Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lemming Tracks: France, the IMF, and Special Rules for Special People

The Lemming will be back with something else, later today.

First, though, a look at cultural values:

"Is Polanski haunting the Strauss-Kahn case?"
BBC News (May 18, 2011)

"Comparisons between the legal troubles of the film director Roman Polanski and Dominique Strauss-Kahn are being made on both sides of the Atlantic. Could the case of Polanski - given sanctuary in France after fleeing sex charges in the US - have any impact on the fate of the IMF chief?

"Prosecutors were among the first to draw parallels between the two cases, arguing in court on Monday that if Dominique Strauss-Kahn were to leave the US, France would be under no obligation to send him back to face trial.

" 'He would be living openly and notoriously in France, just like Roman Polanski,' said chief assistant district attorney Daniel Alonso.

"Judge Melissa C Jackson quickly dismissed the idea.

" 'I will note that Roman Polanski has nothing to do with this,' she said. 'I am trying to be objective, and I am not going to judge this individual on the basis of what happened with Roman Polanski.'..."

As a general rule, that actually makes sense: not judging one individual on the basis of what another individual did.

On the other hand, Roman Polanski was sheltered by France. After the brilliant and talented film director, ah, 'seduced' a 13-year old girl.

And Americans wanted to prosecute Mr. Polanski: imagine!

'Beyond Good and Evil?'

France, being much more open-minded about such affairs, realized that Mr. Roman Polanski was a brilliant and talented film director - and shouldn't be inconvenienced by those Americans:
I've discussed Mr. Polanski, tolerance (French style), and differing cultural values in another blog:
I'll admit that, in a sense, I'm quite intolerant. I do not think that there should be special rules for folks who are very talented, or who have lots of money.

Which puts me at odds with French values. The values of some 'proper' French folks, anyway:
"...The French culture and communications minister, Frederic Mitterrand, said he 'learned with astonishment' of Polanski's arrest. He expressed solidarity with Polanski's family and said 'he wants to remind everyone that Roman Polanski benefits from great general esteem' and has 'exceptional artistic creation and human qualities.'..."
(CNN (September 28, 2009))
Attractive as the notion might seem, I really do not think that 'superior' persons are "beyond good and evil."

Also, as I said yesterday, I hope that France is culturally diverse - that the IMF chief's good old boy network isn't typical of all French citizens.

America isn't France

"Strauss-Kahn arrest: Maid 'scared but will testify' "
BBC News (May 18, 2011)

"The maid who has accused International Monetary Fund (IMF) head Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault is "scared" but will testify against him, her lawyer says.

"Jeffrey Shapiro says when the 32-year-old woman discovered Mr Strauss-Kahn's identity a day after the incident she feared for herself and her daughter...."

"...The woman came originally from the West African state of Guinea. She arrived in the US seven years ago with her daughter and had been in her job at the Sofitel hotel for three years...."

I think it's possible that IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn might have once gotten away with (allegedly) abusing a hotel maid - particularly one from Guinea, west Africa - in America. A half-century or so back.

I was born during the Truman administration, and remember the learning curve this country country has been on. I think that over the last several decades, many of us have gotten more comfortable with the idea that folks don't have to look 'European' to be taken seriously. We also got used to rock music, but decided to let disco die - and that's another topic.

America is not, as I wrote yesterday, perfect. I'm quite certain that you'll find jerks here. But, like I said, we've learned that a hotel maid from Guinea deserves to be heard.

Enough said.

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