From Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves to Dictators, Gymnasts, and Orphans – Images of Romanians

One can easily sympathize with the exasperation of Alexandra Toma, described in 2005 by the Romanian daily Jurnalul National as “the single Romanian political advisor for foreign policy in the American Congress” (according to the article, as of early 2005 she was serving on the staff of House of Representatives member Stephen Lynch (Democrat, Massachusetts)):

In America, Romanian “orphans” are famous. Everyone asks me about them. That’s all they know. Just orphans, Ceausescu, and Dracula. Those are the three questions I always get asked. “The Romanian Orphans” are always on the TV. (Ana-Maria Luca, “O romanca la Capitol Hill [A Romanian Girl on Capitol Hill],” Jurnalul National, 25 February 2005, online edition).

Alexandra Toma’s frustration is not unique. Alexandra Diaconu wrote an excellent article wittily entitled “Cum ne vindem tara (How we sell our country)”—the title possibly a play on the famous chant of the rampaging miners of June 1990, with whom the country became identified in the international consciousness, thanks to televised images of savage “Balkan” brutality and chaos. (The miners roamed the streets of Bucharest shouting “Nu ne vindem tara,” that is, “We aren’t selling [out] our country.”) Diaconu observed:

When you say France, a few words automatically come to mind: wines, perfumes, refinement, Paris, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the list goes on. When you say Italy: “la dolce vita [the good life],” Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Pavarotti, Milano, and fashion, the Colosseum, Venice or the [Leaning] Tower of Pisa. When others speak of Romania, however, assuming they have heard anything about us, they think in the first place of Dracula, Ceausescu, Nadia, street children, corruption, immigrants or, and even worse, the imaginary Romanian terrorists that still appear in post-1990 American films [I’d love to know exactly which films she is referring to here, because I am very familiar with the topic and don’t know what she is talking about: Call me Ahab! See my most recent publication on the topic, “Orwellian…Positively Orwellian” Prosecutor Voinea’s Campaign to Sanitize the Romanian Revolution of December 1989” at].

…Without question, Romania has an image problem. In the past 15 years, it has become something of a national refrain repeated periodically by politicians in electoral campaigns, by cultural elites, when the foreign press judges us critically, when any foreigner confuses Bucharest with Budapest and when our sportspeople return from international competitions laden with medals. [Diaconu, Evenimentul Zilei, 5 June 2005, online edition]

A comment on Diaconu’s characterization seems in order here before moving on. The Bucharest-Budapest confusion, one which frankly is at least understandable because of the similarity of the two capital names in English and many languages, is ceaselessly annoying to both Hungarians and Romanians—and regional specialists—who feel insulted and powerless to overcome foreign ignorance about what is for them a simple, but huge distinction. And it does matter…to the point of having the potential to contribute to wounded national pride and inter-state tensions. When US Team Captain Dennis Ralston was presented with the Davis Cup in 1972 in Bucharest, after what an English commentator termed “the noisiest, angriest, the most absorbing and most passionate contest in the history of Davis Cup competition,” Ralston thanked “‘the good people of Budapest’ for their kindness and spoke of the memories the US team would take back with them ‘of Budapest’s sportsmanship’…[that this] ‘famous victory means Budapest will forever be remembered by American tennis’” (Keating, The Guardian, 11/28/97). Of course, perhaps this mistake should not have been surprising, given that the English commentator recounted of one match that “the linesmen were as partisan as the crowd and with armed guards around the court the efforts of the referee to restore a semblance of fair play were negated by the intimidatory martial atmosphere,” while the American player Stan Smith opined, “I have never been more pleased to be off court. Every arena steward seems to be toting a sub-machinegun and by the look in their eyes the safety-catch is undoubtedly cocked and ready.”

Finally, there are the characterizations of Romanian émigrés who have settled in the U.S. and Americans who have spent extended time in Romania. “What do Americans see when they look at a Romanian?” asks Andrei Codrescu in The Disappearance of the Outside. “Three things: Dracula, Eugene Ionesco, and Nadia Comaneci. In other words, sex, the absurd, and gymnastic ability” (p. 42) (Ileana Florentina Popa, “Cultural Stereotypes: From Dracula’s Myth to Contemporary Diasporic Productions,” VCU thesis, p. 77, May 2006 at [].). In other words, essentially the plotline for the Seinfeld episode which introduced this paper!)

Brand-ing Romania: Beyond “The Bottom of the Heap”

That Romania’s image or “brand,” is not merely a partisan political, and thus bounded, issue, has increasingly been realized by those for whom it is a matter of business, a reality of life, rather than a matter of an intellectual’s blame game. The “image of Romania” has even spawned a BRANDING website—[]—to discuss the issues of constructing, deconstructing, and reconstructing stereotypes. On 24 June 2005 Corin Chiriac got the ball rolling by asking posters their perceptions of “stereotypes of Romanians and Romania.” The following example was given to spark debate:

People and Personalities: Ceausescu, Dracula, Nadia Comaneci, Hagi [famous soccer player], and folklorists.

