Why the DSK hearing needs to happen.

This is a guest post by Rebecca Nathanson. Rebecca Nathanson is student at NYU majoring in Journalism. She writes for NYU Local and rambles about life, feminism, and idealism on her blog. She enjoys dancing, running, drumming, traveling, leather jackets, and Cheerios. She also wants to be Jack White. Or Patti Smith.

Yesterday, I overheard two people discussing the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case on the train home from work. One man asked the other a fairly straightforward question: “Do you think she’s telling the truth?”

His reply? “It doesn’t matter. Her credibility is shot.”


That’s arguable. Yes, Nafissatou Diallo lied on her asylum application and yes, she claimed that her friend’s child was her own in order to get a bigger tax return. But does that mean that nothing she says can ever be trusted again? Not all crimes are created equal. The person who lies about her history and the person who lies about sexual assault are not one and the same. The former is desperate and unlawful; the latter is disgusting—and ruining it for everyone who isn’t lying when they charge someone with sexual assault or attempted rape.

This is as public as a sexual assault case can get, and the message that it is projecting is equally public, unfortunately. This is an opportunity for sexual assault victims to realize that there is something to be said for speaking up, but given Diallo’s previous indiscretions and the recent news that the court date has been pushed back from August 1 to August 23, the opposite effect is most likely to result because it seems increasingly probable that a hearing will never take place.

Many victims are already understandably scared to come forward and this case is only going to further prove to them that nothing good can come from putting your trust in the justice system. Going to court for sexual assault can be a draining, exposing, and frequently degrading experience for the accuser, and it is one that rarely ends favorably for her. We need people who are willing to face those odds because without them, there’s no hope of ever shifting the power.

The question of power, which is one that is always at the forefront of any sexual assault case, is especially prevalent in the case of DSK and Diallo, for obvious reasons: The accuser is an illiterate immigrant who worked as a housekeeper for $25/hour plus tips; the accused is the former chief of the International Monetary Fund and was previously considered a frontrunner for the French presidency. The upside is that his status has forced this case into the public consciousness, and with that has come the annihilation of the myth that sexism is no longer an issue; the downside is that it’s easy for the defense to use its power to discredit her by saying that it was consensual and that she’s looking for money. Her recent media appearances are, in the most evident way, helping DSK’s case: If Diallo is looking for money then publicity is a good strategy. However, they’re also sending the message to other victims of sexual abuse that coming forward is an act of extreme bravery, one that should be applauded. Unfortunately, the public reaction with which Diallo has been met is enough to make any victim brave enough to consider coming forward think twice. People are talking about how this story will affect the behavior of men who hold positions of power, but they are ignoring the effects that it will have on sexual assault victims who are watching a fellow victim speak up in the most public of ways—only to be met with skepticism and character accusations.

Diallo is one person and her experiences are personal and unique; she should not be made an example of, either positively or negatively, and she and this specific case should not bear the responsibility of representing a cause that they never asked to represent. But there is a difference between making an example out of someone and acknowledging the lasting repercussions that her case will have on similar issues.

The international scope of this story cannot be underestimated. For many people who do not actively follow feminist politics, this is the most exposure to these issues that they’ve probably ever had. It’s a shame that what this story is exposing are the consequences of, and the stigmas associated with, speaking up and pressing charges, rather than the potentially positive results.

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42 Responses to Why the DSK hearing needs to happen.

  1. Angelica says:

    I definitely think this is an important and well-written piece… however I want to challenge your use of the word “accuser” to describe an alleged rape victim. I know that word is in vogue in many major news publications, but as a feminist and a sexual assault victim advocate the word “accuser” makes me cringe.

  2. Tei Tetua says:

    You mention the small stuff and avoid the big stuff. If that phone call she made to a fellow Guinean in jail turns out to be correctly reported, where she allegedly said “This guy has plenty of money. Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing”–how does that make it look from a feminist point of view?

    If this goes to court and the accuser demolishes herself by looking like a serial liar (apparently she even lied about rape on the asylum application, and it got her what she wanted then) and Strauss-Kahn can suggest that she cooked the whole thing up for money, it hurts the credibility of rape accusations in the most sensational way. If that’s the way it’s headed, surely it would be better to get the case dropped.

  3. Sheelzebub says:

    You mention the small stuff and avoid the big stuff. If that phone call she made to a fellow Guinean in jail turns out to be correctly reported, where she allegedly said “This guy has plenty of money. Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing”–how does that make it look from a feminist point of view?

