Regular readers know that I despise everything that DSK stands for politically – he’s a member of the French Socialist Party and has orchestrated a series of sovereign bailouts while head of the IMF. I am nonetheless disgusted with the public discourse around his case.
There is no presumption of innocence, as if accusers of sex crimes never turn out to be liars. Typical of this attitude is mayor Bloomberg’s quip, “if you don’t want to do the ‘perp walk’, don’t do the crime.”
There are any number of possibilities for what really happened in that hotel suite, but only one seems to be seriously considered in the US press: that this plump, 5’7″, 62-year-old overpowered a 5’11″, 32-year-old African woman with such force or martial efficiency as to not leave either of them significantly bruised and scratched. The story seems to be that she was so intimidated by his strength that she went along and performed oral sex without harming him. Maybe I just lack DSK’s skill, but my wife is 5’10″, and I’m a young and fit 6′, and I’d end up in the emergency room if I tried something like this! I bet Diallo could have beaten DSK to a pulp if she’d wanted. How can feminists have such a low regard for women that they assume they would all just comply with demands from random, unarmed old men?
The above is a possibility, but without evidence it is no more, if not less probable than that he offered her money or favors in exchange for sex but she found him to be a “rutting chimpanzee” and abusive jerk, spurring her to cry rape in revenge. He had stayed in the hotel at least 6 times in the last year, so maybe this wasn’t even their first encounter but a spat – we just don’t know. Of course, we can’t discount conspiracy, as if such things never happen in politics. Such a set-up would of course be likely to take advantage of the man’s known vices. All she would have to do is flirt with him, and the old horndog would come on to her. Easy to cry rape in exchange for a few hundred grand, and easy to keep silent when sufficiently intimidated.
In my perusal of the French discourse on this subject (via the Google Translate Chrome plugin), I find it much more deliberative than the US take on the affair. Is it possible that Americans are even more politically correct than the French, at least when it comes to sex? It also may be that the French are cooly cynical about the workings of power, having tossed out several governments in the last two centuries. A poll on Wednesday showed that 57% thought DSK is the victim of some kind of set-up. It is perfectly respectable to question such things as the official versions of current and historical events (certain German activities in WWII notwithstanding – that may land you in prison). They are also much better dinner companions and conversationalists than most Americans, and don’t observe the same taboos.
The Great White Defendant refers to these rare cases where prosecutors get to target a member of the privileged class, and as a consequence of their guilt from having put away so many poor people, they pursue him like Ahab after the white whale. Of course, journalists love these cases because they fit their own preconceptions of oppressors and oppressed, and the media attention makes prosecutors stars and helps their political careers. The last such major case was the prosecution of several white Duke lacrosse players on the word of a black stripper who turned out to have made the whole thing up. The lead prosecutor in that case ended up being convicted of contempt and disbarred for his criminal disregard of the truth. Nifong served one day in jail, and neither the accuser nor the currupt police have been prosecuted for their actions. BTW, the accuser, Crystal Mangum, is facing a first degree murder charge for the stabbing of her boyfriend last month, but the New York Times is strangely silent on that story.
I hope Tom Wolfe is watching this case closely (and I suspect he is, as he lives in NYC) and gives us a write-up or two by the time it’s over. No matter what actually happened and what verdict is reached (jurors are selected for gullibility, so the verdict will not necessarily reflect the truth), the affair may refect poorly on journalism and the court system.
The rigor with which journalists and prosecutors pursue the truth is critical for a civilized society, since the legal system has a monopoly on the use of force. The burden of proof is on the accuser, whether a policeman or alleged victim. We are talking about the proper handling of guns and iron cages, so any less than a presumption of innocence is reckless.
Here’s the Bonfire of the Vanities on Amazon
I strongly recommend it (and not the movie with Hanks & Willis), along with everything Wolfe has written – he’s the best novelist/journalist of our time.