Many people have accused the DA, Cyrus Vance Jr., of treating DSK improperly. The heart of the accusation seems to be that he was arrested and jailed, which are the things one hopes will be done to men accused of violent sex crimes. His bail was fairly high, which is what one hopes will happen when the men so accused are wealthy and politically connected citizens of a nation with which one has no extradition treaty.
Joe Nocera gives a straightforward and convincing defense of Vance in his Times column. Here's the meat of it:
For the life of me, though, I can’t see what Vance did wrong. Quite the contrary. The woman alleged rape, for crying out loud, which was backed up by physical (and other) evidence. She had no criminal record. Her employer vouched for her. The quick decision to indict made a lot of sense, both for legal and practical reasons. Then, as the victim’s credibility crumbled, Vance didn’t try to pretend that he still had a slam dunk, something far too many prosecutors do. He acknowledged the problems.
We happen to have seen it in the print edition, but then out of curiosity we went online to read the comments, especially by those whom Nocera did not manage to convince.
Perhaps it is our perfervid imagination, but it seems to us that, if one reads just a little bit between the lines, a picture emerges. They seem like apologists for wealth and power, the sort of people who vote with the majority on recent Supreme Court decisions. One DSK defender argues that the banker was "assumed guilty and suffered extreme social and financial punishment" even though he had not been put on trial. This is, of course, nonsense. He was treated like the suspect in a violent crime, which is not at all pretty. Social and financial consequences are not the DA's responsibility; talk to the World Bank about hiring a new boss while the old one was ... unavailable.
Now, we have hinted before and hereby hint again that we do, in the depths of our conspiratorially-minded, thriller-reading heart, nourish grave suspicion that l'affaire Strauss-Kahn may have been a political hit by Sarkozy, or even by the Greeks, seeking respectively to eliminate a rival or secure softer bailout terms. Such things do happen.
But until the chambermaid writes a tell-all with the lines "and then the man known only as Stavros handed me a condom, a cellphone and a briefcase full of cash," it seems impossible to be sure. Still, given what we do know about DSK personally, and powerful men in general, it seems entirely possible that, as Nocera writes, "something very bad happened in that hotel room."
What interests us, really, is the rush to defend him, by Bernard-Henri Levy and all the anonymous Times commenters -- not to mention the Post, which was quick to claim that the maid had worked as a prostitute (as if prostitutes never got raped). All told, it reminds us what we wrote about Richard Dawkins in our last post: that there is a phalanx driven to rage by the prospect that any man may not be able to seek out sex with any woman at any time.
In effect, the vitriol Dawkins sprayed at Skept-Chick seems to come from the same place that the outrage on behalf of DSK does. It is the howl of the old and privileged, unable to bear the thought of losing even the slightest bit of what they have so long enjoyed.