Happy Victoria Day Monday, everyone! Hope you’re all enjoying your May Two-Four weekend. The Manx is meowing, and you know what that means: She’s got linkage for us. Lead on, ManxDuff…
First up, the Daily Mail, and how the obsequious French press has egg all over its face for covering up the skanky shenanigans of Dominique Strauss-Kahn for lo these many years. The cowardice is especially apparent in the Tristane Banon incident, which took place on a talk show that bleeped out the guilty party’s name. Months later, he won his IMF posting, and access to more unwilling females within the company. (Ms. Manx especially likes the photo of a dishevelled DSK, and says it shows him in his true colors.) Scroll further down, though, and you get to a passage that sounds like a scene ripped directly from the film Eyes Wide Shut. And then comes the Sarko connection, which may be the most explosive detail of all. Ms. Manx cattily wonders if Mme. Strauss-Kahn’s legendary loyalty could withstand a dose of that.
Meanwhile, across the language barrier, Le Monde calls the case “a lesson of democracy”. Ms. Manx has asked me to translate a couple of key passages for you:
But the first injustice of the American judiciary system doesn’t reside in this treatment, which is totally ordinary in the United States. What appears brutal, seen from France, is nothing but the absence of taking into account, in this foreign country, the social consideration in the means of treating the suspect. What looks violent to the French public is nothing but the absence of the due regard, so-called, to the “social caste” of the one concerned.
What ultimately shocks, in France, is this American culture of counter-power. Among us, historically, justice has been constructed to protect properties and persons, and not to raise itself into a veritable pillar of democracy, above the political and economic powers.
Ah, there’s the rub. Yankee justice that (at least on the surface), serves the interests of democracy, and doesn’t discriminate between the rich and the poor? A France that plumes itself on its republicanism, but in which remarkably little has changed, judicially speaking, since the monarchist epoch of Les Misérables, when Jean Valjean did 18 years’ hard labor just for stealing one loaf of bread to help his sister and her starving children? Ms. Manx is choquée, choquée! (Um, not really. Actually, she’s relieved that the US justice system may at least still be seen to be working, whatever the outcome. That’s the whole point of the “barbaric” perp-walk, after all: Even if it’s only for the cameras, it’s to show justice being done. An ugly custom, perhaps, but it serves a somewhat noble purpose. Ultimately, the greater legal barbarism resides in France, where the rich enjoy far more legal and press protection than the rest, and for far less reason. A loaf of bread stolen to feed hungry children vs. robbing half the world blind — and the press, which leaps sensationalistically all over the crimes of the poor, still isn’t allowed to show the rich robber’s face? There is no comparison.)
Meanwhile, Reuters and the Guardian both report one sector of French society that isn’t standing by its inordinately rich and privileged man: Les féministes françaises, naturellement! They are livid at the blatant sexism that this case has brought bubbling to the surface, and are using the opportunity to show how this sexism is a regular, mundane thing in France — something that, like the biased justice system and the press, favors the already very privileged and leaves victims of injustice without redress. And who can blame them? One gets the impression that if the revolutionary goddess Marianne were an actual Frenchwoman, there would be no respect for the breasts she bares iconically as a display of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity; there would be nothing but men’s hands grabbing at them, right and left. And this makes a mockery of the whole French Revolution, this still-rampant inequality not only of the classes, but the sexes. It seems that only one thing is really equal there, and that is the “right” of men, whatever their class, to take advantage of any female they see, and pay very little if any consequence. After all, the victim of this assault is only a chambermaid. Droit du seigneur isn’t law, it’s only custom — but it’s an old, entrenched custom, one that allows for the rape of domestic workers without redress, and demands the turning of all sorts of blind eyes. And that’s something even the ravenous US media have seen fit to pooh-pooh and downplay; after all, a blatant feudal class inequality cannot be examined for what it really is by the cold light of day.
Ms. Manx, like la reine Victoria, is not amused.