Kick The Frog

A New Game In Town

The flurry of media reports surrounding both Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s situation and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s separation have been bordering on the absurd. Here’s Paul Sheehan’s idotic take for instance where he likens the two men and then goes to say that trial by media is just because these men are powerful men. Having read  it, what I want to know is how he keeps his job when he writes such idiotic rubbish, but the world is as it is and we must take it as we find it. I find myself in a world where Paul Sheehan gets paid handsomely to write idiocies in our broadsheet.

Yet he is not alone in conflating and judging both men as equivalents.

But in any event, the arrest of Strauss-Kahn in New York City for allegedly trying to rape a hotel maid has ignited a fierce debate over sex, law, power and privilege. And it is only just beginning. The night of Strauss-Kahn’s arraignment, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted that the reason his wife Maria Shriver walked out earlier this year was the discovery that he had fathered a child more than a decade ago with a former member of the household staff. The two cases are far apart: only one man was hauled off to jail. But both suggest an abuse of power and a betrayal of trust. And both involve men whose long-standing reputations for behaving badly toward women did not derail their rise to power. Which raises the question: How can it be, in this ostensibly enlightened age, when men and women live and work as peers and are schooled regularly in what conduct is acceptable and what is actionable, that anyone with so little judgment, so little honor, could rise to such heights?

Umm, I know it’s Time magazine, once the bastion of WASP America, but this kind of moralism is a bit much. The marital infidelities of a movie star are not surprising. The fact that he subsequently became Governor of California notwithstanding, it actually is a long bow to stretch to stick Arnie’s peccadilloes with Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s alleged sexual assault. For a start, Arnie’s affair was between consensual adults, not an assault. Arnie is not accused of a crime, he’s been outed as an adulterer with a love child. Comparing the two men is a complete category error and conflating the two only muddies the waters.

The article then goes on to compare Dominique Strauss Kahn to Tiger Woods and Charlie Sheen, but again, you have to wonder if these comparisons are chalk and cheese no matter how chalky one of the cheeses might be; and if so then any argument built on such comparisons are really not valid in any way shape or form.

If it isn’t a free swipe at Arnie, then it seems the free hacks are aimed at French culture over at Time, which is having a field day with this stuff.

Even the well connected had qualms about confronting Strauss-Kahn. A regional Socialist Party official stepped up on Monday to say that her daughter had come under sexual attack during a 2002 interview with Strauss-Kahn. The official, Anne Mansouret, repeated the allegations made by her daughter Tristane Banon during a 2007 TV program about how a well-known politician [Strauss-Kahn’s name was bleeped out] tried to overpower her with a sexual embrace. 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. She also said that because Strauss-Kahn’s second wife was Banon’s godmother, blowing the whistle on the alleged attacker would create rifts within Mansouret’s circle of family, friends and intimates.

Worse still, the French are racists, apparently:

The case in New York City reflects another dimension of the problem in France. “If I try transposing the situation in New York on Sunday to France, I just can’t do it,” says Diallo. “Not only because the woman is black and apparently an immigrant. But also because she’s a housekeeper. Perhaps even more than her race, her station in society would probably prevent authorities [in France] from taking her accusations against a rich and powerful man seriously. Racism is on the rise here again, but class discrimination has never gone away.”

I find that hard to believe – And I’ve been likened to a dog by a French girl in my time. (As in “dating you would be like dating a different species, like a dog or something”.) I still don’t buy this bullshit they’re selling about the French being worse racists than Americans. Then there’s this piece of idiotica:

As Strauss-Kahn’s case moves forward in New York, the particular form of French “exceptionalism” that holds that men will be men and women will be women and no amount of political correctness can — or should — temper their natural desires will be on trial too. Like it or not, Strauss-Kahn and his supporters now have to play by our rules. These don’t stem from prudishness or Puritanism. They’re based on respect, on updated understandings of male-female power relations and on a desire to change the nasty little systems of complicity that have long kept them flowing in one direction.

That piece implies the arrest shut up France who have different sexual mores to America, but they can’t hide behind those mores because Strauss-Kahn is being accused of a sexual crime. The triumphalism is a bit rich too. Nobody in their right mind supports sexual assault in a civil society unless one is a devout follower of the Marquis de Sade – and such a human being is more likely to be in a French jail than being a commentator in the French press supporting Strauss-Kahn. Get a grip, lady. This is not some turning point in some war against French sexual mores. The mind boggles.

Really, no matter how heinous they paint his crime, I just can’t bring myself to judge French culture pertaining to sexuality, gender and race on the basis of the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn. I sure as hell wouldn’t judge American culture on say, J. Edgar Hoover. No sane person would leap to such generalisations, but here it is in black and white in Time magazine no less. And it’s written by people – wankers, even – who probably still enjoy a visit to Paris and make out it’s really romantic to walk down the Champs-Élysees or something.

On a more genial note, the funniest entry perhaps was Schumpeter in The Economist, complaining about the French intellectuals and their weird abstruse Post-Modern rhetoric rallying to the defense of Strauss-Kahn:

BHL is a mere amateur compared with Luis de Miranda, a novelist. According to Anthony Daniels, Mr de Miranda penned a piece for Libération under the title “a philosophical hero”. Taking DSK’s guilt for granted (which we should certainly not do), the author says that “we bet that in his depths Dominique Strauss-Kahn is joyful. Perhaps he doesn’t admit it to himself yet. But behaving thus at this point in his biography could only have been voluntary. I add that it is heroic.”

Why heroic? Because DSK engaged in a supreme act of self-sacrifice, apparently: “If the cleaning woman has been attacked, the woman worker had violence done to her, then we are touching on the sublime, in the Kantian sense…A political suicide rather than the death of an automaton or the possibility of a reign unleashed.”

I particularly liked the use of the phrase “in the Kantian sense”.

Don’t we all?


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