Since Polish/French director Roman Polanski got arrested, I am trying to come up with a consistent way to think about this: I'm trying to put his actions in different compartments, so that his raping a young girl has no bearing on his films, and his films have no bearing on his crime. But while the latter seems so obvious to me, his crime will always hang over like a shadow over his films. I feel the same about two Turkish columnists, Deniz Gökçe and Sevan Nişanyan, who have degraded their wives in much-publicized cases of domestic violence. It's not even like what they think and write is genius, for the record, they always have that bad-ass attitude whenever they write or say something. But even if they said something bright, I don't know if I could open my mind wide enough to let it in.
It is easier to disentangle things when I think of the Doğan Group. At first my view of them as victims in their spat with the government was tinged with the knowledge that all these years, they used their newspapers to secure favors. This is karmic justice, their bomb exploded in their hands. They never said anything to fix what was wrong when things were going their way, did they? But then I realized that this in no way frees the government of the responsibility to fix things, replace this power game with the rule of law, where journalists do their jobs and bureaucrats do, too. Judges will (hopefully) not allow their judgement in one case to blur their understanding of another one.
But when looking at an art work or reading the wise words of someone who claims to be an authority in economics or linguistics, I am the judge. And I can't prevent my knowledge about the person from standing in the way of my full understanding. I can't put my trust in them enough to lend my eyes and ears to them. It may be simplistic to say only good people produce good work, but I can safely say that I only really listen to good people. Because really listening to someone or really looking at what they show you requires to let them guide you for a while.
That said, over the past few years I have come to realize and accept that good people may be inconsistent, inconsistency is sometimes nothing but the passage of time and people can change their minds and break their promises, people may be good despite their mistakes. It is not always wise to throw something or someone overboard just because they disappointed me once or twice. But it's also not wise to forgive anything and everything. Our actions do point at something about us, sometimes to fundamental personality defects. Moments of weakness are not always moments, they are not completely arbitrary or unintended.