    In a recent story in Newsweek, the prisoner whom she spoke with, as well as a translator who listened to the tapes said that this story wasn’t true, and that what she said was–to put a charitable spin on it–grossly misinterpreted.

  4. LC says:

    Even if the translation was accurate, that statement would have been meaningless without context.

    On a totally unrelated note, I am surprised she was making $25/hour. I was under the impression wages were much lower, but I guess Sofitel is a high-end chain.
    (This has nothing much to do with anything, I was just genuinely surprised.)

    The number of people I know who have written this case off as “she is no longer credible” and just lumped it into the “causing trouble for important issues by hitting an icon of the left” has been depressing.

  5. matlun says:

    She also lied in here testimony to the prosecution in this case. Among other things she lied about having been raped (in her native country). That will not play well in court.

    For the general discussion, I also think you need to be careful not to buy into the myth that going to court will seldom work. In fact once the case goes to court there is a 58% chance of conviction (according to your link to RAINN), which is probably a reasonably good figure.

    I am not saying that there are not problems, but exaggerating the situation does actual damage by dissuading victims from reporting.

  6. matlun says:

    And just for clarification: I have no real interest in going into the discussion about the probability of DSK being guilty or innocent – that discussion has already been done to death many times over. I only based my post above on the letter from the prosecution.

  7. cim says:

    matlun: “In fact once the case goes to court there is a 58% chance of conviction”

    In the UK, where the figure is similar, the main reason for this is that criminal prosecutors are only supposed to proceed with cases they think they have a better than even chance of winning. I believe the same is true of the US prosecutors. So of course conviction-in-court rates are pretty good (especially when you add in guilty pleas, convictions for lesser offences, etc.) but that doesn’t help much if most cases never get to court.

  8. Bitter Scribe says:

    apparently she even lied about rape on the asylum application, and it got her what she wanted then

    Yeah, but that’s not the same thing as falsely accusing a specific individual of rape. It’s not unknown for women seeking political asylum in the U.S. to lie about having been raped. It makes for a better story and increases their odds.

    The New Yorker not long ago ran a profile on a woman who did this. What’s dismaying is that this young woman, from an unspecified nation in central Africa, actually did suffer physical oppression: soldiers invaded and busted up her house and beat up the male relatives. (Her family had run afoul of the ruling regime politically for some reason.)

    It’s too bad she resorted to lying about rape, but her back was against the wall. Does something like this trivialize rape? Maybe, but to me it’s more about the insane arbitrariness of U.S. immigration policy.

  9. matlun says:

    cim: In the UK, where the figure is similar, the main reason for this is that criminal prosecutors are only supposed to proceed with cases they think they have a better than even chance of winning.

    True. But the pressure of being cross examined is one of the worst parts of the ordeal if you want to get to conviction. It might help to know that the chance of there being a conviction is fairly good if you get to that situation.

    I too am actually most familiar with the UK statistics and debate. There has been a lot of false statistics and misleading rhetoric around this issue, which really is not helping the cause.
    Looking at the RAINN site, they actually appear to give a much better and factual breakdown of the statistics than I am used to from the UK debate.

  10. Tei Tetua says:

    Just to add a little bit more to the suspicion that Nafissatou Diallo had sex with Dominique Strauss-Kahn in the hope of making money from it, she has in fact filed a lawsuit against him. No doubt her other lawsuit, against the hotel for not protecting her, will be along when the lawyers have typed it up.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/08/08/new.york.dsk.lawsuit/

    The guy who said “It doesn’t matter [what actually happened]. Her credibility is shot” was absolutely right. It’s become a circus. Perhaps he’ll sue her as well, for false arrest. Must this thing really go to trial?

    America, land of opportunity. Yes siree.

    • Cara says:

      Tei Tetua, filing a civil suit against your rapist does not in ANY WAY indicate that you are lying about being assaulted. That is a disgusting, rape apologist suggestion with plenty of misogynistic, classist, and racist overtones. Also, the “phone conversation” debacle has been debunked many times — that is NOT what Diallo said (though if it were, it would indicate nothing about the truthfulness of her accusation). Further, to set up a false dichotomy of “good” and “bad” rape survivors and suggest that Diallo makes us all look bad is bullshit. Diallo does not hurt the credibility of any other rape survivor, mine included. Rape culture does that. The way that Diallo has supposedly been “discredited” with lies and racist/misogynistic myths is a function of rape culture, not who she is as a person. If people who think we rape victims are all a bunch of lying sluts who probably wanted it anyway want to extrapolate from Diallo being supposedly discredited to discredit us all, that is not her fault. It’s the fault of folks like yourself.

