Monday, May 23, 2011

Thoughts on the Strauss-Kahn Case

Although I've tried to restrain myself from watching the news in the past few months, the many weeks spent at my parents' house as my father was dying, and then after his death, led to the shattering of my dome of silence. My parents' house gets a daily newspaper, and the TV is on a lot more. I'll also have to admit that the Osama Bin Laden raid and execution led me to seek stories online regardless of where I was.

So the "DSK" story became known to me as I was reading an Italian newspaper to keep up my fluency. I read stories in other places, since Franco-American relations and cross-cultural stereotypes have interested me for decades. As I await the "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" treatment of the case, I'm also predisposed to believe he's guilty. The only possible scenario for innocence, based on what I've heard, is if the accuser was hired to frame Strauss-Kahn. If he's going to try to argue "consensual relations" to explain away the physical evidence, then we can toss out any chance he's being set up.

His alleged behavior in the hotel was only natural to him. It's connected to a sense of sexual entitlement and need for conquest to which dozens of women have already testified. I realize it may sound like I'm arguing rape is natural. In this limited sense, it is. But as a friend once told me so wisely, we often have to establish our most severe punishments precisely for those behaviors that come so naturally, or else they'd happen a lot more. Just as I would never argue that we should excuse a murder because it happened in a fit of anger, I don't think Strauss-Kahn should get any sympathy either. We can understand without forgiving, despite the epigram so famous in his own language (tout comprendre, c'est tout pardonner).

Strauss-Kahn had a long run. He was aided by his power, his influence, and the blurring of lines between interest, flirtation, seduction, and rape in the culture of his country and the micro-cultures of French politics and high finance. His poor impulse control likely led him not only to attempt rape, but to do so in a place where his crimes could not be covered up by powerful friends. I'm very proud to be a citizen of a country where the word of a 32-year-old African immigrant has counted for as much as the denials of one of the (formerly) most powerful men in the world.

1 comment:

Hank Lambert said...

"I'm very proud to be a citizen of a country where the word of a 32-year-old African immigrant has counted for as much as the denials of one of the (formerly) most powerful men in the world."

I couldn't agree more! Excellent article Dan!