Character and Behavior: sa moara capra vecinului [screw your neighbor], proasta organizare [poor organization] (lines and especially poorly formed lines, ignoring scheduled hours), lack of respect for rules (cut to the front of the line mentality)

Events: The Revolution of 1989, Cerbul de aur [annual Brasov-based talent show], mineriadele [referencing the five brutal journeys of the miners towards Bucharest in 1990, 1991, and 1999]

Places: Bucharest, the Danube Delta, Prahova Valley (Predeal, Sinaia), Sfinxul

Monuments or buildings: Casa Poporului [Ceausescu’s “House of the People” monstrosity], Hotel Intercontinental, the monasteries of Bucovina, Bran castle.

The website appears partly responsible for new reflection on the issue of “branding the Romanian image” in the Romanian press that goes less in search of scapegoats for the situation and more in search of solutions. On 25 October 2005, Mihai Ghyka wrote an article entitled “Branding Romania—a ship sunk at the dock” in the daily Gandul in which he opined:

Romania—the country of gypsies. Romania—the country of handicapped orphans. Romania—a corrupt and dirty country. Romania—a country lacking in civilization. Whether or not we like them, these are the most frequent associations that pop into the mind of foreigners when they are asked what they know about Romania. For better than 15 years, the image of Romania in the world has been left to accidental whimsy.

In recent years, Romania has spent an annual budget of approximately 20 million Euros, promoting at random tourism, Brancusi [famous sculptor], Romanian products, the Enescu Festival and diverse commercial fairs…Each minister promoted his activities as best he knew how, by himself. (Mihai Ghyka, “Branding Romania – vaporul scufundat in port,” Gandul, 25 October 2005.)

A truly fascinating and insightful reflection on all this was posted on the branding website on 3 February 2006 under the title “Permission to Brand”:

Starting from zero “Romania has so many problems in terms of perception that it becomes difficult to make an inventory,” says Valeriu Turcan, president of the Agency of Governmental Strategies, which is spearheading the branding Romania campaign. “The difference between Romania and other countries is that its Communist past and its experiences right after 1989 have been much more negative and visible in Western media compared to the others.” Turcan cites the ‘Mineriade’, where miners traveled to Bucharest to violently break-up an anti-Neocommunist demonstration, the orphanages and Romanians who break laws abroad as image wreckers. “This picture is incomplete, out of date and extremely difficult to change,” he adds.

Country branding expert Simon Anholt says that this problem exists in many transition economies. “Their brand is still strongly tainted with negative imagery acquired under Soviet influence,” he says, “and the majority of foreign publics have not yet updated their perceptions. The only reason why Bulgaria and Poland are doing better [than Romania] is because they are better organised and are doing something about it.” “Romania was a blank page after the Revolution and this was what was first communicated,” says Ioana Manea, managing partner at brand and communication firm Loco. “These things do not have the depth they used to have.”

Communism and its fall-out also exercise a powerful hold over the western imagination. Visitors to Romania still bring packet soups and Mars bars, to use as currency. They are also scared to venture out after nine o’clock at night. Anthropologist Vintila Mihailescu, director of the award-winning Romanian Peasant’s Museum, says that compared to other ex-Communist countries in the region Romania still has, for the outside eye, a still strongly visible label of Communist country. Something the authorities and people have failed to change. “When a person, a group, a nation does not build itself an image, it is attributed one, the first one at hand,” he adds.

Another problem is the vacuum of knowledge the west has of Romania. “Many free citizens of Europe are confused between Budapest and Bucharest and Romania and Bulgaria,” says Manea. “We deceive ourselves that Nadia Comaneci meant something to the world and that everyone knows Hagi,” says Naumovici. “Romanians are too optimistic and see Romania as the most beautiful place in the world. Education is partly to blame for this. “We [Romanians] were taught during primary school that we beat the Turks,” he adds, “that we can repair a car with a piece of wire, while the Germans had to wait for a spare part to come from the factory.” (Anca Pol, Ana-Maria Smadeanu and Michael Bird, “Permission to brand,” 3 February 2006, the ‘The Diplomat – Bucharest’)

Wally Olins, one of the apparent gurus of country image-making, suggested recently that Romania may already be developing positive elements to counter the negative ones associated with its international “brand.” Part of Olins’ philosophy seems to be something of jiu-jitsu, making lemonade out of lemons, as he suggests with Nicolae Ceausescu’s “House of the People.” Like it or not, this interests foreigners about Romania. According to Olins: “If I tell people I am going to Bucharest, 20 % believe I am going to Hungary [the Bucharest-Budapest confusion], another 20% asks me what I am going there for, and 15 % ask me if I am going to see Ceausescu’s palace.” (Wally Olins, interview by Cosmin Popan, “Romania devine brand fara stirea ei,” Cotidianul, 15 February 2007, online edition). In other words, use what you have, allow the audience or market to determine comparative advantage/value…and go with the flow.

Nicolae Carpathia

What? You say you’ve never heard of Nicolae Carpathia? Look him up on the Internet. The last time I did [late summer 2005], Nicolae Ceausescu had 67,000 webpages, Nicolae Carpathia 14,500! (Of course, neither can hold a lit torch to Dracula, who weighs in at 2,270,000 Google hits!)

