Friday, May 20, 2011

Ben Stein Wrote About Sexual Assault

What does a rapist look like? According to Ben Stein, not like an economist.  


Dominique Strauss-Kahn is the head of the International Monetary Fund. 
He is also the man who is accused of sexually assaulting a maid at the Hotel Sofitel on May 14, 2011


The rape apologizers and conspiracy theorists are out in full force, commenting on the case. Among the commentary is an article by Ben Stein, published in the The American Spectator


In this article, he makes several points that I find to be ridiculous, here is one: 
"In life, events tend to follow patterns. People who commit crimes tend to be criminals, for example. Can anyone tell me any economists who have been convicted of violent sex crimes? Can anyone tell me of any heads of nonprofit international economic entities who have ever been charged and convicted of violent sexual crimes? Is it likely that just by chance this hotel maid found the only one in this category? Maybe Mr. Strauss-Kahn is guilty but if so, he is one of a kind, and criminals are not usually one of a kind."
After a few minutes of googling, I was able to find several (and these are just the ones who have been convicted, not the ones who have been charged, but not yet tried):
-Robert Von der Ohe, Former Rockford College Economics Professor Pleads Guilty to Sexual Abuse
-Col. Russel Williams and Paul BernardoWilliams and Bernard were College Pals (at the University of Toronto where they both graduated with degrees in economics)
-Joseph Sheffer, Cobourg's Former Economic Director Goes to Jail for Sexual Assault


Let me assure you, and Mr. Stein, that each of those crimes were violent. Sex crimes, rape and sexual assault, are violent acts. There is no such thing as a non-violent sex crime. 


All criminals start somewhere. They aren't born criminals. At some point in their life, they make the decision to commit that first crime.


There is no set template for a rapist, just as there is no set template for a child molester. You can not look at someone and say, "He is a economist (or journalist, or teacher, or mechanic, or musician, or any other profession) and therefore can not possibly be a rapist." Just like you can not say that they are a rapist, based only on their profession.


Another point from Mr. Stein:
"People accuse other people of crimes all of the time. What do we know about the complainant besides that she is a hotel maid? ... How do we know that this woman's word was good enough to put Mr. Strauss-Kahn straight into a horrific jail? Putting a man in Riker's is serious business. Maybe more than a few minutes of investigation is merited before it's done."
What do I know about the complainant? 
-She reported the alleged crime to a detective from the Manhattan Special Victims Unit.
-She was taken to a hospital for an exam. 
-She picked Strauss-Kahn out of a lineup. 
-She testified before the grand jury.


Yesterday, the grand jury handed up an indictment, and when asked about the case, Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance said, “The evidence supports the commission of non-consensual sexual acts. These are extremely serious charges.” It seems to me that more than a few minutes of investigation have happened to get Strauss-Kahn to this place.


There is much about this case that I do not know, many answers that I do not have. 


That is what trials are for, the opportunity for both sides to present their case and let a jury decided. 


If the jury does their job, they will make their decision based on the evidence, not based on the profession of the defendant. 


They will make their decision based on the evidence, not based on the background of the victim. 


Which is exactly how it should be.


I wonder, does Mr. Stein fancy himself as a representative of all economists accused of heinous crimes? And for what reason? So that he can have his name mentioned on a few news programs? If that was his goal, then he certainly succeeded. 


Unfortunately, he also succeeded in questioning the woman's background and truthfulness, turning a sexual assault case into a conversation about the hatred of rich people, and perpetuating the stereotype that a victim must be intimidated by the presence of a weapon for it to really be a sexual assault. And those successes, are a detriment to us all, even the economists.

12 comments:

  1. The notion that a whole category of people would be exempt from the possibility is insanely bizarre! Shame on you, Ben Stein!

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  2. YOur argument is very logical and practical.
    I know nothing about the situation, but it seems like I could say, "I am a teacher therefore I could never drink and drive." Whatever.

    Unfortunately there have been cases where the woman has falsely accused men.....sadly those cases seem to have made more of an impression than the many woman who have truly been assaulted.

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  3. Just the kind of idiocy that gets my blood boiling!

    What does one's profession have to do with whether or not they could or would commit certain crimes? Rapists (and murderers and pedophiles, etc.) come from all social/economic backgrounds.

