Sunday, May 15, 2011

Arun Kapil Blasts Vallini

An excellent comment by Arun Kapil on some of the stupid things being said about the American courts.

Frankly, the conneries being spouted on all sides about this affair are overwhelming, and I could spend all day documenting them, but I have better things to do. We have here one of those Rorschach events that reveal hidden psychological deformities. I've no doubt already revealed some of my mine. But once again I would recommend to all of you who are filling the comments section here to think twice before you hit the send button. Vast generalizations about national characters are usually unwarranted. Few facts are known about this case. Speculation is running way ahead of evidence. Please be prudent. I am not deleting any comments, although I find the peremptory tone of many quite unfortunate. The Internet is great at spreading information quickly, but it is also an unprecedented tool for broadcasting nonsense.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I remember very well that the French felt entitled to weigh in heavily on the side of Bill Clinton
when he was accused of pushing himself on an Arkansas employee (Paula Jones) when he was Governor and other Clinton affairs when in the White House. They were scolding the Americans for being too Puritanical. After all, it was only sex, was the essence of their refrain. Will the French now follow their own advice with respect to DSK under almost identical accusations that Bill Clinton was under? We shall see, but I doubt the French will follow their own advice now that they are in a similar situation. More hypocrisy.

meshplate said...

The example you gave here is Arun Kapil's warranted criticism of a PS anti-american, pro-DSK ideologue. I would like to see something from DSK detractors that you find equally absurd.

Of course, the fact that DSK is a well-known quetard does not mean ipso facto that he tried to rape the housekeeper in his hotel, nor does the fact that he left a cellphone behind. But because he was arrested so quickly and in the way that he was seems to suggest that there really is a case to answer here. Is that going overboard?

And is it going overboard to spare some thoughts for the relatively powerless presumed victim rather than her powerful, wealthy and well-connected presumed attacker?

meshplate said...

@anonymous, my perception is on the contrary they are being consistent. They are saying it's just sex when it's a rape charge, that Americans are hysterical puritans, that it's a conspiracy to humiliate the IMF. There aren't so many on the other side except for Marine Le Pen and some a few Sarkosists.

Arthur Goldhammer said...

I find the rush to judgment appalling, precisely because the charge is so serious. I take the presumption of innocence seriously, and I also believe that while the rich and powerful should be treated no better than anyone else, they should also be treated no worse. So I cringe when I hear statements about "my sources in the police" or "DNA evidence has been found," etc. To put it bluntly, if the man masturbated in his bed while watching a porn flick, there would be DNA. Why prejudge a case about which we know next to nothing? More facts will emerge in due course. Until then, I think we had better refrain from judgment. Let the police and the courts do their job.

Cincinna said...

How can one help but make generalizations when one reads the comments by many French bloggers.
The fact that a real human being, a woman working in a menial job, was the alleged victim of a powerful man with friends highly placed in government goes unmentioned.
What about her rights to see that Justice is done?
These anti-American bloggers who know less about the facts of the case, and about the fundamental fairness of American jurisprudence should be ashamed.
Rest assured that DSK will get a fair trial by a jury of his peers. He will be treated like every other criminal
defendant- no better no worse. No special privileges. He will have the same rights that every other person is guaranteed under the US Constitution.
The statue of Lady Justice in front of the Court House sends a strong message: Justice is blind- blind to race, class, ethnicity, age, and social position. This is a Court system that convicted Martha Stewart, Bernard Madoff, Marc Rich, and other high profile defendants.
Just my 2¢

Cincinna said...

Just like every other criminal defendant, DSK was put before a NYPD line up this afternoon, and was identified by the alleged victim as the man she says attacked her.

Later this evening, he will, forgive the expression, be frog-marched into Criminal Court to be arraigned before a Judge. Bail will probably be requested.

My husband and brother are down at Criminal Court right now. I'll keep you all posted.

Cincinna said...

@Art
Thanks for publishing this excellent piece.
Bravo Arun Kapil for daring to go contre le courant.
Republique Bananiere indeed!

Arthur Goldhammer said...

A comment from a friend of mine who is an expert on the criminal justice system (I am not free to give his name): "I would also caution against the idea that because he's [DSK] wealthy and white, he'll get a great deal from the Manhattan DA's office. It's true he has Ben Brafman as an attorney, which is very good for him. But celebrities (and I think he counts as one, though no NYC juror will have heard of him) create their own peculiar incentives in the criminal justice system. There is often a tendency to treat them more harshly than comparable everyday defendants. The definitive word on this phenomenon is Tom Wolfe's riff on "the great white defendant" in Bonfire of the Vanities. Prosecutors make their names on cases like this one."

alexpri said...

@Art,
I certainly agree that one should avoid a rush to judgment. Nonetheless, it is normal in these circumstances to try to assess the credibility of the charges, even if not much is known. Along those lines, I find it hard not to be impressed by Tristane Banon’s story, which I hadn’t heard until today. You refer to it as “gossip” in an earlier post, but it seems to me that the reporting on AgoraVox and now the statements that Banon’s mother has made on television and the radio take it quite a bit beyond that. There seems no reason to doubt Banon, and although she herself refrains from describing what happened to her as attempted rape, her description of a physical struggle ending up on the floor, with her kicking him, certainly resembles it. Even so, as Thierry Desjardins says, it is difficult to believe that DSK really did what he is alleged to have done in New York.

Cincinna said...