Well, if you haven’t, don’t feel so bad, neither did I until recently. Nicolae Carpathia is the Anti-Christ of the “Left Behind” evangelical Christian book-series that sketches out visions of the future based on a very specific reading of the Book of Revelation in the Bible’s New Testament. Over the past decade, more than 60 million copies of the “Left Behind” series have been sold (Michael Standaert, L.A. Times, 25 May 2005)! A low-budget film based on the series came out several years back starring Kirk Cameron, a “teen-age heart throb” of the 1980s television sitcom “Growing Pains,”—Cameron is himself a fervent born-again Christian.

Dr. Stu Johnson described “Nicolae Carpathia in the Apocalyse Series” in an article on posted 20 May 2004:

Fairly early in Apocalypse Dawn, we meet the charismatic Carpathia:

Not every politician was pushing for more and bigger weapons and more and bigger armies. Goose had heard of a United Nations representative from Romania named Nicolae Carpathia. Surprisingly, Carpathia was pushing for disarmament in his own country. At the time he’d heard that, Goose had never thought it would happen. Romania was part of Eastern Europe, left orphaned by the failed Soviet Communist government, and host to a series of bloodthirsty dictators who had only been driven from office by equally bloodthirsty military uprisings. Most military analysts had figured that the country would be awash in political unrest and military action for decades to come. Instead, Carpathia had begun to quiet Romania down, almost as if by magic. [emphasis mine] (Dawn, pp. 47-48)

Johnson continues:

Later, we learn more of Carpathia as Romanian satellites are leased to U.S. forces to fill in gaps in their system, sent into chaos by “the disappearances” [author’s note: i.e. the Rapture whereby the “saved” are suddenly and inexplicably plucked from earth to heaven].

“I can give you access to another satellite system,” [said Cody].

Remington curbed his frustration with the situation. “What satellites?”

“Satellites leased by the Romanian government,” Cody said. “Other satellites that Nicolae Carpathia owns and has offered for your use.”

Remington knew the name. Carpathia was an international figure, and part of the reason the U.N. peacekeeping forces and the United States Army Rangers were presently in-country. Carpathia had taken his own country by storm, becoming the darling of the population over the last few years after getting off to a less-than-sterling beginning. Yesterday, the president of Romania had stepped down and suggested that the legislature appoint Carpathia as their new president [author’s note: i.e. a clear Hindenburg-Hitler analogy here]. In a surprising turn of events, both houses had unanimously done just that. Before becoming a member of the House of Deputies in Romania, Carpathia had been a shrewd businessman who had his fingers in many international business ventures. He’d gotten rich. Remington wasn’t surprised to learn that Carpathia had invested heavily in communications, and satellites would have been one of the most natural investments. (Dawn, pp. 213-14)

According to Michael Standaert in his review of the most recent book of the series, “In the Beginning; The Rising: Before They Were Left Behind” by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, “this prequel sets up Carpathia as embodying everything stereotypically liberal” (Standaert, 2005). Indeed, Carpathia is the creation of a conspiratorial group of “international bankers”—could there be a clearer code for “Jews”?—and, as if that were not enough, almost unsurprisingly given the radical right-wing leanings of the authors and many of the readers of the series, Carpathia is “a genetically engineered test-tube baby with the DNA of two homosexual fathers”[!, the trifecta…how prosaic]. And Satan’s forces predictably use the cherished institutions and policies the radical-right attributes to “liberals” (i.e. the left in the political parlance of the American right)—the U.N., disarmament, peacekeeping forces, and satellite television (somewhat ironic I would add given the use of this by evangelical fundraisers themselves!; clearly they have in mind here Ted Turner and not Ruppert Murdoch)—to establish tyrannical “one world government.”

The hazy popular and media images of Romania shine through in the character of Nicolae Carpathia. It is a simplistic and, frankly, tacky amalgam. Nicolae Ceausescu, “Genius of the Carpathians”…and so we get “Nicolae Carpathia.” A brutal dictator who was initially perceived in positive terms: he presents himself as a man of peace, a proponent of “disarmament,” a supporter of Israel (when he really is not), a neutral arbiter of international relations in a difficult time. When the Ceausescus were executed on Christmas Day 1989, the Romanian media hyperbolically proclaimed “The Antichrist is Dead” (the deconstructivists among Romanian intellectuals at home and abroad ascribed intent of the former communists to cynically use religious language to cleanse their sins before the population and buy credibility—to me this is over-interpretation.) Romania is depicted as a place of chaos, military intervention, and mystical leaders and politics. And if that is not enough, Carpathia’s political assistant is named Stolojan—the last name, it just so happens, of the Romanian Prime Minister from September 1991 to November 1992. One interesting difference, however, that would be difficult for evangelicals to explain is that whereas Ceausescu banned abortions, Carpathia imposes them!

Predictably, and it would be interesting to see what Romanian evangelicals actually think of the series, Romanians have not been amused by the selection of a Romanian as the anti-Christ in the end of time! (Indeed, as Theodor Stolojan’s political profile rose once again in Romanian politics in early 2007, the daily Cotidianul noted the influence of the “Left Behind” series was such that “when you look up the word ‘Stolojan’ on the Internet, the first five results refer to the character in the book,” leading the author to opine “it is impossible to estimate for just how many people the Romania described in the book [is for them Romania]” (Barbu Mateescu, “Stolojan si presedintele sint eroi negativi in SUA,” Cotidianul, 17 February 2007, online edition). Of course, the very fact that this paradigm [Nicolae Ceausescu] is used is because it exists—it says everything that Nicolae Carpathia is a Romanian, not say a Bulgarian, Albanian, or Hungarian.

