Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Outrageous media double standard in Strauss-Kahn sex arrest



With the media frenzy over the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn we have more to add to a long history of outrageous and dishonest double standards by the news media when it comes to reporting cases of sexual assault.

The whole world now knows that Strauss-Kahn was arrested for sexual assault because a hotel maid made an accusation. But even though there has been no proof of an assault, and no judicial process, the media sheilds the name of the maid or anything about her other than she is a 32 year old African immigrant who lives in the Bronx.

This is not to say that information about her or her name should now be in public view. It is to say that in a world of so called gender equality and justice, neither should Strauss-Kahn's identity have been revealed.

To plaster Strauss-Kahn all over the media with sensationalist headlines when he has been convicted of nothing, when there is nothing more than an accusation being made by a person who's identity and credibility is kept secret and there is no proof that any crime was committed at all much less committed by Strauss Kahn, it becomes nothing more than media groveling and pandering to a politically correct double standard that benefits them in their need to grub for not grab, headlines. The headlines have more to do with who he is than what he is accused of doing.

There may be a lot of good reasons for keeping the victim of a sex assault anonymous if the victim so chooses. Most of the time the reason has to do with the ignorant reactions of people in the past to victims of such crimes. But at the same time, while in most cases there is obviously a victim, there are also cases where whether someone has actually been a victim of anything has yet to be determined. An accusation alone by someone does not make them a victim. And there is a world of difference between an accusation and an allegation, a simple exercise in vocabulary that most in the media, cant seem to understand.

Anyone can make an accusation. No one needs proof to accuse. An allegation is different. An allegation is what is contained in a formal indictment handed down by a grand jury. In it an indictment alleges certain facts yet to be proven. It has an official sanction even though as we all know, an allegation is hardly a conviction and the old saying is a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.

So there is a world of difference between an "accusation" and an "allegation" yet the media insists on calling the accusations against Strauss-Kahn "allegations".

And the fact that we've seen cases where people making accusations like this have been lying, is reason enough to shield the identities of both accuser and accused until something is proven.

One of the most notorious examples of an accuser lying is what happened to members of the Duke University Lacrosse team. Without any proof, without any court proceedings,without any convictions, the names of those college students accused by a stripper of sexually assaulting her were plastered all over the news media. Their names, their faces, their backgrounds, their families, were all part of a media feeding frenzy. And because they were all white and the accuser was black, race was added to the mix.

The accuser (and that's all she was at the time and all she ever was -- an accuser) was given the cloak and protection of anonymity. Those accused were put in public stocks and pilloried by the media without a shred of proof.

In the end we learned the accuser lied about everything, a prosecutor was disbarred for his handling of the case, and the news media was proved guilty of putting innocent people through hell based on nothing but what turned out to be baseless and dishonest accusations.

No one yet knows the facts about Strauss-Kahn but thanks to the media we know he has been accused of sexual assault. He was considered a cinch to be elected the next president of France and that may now be up in smoke, which of course it should be if he is guilty of anything. But we don't know that he is. And neither does anyone at any media outlet.

One can make the case that on one hand it makes no sense that a man of his position and stature, even one who is a recognized womanizer, would commit a sexual assault on a hotel maid in a prestigious hotel that routinely houses people of stature, knowing full well that there is hotel security and security cameras everywhere. It would make no sense anywhere since if he wanted to have a liaison of some kind it could have been arranged. On the other hand people in high places have done strange, inexplicable things before, whether its Kobe Bryant, Ben Rothisberger, or Charlie Sheen.

The point is there is more than reasonable doubt that any crime took place at all, at least for now. Yet Strauss-Kahn's name and reputation are being dragged through media mud while the accuser is being given anonymity.

There are some who believe that it wouldn't be beyond the pale for political supporters of Sarkozy to have arranged such a thing since Strauss-Kahn is leading Sarkozy in French polls by more than 30 points.

But the media's gross double standard to give anonymity to an accuser even when there is no proof , yet freely plaster the name and picture of the accused all over TV and the front pages has to end. That is a lot of power to give to people who might want to harm someone for nefarious reasons. And it needs to stop.

It wasnt that many years ago that we had the case of the Buckeys and the McMartin Pre-School case where teachers and workers were charged with the most horrible incidents of child sexual abuse in anyone's memory. It was the longest and most expensive criminal trial of all time and every single allegation against every single person was proved in the end to be completely untrue, testimony coerced from the children by prosecutors and so called "professionals" who interrogated the children. This doesnt mitigate the horrors of child sexual abuse. It does mean that as far as the media is concerned, sex sells and sex crimes sell even better especially when they can put an evil face on it regardless of guilt or innocence.

