18 thoughts on “Spreadin’ Love 535

  1. So, people tend to get more Conservative as they get older, and people start to get dementia as they get older . . . I’m not saying there’s a connection in America between Republicans and Alzheimer’s or anything (Goldwater, Reagan, Heston . . .), but this Ben Stein column looks pretty far off the deep end.
    Someone who is famous for, essentially, being “smart” should know that the Presumption of Innocence is an important legal standard that applies to the burden of proof in a court case — not the mental assumptions of Diane Sawyer. If I watch you shoot someone, you still have a Presumption of Innocence, but I’m still allowed to say you did it, even before the judge makes a ruling.

  2. On my very first trip to Moscow (with my grandma in 1992), the chambermaid talked her way into our room, explained that her grown-up daughter was having a birthday, and started flicking through our clothes in the hotel closet. My grandma is a fairly sharp dresser (in the polyester blouse style) and I regret to report that the chambermaid zeroed in on her clothes and totally ignored mine. We eventually shooed her out.

  3. I’m not sure how “conservative” the Ben Stein piece is, at least in the purely partisan sense. That story has mostly been cause for a lot of conservative schadenfreude–it’s got everything, including (indisputably) a French socialist with a hyphenated name in a $3,000 a night hotel room. Sample blog commentary from theothermccain.com: “IMF Director: French Socialist Pervert–But I repeat myself.” Powerline’s blog title is “Socialism: Not What It Used To Be!”

  4. But Ben Stein is a “Conservative” and he’s making a simply ugly and ludicrous defense of the hyphenated guy.
    I believe in presumption of innocence, and if I wanted to defend the guy, that’s the defense I would make. Stein could have made it, but instead made arguments so subject to ridicule that I’d actually be tempted to suggest the piece is a parody, but I don’t think it is.

  5. bj,
    There’s a lot of “ugly and ludicrous” going around. May I direct you to Bernard Henri-Levy’s defense of DSK?
    Sample quote from BHL’s piece (he’s referring to an accusation from another woman): “I hold it against all those who complacently accept the account of this other young woman, this one French, who pretends to have been the victim of the same kind of attempted rape, who has shut up for eight years but, sensing the golden opportunity, whips out her old dossier and comes to flog it on television.”
    Here’s a headline from a CBS story: “The Strauss-Kahn Defense: Why French Elites Are Rushing to Defend the IMF Chief.”

  6. Here’s another one:
    “French reaction to IMF chief’s arrest ranges from shock to sympathy”
    “Underscoring the cultural differences between France and the United States, many French recoiled from images of Strauss-Kahn, who is charged in the alleged sexual assault of a New York hotel housekeeper, in handcuffs and in court — photographs that would be prohibited under French law to protect the presumption of innocence.
    Some French speculated about whether he was the target of a political setup, while others questioned what they see as a rush to judgment by U.S. authorities and the American media.
    “”There’s a general feeling of a media, a judicial fury — of a lynching,” Jack Lang, France’s former minister of culture and education and a Socialist Party lawmaker, told Europe 1 radio.
    “Lang called the American justice system “inhumane.” “For 48 hours now, only the side of the accusation has been heard … and the versions given by police have been contradictory,” he said. “The refusal to allow him out on bail, when no violent crime has been committed — even in America suspects are usually let go on bail if a violent crime has not been committed.””

  7. Here’s yet another one:
    “The arrest of the chief of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, for an alleged sexual attack of a maid at a New York hotel sent tremors through the French media and blogosphere on Sunday, inspiring a mix of contempt, sympathy, expressions of national humiliation and more than a few conspiracy theories that the contender for the French presidency had been set up by his rivals.”
    “Gilles Savary, a member of the European Parliament who belongs to Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s Socialist Party, wrote on his blog that the arrest of Mr. Strauss-Kahn had hints of American-style hypocrisy. “Everyone knows that Dominique Strauss-Kahn is a libertine, and that he is distinguished from others by the fact that he doesn’t try and hide it,” he wrote. “In puritanical American, infiltrated by rigorous Protestantism, financial misdeeds are far more tolerated than pleasures of the flesh.””