Gymnasts, Acrobats, and Circus Performers…Oh My!

Clearly, Nadia has been the template for all “gymnast”-based images of Romanians in American pop culture since the 1970s. In a 1989 romantic comedy, “Her Alibi,” the Czech model Paulina Porazskova plays a Romanian circus performer (acrobats are the afterlife, professional extension of gymnasts apparently) who defects and falls in love with a character played by Tom Selleck. The Securitate make a cameo in the film trying to prevent her defection, although if I remember correctly, as always there appears to be some political/cultural confusion/script simplification, with references to them as the “kgb” or the like.

Although it is no great insight, it is interesting to note in the context of “Her Alibi” how Hollywood was (is) a barometer, if a lagging one, in terms of geopolitical relations. The James Bond film series is, of course, the most famous of these, with the comparative role of the renegade Chinese revolutionary communists rising in the 1960s, with Barbara Bach as not just Russian love interest, but as professional partner in the détente-era “The Spy Who Loved Me (1977),” (the Soviets all-but-disappear from the 1979 “Moonraker”) and with a return to outright identification of the Soviets and associated East Europeans (East Germans, Czechs, etc.) as the enemy in the 1980s (at its apogee in film as in life with the 1983 “Octopussy”—fanatical Soviet general using faberge eggs to undermine the West, a showdown in East Berlin, etc.). With movies such as “Red Heat (1988),” the typical buddy-cop, fish-out-of-water, opposites-become-friends movie (see, for example, Beverly Hills Cop (1984)) showing Soviet (Arnold Schwarzenneger, Austrian descent) and American (Jim Belushi, Albanian descent) cops working against the politically-correct scourge of the 1980s—drug kingpins, a threat to both American and Soviet societies that they could agree on…after all, what about the children?, I believe the children are our future…), Hollywood chose to find more geopolitically-correct villains.

By 1989, Gorbachev’s Soviet Union was not a geoplitically-correct villain; Ceausescu’s Romania, on the other hand, was—it would be interesting to see how a similar script would have been written a decade before, when Romania was on the top of the West’s geopolitical world. Of course, if the creation of fictional enemy countries—satirized well in the Austin Power film series, Kreplakistan—can be annoying and is itself still an amalgam stereotype of the former Soviet Union, from Ukraine to Central Asia, Hollywood’s search for the most consensual-least box-office controversial enemy can have backlash, especially years later. See, for example, the substitution of generic Middle Eastern enemies for the Soviets and others as the 1980s progressed; the choice, for example, of “Libyan terrorists” in the 1985 “Back to the Future” may have seemed like a “safe” one—an official enemy of the US, that had targeted Americans in terrorist acts (such as the Berlin discotheque bombing), and that had a very small Libyan (as opposed to Arab) émigré community in the United States—but it is clear that in retrospect it was far from “safe.” Clearly, as the Soviet Union waned, drug cartels became prosaic and boring, and the East bloc “mafiya” prototype ran its course, the xenophobic “Middle Eastern terrorists” became “useful.” The United States, in part, probably reaps some of the anger directed against it from the happenstance, box office driven selection of real-world enemies for action-thrillers in a post-Cold War world.

The Seinfeld episode that introduced this paper—with its Romanian gymnast-cum-acrobat—“Her Alibi,” etc. made me question whether there was any empirical reality that may have contributed to the birth and growth of this stereotype. I have not compared things systematically to the situation of defectors from other East bloc countries, but I did a brief search in the Washington Post and New York Times on the subject. Clearly, the most well-known, “gymnastics defections” from Romania were those of Nadia herself in November 1989 and in 1981 her controversial ethnic Hungarian coach Bela Karolyi, his wife Marta, and the Romanian team choreographer Geza Pozar (based on the name, apparently also likely Hungarian). In November 1985, an acrobat, Andi Georgescu, who performed for Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey, defected (WP 11/22/85 A 30a; NYT 11/22/85 II 3:1). In April 1987, two 16 year olds, Carmen Georgescu and Julia Catrinoiu, both gymnasts and acrobats were granted political asylum (NYT 4/9/87 II 7:6; WP 2/24/87 A 14a). In August 1987, four acrobats in California with Ringling and Barnum and Bailey sought asylum (NYT 8/8/87). It is possible that coverage of such incidents, particularly in the media of major metropolitan areas could have, by osmosis, created this connection and image, particularly among America’s creative intellectuals? Of course, once again, as occurs throughout many examples raised in this paper, there is the chicken-or-the-egg problem, since coverage and attention given to these particular types of defections—of gymnast/acrobats, from Romania—had already been conditioned by Nadia and Romanian gymnastics (in fact, in a sense perhaps, to the extent that was possible, made “easier,” likely to garner more media coverage, and a greater blow to a country whose prestige had become tied to this issue).

