1. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Is this believable/feasible?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Oscar Leigh, Feb 10, 2016.

    So, I've got this story set in 50's America. In this storyline, it is revealed to the audience after a period that the character Simon, who is a womanizer, is actually gay and in a very strong relationship with his gardener and supposed best friend Lawrence. He acts as a womanizer to draw away suspicion. Anyway, a chqracter that comes in at this point, George Penchek, is a visiting middlle-ranking MI6 Agent and Simon being a person of interest to his mission he finds out. Now, Penchek is somewhat left-leaning and liberal, as well as being an agnostic (not openly). So Penchek takes pity on the two lovers, he doesn't want see them imprisoned for a harmless relationship. However, Britain and America both have sodomy laws so he's supposed to turn them in as criminals. Do you think it's believable and feasible for him to help them hide? That's the plan, but I would like some advice on this doubt of mine. Plus, any tips on how he would go about doing that?
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I think it's feasible for him to turn a blind eye. I'd want him to have a stronger motivation for going out of his way to help them hide, though. I assume it'd ruin his mission if Simon was imprisoned? That'd work for me.

    As for helping them hide... well, presumably they've been hiding their relationship for a long time if they're meant to be best friends, so why do they need outside help?
     
  3. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Okay; so two things.
    Firstly, he befriends them, he's also seen sodomy charges before and the way it hurts people. And Simon is friends with Mary, an old friend of his who he feels he owes.
    Secondly, the reason he needs to help them is because they're under scrutiny because of the big events going on, including but not limited to the situation that brought him here. And Simon is a big law firm boss, so he's been toeing the line for ages. The two are good at it, especially with six years practise, but they get into close shaves regularly as has already occurred earlier multiple times.
     
  4. Samurai Jack
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    Samurai Jack Active Member

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    Why would a member of the foreign intelligence service for the British government turn a United States citizen in to a state government for prosecution of sodomy laws? It's a massive suspension of disbelief that situation would actually be a situation.
     
  5. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    He's in America, it's illegal in both his and their country, and he's a government agent so he's supposed to enforce the law.
     
  6. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    And besides, this is the 50's, if someone was in this kind of relationship, most people going to particularly care about their privacy when they are a criminal and a "deviant'.
     
  7. Samurai Jack
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    Samurai Jack Active Member

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    He is a member of the British Secret Intelligence Service.

    That feels like a CIA agent arresting someone in London for selling pot. Not that he could arrest someone, because he's a foreign national, and not that he'd be interested in testifying as a witness, because he's a spy. There are other law enforcement agencies to handle that, and as a spy, he has other duties.
     
  8. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    He's a British national, serving British interests, chief of which (in his case) is keeping his MI6 activities as secret as possible. He's not going to put his head above the parapet simply because he feels sorry for these guys. In fact, he's more likely to use the knowledge to pressurise them into betraying their country.
     
  9. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    He doesn't "put his head above the parapet" he just says nothing and does them a few favours. And it's not just feeling sorry for them, it's a genuine friendship and a friendship with Mary. Plus, Simon's connection to Bernie and Mary, the subjects of his mission, does have it's uses.
     
  10. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    It not about him arresting them or testifying, it's about reporting it to those other law enforcement agencies. In particular, the FBI is central to the plotline, and they have a vested interest in discrediting Simon because of Bernie.
     
  11. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Oscar, you did ask - no point getting defensive.

    It doesn't sound to me like his motivations are strong enough for doing them a few favours.
     
  12. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    So if you were a friend of some people, in a completely unfair situation, people who have both suffered before in different ways, and they were friends with your oldest friend who has helped you so much as a mentor, you would just leave them? Even considering one of them is useful to your mission, albeit supposed to be in jail? That's cold.
    And for the record all I'm doing is stating counter-points. If you find it confrontational in manner them I'm sorry, but all I'm trying to do is present a strong response.
     
  13. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Why would the English be hostile against America at this time, where their busy ganging upon on Communism? And again, he likes these guys and furthermore he's not a manipulative arsehole.
     
  14. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why would America be hostile to Britain at this time, where they're busy ganging up on communism?

    1/ America puts America first...they didn't join in either World war until American interests were threatened. Britain has a similar interest. Because, if America and Britain are such best buddies that they tell each other everything, why would a British secret agent even be in America?

    2/ He's not a manipulative arsehole, but he's a spy? Pull the other one!
     
  15. ToeKneeBlack
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    If the MI6 agent were in Britain, he'd probably turn them in, but the USA isn't in his jurisdiction. He could rat them out, but he couldn't arrest them. Additionally, he probably doesn't want too much attention from the local authorities, so he's very likely to turn a blind eye to protect the viability of his mission as much as he wants to take pity on the couple.

    Assuming the couple have been hiding their relationship for sometime but are close to being discovered by another person, they may come to the MI6 agent for help if they trust him enough. Alternatively, if he notices they're about to be discovered despite their best efforts, he might help them out first and tell them about it later.

    As for an MI6 agent in the USA in that time period, he could be investigating someone from another country in America who is a threat to British interests. Informing the local agencies of the threat could slow down its prevention, depending on the circumstances.
     