@alexpri
    My 2¢ - Why so hard to believe? All people, the rich and powerful in high positions are all fallable human beings, just like you and me. 
   The arrogance of power, which DSK has always manifested, seems  to have made him believe he was not like other men, not subject to the same rules of society, nor the same laws. 
   An old American saying, " got too big for his britches" seems more than apt in his case. 
   What many are missing, especially our French friends posting this conspiracy nonsense and psycho-babble; it seems to me, as someone who has worked on many homicide cases, and sex crimes cases, is that DSK has sociopathic tendencies typical of men who commit crimes of violence against women. Rape isn't about sex, it's about violence, and is considered such in the State of NY. 
  Looking back on his history, his affairs, his scandals, it appears there was always someone to clean up his mess. His enabler wife, his entourage, and the high ups in the PS who needed him because they believed he was their winning ticket in the Élysée lottery. 
  The man needed help long ago, and was pushed along, sweeping it under the rug, using and being used. 
  And now he has reached the end. He has fallen. Almost like a Greek tragedy, something Shakespearean. Lots of lessons to be learned here on both sides of the Pond, but I have the feeling they will fall on deaf ears. 
  

Kirk said...

French anti-Americanism is clearly present in this debate, the same way it was brought forth when the Polanski affair was happening. They claim that it's just an "affaire des moeurs" which shows an incredible misogny, thinking that women are nothing but objects, and powerful men have a droit de cuissage. The suggestions that the American legal system - in particular that of NYC - is in any way not serious is ludicrous, and shows the utter stupidity of anyone making such comments.

On the other hand, the point about DNA evidence does not make me think of semen, but rather simply hair to identify the person who was in the room. According to the NYT, they also were looking for skin under his fingernails that could belong to the victim. The NYPD did claim that they had DNA evidence early on, but, again, that is most likely just hair from his room.

The NYT does report today that the victim picked him out of a line-up (do they even do that in France?), and that they were "seeking additional DNA evidence."

I watched i-télé for a while last night, and they had people on saying how it was impossible that DSK had done what he was accused of because A, B and C. And they have the right to say so. But because he never did anything like this before, doesn't mean he couldn't do it now.

Also, the point about the DA going further because he's a wealthy, important person is valid, and is, in fact, something I tend to approve of. The French, however, see this is impossible; you'd never have an important French politician in court on similar charges in France, and they don't undestand the cultural difference that leads DAs in the US to do this. The also don't understand that the legal system has no ties to the federal government, or even to state governments.

But, as Cinicnna suggested, this is indeed Shakespearean, and the next episode is later today.

meshplate said...

If you want to hear absolute rubbish of the worst anti-american, conspiracy theorist, anti-victim type, turn on RFI. It is absolutely incredible! The attacks on the housekeeper are absolutely inexcusable, the impugning of the probity of the police and prosecutors are beyond belief. I really don't think the problem in France is in any way a "rush to judgment" of DSK, rather it is a flight from reality into conspiracy theory. Here is where the extreme right and left meet - in unreality and paranoia. As in the USA, what is frightening is the willful nature of such rejecting out of hand the basic version of the events as told by the police in preference for baroque, insane and unfounded fantasy. This they, these "realists" call not being fooled by the official version of events. So the victim is the perp, the police and the police are her assistants, and the United States is the enemy of France. Do those who condemn DSK prematurely suffer from this level of dishonest and willful nastiness. I really don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Rue89 tries to put things back in perspective:
http://www.rue89.com/yeti-voyageur/2011/05/16/affaire-dsk-presomption-dinnocence-ou-deni-de-culpabilite-203994

Anonymous said...

This is stuff you hear about around you if you live in France
http://nouvelhermes.blogspot.com/2011/05/le-zizi-de-dominique-strauss-kahn.html

meshplate said...

@anonymous, Like I said, those on the other side don't go to this extreme of aggression and hatred towards the victim, the police, and reason. As you say, this is widespread. In fact, I was just in a cafe and not a crummy cafe but one next to the Luxembourg gardens and I overheard stuff in this vein, surement un coup monté etc, etc....

Steven Rendall said...

Anonymous, re the link to nouvelhermes: read the comments: they will help restore your faith in humanity.

Anonymous said...

Steven Rendall: I went and checked the links above, and as per your post checked the comments on nouvelhermes link, but I don't know that my faith in humanity is restored...

More from a French journalist astounded that DSK would be treated like a regular citizen:
iTélé just now:"Oui il s'agit bel et bein du chef du FMI, traité comme un banal délinquant sexuel, à qui l'on fait subir des tests médicaux..."
"DSK est traité comme un simple citoyen américain, il est dans une salle avec des délinquants..."
"Cet environnement doit être très curieux, déconcertant, pour quelqu'un comme DSK. Et le central booking n'est pas connu pour être un endroit convivial ça a dû être très dur pour lui."

Olivier Mazerolles: "SI DSK rentrait en France, JAMAIS on ne l'extradirait"
As for sexism:
"La juge Melissa Jackson est une femme plutôt avenante" the French journalist in the US just said...

And this outrageous conclusion to an article I came across:
Une femme peu séduisante...
Autre information RMC, la défense se penche sur la personnalité et la vie de la victime présumée pour tenter de prouver qu’elle aurait eu un intérêt matériel à se présenter en tant que telle. Les avocats auraient été surpris, lors de la comparution, de voir arriver une jeune femme très peu séduisante. Encore une fois il s’agit de la version de la défense.
(Because obviously only pretty girls get raped, the others made it up?)
Obviously this doesn't come from La Défense, probably rather from French people close to the case, as such words are actually detrimental to DSK and his defense!