The Magical and the Mystical

As a repository for the occult, for evil, for the mysterious spiritual world, Romania became a good bet for American television shows during the early and mid-1990s. Thus, the 5 May 1993 episode of the drama “Law and Order” entitled bluntly “Securitate,” has a lawyer pleading that his Romanian immigrant client charged with murder is “not guilty due to cultural insanity” claiming he had been “conditioned to violence in his homeland” [!]. There is, of course, the great irony here, that what in the American context may appear to be “understanding”—sensitive to cultural differences, recognizing the societal influences on individual action—would no doubt beckon Todorova-like indignance over a classic “Balkan” stereotype. Moreover, given the timing of the episode (May 1993), a year into the Bosnian conflict, the argument of “cultural insanity” played well into the Kaplanesque “ancient hatreds” mentality so prevalent at the time. And to top it all off, three of the main characters in the episode have the last name Iliescu!

The magical-mystery tourism aspect of Romania is better explored in the 14 April 1995 episode of the “X-Files” where the traditional Romanian fertility folk dancers, the “Calusari,” become a trope for warding off evil. In this episode, Romanian language shows up again. A character in the episode comments on the Calusari: “In Romania, they are responsible for the correct observance of sacred rites.” An episode capsule expands on their role in the plot:

When Steve Holvey is later killed in a bizarre accident, ash from the scene is identified as a substance called Vibuti, holy ash produced during the presence of spiritual beings. The Grandmother later dies while performing a protective ritual on Charlie and when a social worker questions Charlie about the incident, he claims his still born twin brother Michael killed her. Which comes as a shock to Maggie Holvey, who claims she never told Charlie about his dead twin brother. It appears that the families only hope is a strange group of Romanian elderly chanters called The Calusari.

The exotic and superstitious are in full effect: Bram Stoker’s Romania meets FBI chasers of UFOs and the supernatural.

The “Romanian Quintuplets” South Park Episode:

A Cornucopia of Modern Romanian Pop Culture Images in North America

Comedy shows, often distastefully, have also used Romanian images to good effect. For example, the British comedy series of the 1990s, “Absolutely Fabulous” in which a layabout, alcoholic, high-maintenance fashion-designer threatens her straightlaced daughter that she will adopt Romanian orphans if her daughter won’t invite her to a school presentation. The threat backfires when her addle-minded assistant actually follows through on the idea and Romanian orphan babies begin arriving (“Iso Tank,” 10/3/92). However, the trifecta, the grand slam, of American (although the creator of the show is Canadian) images of Romanians—and one that is actually intended, it appears, to be just that—is the so-called “Romanian Quint(uplet)s” episode of the cartoon series “South Park.”

The “South Park” episode from 2000 (Original Air Date: 26 April 2000) is a satire of the Elian (aka Alien) Gonzalez saga from the spring of that year—an arguably absurd made-for-cable/satellite “twenty-four/seven” round-the-clock television news channel production, with Cuban émigrés in Florida attempting to prevent the return of a seven-year old boy to his father in Cuba. In retrospect, given the whole Florida fiasco in the 2000 elections—and I am not aware of any studies that have specifically looked into the issue although they may exist—one has to wonder if the television coverage of the saga and interest in the Cuban and other communities in Florida may have contributed in some (though doubtfully decisive) measure to the election results. The South Park episode has orphan Romanian gymnasts/acrobats from the circus defecting from communist-like bureaucrats and a country described in the most negative terms.

The episode contains a number of the characteristics and stereotypes of (North) American images of Romanians. A Romanian woman is named “Mrs. Vladchick,” one can assume a sort of slang combination of Vlad (Tepes, aka Dracula) and “chick” (also, conveniently an ending for some (especially South) Slavic last names in English). Names and language are pseudo-slavic: although one girl is named Nadia (a clear descendent of the ’76 Olympics), another is named Baltania, while Mrs. Vladchick carries on a conversation in “Romanian” that centers around the following gibberish: “Nid kelmin da bushka.” It should also be noted that the idea of “quintuplets”-as-circus-show-for-viewing may be influenced by the story of five French Canadian sisters—the Dionne quintuplets—who were treated in this manner in the 1930s in Canada without much regard to their fate (the story was given wide play in the late 1990s and the creator of the show is Canadian, so this may be the link).

A television reporter summarizes the background and scene as the Mrs. Vladchick’s Quintuplets from the traveling “Cirque de Cheville” attempt to defect:

Tom, I’m standing at the home in South Park where five precious little girls have been rescued from Romania. Their mother passes away some months ago, and then their grandmother died trying to bring them here. But all is well now, and people are coming from all over the country to view the little tykes. [someone takes a picture] If you’d like to come down and visit the quintuplets, admission is only $5, and for a few dollars more [“FEED THE QUINTS! One Dollar” A man buys some fishsticks], you can feed them fishsticks.

A Quint: [hops up and down, then opens her mouth for a fishstick the man drops down to her] Mmm.

Reporter: Tom, it looks like these cute little girls have made it out of that armpit of a country they call Romania.

[Romania, day. Government officials watch the report in a run-down office]

Reporter: Yes, luckily for them, these quintuplets no longer have to live in

Romania, the asshole of the world. [a last shot of the quints is seen] Back to you, Tom.

President: This is not good. It makes our country look poor and stupid.

Romanian Official: This could kill our tourism.

President: You know what to do. [they salute him and leave.]

(author’s note: from Episode 403 “The Quintuplets,” script can be found online at many sites, for example, [], captions as found in script).