  16. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    He's there to deal with a problem that by the way includes negotiating with the American agencies. And I severely detest your stereotyping there. First, intelligence is only as bad as the government. They may acts as one of the most ruthless and deceitful agencies but only because governments have designed and used them that way, they could be better. Secondly, not all agents have a bad personality. They're just people.
     
  17. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    And guys, again, it's not about arrest it's about reporting it.
     
  18. ChickenFreak
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    There are laws and there are laws. I'd need to do some research to confirm or deny this, but I don't think that sodomy laws (assuming that we're talking about two consenting adults) were ever aggresively prosecuted in the US or UK like, say murder.

    So I don't see how there would be an issue of him turning them in to the local law enforcement. Prosecution of a crime requires evidence. Is he going to care so much about this particular crime that he's going to take the trouble to spy on them specifically for that purpose, maybe spend several nights hiding in the master bath in the hope that he'd have the opportunity to open the door and take photos...?

    So, turning them in merely because, Oh, it's illegal, they should be prosecuted, seems implausible. Even if he is in that bathroom with his camera for some OTHER reason, presumably that other reason is something that he wouldn't want the local police to be puzzling over. I doubt that MI6 agents who happen to see their target running a red light, or happen to find their taxes while searching for the secret microfilm, will risk their cover by reporting those crimes to local law enforcement.

    However, giving the information to his superiors, in case they want to make use of the information for blackmail or manipulation? Yeah. I would guess that that's absolutely completely his job. And if the person is important, I could see them sending him to take those photos.

    Edited to add: As a side note, I think that society in the fifties was rather more stratified than now, so that openly being best friends with one's own gardener would likely produce the sort of speculation that the character really doesn't want.
     
  19. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    So you don't think it would be an issue of him being obligated to turn them over? What about if he could use them as a bargaining chip? Because it's kind of the idea that it's not expected he let's them be in the first place, little own the favours he does them.
     
  20. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Doesn't the term "lovers" make it clear it's consenting, and Lawrence is only a year younger don't worry. As to their facade, firstly Simon has a bit of a rebel side, hence his connection to Bernie who is a semi-secret socialist and a open defender of civil rights. And secondly, what else are they going to say? It's the best way of explaining their closeness, and it gives them an excuse to not hide that. Wouldn't you want to at least act like a friend to someone you love, if you can't be open with it?
     
  21. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    And it's not like they flaunt the best friend excuse, it's just their excuse when people see how much they trust each other and stuff.
     
  22. BoddaGetta
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    The only time in history I can think of someone being persecuted for sodomy in the 20th century was Turing in WWII, though that was more of a personal vendetta against him than actual moral obligation. And he was in Britain at the time.

    After that it just was not that common. Even in Turing's time the "treatments" he underwent were highly uncommon.

    You describe your MI6 character as being liberal and agnostic. Wouldn't it violate his character to interrupt his mission to report a contact for something completely irrelevant to the situation?

    The most that would make sense for the plot and characters involved would be blackmail of some sort if the contact is withholding information from the agent. In that case he'd probably threaten his reputation more than reporting him to the authorities.

    Also, local police have enough tension with jurisdiction rights when something becomes federal and investigated by the FBI. Imagine how prickly they'd be if a British agent [normally you shouldn't even reveal you are MI6 in another country, or CIA etc] was trying to get someone arrested for a petty, non-violent crime that does not affect others [unlike murder or rape]. If he was negotiating with the American government as you claimed in another post, MI6 would not be involved. It would be an ambassador or UN rep.

    Also, if his interests there are for an international reason, most often enforcement would be done by Interpol, not MI6.
     
  23. ChickenFreak
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    Even if he thought that he should turn them over where's the evidence? In the scenario where he has a genuine un-self-interested desire to enforce the law, that requires evidence. He would have to go out of his way to gather that evidence. He surely has better things to do than seek evidence of every crime that he suspects.

    If he wants to use them as a bargaining chip, that's different from a genuine un-self-interested desire to enforce the law. That requires much more detailed information about his job and his employers, and the extent to which he's willing to stretch law and ethics. I can't have an opinion on that question without that information.

    My issue isn't the friendship, but the employer-employee relationship. I think that the friendship would be much easier to explain if one of the friends weren't employed by the other. Friendship is a relationship of equals. Employment is a relationship of superior and inferior. Combining the two is likely to make people puzzle and comment. These two don't want puzzlement and commentary. It would be much better, IMO, for the employed friend to be employed by someone else.

    They could still share lots of time in the same house by, say, sharing a hobby--they could (claim to) co-author a book, or have a model railroad layout in the basement, or work on interesting new photography techniques. It makes sense for the prosperous friend to share his things with the less prosperous friend. It's moderately unlikely for the gardener to have free run of the house.

    Edited to add: For that matter, the less prosperous friend could be a tenant or roommate. It's him being an employee that I think would inspire comment.
     
  24. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Okay, so I've decided the initial "I'm not telling" isn't as important as helping them hide. Thanks for the advice on that.
     
  25. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Did they do roomatew in the 50's? Was that a thing? Him, that could be a good idea. But I like the idea of him being lovers with his gardener. The context you mentioned us why I designed it that way, the irony is kinda cute.
     

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