The Strauss-Kahn case shames the city of New York.
The Strauss-Kahn case shames the city of New York. The reality is even worse than Tom Wolfe's satire in Bonfire of the Vanities
By Toby Young Society Last updated: July 1st, 2011
Six weeks ago I wrote a blog post in which I pointed out the uncanny similarities between the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case and The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe’s masterly satire of New York society published in 1987. In the novel, Sherman McCoy, a Wall Street bigshot and self-styled “Master of the Universe”, is arrested and charged with reckless endangerment, leaving the scene of an accident and failure to report after being involved in a hit-and-run accident in which a young, African-American boy is killed. This gives rise to an unseemly feeding frenzy, with politicians, lawyers, media commentators and community activists all scrabbling to profit from McCoy’s reversal of fortune. Strauss-Kahn has been charged with a similarly inflammatory series of crimes – attempted rape, unlawful imprisonment and a criminal sex act – and the case has been leapt on by craven opportunists of every stripe, happy to condemn him as guilty without a shred of proof.
It turns out the two cases are even more similar than I imagined. According to today’s New York Times, it looks almost certain that the Strauss-Kahn case will either collapse or he’ll be charged with a minor misdemeanour for which he’ll serve no jail time. Bonfire of the Vanities ends with the judge dismissing all charges against Sherman McCoy, thanks, in part, to a recording that turns up that undermines the credibility of the chief prosecution witness. One of the reasons the Strauss-Kahn case is on the verge of collapse is because the alleged victim, a 32-year-old hotel maid, was recorded speaking to a criminal associate in prison shortly after the supposed attack:
According to the two officials, the woman had a phone conversation with an incarcerated man within a day of her encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn in which she discussed the possible benefits of pursuing the charges against him. The conversation was recorded.
The point of Bonfire of the Vanities was to illustrate the sheer venality of the New York power elite. None of the main characters have the slightest concern about the truth of the charges made against Sherman McCoy – the principles of justice could not be further from their minds. Rather, the case is just seen as an opportunity for personal advancement. It’s sublimely funny, but, like all the best satire, it is underpinned by a strong sense of moral outrage.
The extraordinary thing about the Strauss-Kahn case isn’t that it provides proof, if proof were needed, that Wolfe was exactly right about the moral bankruptcy of the New York criminal justice system and the city’s public officials and assorted bottom-feeders. What’s incredible is that the reality has outstripped the satire. In Bonfire of the Vanities, Sherman McCoy gets off on a technicality, whereas if the Strauss-Kahn case is dismissed it will be because there’s genuine doubt about whether he committed any of the crimes in the first place. Strauss-Kahn was convicted in the court of public opinion on even more threadbare evidence than McCoy was.
But more importantly, there is one genuinely impressive figure in Wolfe’s book, a beacon of moral rectitude in an otherwise fallen world, and that is the judge, Myron Kovitsky. A fiercely independent character, he resists all the political pressure applied to him and steadfastly upholds the law.
The judge in the Strauss-Kahn case, by contrast, emerges as one of the least impressive characters in the whole drama. You will recall that Judge Melissa Jackson declared him a “flight risk” and remanded him in New York’s notorious Rikers Island jail shortly after his arrest. Eventually, another judge agreed to release him, but only on condition that he post bail of one million dollars in cash with a further five million guaranteed and remain confined to his apartment under 24-hour armed guard.
The notion that Strauss-Kahn was a “flight risk”, that he would have fled to France rather than remained in New York to try and clear his name, was utterly absurd. There was no justification for it in law. On the contrary, it was a typical piece of vindictiveness, an example of the judge pandering to the mob rather than weighing up the evidence. I hope that she is ashamed of herself for, in effect, tarring and feathering a man who now looks as though he may very well be innocent.
Tags: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe
The Strauss-Kahn case shames the city of New York. The reality is even worse than Tom Wolfe's satire in Bonfire of the Vanities – Telegraph Blogs
Re: The Strauss-Kahn case shames the city of New York.
@Krankrumtheburgler, your all over this. I am enjoying this!! What have we been saying here since this case first came to light? I remember very clearly my self, writing here, that this was a set-up.
Re: The Strauss-Kahn case shames the city of New York.
Strauss-Kahn sexual assault lawsuit will proceed
Judge rules in suit filed by maid in New York
A hotel maid's sexual assault lawsuit against Dominique Strauss-Kahn can go forward to trial, a judge has ruled, rebuffing the former International Monetary Fund leader's diplomatic-immunity claim.
Bronx state Supreme Court Justice Douglas McKeon's ruling released Tuesday kept alive the civil case that emerged from a May 2011 hotel-room encounter that also spurred now-dismissed criminal charges against Strauss-Kahn, then a French presidential hopeful. The episode was the first in a series of allegations about his sexual conduct that sank his political career.
Strauss-Kahn sexual assault lawsuit will proceed - World - CBC NewsYour silence is important-Feminist's demand it
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