In a later scene, one of the South Park children, Cartman, tries to convince the quints that they don’t want to go back to Romania, by saying, “In Romania they just oppress you and try to bring you down.” All is for naught, however, for, as with Elian Gonzalez, the Quints’ father comes forward, and (then Attorney General) Janet Reno descends on Easter Sunday in an Easter Bunny suit, seizing the girls at gunpoint with well-armed soldiers in the background.

“Vlad,” orphans, gymnasts/acrobats, Romania as a poverty-stricken country dependent on tourist revenues and run by a mindless, oppressive bureaucracy and an aggressive president—the images/stereotypes are all here. Ironically, South Park and this episode are perhaps more bent on satirizing (North) American society and the hypocrisy, absurdity, and sanctimony of politicians, special interest groups, and the media. Yet, with Romania as prop, they succeed in creating a “perfect storm” of kitsch Romanian pop-culture iconography (although in truth, political correctness is always a target, never a shackle for the cartoon’s creators).

Llerena – Hidden in Extremadura

Following its conquest by the Christian troops of Fernando III, around 1240, the Moorish town of Ellerina was renamed the city of Llerena. Soon afterward the city became the headquarters of the Order of St. James of the Sword, more usually called the Order of Santiago. The High Court and Treasury of the Order of Santiago moved to Llerena and in 1493 the last Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Alfonso de Cardenas died and was interred in the Iglesia Parroquial de Santiago. The Order had originally been charged with repopulating the area devastated by the war with the Muslims and by the end of the 15th century their efforts resulted in a population of 8,300 and a thriving agrarian society, compared to just over 3,000 today.

Meanwhile, in 1478, Llerena also became the main centre of the Santo Oficio, or Inquisition. One of the Inquisitions more famous sons, Inquisitor Pedro Alvares de Paredes, became notorious for his ability to extort confessions and forge evidence and for reading deceitful Tribunal decisions to the accused along the lines of, ‘you will be released if you confess’. He was moved to Evora in 1541 to hone his talents on the Portuguese heretics. The Inquisition kept a presence in Llerena until the city was taken over by Napoleon’s troops in the early 19th century.

Little wonder then that Llerena is a deeply religious city with four large churches and one convent serving its diminished population. Much of the impetus to construct these buildings came from the Knights. Such was the influence of the Mudejars that the religious buildings, along with other monuments, such as the Courtyard of the High Court of the Inquisition, the Bishop’s Palace, the Casas Maestrales, home of the Grand Masters of the Order of Santiago and the Town Hall and Palacio de Luis Zapata both overlooking the magnificent expanse of the Plaza Mayor, all combine Mudejar elements with the recently arrived in Extremadura, Gothic fashion. The result is an unusual combination of roofs made of wood with exposed masonry fixed on pointed arches, ogive vaults and stone ashlars with ornate balconies and windows.

Unlike Cáceres in the north of Extremadura that has managed to retain a Renaissance feel and Merida in central Extremadura with its Roman heritage, Llerena is still to all outward appearances, apart from the proliferation of motor vehicles, a Mediaeval town complete with the sombre, repressed atmosphere that must have been engendered by the brooding presence of the Inquisition and enhanced now by the narrow, shadowed streets and, during the long siesta period, a stillness not often experienced in a city. That is not to say the inhabitants feel that way. On the contrary, they appear to be cheerful and welcoming to strangers. A visit to the Tourist Information office, housed in the Palacio de Dona Mariana, a wonderful example of the architecture typical of the city, exemplifies both the architectural style with its ornate interior patio, columns, porticos and interior carved wooden panelling, and the attitude of the people. A charming young lady apologised for not having the opportunity to practice her English very often and then produced reams of information about the town, surrounding area and the province itself, all in impeccable English.

To really obtain a feel for the town you can, quite safely, wander the streets. You sometimes emerge in small squares with the inevitable church and occasionally at one of the two surviving gates through the city walls, the 1577 Puerta de Montemolin with a fresco of the Inmaculada Concepcion or the earlier Moorish, Puerta de Villagarcia with its broad stairs leading to the main entrance for pompous formal occasions, with a smaller arch to one side with a ‘z’ shaped entrance built to deter unwanted visitors. The dark bars, once the eyes are accustomed to the gloom, provide liquid refreshment and bowls of locally prepared plump, sweet, pickled olives.

Relief from the sun is found in the Plaza Mayor. On two sides a colonnaded walk, built in the 15th century, provides deep shade with, recessed into what was the aforementioned Palacio de Luis Zapata, a couple of bars that also serve food but only when the sun has gone down, after 8.30pm.

Having explored the city itself, that has no evidence whatsoever of any history before the Moors, it is time to look for the Romans. Drive out of Llerena following a sign for Roman ruins towards Fuente del Arco. You soon leave the city behind and emerge straight into farming country. 8 kilometers later you will reach the junction to Fuente del Arco, ignore it, carry on, do not follow the signs for the ruins, you end up in back streets hopelessly confused. Another kilometre on is a good junction with a road on your left that you follow for another kilometer to the signposted ruins. This huge site is still unexcavated. We know it is, potentially, a huge site because the only building standing, the theater, will seat 1,000 people and the Romans tended to build their theaters to cater for one third of the population at any one performance. In size, though not in decoration, it rivals that at Merida. It is likely that this is the site of the Roman settlement known as Regina and that, during the three hundred years between them leaving and the Moors arriving, the center of population moved 8 kilometers down the road to the more easily defensible hamlet that the Moors then called Ellerina. There are indications that the low hill on which Llerena sits was once a fortified iron age settlement. In any case the location of Regina does indicate that the Romans felt unthreatened here since it is located on a fairly flat plain with a high, in Roman times, undefended ridge behind.

