event, when the future is, to those involved, unknown.

This process of reasoning might well satisfy a jury brd that her denials are self-serving lies. It is not inevitable that they do so, but I would rather be the prosecutor in such a case than defence counsel. I get that criminals sometimes do dumb things. But this was a planned crime, and patent self-interest on the part of the assailants leads to the conclusion that Harding was on board before the assault.

I saw I, Tonya today and loved it. All the actors were great, and the story was gripping even though I knew some of what to expect. Margot Robbie is not a good match for Tonya Harding physically, and didn’t look like the athlete that Tonya was, and it was laughable when her coach called her pear shaped, but I think Robbie did a very good job in the role.

It is a little weird how it’s somewhat marketed as a comedy, and some of the nominations it’s been getting are for it as a comedy. There are some very funny moments, especially with the idiotic bodyguard and his crew, but a good portion of the film is her being abused by her mom or husband. I’d say that Three Billboards is just as much a comedy. Maybe I’m misreading the film and things were meant to be seen as more comedic in which case my opinion would be very different.

Regarding Tonya’s guilt or innocence in the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, that’s harder to say. I could believe that she didn’t know about it, or that she knew completely about it, or that she knew about it but didn’t think it was actually something that was going to happen and just thought it was more bullshit that the “bodyguard” was talking about, or that she knew something but was afraid to say anything.

But I think it is very believable that Tonya was abused by her husband. It’s not uncommon for women to go from abusive childhood homes to abusive marriages. And in general women don’t lie about being abused, it’s more likely that they lie and say they aren’t being abused when they actually were. So the abusive relationship could have affected some of how she acted and if she covered up anything.

I don’t know. Nothing I read on the internet is going to prove or disprove anything. If half pf the stories about her mom are true it is so sad. Many people have had tough parents but that was over the top

I agree about the mom, but what worries me is after we watched the movie, I pulled up the video of her shoelace incident on YouTube, and the camera cuts to her father sitting in the audience. Even the commentator says, “There’s her father, wondering what’s happening right now”.

So did the movie play up her father leaving her and never coming back in order to highlight her self-loathing? If so, what else was played up? What else was pure fiction, even?

It sounds like the movie was pretty accurate, or as accurate as it can be with different people saying different things about some events. And while Tonya’s father leaving was obviously a very upsetting experience for her and had an effect, it doesn’t mean she never saw him again, just that she had to live with her mom and couldn’t live with him. She mentioned how he wasn’t sending money because he lost his job or something like that, I don’t think she said that he disappeared and she never saw him again.

If there are major inaccuracies or exaggerations I’d be interested in hearing them. According to the link I posted the confrontation with the judges didn’t quite happen like it did in the movie but other than that it doesn’t have anything too different from real life.

I kinda feel sorry for Tonya. I did at the time of the incident. I think she was used and abused by many people. I hope she’s had a happier life since then.

You argue that the jury can believe the victim is probably telling the truth, but that’s not enough for a conviction. But then your argument against Harding is entirely based on there needing to be some excuse to prove her innocent. You weave this narrative that involves tons of guesswork about how people think.

Human beings are not perfectly rational creatures, and those who would harm others even less so, so any argument that assumes they would be all rational about this falls through. If they were rational, they’d have not done it at all, because there was no chance it would actually help. This is true whichever party was involved.

I think she probably did it, but, if I were a juror deciding this, that type of argument would actually give me more doubt just because of how weak it is. The plan could have been to pin it on Nancy if they got in trouble. Or her plan could be to pin it on them if she got in trouble. It works either way.

It definitely does not make me go any higher than “probably did it.”

Do note this is said without any knowledge of the claims in the movie. It’s entirely based on your argument and then what I heard back when it happened. More evidence could actually lead me to believe she almost certainly did it, or change to “she probably didn’t do it.”

Pin ‘what’ on Nancy? She was the injured party.

IIRC Jeff Gillooly is responsible for releasing Tonya’s sex tape. It’s still on the web 20 years later.

Says a lot about the guy. I believe the abuse in that marriage was real.

Not seen the movie, no desire to. Does it portray Harding sympathetically?

This discussion reminds me of the reaction to Marcia Clark in People v OJ Simpson. While she certainly was roughly treated by the media, the failures she had and frankly incompetance she displayed in real life was all her doing. She was instead in that show held up as some sort of feminist hero, wronged by the male establishment, the later of which is pretty palpably not the case.

