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Ce N’est Pas Duke


Col. Mustard — in a post entitled “How do you say “Duke Lacrosse” in French? “Dominique Strauss-Kahn”” — claims vindication for views he previously expressed with silence:

If you noticed, when Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested for the alleged sexual assault on a maid at a hotel in New York, I didn’t join in, almost alone in the blogosphere.

Something didn’t seem right. The story was too neat, and too couched in political correctness. It was the same feeling I got when the accusation was made against the Duke Lacrosse players. White privilege, an immigrant victim, a not very sympathetic rich guy … it fit a made-for-media narrative.


Was there a sexual assault? That’s an open question now, but we shut our minds to the possibility of innocence before.

Since we’re likely to see more of this kind of thing, a few points:

  • “Too couched in political correctness”?   This argument-by-empty-buzzword just seems to be the same droit du seigneurthat BHL was invoking after DSK was arrested.   Even if this specific rich and powerful white man is proven to be innocent, it doesn’t flow from this that all powerless people who accuse powerful people of crimes are lying.  (I also can’t make sense of “too neat” — what, her story would have been more credible if it was full of logical holes and obvious factual errors?) Similarly, the fact that the Duke Lacrosse players were innocent doesn’t mean that all accusations of sexual assault by people of lesser social status on campus are false.   The BHLs and Ben Steins of the world — who smeared the victim and defended DSK based on absolutely nothing — have not been vindicated; at best, their bottom line might have been right by accident.
  • As of now, comparing the DSK case with the Duke case is utterly specious.   First of all, with the Duke case it wasn’t just that the accuser had credibility problems; there were serious problems with the accuser’s account of the alleged “rape” itself and substantial independent evidence making it clear that the accused players were not in the house at the time that the alleged “rape” occurred.   None of this is true, at this point, of DSK.   The evidence leaked to the NYT will probably make it impossible to pursue a prosecution and makes it more likely that the accuser isn’t telling the truth, but it does not establish DSK’s factual innocence.   Secondly, Nifong pursued the case against the lacrosse players after the evidence of their innocence was overwhelming, in part by suppressing exculpatory evidence.   The prosecutors in the New York case appear to be acting conscientiously and professionally.*
  • When you say “we shut our minds to the possibility of innocence,” I’m afraid I’m going to need specific cites.  Criticizing people who assumed DSK’s innocence based on his social status doesn’t mean rejecting any possibility that he was innocent, and as far as I can tell nobody claimed otherwise.

this shouldn’t need to be said, but apparently it does.

*As a couple commenters have noted, this is too charitable.   Let’s say that, if the prosecutors are erring, it’s certainly not in the direction of assuming the guilt of the accused.

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