On this ridge, overlooking the Roman site, is another Moorish hill town with an interesting fortification on its summit, the village of Reina. Unlike Llerena this tiny village crammed into a small rift below the castle has not changed since Moorish times. Check with the tourist office at Llerena for the opening times of the castle. In March 2009 it was closed for major renovations. Finally, a few more kilometers down the road are the abandoned iron mine, Mina de la Jayona. The iron ore has been extracted from this mine since before the Romans arrived and they quickly realized its importance. Worked continuously until the 20th century the mines are now a National Monument and open to visitors. The tours are guided and have to be arranged through the tourist office at Llerena. Tel. 924 870 551.

The rural route to Llerena produces a tantalizing expectation of things to come. Leave the newly finished autovia, grandly called the ‘Autovia de la Plata’ that takes you from Seville to Merida, a few kilometers before Monesterio at a junction signposted Pallares. Drive to Pallares and then follow the signs for Llerena. A winding road takes you through fertile valleys, first cultivated during the Roman and Moorish occupations and then at the behest of the Knights of Santiago. Plump Merino sheep and dark grey Iberian pigs graze placidly amongst fruit trees. Fields burst with vegetables of all kinds. Rough hunting country separates the valleys. On these stretches game birds explode from the roadside vegetation and disappear into thickets. There are pheasant and grouse and, a culinary delight when available, red legged partridge. There is so much game on the hills and crops and domesticated animals in the valleys that it occurs to you that here is a place, hopefully, where food is important and lovingly prepared to extract every last morsel of pleasure. And so it proves. The restaurant at the Hotel Mirador has a menu crammed with the local delicacies, succulent lamb, crisp suckling pig and plump partridge cooked with sage followed by sweet confections made at a Convent nearby. If seeing your dinner running around is not to your taste then leave the autovia at Zafra and follow the straight Roman road southeast to Llerena.

Men’s Rae Is a Major Factor in Pretrial


As soon as I was released from jail and trying to catch up on my business with beyond salvation and I started reading about different laws that pertained to my case and found men’s Rae. At that time, it gave me the impression that if you are innocent, this law was the salvation, but instead it was one of the laws that caused there to be a great deal of prison time. While in jail, as they said I was suicidal without verification, I was told by the judge that they did not have enough evidence against me and that they would lose the trial and therefore ordered me to be guilty and take a plea. That’s right, he changed my plea from innocent to guilty without my consent and there was nothing I could do about it, and my attorney told me that he can do what he desires, and now I am guilty. Later while still in jail, I was visited by the prosecutor who told me that I was going to stay in jail until after the grand jury had spoken. He did this on purpose, as I had the right to speak in my own defense, but I was locked up in jail and not told of my right to speak. I am to be told of my right to speak, but was denied. If I were to speak at the grand jury, I would’ve been released, because the replicated charges were so far out of my realm and the FBI was constantly watching me. Another fact that most attorneys are not allowed to be present in the grand jury.

After I was released, I was not allowed into any meetings that pertained to my case. It was to be handled by my attorney, all three of whom were incompetent, even though I had a right to be present. My point to you is that you need an honest defense attorney and I feel a good source of information regarding a defense attorney is the NACDL, or National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, as there are over 70,000 members throughout the country, and they are fighting for reform. There also other brief organizations, and also be sure to make sure that you are well represented. It is well worth the money, so that you do not have to spend four years in prison, a lifetime of supervised parole and very incompetent medical, as a result I am handicapped today.

Men’s rea and actus rea are two important terms in criminal law in the western world. The terms are taken from the Latin sentence ‘Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea’ (an act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty). This is known as “guilty mind.” Without intent, the deed does not make a person guilty.

Thus, men’s rea refers to intent, while the actus rea refers to an action.

Men’s Rea means criminal intent. it is one of the important elements of crime. it calls for an act of a crime; for example: a person A throws a stone at a tree to collect a fruit, but he doesn’t know that B is sitting on the tree, and the stone thrown hits B’s head and wounds him. so, it is considered as A didn’t voluntarily hit B to cause any harm. There was no criminal intent of A. It means the absence of men’s rea does not make a work or act a crime.

In any criminal case, the action, as well as the intent, must be established for a person to be charged with a crime. The degree and the kind of causation must also be considered. Also, all legitimate defenses, mitigating factors, and extenuating circumstances must be taken into account for a criminal charge to be determined.

Another says: men’s Rea is simply a guilty intent. Did the person have the required intent, knowledge that he/she was doing wrong, to commit a crime.

Most crimes require what attorneys refer to as “men’s Rea,” which is Latin for a “guilty mind.” In other words, what was the defendant’s mental state and what did the defendant intend when the crime was committed. Men’s Rea allows the criminal justice system to differentiate between someone who did not mean to commit a crime and someone who intentionally set out to commit a crime. This is what the law states, but in actuality you are guilty.