      I’m appalled that your comments made it onto the post at all, but now you’re on moderation, angling towards a ban. Standard rape apologist/MRA talking points are not useful or welcome on this blog.

  11. Rose says:

    There’s a good article by Pam Martens of Counterpunch today on this topic.

    In addition to looking carefully at the way a smear campaign was orchestrated against her by the NY Times, it also contains a relevant quote by Robert Reuland, a former prosecutor in the Kings County, New York District Attorney’s office:

    “Their complainant has some skeletons in her closet; Cy Vance [Manhattan DA] is shocked, shocked to find an African immigrant knows some unsavory people and may have lied on her asylum papers. Therefore, she’s making the whole story up? I don’t follow the logic there…

    “as a prosecutor in Brooklyn my complainants always had issues, many far worse than those of the complainant in the DSK prosecution. In Brooklyn, we just rolled with it. Juries understand no one’s perfect. Anyone can win a case when the complainant is Mother Teresa. But sometimes, and quite frequently in my experience, bad things happen to bad people, too. And that’s still a crime, folks!

    “I’m not aware of any evidence in the Strauss-Kahn debacle to suggest that the complainant made up her story about the assault. If she did, then the DA must pull the plug. Otherwise, tough it out, Cy. And welcome to New York City.”

    None of the relevant facts of the case have changed since the DA’s office first brought the rape charges against Strauss-Kahn last May and therefore the case should go forward in court. If they don’t the message is that if a working class woman of color brings rape charges against a rich and powerful white man she doesn’t stand any chance of seeing justice if she’s anything less than perfect.

  12. February says:

    LC:
    On a totally unrelated note, I am surprised she was making $25/hour. I was under the impression wages were much lower, but I guess Sofitel is a high-end chain.
    (This has nothing much to do with anything, I was just genuinely surprised.)

    She was making $25/hour not because Sofitel is a high-end chain, but because she belongs to a union that has negotiated a strong contract. Which is also the reason she didn’t get fired when she reported the rape to the hotel.

  13. velder says:

    Cara,
    It is a valid discussion to explore whether it is just rape culture that denigrates the credibility of rape victims, or if the integrity of just any accuser who comes forward plays a part. Threatening to stamp out the opinion of those who suggest integrity matters isn’t going to work.

  14. Sheelzebub says:

    If we’re going to be concerned with integrity, how about we also stop spreading the lies that she was bragging to her friend in prison that she was out of his money? That’s been debunked.

  15. Raja says:

    So when does this guy get to go on trial?

  16. treeofjessie says:

    The person who lies about her history and the person who lies about sexual assault are not one and the same. The former is desperate and unlawful; the latter is disgusting—and ruining it for everyone who isn’t lying when they charge someone with sexual assault or attempted rape.

    wait, what the fuck?
    are people who falsely claim to have been robbed ruining it for all other people who get robbed, too?

    yo dawg, i heard you like rape culture, so i put a little rape culture in your post about rape culture.

  17. The Flash says:

    You know, this isn’t a hypothetical conversation about rape shield laws and victim credibility… it’s an actual case involving a woman who isn’t considered trustworthy by the prosecutors, and a man who hasn’t yet been convicted of anything. Maybe be less quick to jump to the conclusion that she’s right and he’s a rapist?

    I also think that there should be a difference in consideration of an accuser’s past based on whether the crimes in the past were violence/drugs/other statutory violations versus whether someone committed fraud. Committing fraud means you actually don’t care about lying to other people to get stuff you want. It seems like a valid basis on which to question whether someone is a fundamentally truthful person, and therefore whether, in a he-said/she-said case, someone else should be sent to prison on that person’s word. This is still the United States, where you’re innocent until proven guilty, right?

  18. matlun says:

    Rose: None of the relevant facts of the case have changed since the DA’s office first brought the rape charges against Strauss-Kahn last May

    That is just ridiculous.

    The fact that she has repeatedly lied in her testimony has seriously hurt her credibility. And this is very relevant to the case.

  19. Shaun says:

    matlun: That is just ridiculous.

    The fact that she has repeatedly lied in her testimony has seriously hurt her credibility. And this is very relevant to the case.

    Please. As I understand she was raped in Guinea, she embellished it to a gang rape in order to gain a better shot at asylum. If you’ve never had to immigrate anywhere, shut the fuck up.