  8. Amy P, when the news first broke, the idea that the head of the I.M.F. would attack a hotel maid seemed so insane, I thought it must have been a setup.
    The news this morning that his lawyers are now floating the idea that “any sex was consensual” makes me think the old goat really may have been stupid enough to attack a housemaid. The reports from France of what passed for a “libertine” are eye-opening.
    There are times this country’s unique qualities are on display. When an immigrant maid’s accusation of violent sexual attack are taken seriously, even though she accuses a prominent, wealthy man, it’s very reassuring.
    Jim Dwyer had a great response to the “perp walk” unfairness accusations in the NYT:
    The news from France is that many are appalled that Mr. Strauss-Kahn was paraded on the classic perp walk, so he could be photographed in handcuffs. The custom is indisputably unfair to people charged with crimes. The only thing comparable in France might take place annually in Cannes.
    Year after year, the director Roman Polanski strolled the red carpet, smiling for the cameras, apparently unworried — and rightly so — that the French authorities would notice that he was a fugitive from justice in Los Angeles, where he had drugged, raped and sodomized a 13-year-old girl. The parallel was striking, a prosecutor said Monday. Mr. Polanski, who took his version of the perp walk as a guilty man, lowered the odds that Mr. Strauss-Kahn, who took his while presumed innocent, will get bail in New York any time soon.

    By the way, his article about modern hotel practices outlines ways in which female maids are at times attacked by male guests, and the ways in which hotels try to set up policies to protect their female staff. It looks as if the police and prosecutors have a mountain of evidence. It is not just “she said/he said.”
    By the way, the Post alleges the maid might be H.I.V. positive. “The IMF chief’s alleged sex-assault victim lives in a Bronx apartment rented exclusively for adults with HIV or AIDS, The Post has learned.” (in today’s New York Post.)

  9. “It looks as if the police and prosecutors have a mountain of evidence. It is not just “she said/he said.””
    That’s good.
    I too agree that the seriousness with which an allegation by an “immigrant maid” against a male world power broker (one, who, we “need” to save the world, a master of the universe) is a credit to the American ideal. Presumption of innocence is, too, so I hope the prosecution has a strong and solid case.
    The frequency with which this story plays out differently (usually in coercion, rather than rape) is oh so much higher than when it plays out this way, even in America, and certainly in other countries. The woman involved in the previous incident with Strauss-Kahn says she wrote a formal letter to the investigative body in which she stated she was coerced. And the details certainly indicate that she was vigorously pursued.
    Was Lilia really making a choice in the Ten Commandments movie when she ties her life to the jewish slave master? — of course she wasn’t.
    There’s no question that attitudes towards powerful mens’ behavior towards women is different in France & Italy than it is in the United States. I used to tease Italian friends joking that there seemed to be a requirement that women in Italy had affairs with their bosses (as each successive incident was revealed), until I realized that it really wasn’t funny at all (even though the friend I talked to was male, and one of the very few with a female boss).
    I am comfortable being a defender of both sanctimonious feminism and American puritanism. Frequently both are simply respect for women.

  10. Presumption of innocence is important. On the other hand, the judge has seen and heard more evidence than I have, so I won’t question her decisions.
    I had thought the allegations were too bizarre to be true. Why would the head of the IMF risk everything? I hadn’t thought that perhaps he didn’t think he was risking everything, as past accusations had been ignored or made to disappear.
    In puritanical American, infiltrated by rigorous Protestantism, financial misdeeds are far more tolerated than pleasures of the flesh.
    Did the French authorities act as if all humans have equal rights to guard the dignity of their persons? Even if they’re female? The women who are popping up now don’t seem to feel it all falls under the header, “the pleasures of the flesh.”

