Friday, July 1, 2011

And Justice for - - - All, Ideally


Update (July 2, 2011)

I still have no opinion about whether or not Mr. Strauss-Kahn is innocent or guilty of raping a hotel maid. The case hasn't gone to trial, and at this point it's very difficult to sort out fact from wishful thinking. One of the more lurid claims:That may be true: or the defense may defaming the victim in hopes that she'll sit down and be a polite little maid. I really don't know.

For what it's worth, I don't think rape is okay if the victim is a prostitute - or was wearing the 'wrong' clothes, or whatever. (see below)
Here's the situation:
  • On one side is a person who
    • Has
      • Wealth
      • Social status
    • Is of a 'civilized race'
  • On the other is a person who
    • Doesn't
    • Isn't
  • The prominent gentleman
    • Is accused of assaulting a menial 'native'
    • Has been released without bail
Not that anybody's likely to say "civilized race" these days, or "native," when explaining why a European couldn't possibly be guilty. I think, though, that some folks still haven't quite gotten out of the 19th century. (January 8, 2011)

Dominique Strauss-Kahn: International Leader, Prominent Citizen, and Accused Rapist

The key word in that heading is "accused."

Do I think that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former International Monitory Fund head and frightfully important fellow back in France, is:
  • Guilty?
    • No
  • Innocent?
    • No
I think that he has been accused, but hasn't yet been tried. I'm also certain that I do not have all the information pertinent to his case.

What has come out looks bad for anyone who was betting that Mr. Strauss-Kahn would win the next presidential election in France. Assuming that enough folks in France aren't quite as self-importantly amoral as the gentleman's cheering squad seem to be.

There's Lying - and there's Inaccuracy

One reason that Mr. Strauss-Kahn has been released - without bail - is, I take it, that the hotel maid who wasn't properly appreciative and awed by his position lies and stuff like that.

BBC gave details on just what the hotel maid's deficiencies were:
"...1759: A quick summary of a dramatic few hours - former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has had his strict bail conditions eased and bail money returned after doubts arose about the credibility of his accuser. New York's District Attorney says the woman has admitted lying in parts of her testimony. Standing outside the courtroom, her lawyer has given a graphic description of what the alleged victim says happened in the Manhattan Sofitel hotel on 14 May.

"1755:She at first said she had fled the room and reported the alleged attack. But the letter says she has 'since admitted that this account was false and that after the incident in Suite 2806, she proceeded to clean a nearby room and then returned to Suite 2806 and began to clean that suite before she reported the incident to her supervisor', Reuters reports.

"1753: Details are emerging from the letter which prosecutors sent to Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyers detailing their concerns about their client's testimony. They say she has admitted to lying in her account of what she did after the alleged incident...."
(BBC News) [emphasis mine]

Wealth isn't Virtue: Neither is Poverty

I've also heard that the hotel maid was connected somehow to folks who were connected to drugs and stuff. That doesn't surprise me all that much. She works at the Sofitel Hotel - whose patrons have the cash to pay for quite a few high-end luxuries, legal and otherwise.

It's not that I think folks with money are 'good' or 'bad.' I think everybody is tempted. The difference is that someone with gobs of money has opportunities that someone without extra cash doesn't. There are advantages to being in the low-profile strata of a culture, too - and that's another topic.

Do I hate rich people? No: I'm not allowed to hate rich people, or anybody else. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1033) (December 9, 2010)

I think it's okay to be rich, poor, or anywhere between. What matters is what we do with what we've got. (September 27, 2010) Rape isn't nice, by the way, and we shouldn't do it: judgmental as that sounds. (Catechism, 2356) (May 17, 2011)

Justice: It's a Virtue

Since I'm a practicing Catholic, treating folks unjustly isn't an option. Justice is one of the cardinal virtues, along with prudence, fortitude, and temperance. (Catechism, 1805) "Temperance," in this context, doesn't mean taking an axe to taverns. It's moderation, more or less. (Catechism, 1809)

There's a whole section in the Catechism about social justice: 1928-1942. On the other hand, liberation theology is a bad idea, and so is slavery - and I've been over that before. Recently. (June 24, 2011)

Maybe you've known a Catholic who was into liberation theology, or thought that separation of the races makes sense, or had a drinking problem. There are over 1,000,000,000 of us around just now, and some don't behave very well. More topics.

'What if It Was an American in France?'

I heard someone, on this morning's news, point out that Mr. Strauss-Kahn had been in line to run for president in the next French election. Then came this rhetorical question: 'What if it was an American candidate for president, being tried for rape in France?'

Given the track record of politicos in this country, my reaction to the idea of a high-profile American being tried for rape in France might be:
  • Doesn't surprise me
  • What, there wasn't an intern around?
  • Oh, man - this is embarrassing
I might even, depending on the individual's reputation, be surprised and disappointed. There are, I think, politicians who have a functioning conscience. And that's yet again another topic.

Whether it's the hypothetical American in France, or the real French citizen in America, I'd be concerned about the social and financial position of the accused influencing a trial - one way or the other. But I'd hope that the case went to trial.

Right now, if Mr. Strauss-Kahn decides to hop a plane to France, and be important there - I'm very concerned that there won't be a trial. And that's not going to leave a very good impression. Not for me.

Related posts:
News and views:

4 comments:

Brigid said...

No bail...

At all...

Yeeeeeeeeesh.

Brian Gill said...

Brigid,

Hardly surprising, but still a disappointment. There are, I understand, restrictions - and if he decides to skip town, I don't think folks in New York City are going to politely forget the matter.

Keir said...

Talk about reversal of fortune... For me the case says more about the role of the press and politicians than has been given attention. I've just seen the New York Post this morning again refer to Strauss-Kahn as a "dirty frog." I teach just outside Dachau where those referred to as "Dirty Jews" or other such epithets were sent after being castigated and the masses whipped into a frenzy. The editor of the main such rag, Der Stuermer, was hanged at Nuremberg for this very reason. Just like Streicher, this reprehensible writer uses emotive language whilst ignoring facts and judgement to whip up the crowds. How on earth can the US, a country that seems to be falling further and further into the abyss of ignorance, extremism and reaction, allow such racist language in a daily newspaper? And then what did New York’s mayor say? If he didn’t want to be escorted through a throng of reporters in handcuffs- tired, dishevelled, unshaven and hungry- he shouldn’t have done the crime? Looks like maybe he didn’t do the crime. Looks like Bloomberg is not a fan of due process or any of the other little hallmarks laid down in our common law since 1215. Will he be apologising? I would be most surprised as my impression of American politicians is that they will say anything, go on TV to do anything, and disseminate obscene photos of themselves to all and sundry electronically and never apologise for their “mistakes” until enough people have been damaged by their irresponsibility.

Brian Gill said...

Keir,

Agreed, there's been some quite emotional reaction to Mr. Strauss-Kahn's little oopsie.

On the there hand, with due respect to your views - on this side of the Atlantic "racist" has arguably become as useful, and over-used, an epithet as "commie" was a half-century ago.

As for "didn't do the crime," forensic evidence clearly shows sexual contact with the hotel maid: and, according to the prosecution, of forcible, non-consensual sexual contact.

I realize that different countries have different values: but over here, hotel maids clean the rooms. They aren't there for the sexual whims of guests.

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