    I guess she fabricated her vaginal bruising and torn tendon too.

  20. Medea says:

    treeofjessie: wait, what the fuck?
    are people who falsely claim to have been robbed ruining it for all other people who get robbed, too?

    Yes. Anyone who lies makes life harder for nonliars.

  21. Shaun says:

    You know I really can’t believe people are still victim-blaming and spreading misinformation about this case.

    On a feminist site.

  22. matlun says:

    @Shaun: Have you read the letter from the prosecution?
    During the testimony for the current case, she has lied about
    – History that she also lied about in her asylum application (including a falsified gang rape incident)
    – Her exact activity immediately after the incident (where did she go afterwards and what did she do?)
    – “… a variety of additional topics…” (quoted from the letter)

    Now, this does not prove that she was not assaulted. But in this type of sexual assault trial where the main part of the evidence is her testimony, the damage to her credibility is a big problem.

    Saying that this is not even relevant to the case is just incorrect.

    Perhaps the prosecutors still have strong enough evidence to bring the case to trial. We will have to wait and see how it plays out.

  23. Shaun says:

    Matlun, I already addressed the lie in the asylum application. As for the activity following the incident, so what? She went back and cleaned another room after the rape. This is actually a rather normal trauma response, but she was right to fear what would happen if that truth got out–look at all the peanut galleries opining on how a rape victim would or should act.

    Going to be honest here, I personally have lied about my sexual assault, because I was afraid that certain details (accepting a sprite, how long I’d known him, being bisexual) would make me look more culpable. None of those details have any bearing on the fact I was assaulted, and nothing she did after the rape is remotely relevant to her being assaulted either.

    Don’t really give a shit about a variety of unspecified topics either.

  24. matlun says:

    @Shaun: I do not disagree with anything in your comment #24.

    Whether or not she was assaulted is a question of fact. Either she was or she was not, but neither we nor the justice system know the truth.
    So there has to be a judgment based on the available evidence, and the quality of that evidence (which is where her credibility comes in) is critical to the case.

  25. Shaun says:

    @Matlun

    Fortunately we (and I use that loosely here) have some physical evidence to go on, like wounds she sustained from the attack.

    And if we’re going to talk about credibility, DSK initially denied any encounter took place, and then admitted to it but said it was consensual. From where I stand he’s the one with less credibility here.

  26. matlun says:

    @Shaun: Possibly (I certainly have no inside information). Since the prosecution has not dropped the case yet they could very well still have a case. As I stated above: We will have to wait and see.

  27. PrettyAmiable says:

    Shaun:
    You know I really can’t believe people are still victim-blaming and spreading misinformation about this case.

    On a feminist site.

    Yeah. This.

  28. Cara says:

    I’m not surprised, just unspeakably sad and disappointed. Of course it’s happening: she’s an immigrant black woman who works as a lowly maid. He’s a rich and powerful “progressive” white man. Of course he must be given the benefit of the doubt even more so than other alleged rapists, and she must be destroyed at all costs, with the media leading the charge no matter how many lies it must tell. As this thread will attest, people will believe every one.

    Every lie she has ever told for her survival or safety essentially means, apparently, that any man can rape her whenever he pleases and not expect to be held accountable; indeed, be appalled at the indignity of having to go to trial for it at all. Every lie that he has ever told to protect his career, the fact that the policies of his organization have killed countless poor people in countries that never make the U.S. news, is irrelevant.

    Her injuries don’t matter, frankly, because no one cares about the sexual violence done against the body of a black immigrant maid. The fact that he lied and said that there was no sexual encounter at all doesn’t matter, because no one cares if you lie about fucking or raping a black immigrant maid. Especially not if you’re DSK.

    Nothing hurts his credibility, because he has it built in through his rich male whiteness. Everything hurts her credibility, because she was never perceived as having any to begin with, by virtue of her immigrant female blackness.

    But I’m sure someone will be here any second to explain to me yet again how this isn’t about rape culture and I shouldn’t be making it about race — and why the fact that she embellished her actual rape on an asylum application years ago is far more relevant to the respective parties’ credibility than the fact that he lied about the fact that he touched her at all, when his semen was on the fucking floor.

  29. Doc G says:

    Bitter Scribe:
    apparently she even lied about rape on the asylum application, and it got her what she wanted then

    Yeah, but that’s not the same thing as falsely accusing a specific individual of rape. It’s not unknown for women seeking political asylum in the U.S. to lie about having been raped. It makes for a better story and increases their odds.