These states of mind are, in descending order of magnitude: “intent” or “purpose,”

• “knowledge,”

• “recklessness” (often called “willful blindness” in the United States), and

• “gross (or criminal) negligence.”

Men’s Rae was created from another law which was the “Cattle-trespass Act, 1871( 1 of 1871)”. This was a law was created in India for cattle, not people. How absurd. And yes, I do have a copy of the law, and I read most of this confusing law. And we use this law to convert the innocent into guilty, and to extend sentences of the guilty. This law plus another is one of the major factors of our overpopulation within the prisons, with the taxpayer picking up the bills. After finding these facts, I did not feel like dancing, but rather just standing there going MOO.

The defendant is to know of this law and its findings, however somehow it just slips off the calendar. This law was also created for the violent offenders and those that are dangerous to society. This law needs complete reform, immediately, but the best method of reform would be to bury it deep under 400 tons of concrete with maximum amounts of rebar, or to sink it to the deepest depths of the ocean.

The law can be rebuilt in human fashion. It talks about a guilty mind. Show me a person who has never at any time had a guilty mind and I will call him a liar. Tell me the person who did not intend to do something and who never completed the act, and I will call him a liar. That can be you, your neighbor, your spouse even the prosecutor and the judge as we are all human and only God has no guilt. What do you think confessions are for?

I digress…

Mens rea (/ˈmÉ›nz ˈriËÂÉ™/; Law Latin for “guilty mind”) is the mental element of a person’s intent to commit a crime or knowledge that one’s action or lack of action would cause a crime to be committed. It is a necessary element of many crimes.

The important discussion point of the above is that it is the basis for the addition and strong relationships to other laws that are directly responsible for the overcrowding of our prisons today. It opens the opportunity to the innocent being made guilty therefore increasing the prison population and also extending the normal sentence of the guilty individual far beyond its original intent, again overpopulating the prison system.

The innocent who serve time have potentially lost their family, friends, jobs and are looked upon by society with scorn. For the incarcerated, their friends as a rule run away from them. Often, the only people who continue to stay close to them will have served time with them, and if they are caught communicating, especially during the probation period, back to prison they go, keeping the prison population rates high and “society safe”. So what is the thing about rehabilitation, it seems to be quite lacking or nonexistent.


There are about 20,000 laws just governing the use and ownership of guns. New laws mean new crimes. From the start of 2000 through 2007, Congress had created at least 452 new crimes, so that at that time the total number of Federal crimes exceeded 4,450. Of course, times change and laws need to be updated. As the sentencing rate increases, more tax money is required to maintain the prisons. Prisoners must be fed and clothed which requires your tax dollars. But what you don’t know, and I do know and I am going to share with you concerns the food given to prisoners. In many cases frozen boxes of food are delivered to the dining hall clearly marked “not fit for human consumption” and this is what I had to eat. Join me for dinner? I will let you have the first bite.

Regarding the number of laws in existence today, where are they recorded? I did find out that many of these laws are held in secrecy by the Department of Justice. This is against the Constitution as we have a right to know ALL of the laws and have access to them, since we are held responsible. I did find a website which supposedly contains a multitude of laws. This website is: I did find one very critical law and its title is: “Speed Limits | City of Mesa “, and this can send you to federal prison and if you’re guilty or not guilty as you will go to prison because of men’s Rae.

Men’s rea is also one of the premier laws for converting an innocent defendant into a guilty person and also the actual guilty person can receive an extended sentence with this law, which leads us to the overpopulation of our present system and other factors that require large institutions built to specific specifications so that the person held inside is not, while incarcerated, a danger to society.

Men’s Rae has everything to do with the guilty mind. I try to understand how a judge can label the defendant and look into a person’s mind and determine if he is guilty and guilty with intent in contemplating his criminal act. The little I know about psychology is that it is difficult to determine what another person thinks, and to say that they have a guilty mind makes me wonder. How does one know what this person was thinking and with full intent to actually commit the act. And yet, this law is one of the greatest contributors to our current overpopulation problem, because they could take an innocent man and through their interpretation of the guilty mind and intent and finally the crime, determine that man is guilty of a crime he may not have committed, but yet the court decides the fate and the ruin of this individual. They have no idea the aftermath of being in prison. I lost almost all my friends, I lost a brother, lost business associates, I lost the love and respect of my family, and as I walked around in a crowd of people who gravitated away from me and I am wearing the scarlet letter Getting a job is a joke. Society has abandoned me, but did the court care that they have condemned an innocent man? NO. They just filled another empty bed within the Bureau of prisons for more money.

To me, I find that this is one of the worst laws in our country. But, as previously noted, we adapted this law from another country, India, and the law deals with cattle in their country. There is another law recently reading about that is even worse than men’s Rae, and I shall write about this law.

Since the publisher does not accept the five core apps that I was intending to send, gives a visual presentation of just a few problems that have been identified within the Department of Justice, but now I am thinking with this new project that I am currently working on will become a book and a lot of graphs for visual presentation will be included there. The story they tell is very poignant and to the point of the areas in dire need of reform