    It makes you wonder why Ben S. feels the need to be such a staunch defender of someone he hasn't even met. Rather than his sympathies going to the victim, they are all expended on the accused. But then the victim is a lowly maid, so I suppose that explains that.

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  4. Truth I would be more likely to believe that someone of wealth and privilege would be capable of a violent act. They tend to hide behind their money and feel untouchable and more belivable then someoen who is not rich.. Thank you Ben Stein for perpetuating and proving my thoughts..

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  5. Tracie, I just watched your I'm a Survivor video. Bravo! I'm so happy you've found your voice and are able to speak your truth.

    I know the courage it takes to do so, and I applaud you for standing up against the horrors of sexual abuse.

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  6. Hi Tracie
    I wonder what made Ben Stein write such a strange article? If there was enough evidence to convict the man (and it isn't easy for someone to get convicted of something like that, as we all know) then why is Ben still questioning it? Does he have blurry definitions about what "consent" means.
    Does he know, I wonder, that the average pedo has something like 55 victims before they get caught or reported? I wonder what the stats are for rapists? What about when one person comes forward, in many cases MANY come forwards after?
    One of my friends just went through a court case. The perp. confessed to several counts of child molesting etc. and this was just the sentencing hearing. He had confessed! but the child's grandparent, aunts and uncles sat on the side in support of the father who had confessed to YEARS of molesting and raping his own daughter. These relatives begged the courts to see what a good and reformed man that he is now. (totally disregarded that he had confessed and disregarding that he had ruined a young girls life.) I only bring this up to show the ignorance of the world when it comes to sexual abuse crimes.
    In this article, Stein is questioning the victim, even though the courts have already decided that there was enough evidence to convict.
    As survivors, this is the kind of stuff that happens to us that causes us to stay stuck in the abuse event itself. People constantly questioning the validity of our experience. Sometimes (many times) our own families question our sanity, our memories, OR they encourage us to keep quiet, and it takes it's toll. It is so important that survivors realize that these judgement is about the people making them. We don't have to live in that fog full of lies. (anymore) This Ben Stein thing makes me sick. It triggers all my memories of being told it was my fault and that the perp was the one who needed protection. UGG
    I am glad that I ran across your articles today! It gave me lots of food for thought!
    Hugs, Darlene

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  7. This Stein guy horrifies me! You do a great job of tackling his points and I'm so glad you chose to write about this. A jury is smart enough to make a decision without crucifying the victim. His richness is his problem to deal with, you can't buy yourself out of everything.

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  8. *sidenote*
    I do have to say...that he hasn't been convicted yet...BUT the grand jury did hand down an indictment.

    It is a little confusing, because not every state has grand juries, but basically, after the decision has been made to press charges, the DA presents his case and the evidence to the grand jury (which is a group of jurors who sits for usually about a month and makes decisions on several cases) and they decide if the evidence shows probable cause that the defendant committed the crime. At that point, the case will proceed on to trial.

    This means that the grand jury has officially said that there is probable cause that Strauss-kahn committed this crime.

    That being said....I still think that Ben Stein was completely out of line and his statements were wildly inappropriate!

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  9. Excellent points, Tracie! Thanks for continuing to stand up for the innocent!

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  10. I thought it was especially important to note that he described the prison as horrific, and not the sex crime.

    Jon Stewart, on the Daily Show, this past week, quoted Ben Stine as well and came up with three convicted economists too.

    I didn't know that someone would use the defense that being rich and powerful made you less likely to be a criminal. This guy really doesn't live in the real world. Any survivors knows that more power and more money corrupts people more.

    Thanks for writing about this.

    Kate

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  11. I was absolutely APALLED by Mr. Stein. I have often disagreed with him before but had always respected him. (He is a regular commentator on CBS SUnday Morning.)His comments on this situation are so close-minded, unwarranted, and insensitive, I find myself unable to control my anger. If he wanted to say that the media should withhold judgment before trial, then he should do the same. What right does he have to judge this woman? he knows nothing of her other than her job position. Is he suggesting that Hotel Staff are more likely to be immoral than economists? And what is the statement he has made to victims? Don't speak up if you make less that $15/hour? Especially if your attacker is megarich? I'd like to say that it makes me mad but really, it just makes me sad. So very sad.

    Traci

    P.S. Jon Stewart gave him a very proper skewering on The Daily Show.

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  12. Ben Stein's comments make me feel physically ill. Thank you for writing this.

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