Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The DSK Affair

by Madeleine Kando

I have been following the recent 'DSK affair' with fascination. The head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was arrested on charges of attempted rape of a hotel maid in his New York hotel, is now held without bail at the Riker's Island prison, nicknamed 'the tomb'.

The French are shocked at pictures showing Strauss-Kahn, handcuffed and unshaved, forced to take the 'perp walk', a tradition of making a suspect walk by a row of media cameras.

Jack Lang, former French Minister of Culture and a good friend of Strauss-Kahn, is quoted as saying: 'The American Justice system is an inhuman system that crushes the individual that falls between its hands.' (translation is mine, sorry). And 'Nothing justifies a man being treated with such disdain and violence. Knowing the American justice system, it is not unimaginable that the judge is after smearing 'a Frenchman'.

Well, maybe French politicians could use a dose of healthy smearing. It's not like Strauss-Kahn is innocent of previous acts of sexual misconduct. For example, when Tristane Banon, a French journalist was allegedly sexually assaulted by him back in 2002, she wanted to file charges. But her own mother, Anne Mansouret, who is an important figure in the socialist movement, advised her NOT to. As a senior sociaiist figure she felt that Strauss-Kahn was too important and didn't want his name tarnished.

France, it seems, has very strong libel and privacy laws which allows public figures to reap the benefits of being public without bearing the consequences of misbehaving privately. In other words the French like to have their cake and eat it too.

It sounds like they are still stuck with their old, aristocratic moral code. The rooster is still king in the chicken coop. But the American justice system doesn't go for that kind of preferential treatment. Rich or poor, famous or obscure, it makes no difference.

Strauss-Kahn sounds like an arrogant, oversexed individual at best and a sexual predator at worst. He didn't suddenly become that way in a New York hotel. He is 62 years old. All this time the French must have ignored that side of him, all in the name of their 'don't ask don't tell' philosophy. What does that say about the French?

They are fond of making fun of America's puritan attitude towards sexual misconduct. But when it comes to allegations of attempted rape, it's a different story. They might not agree with the treatment that Strauss-Kahn has undergone, but hopefully they are as shocked as I am at this man's behavior. leave comment here