  11. Compared to BHL, Ben Stein is the voice of moderation and sanity.
    For myself, I try to suspend judgment (not being professionally required to make interim judgments, as a judge determining bail must do) in cases of this nature, knowing that there are many unreported and disbelieved cases of sexual misbehavior, and also many false accusations of sexual misbehavior.

  12. It’s crossed my mind that in some cultures, the ability to help oneself to the help may be an expected part of the compensation package. In high-tax parts of the world, non-cash perks may be particularly attractive.

  13. White males of a certain level of status, both professionally and financially, can often assume much in the way of “access” to women of colour in menial positions.
    I find it fascinating how many different alleged events are smooshed together into one type of event. An affair with a subordinate does not equal an alleged rape of a chamber maid does not equal an affair between equals, etc.

  14. Amy — I’m not seeing the value of “Let’s Defend Ben Stein By Throwing Up A Lot Of Text By French Liberals.” Quantity isn’t proving a point. Bernard Henri-Levy’s argument was essentially “DSK is a personal friend, and I believe him that he didn’t do anything.” That’s what friends/ neighbors/ countrymen do, and while I completely disagree and think BHL is wrong, I don’t think it comes anywhere close to the insanity of Ben Stein.
    Ben Stein’s argument was based on first principles. “Economists don’t rape hotel maids. Hotel maids lie and steal your money.” It is an extension of the same mindset that defends bankers while attacking “welfare queens”. The rich are “good” and deserve low taxes and the poor are “bad” and deserve fewer services because they will just cheat and steal and waste what you give them.
    The natural reaction of the Conservative is to oppose anything that would give the powerless power over the powerful. And Ben Stein explicitly framed it that way, which makes it a “Conservative” argument.

  15. “The natural reaction of the Conservative is to oppose anything that would give the powerless power over the powerful. And Ben Stein explicitly framed it that way, which makes it a “Conservative” argument.”
    Really, that’s not how I (or really any conservative) would define conservative at all. See, for example, Kelo. Your theory would make a lot of sense if the sample size of conservatives in the DSK case was larger than one (there must be some others, but I’m not seeing them). I see one conservatish guy (Ben Stein) taking DSK’s side while conservative bloggers roll around in the story like kitties in catnip. To recapitulate, French socialist IMF dude in $3k a night suite allegedly assaults maid, turns out to have been doing the same thing to other women basically his whole life. Then his elite friends and political allies in France run to his defense, in embarrassing quantities and with embarrassing arguments. And then somehow, through some sort of abracadabra, this becomes mainly an American conservative problem. Huh?
    Put the DSK story together with that of Roman Polanski and Ira Einhorn, and you begin to wonder what’s wrong with France.
    Also, correct me if I’m wrong (Western Europe is not my sandbox), but “liberal” in France historically means something very different than in the US.

  16. By the way, is it premature to ask for a one-year moratorium on remarks about how much more sophisticated the French are about sex?

  17. Here’s a Time piece on DSK’s checkered history in France.
    I don’t like anonymous accusations, but DSK’s habits seem to have been an open secret in France.
    “What took so long for Mansouret to back up her daughter and name Strauss-Kahn? She told French TV that she had dissuaded her daughter from filing charges because Strauss-Kahn was en route to greatness — and derailing the ascent of a fellow Socialist Party official would be bad form.”
    “On a radio show, one French actress asked out loud, “Who hasn’t been cornered by Dominique Strauss-Kahn?””
    “Says the French lawyer who asked not to be named: “My clients and other women I’ve been contacted by with reports of sexual aggression by Strauss-Kahn were all either Socialist Party members, supporters, or involved in wider leftist political activity that eventually brought them into contact with Strauss-Kahn. He has said he loves women, but it seems more accurate to say he loves Socialist women. I suppose he viewed that milieu as providing his supply of new women, and as one where women who caught his eye would either be compliant, or keep quiet about having to fight off his advances. Either way, there are a lot more women — and men — in Socialists circles who know about his activity than have ever said so.””

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