No, I guess I just inferred that because we the audience never saw him again. Might have been nice to show him at the Olympics, like in real life. But I’ll check out your link.

Yeah, she definitely didn’t tell them to suck her dick, haha. But I read when Tonya Harding saw the movie she called Margot Robbie (or somebody associated with the movie) and told them that was her favorite part and she wished she had said it. :smiley:

IIRC, this was a faked “wedding night” tape they made after The Incident to sell and raise money. She dragged her wedding dress out and they pretended it was from their wedding night. So she was in on that.

Tonya was recently interviewed (autoplay video) and admitted knowing slightly more about things than she previously admitted.

I’m surprised that the sex tape wasn’t even mentioned in the film.

While they had Tonya dump on Kerrigan for not smiling right on the medal stand, the “This is so corny. This is so dumb. I hate it. This is the most corny thing I’ve ever done.” incident at Disney World did far more damage to Kerrigan’s reputation (and finances).

How’s Tonya been since then? Well, throwing a hubcap at her boyfriend’s head for one thing.

While various abuses may well factor into her later character, she’s basically been troubled her whole life.

I just read ABC has an interview with Harding Thursday.

Saw the film. I was amazed at how well they faked Tonya’s skating - I guess they put Robbie’s face on a skating double - but for me, the best part was when they showed the real Tonya skating. You could feel the whole crowd’s attitude changing. They had been there to have a snarky evening laughing at “poor white trash”, and were forced to admit that she was a truly great athlete. If she hadn’t run into that idiot Jeff, if she’s escaped her mother and gotten into a good, supportive relationship, she would have at least one gold medal.

What I found interesting at the time was how the media (and culture) built a black-and-white contrast between “white trash” Harding and Kerrigan. Nancy, too, came from modest means (her father worked multiple jobs to pay for her coaching), but that didn’t play well into the narrative that they wanted to tell.

I always had a hard time believing that Tonya was completely unaware of what was going on, but in the end, I also couldn’t view her as the villain of the piece.

Also: if there was ever a real-life Coen Brothers movie, the Tonya Harding affair would have been it.

I hadn’t heard that and my quick googling didn’t find anything about it being faked. Can you point me toward something that says it was fake and she was in on it being released?

The hubcap incident was 18 years ago while she was still in her 20s. I’m not sure you can extend that to her being “troubled her whole life.”

She seems ready for a fight in the you-tube video, I think that may be a trailer or tease for the ABC interview. I hope she has some redeeming statements in the whole interview.

The thing that really stood out about me about the whole sordid debacle was how it shattered the last vestige of my innocent assumptions about American values. From beginning to end I was flabbergasted at how everyone was eager to pile on Harding, how an entire nation just decided point-blank that she was the villain and absolutely refused to budge or take a look at the facts (bonus points by how the man who actually did the freaking crime got off virtually scot-free). For crying out loud, the media trotted out “madonna-whore complex” and acted like it was PERFECTLY NORMAL. Having faced no small amount of discrimination and a truly shocking lack of compassion (much less anyone offering one tiny speck of genuine help) during my own formative years, I felt nothing but disgust for everyone complicit, and the disgust kept growing by the week until it was almost suffocating.

As for what should have been done? “I know she’s guilty! There’s a zillion skillion quillion hints! My gut feeling is so powerful, I’m getting indigestion!” Cute. Bet you felt reeeeally, reeeealy strongly about Lance Armstrong too. Hey, here’s an idea. Send her to the Olympics, let the folks who actually know the first thing about criminal investigation do their thing and decide whether or not to press charges once she gets back. Oh, and do hope that they at least charge the man who actually committed the goddam crime, y’know, so this doesn’t come across as some nakedly obvious sexist witch hunt.

And before indulging in any cockamamie crackpot boneheaded peabrained so-off-base-it’s-on-a-football-field “madonna-whore” BS, maybe talk to some people who actually know Kerrigan and see if there’s any validity to this assessment. I read some testimonials on the old CNNSI.com boards, and the consensus was that she always had an attitude and the idea that she was this pristine innocent angel was absurd. Be honest, get that out in the open, and maybe ripping on Mickey Mouse in what’s supposed to be her glorious victory lap won’t sting nearly so much, eh?

Hmph. Stupid sport.