Based on the facts as we know them there is more than enough reason to peice together a different scenario than the  rape that was alleged. The maid claims in her statement that she was forced to perform oral and anal sex. How does that happen with no weapon, no claim of physical force used, no threat of a weapon, and a 62 year old slightly built perpetrator and a 32 year old woman? If he didnt use physical force or a threat of a weapon how did he force her into these sexual acts? She doesnt say in the criminal complaint at least for now. She just says she was "forced". Another scenario which would make Strauss-Kahn a cad but not a criminal,  could be that when he came out of the shower naked and saw her cleaning his room he found her attractive and  offered her a substantial sum of money for sex and being in a $3000 a day hotel suite she would have every reason  to believe he would make good. For a recent immigrant and single mother it might have been an offer that was hard to refuse. Its possible she performed the acts and afterwards he told her to get lost and reneged on the money and she felt used,  taken advantage of, violated, and angry as one might expect, and this was her revenge. Which makes him a jerk but not a criminal.  Maybe.

Maybe more facts will come out to dispel this but right now it makes more sense than a 62 year old slightly built man who is one of the most powerful financial and political figures in the world, one who meets face to face with presidents and prime ministers and who is the leading candidate to be president of France, in a prestiguous hotel before noon,  running down the hall naked as has been alleged in the complaint,  chasing and then forcing a 32 year old hotel employee to have anal and oral sex with no weapon or threat of weapon or any specific allegation as to what kind of force was used other than her saying she was forced. And apparantly no concern on the part of Strauss-Kahn on what the consequences would be if she screamed, got away or ran for help. Instead he called the hotel later that day and asked them to deliver his cell phone to the airport.

The point is there are enough questions as to sexual assualt and forcible rape based on the current known facts to keep from jumping to conclusions which means if victims identities are to be shielded to protect them from ignorant stigmas society might impose on them, then the same is certainly true for those accused until they are shown to be guilty IF they are guilty. Then there is ample time to heap on them all the contempt, scorn and punishment they deserve.

If the media or anyone else is serious about equality and justice for all then if the name of a victim is withheld, the name of the accused needs to be withheld also. Until the victim is proved to be truly a victim. And the accused is actually proved guilty of something.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

"It is to say that in a world of so called gender equality ...."

Gender equality? What rock are you living under?
I would rather you address the thousands of women who are raped every year than get bent out of shape over the minuscule number of males who have been falsely accused. It's very telling that you can actually name the falsely accused. I daresay your mind would boggle trying to name the guilty and or even one days worth of those women and children victimized at the hands of rapists.

Marc Rubin said...

"I daresay your mind would boggle trying to name the guilty and or even one days worth of those women and children victimized at the hands of rapists."

And that in your mind justifies vilifying and smearing innocent people? You dont want justice you want revenge and you dont care who it is that pays the price.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. I was stunned when I read the headline of a progressive blog: "How Long Has Dominique Strauss-Kahn Been Getting Away with Rape?" Kahn has not been convicted of any crime, and there's always the possibility of politically motivated scandals.

I'm a woman, and I know that rape is a horrible crime, hence anyone accused of such crime should have his day in court. Only a jury that hears all relevant facts can make a conviction.

James Ala said...

If Strauss-Kahn been accused of insider trading by the Feds would this even been an issue? Would people be complaining about media hypocrisy?

Sorry, but I'm not buying this at all. The man is a public figure accused of a reportable crime. The media is supposed to ignore that a man who was possibly slated to become the next President of France and was a big wheel at the IMF was accused of a major crime by NYPD? Oh, and the gentleman in question was just minutes away from skipping US justice? On which planet was this supposed to happen?

Rape is a crime Sir. Police booking of a reported crime are a matter of public record. Matters of public record are fodder for news organizations. The man was remanded to Riker's Island, don't you think the general public has a right to know why the head of the IMF traded a $3k a night five star hotel suite for the accommodations provided by "The Tombs?"

Yes this is scandal, and scandal is Mana from heaven for the Corporate Media. Welcome to the twenty-four hour news cycle, welcome to one of less attractive features of the post-modern world. Buck up Mr Rubin, the man is swimming in cash and will be well defended if this goes to trial. I'm certainly not going to loose much sleep over his present predicament. He is rich, powerful, male and Caucasian. His accuser is working class, female and African. The system is tilted in a ridiculous way to the rich white guy, he will be fine. He really does not need either your help or sympathy Mr. Rubin.

Anonymous said...

This is the same D.A.'s office that prosecuted and convicted the young African-Americans in the Central Park jogger case. All over the media how guilty they were. (The jogger herself had no memory of the attack.) Years later, they were exonerated. Lives ruined. Linda Fairstein's made a pretty penny though, after forcing confessions out of the innocent young men.