    The New Yorker not long ago ran a profile on a woman who did this. What’s dismaying is that this young woman, from an unspecified nation in central Africa, actually did suffer physical oppression: soldiers invaded and busted up her house and beat up the male relatives. (Her family had run afoul of the ruling regime politically for some reason.)

    It’s too bad she resorted to lying about rape, but her back was against the wall. Does something like this trivialize rape? Maybe, but to me it’s more about the insane arbitrariness of U.S. immigration policy.

    This.

    When I first heard about the new “evidence” surrounding this case, it was presented essentially as Diallo having a history of lying about sexual assault. My initial reaction was simply to come away with that impression of her and think “well, too bad, a person in this situation lying so prominently about sexual assault will make it harder for anybody to believe the people in this situation who actually are getting raped.” (Not ruining it, mind you, we as a society obviously shouldn’t have that reaction, but we do, and that’s a shame.)

    But hearing about her “history” again after reading the New Yorker article made me reconsider, and realize that if I were in her position I’d do exactly the same thing. In this world, and in this country, it SUCKS to be poor – way more than it should, given what we can afford – and for the most part, to a point, I don’t fault people who lie, cheat, or steal a little to get out of it. Yeah, I think it’s actually morally far more correct for Diallo to cheat on her taxes than it is for Citibank to pay 0% on their earnings in FY 2010 (or whatever giant bank that was) or for oil companies to year after year be able to insist that removing their government subsidies would be unfair. Actually I pretty much applaud her gaming of an unfair system in the two cited cases.

    As for the phone call, it’s depressing that her reputation is already ruined because of a bad translation and it’s not coming back. For the vast majority of people paying only a little attention to this case (and let’s be honest, most people are pretty much dead to this stuff since tabloid journalism has numbed us with all the meaningless sex scandals out there, when an actual criminal one comes along it’s admittedly harder to pay attention) she’s already guilty, and if not then it doesn’t matter because she’s just not a good person. And that’s depressing.

    Also, @ The Flash
    “Innocent until proven guilty” is just lazy when you resort to this phrase’s applicability just because it sounds good. Clearly this has gone exactly the way DSK’s lawyers wanted it to: people perceive it as a “he-said/she-said” case, which means the whole thing hinges on how “credible” (read: how good a person) Diallo is. All of a sudden DSK isn’t even on trial anymore – Diallo is! And in order to assure that DSK maintains “innocent until proven guilty” status, you automatically assign Diallo “lying until proven truthful” status! IS THAT FUCKED UP OR WHAT??? What I don’t understand about our justice system (and by don’t understand, I mean I really am not educated about this so if somebody knows more I’d appreciate some knowledge) is that it seems like in this type of case you’re actually allowed to use that strategy.

    In philosophy and rhetoric this is so not allowed that it has its own name: attacking Diallo’s credibility as a means to disprove her accusation of rape is an ad hominem fallacy. The reason why it’s a fallacy in this case is that either Diallo was raped by DSK or she wasn’t, and even if it was true that she had lied about sexual assault before, that wouldn’t make her any less raped now and wouldn’t make DSK any less guilty. Therefore even talking at all about Diallo’s past shouldn’t, in my understanding, even be allowed, because it doesn’t matter. What matters IS stuff like physical evidence, and it sounds like there’s a lot of that. So why all this discussion of whether she’s one of the “good” rape survivors?

  30. cim says:

    Doc G: Therefore even talking at all about Diallo’s past shouldn’t, in my understanding, even be allowed, because it doesn’t matter.

    I’d agree in practice: keep things simple for the jury. But actually, in theory, I’d go further. Her past is relevant because it makes the “alternative” theory (i.e. “it was consensual”) that DSK’s lawyers will push even less plausible. It’s already fairly implausible in general that someone will report a crime to the police if it didn’t occur. If the person reporting the crime has strong reasons not to want police or other officials poking around too much at their past, or their personal life, then that makes it even less likely that they just made it up – not more likely. (But in practice, because it’s rape – hello rape culture – and not a “proper” crime that the system takes seriously, yes, I absolutely agree that banning discussion of the victim’s past is appropriate)

    I’ve gone into more detail about the backwards logic involved here at my own blog.

  31. matlun says:

    I will add that I certainly agree that how this has been portrayed in the MSM (and on many blogs etc) has been deplorable.

    I have actually stopped following these articles in the press, since I do not want to see what kind of rumor is spread from the next unnamed informant they have managed to find.

