Ben Stein’s Odd Response To The Arrest Of Dominique Strauss-Kahn
Ben Stein seems to have been out to lunch when he wrote his column about Dominique Strauss-Kahn
The French aren’t the only ones who are responding to the charges against IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn in an odd manner, last night conservative columnist Ben Stein came out with a column that can only be described as bizarre and condescending:
1.) If he is such a womanizer and violent guy with women, why didn’t he ever get charged until now? If he has a long history of sexual abuse, how can it have remained no more than gossip this long? France is a nation of vicious political rivalries. Why didn’t his opponents get him years ago?
The fact that Stein wrote this on the same day that we learned that Arnold Schwarzenegger had kept secret for a decade the fact that he a fathered a child with a member of his household staff, and that he kept that secret while he was Governor of the a state that would compromise one of the largest economies in the world is pretty amusing. Also amusing is Stein’s apparent belief that only people who have been charged with a crime before ever actually commit crimes. It’s possible he’s never heard of the concept of a “first time offender,” but I find that a little hard to believe.
2.) In life, events tend to follow patterns. People who commit crimes tend to be criminals, for example. Can anyone tell me any economists who have been convicted of violent sex crimes? Can anyone tell me of any heads of nonprofit international economic entities who have ever been charged and convicted of violent sexual crimes? Is it likely that just by chance this hotel maid found the only one in this category? Maybe Mr. Strauss-Kahn is guilty but if so, he is one of a kind, and criminals are not usually one of a kind.
Translation: Rich, white economics-type guys don’t commit crimes. Or, if they do, it usually involves raping a nation’s economy, not a hotel maid.
3.) The prosecutors say that Mr. Strauss-Kahn “forced” the complainant to have oral and other sex with him. How? Did he have a gun? Did he have a knife? He’s a short fat old man. They were in a hotel with people passing by the room constantly, if it’s anything like the many hotels I am in. How did he intimidate her in that situation? And if he was so intimidating, why did she immediately feel un-intimidated enough to alert the authorities as to her story?
Apparently, in Stein’s book, being short, old, and fat means you’re incapable of raping someone. This is what trials are for Ben.
4.) Did the prosecutors really convince a judge that he was a flight risk when he was getting on a flight he had booked long beforehand? What kind of high-pressure escape plan is that? How is it a sudden flight move to get on a flight booked maybe months ago?
Does Stein not know that Strauss-Kahn left his cell phone behind when he left the hotel, a sign that he may have left the hotel in haste that day? This, combined with the fact that he was leaving on a flight to France, a country with a record of not returning people accused of sex crimes, was obviously sufficient for the judge to determine that he was a flight risk. He was, in other words, treated exactly like any other person accused of a crime would be, which leads us to………….
5.) Mr. Strauss-Kahn had surrendered his passport. He had offered to stay in New York City. He is one of the most recognizable people on the planet. Did he really have to be put in Riker’s Island? Couldn’t he have been given home detention with a guard? This is a man with a lifetime of public service, on a distinguished level, to put it mildly. Was Riker’s Island really the place to put him on the allegations of one human being? Hadn’t he earned slightly better treatment than that? Any why compare him with a certain pedophile from France long ago? That man had confessed to his crime. Mr. Strauss-Kahn has not confessed to anything.
Translation: How dare they treat him like any other person accused of a crime.
6.) People accuse other people of crimes all of the time. What do we know about the complainant besides that she is a hotel maid? I love and admire hotel maids. They have incredibly hard jobs and they do them uncomplainingly. I am sure she is a fine woman. On the other hand, I have had hotel maids that were complete lunatics, stealing airline tickets from me, stealing money from me, throwing away important papers, stealing medications from me. How do we know that this woman’s word was good enough to put Mr. Strauss-Kahn straight into a horrific jail? Putting a man in Riker’s is serious business. Maybe more than a few minutes of investigation is merited before it’s done.
How dare they believe a hotel maid over the word of a distinguished French socialist.
7.) In this country, we have the presumption of innocence for the accused. Yet there’s my old pal from the Ron Ziegler/ Richard Nixon days, Diane Sawyer, anchor of the ABC Nightly News, assuming that Mr. Strauss-Kahn is guilty. Right off the bat she leads the Monday news by saying that Mr. Strauss-Kahn is in Riker’s… “because one woman stood her ground…” That assumes she’s telling the truth and he’s guilty. No such thing has been proved and it’s unfortunate for ABC to simply assume that an accusation is the same as a conviction. Maybe he’s in jail because one person didn’t tell the truth. I don’t know one way or the other, but I sure know that there has been no conviction yet.
Stein has a slight point here. DSK is innocent until proven guilty, but that’s a concept that really only applies in a court of law. The press is not bound by it at all, and neither are the 300-odd million people who are never going to serve on what ever jury might hear the case should it go to trial.
Stein goes on to accuse the people who brought up the cost of DSK’s hotel room of class warfare, but his entire piece reeks of an elitism that is really quite offensive. It’s wrong to assume that DSK is guilty because he’s the rich head of the IMF who stayed at an expensive motel, but it’s simply absurd to argue, as Stein does, that DSK deserves to be treated better than the average rape suspect because of who he is. That may be how things work in Europe, but it isn’t how they work here. If Strauss-Kahn spend the entire time between now and his trial on Riker’s Island, then he will be no different than the thousands of other people who make their way through the New York criminal justice system every year, and that’s just fine with me.