I remember when the Duke lacrosse case appeared, the leftist members on the faculty at Duke University eagerly exalted at the presumed guilt of the accused. As far as they were concerned, the lacrosse team members were undoubtedly guilty, and the whole case represented a poignant and undeniable example of racism, sexism, class-ism, and every other form of politically incorrect heresy. The example of a poor, black and female “victim” being “abused” by rich, snotty, white males was just too delicious to pass up. In reality, and the presumption of innocence for the accused, was unimportant. What was important was that “injustice” was going to be exposed, and those rich snotty white boys were going to get exactly what was coming to them. The Duke lacrosse members represented everyone that they hate, and they were out for revenge. They were going to make an example out of them. Some of the faculty members eagerly took out a full-page ad in the university’s newspaper proclaiming their guilt. Aside from a shameful rush to judgment without knowing the facts of the case at all, there is a further indictment of professors going out of their way to sidestep due process so as to inflict maximum harm onto their own students. One would think that being a professor in the University would come with it the responsibility inherent in the position to treat students impartially. What does it say about Duke University, when its own faculty engaged in a gleeful witchhunt against its own students.
Now we have the case of DSK which has also provided the perfect rush to judgment by those who hate the French, and by feminists who are only too eager to blame men for everything. Although it is perfectly fine to have one’s suspicions, we as a society need to be a little more restrained before we rush to judgment, especially when people know virtually nothing about the case. Once we have the details of what went on, then we can start drawing conclusions. But, if all we have is an accusation, that’s a very thin “evidence” of guilt. When I first heard about the rape accusations, I did not know whether he was guilty or not. I knew nothing in detail about the case, and felt that I did not have enough information to declare either guilt or innocence. But, apparently that did not stop a lot of other people from gleefully doing so. It is just another example of our society which is overly sensationalistic, overly ideological, and overly emotional.
Brendan O’Neill is the editor of spiked, an independent online phenomenon dedicated to raising the horizons of humanity by waging a culture war of words against misanthropy, priggishness, prejudice, luddism, illiberalism and irrationalism in all their ancient and modern forms.
If, as is reported this morning, the rape charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn are thrown out, it won’t only be a court case that collapses – so too will all the harebrained political theories and prejudices that were cynically projected on to this case. From feminists to Fox News anchors, from anti-French American Right-wingers to uber-PC Parisian women’s rights campaigners, loads of people leapt upon the DSK case as evidence that Socialists are scum / French men are scoundrels / all men are evil. There will be – or at least there ought to be – some very red faces in those sections of the commentariat that sought to turn this case into a show trial of men in general and everyone else they love to hate.
It is now reported that the prosecutors think the alleged victim is untrustworthy and may have wanted to milk the case for financial gain. That is a low thing to do. Yet others shamelessly milked the case for ideological gain, which is also pretty rotten. Political forces that are normally diametrically opposed came together in a DSK-hating frenzy in May when he was first arrested in New York. Fox News presenters had a field day mocking Socialists, especially French ones, as a hypocritical, licentious bunch, pretty much presenting the alleged rape of a chambermaid as the logical end result of Left-wing European decadence. Feminists, meanwhile, who are never shy of making wild and misanthropic extrapolations from isolated and even unproven misdemeanours, said the DSK case would really be a trial of men’s “sexual behaviour”, particularly the “wider question of the behaviour of men in power”.
Only it won’t be. It looks like there won’t even be a trial of DSK himself. All those observers who got a cheap moral thrill from pontificating about what this case allegedly revealed about the French and about men and about “the sexism and snobbery of French politics” need to have a word for themselves. Elbowing aside the traditional liberal view that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, they rushed forward not only to hint and imply that DSK must of course be guilty (after all, he’s French and a bit fat and a flirt) but also that men in general are guilty. Of flirting with women, of telling women un-PC jokes, of pinning women down and raping them – all those “crimes” were lumped together as part of what some commentators called the “spectrum” of wicked male behaviour. They saw in this case what they wanted to see. Its predicted collapse will be a blow not only to the prosecution team and to the likes of Mayor Bloomberg – who with extreme presumptuousness said of DSK’s handcuffed parading before the cameras: “If you don’t want to do the perp walk, don’t do the crime” – but also to those who morally leeched off these weird accusations.