Whether this guy is a rapist needs to be decided in a court of law BEFORE conviction. Stories about the victim sobbing are sure to taint the jury pool, perhaps intentionally. Maybe it's true, maybe not, but lynch mobs disgust me, even in the case of a lecherous old man.

The back story - why this came out now - is also important to me. Obama to get women back in the fold? The French election to be fixed (the perp walk makes a lovely commercial, n'est pas)? The IMF to get rid of someone in the way? Another diversion from this country's economic implosion?

The media slime we understand.

Anonymous said...

Oh Boo F**KING Hoo. If the media hadn't been complicit in keeping this scumbag's secrets for all these years, he wouldn't be at Rikers now. This POS has been assaulting women for years - and getting away with it because of the delicate sensibilities of enablers like you.
Your contention that men are the victims in cases like this is ridiculous. EDUCATE YOURSELF.

Dan said...

It seems that he's guilty. He knew that he was a powerful figure and thought he's untouchable.

Anonymous said...

You do not give out the name of the person making the accusation because there is usually a power differential between rapist and victim, because attitudes about rape mean that the victim would suffer further by being publically identified, and because fear of public exposure leads to fewer crimes being reported by victims so rapists are less likely to be punished (and further rapes prevented, which is not a public good). This is basic and I am surprised you do not understand it. That said, gloating for political reasons in this situation is pretty ugly.

If you are going to seriously propose that this is a false accusation, you need to identify some motive. If it is political, how would French political opponents be able to identify a random African immigrant maid in a hotel and encourage her cooperation and wouldn't it make more sense and offer greater opportunity if such a "crime" took place in France? What does this particular victim have to gain and why would she care about this man sufficiently to falsely accuse him? There was a pattern in the life of the accuser of Al Gore and he was a visible public figure in the US, but none of that is true in this situation, for this woman. Further, a maid does not have the same control over her work circumstances as a high-paid masseuse. There are a lot of practical questions that don't make much sense if you assume this is a false accusation.

I don't assume someone is guilty just because they are charged, but I also realize that many rapes are not prosecuted because of difficulty obtaining a conviction. He wouldn't have been charged without evidence beyond a simple accusation. This idea that men can have their lives destroyed simply on the word of a woman is paranoia.

Marc Rubin said...

"...and the gentleman in question was just minutes away from skipping US justice? On which planet was this supposed to happen?

Rape is a crime Sir."

you are the poster child for my piece, long on opinion and woefully ignorant of facts. Rape is indeed a crime and I would hope you would go to the police with your proof that Strauss-Kahn committed it. Since I know you have no proof and in fact have no evidence, no first hand knowledge, no anything and have already assumed he is guilty of a crime, you could not have made my point any better. As for your uninformed assessment that he was "minutes away from skipping", the man had booked that flight weeks ago, and since when does someone who is "skipping" call the hotel from the airport he is "skipping" from and tell them he left his cell phone in his hotel room and can they please send someone to the Air France terminal at the airport to bring it to him?

You sir are the perfect example of why people accused but not proven to have committed any crime should not have their personas smeared all over the media

Marc Rubin said...

"This is the same D.A.'s office that prosecuted and convicted the young African-Americans in the Central Park jogger case. All over the media how guilty they were."

How fast people forget about that and the "confessions" they had which all turned out to be false and coerced. But that didnt sell papers and it didnt play into the false beliefs of people willing to believe anything they read.

Marc Rubin said...

"This POS has been assaulting women for years - and getting away with it because of the delicate sensibilities of enablers like you.
Your contention that men are the victims in cases like this is ridiculous. EDUCATE YOURSELF."

Why dont YOU educate me and tell me about all you know about Strauss-Kahn's secret assaults and how if they are such secrets how you know about them in the first place. And if you had any kind of reading comprehension instead of the bile and hate you walk around with, no doubt feeling victimized by everything yourself, you would know I didnt say he was innocent only that there was not a shred of evidence at this point beyond an accusation that a crime even took place much less than he was guilty of anything so maybe its YOU who needs to educate yourself though I have a feeling you wouldnt let simple things like facts get in your way. I suppose you still think the "men" on the Duke Lacrosse team are guilty of SOMETHING, even though it was proved the woman lied.

Marc Rubin said...

"If you are going to seriously propose that this is a false accusation, you need to identify some motive."

I believe I did suggest another very plausible scenario and its there for you to read again. As for the reasons for withholding a victims name OR an accuser's name, the reasons have been known for decades so you are not saying anything anyone doesnt know. And maybe you missed the whole point of the peice but it wasnt to suggest that victims identies be revealed. It was to say the same treatment be given to an accused until there is more evidence or at the very least an indictment for the crime they are being accused of.

James Ala said...

Does not matter if he booked the flight a year in advance Mr Rubin. The man is still chargeable with interstate flight. Federal offense, have a nice day. Please note the words chargeable offense, not he is guilty of.