  32. LC says:

    February

    She was making $25/hour not because Sofitel is a high-end chain, but because she belongs to a union that has negotiated a strong contract.

    Yeah, that occurred to me as the logical explanation later. Mea culpa.

  33. LC says:

    Which reminds me, I need to find a way to unionize my job. (Let’s face it, $52,000/year looks pretty good in this economy.)

  34. Girl from Ontario says:

    What Cara wrote x infinity + 1. Here’s a little secret for those of you who have always been privileged enough to live your life by the rules and actually get rewarded for it: it doesn’t pay for many poor people to play by the rules, and it especially doesn’t pay for someone looking to immigrate to play by the rules. I know that my own mother has broken the law to do what she needed to do to provide for us. What she did is no where near the same thing as breaking the law because you’re a sick fuck that likes to hurt other people. If accusers needed to be perfect in order to get justice, none of the crimes done to any of us would get prosecuted, but it would effect the more disadvantaged of us the most.

  35. Andie says:

    LC:
    Which reminds me, I need to find a way to unionize my job. (Let’s face it, $52,000/year looks pretty good in this economy.)

    That’d almost double what I make. I’d be LAUGHING on 52K a year.

  36. LC says:

    Andie. It is well above median. Given that she is universally described as “poor”, however, I assume that she doesn’t work full time, but rather has limited hours.

    Regardless, this all has little to do with the main point. As Girl from Ontario mentions, immigration resulting in her tweaking her story doesn’t surprise me. Nor does the tax thing if she’s poor and desperate. And in the end, even stipulating those, a comparison of her and DSK leaves her winning the credibility department, IMO.

  37. Bitter Scribe says:

    Prosecutors make a lot more than $52,000 a year. If the facts of this case and this woman’s life make it harder for them to do their jobs, boo fucking hoo.

    Alice Vachss, a former New York City sex crimes prosecutor, wrote that prosecutors, especially the ones obsessed with their conviction rate, were perpetually searching for cases with Good Victims. The Good Victim is preferably a housewife or white-collar worker, attractive but not too attractive, upset by the crime but not too upset, etc.

    The problem, of course, is that sexual assaults don’t happen only to people who are “good,” by those or any other standards. They happen to anyone and everyone, including people who have made bad decisions in life (or been forced into them).

    So even if the victim in this case doesn’t fit someone’s idea of a Good Victim, that’s no excuse for the prosecutors not to do their jobs. I have a lot of respect for prosecutors (dated one a while), but no one ever told them it would be easy.

  38. The Flash says:

    Doc G-

    “Innocent until proven guilty” isn’t just a matter of laziness. If an accuser isn’t presumed to be lying until backed up with persuasive evidence, then anyone can go around accusing anyone of anything and get them thrown in prison just because they didn’t have a verifiable alibi. And you can think of that in both a pratical and principled way: either 1) that any system which assumes the truth of an accusation is a system in which the fastest, loudest and most sophisticated accuser can get anyone thrown in jail arbitrarily (which would probably favor people with power); or, 2) that it’s actually, on a moral level, problematic to let anyone have that kind of power and enable anyone, even poor immigrants, to send anyone, even rich white men, to prison for something they didn’t do.
    And, of course, if you don’t have a moral problem with the idea of any person being able to hold any other person hostage to the threat of a lie, regardless of power dynamics, and you need to insert some analysis of power dynamics in because you don’t believe poor immigrants should be held to any standard of morality in their dealings with rich white people, then, again, see reason #1: any system that let’s people arbitrarily accuse people and be presumed truthful is a system that will be better exploited by people in a position of power (think “To Kill A Mockingbird”).

  39. The Flash says:

    Also, the ad hominem fallacy refers to ignoring the logic of someone’s argument. But it’s not her logic that’s being ignored — it’s her statements of fact, which are entirely appropriate to attack on the basis of her truthfulness. She’s not making an argument, she’s saying “believe me instead of believing him”. And if she has a history of committing fraud, then it’s hard to do that.

    Unless you’re committed to ruining the lives of anyone even *accused* of rape, regardless of guilt. See: Tiwana Brawley affair.

  40. konstanze says:

    Flash, I fail to see how DSK’s life is being ruined. We’re not talking about putting him in jail and throwing away the key. We’re just talking about putting him on trial.
    The innocent until proven guilty thing is a conundrum–I don’t think any accuser should be presumed lying until proven otherwise. I think it’s just as unfair as assuming a defendant is guilty until proven otherwise.

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