Please also note that if he had made to France, he would have evaded justice because the chance of him being extradited would be next to nil.

As being a "poster boy for ignorance" hows that whole being a poster boy for Rape Culture working out? Are you a professional misogynist or is this just a hobby?

Let me be much clearer, Rape is still a crime. Crimes are reported to police. The police arrest suspects of crimes. The gentleman in question is a suspect. That suspect is a person of note and is fodder for news.

Let me illuminate further, since you are being both epically dense, and nasty to boot.

I am not accusing the man of rape, got it? He is a suspect who has been remanded. It is a matter of public record that he was denied bail because he is considered a flight risk.

Moving right along, I find it beyond disturbing that at no time do you consider the power dynamics of the situation. Strauss-Kahn is a man who possess wealth and power. His accuser has neither. His accuser is already being smeared, by the likes of you and others. You seem more than willing to believe in the righteousness of Strauss-Kahn and offer up all sorts of non sequiturs to defend him. The Central Park Rape allegation has what to do with this specific case? Media over-reach perhaps? Or maybe just a sly and nasty way to equate this woman's accusation with a totally different woman's story to tear down the present woman's reputation.

There are false accusations of rape made from time to time. Sometimes they even become white-hot news stories; Tawana Brawley comes to mind. But those instances are rarer than an honest politician. If Al Sharpton was representing this accuser I would grant the possibility of this being possibly untoward. But knowing how Rape accusations work, or more correctly fail to succeed, and how it is the victim that gets blamed, my bias is toward the woman. There is a very good chance that she feels that she was sexually assaulted, which is why she called the police. Oh, by the way, notice I'm still not saying the guy is guilty, clear?

It is now up to the criminal justice system to figure out if her accusation is actionable. Did the Police game the system to attempt to gain the most positive outcome from their point of view? I would give good odds they did. Are they using the Media to that end? Again, very good odds they are. Let me clue you in, this type of stuff happens all the time in high profile cases. They did the exact same thing to Berny Maddalf. By the way he was convicted, so, ya, he was guilty, unlike Mr. Strauss-Khan who is still considered innocent. I did make that point, right, that he is still considered innocent?

What I won't do is worry about the rough handling the man is getting in the news. I'm not the least worried about his ability to defend himself in court. He will get the best lawyers money can buy and those lawyers will put up one hell of a fight if come to a trial. They will be able to pick a jury to their liking and the City Of New York will have one hell of a climb to convict. That is even if this case gets that far.

Weep if you must for this man, but weep in private. Public figures like Strauss-Kahn are fair game for the media blender. It is a First Amendment thing. I'll let the courts figure out when Freedom of the Press impinges on the right to a fair and speedy trail. Who knows by the time this circus is over, they just may do such a thing.

Marc Rubin said...

".. the man is swimming in cash and will be well defended if this goes to trial. I'm certainly not going to loose much sleep over his present predicament. He is rich, powerful, male and Caucasian. His accuser is working class, female and African. "

This is the second problem with your point of view -- you have no real principles. Principles mean they apply to everyone regardless of who they are. You seem to think because he is "swimming in cash" (and $440,000 a year while a very nice salary is not swimming in cash) and is white and male that that somehow means principles shouldnt be applied to him. The accuser of the Duke University lacrosse players was also African American and the players were white males from relatively priviliege backgrounds and the woman lied through her teeth and because of attitudes like yours they were put through hell for no reason. Yes its all a matter of public record but the news media picks and chooses who they will protect and they use a double standard to do it and based on your prejudices and baseless beliefs that double standard is fine with people who think the way you do.

Anonymous said...

"The Central Park Rape allegation has what to do with this specific case? Media over-reach perhaps? Or maybe just a sly and nasty way to equate this woman's accusation with a totally different woman's story to tear down the present woman's reputation."

First, to show that jumping to conclusions can result in monumental mistakes, especially when a prosecutor's office is interested in convictions, not the truth or justice.

Second, beware of a lynch mob mentality. Even when (or especially when) the guy you want to lynch appears to deserve it. You could be lynching an innocent man.

As for the Central Park jogger case, no one impugned the poor woman. And she had no memory of the assault. She didn't accuse anyone of anything. She had no "story." So much for your "facts."

It is precisely when it is most hard that we must follow the rule of law. Presumption of innocence. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt. All that constitutional garbage, you know?

Finally, the police have no business talking to the media about the strength of the case. That is prosecutorial misconduct, as the police are an arm of the prosecutor's office. Very likely tainting the jury pool. So much for justice.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that the high profile of the accused has a whole lot more to do with the media frenzy over his identity than any imaginary attempt to protect the woman making the charge. You men never stop with the victimization fairy tale.