August 29, 2011
This is my third and last blog post about this deplorable affair.
Last week all criminal charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) were dropped. The ruling by Judge Michael Obus came after the Manhattan district attorney recommended that the charges be dismissed because of concerns about the credibility of the accuser.
Mr. Strauss Kahn’s behavior, as evidenced by DNA, was definitely not above reproach even if the encounter was consensual and fee for “service” based. He is a married man of considerable wealth and at that time, power. Ms. Diallo is a hotel employee and the lower echelon of the economic ladder. There is something wrong - immoral - with this picture. This was not a Maid in Manhattan love story.
Almost everyone lost in this scandal. DSK, whose future in French and international politics is compromised; Ms. Diallo, who may be deported, and the prosecutors, whose first handling of the case was strongly criticized. The only people who benefited directly from scandal are the attorneys and maybe the media with increased ratings.
What lessons from an ethical point of view can be learned from this sad story:
There are quite a few.
1. Credibility counts.
If you lie repeatedly, even when you say the truth, people won’t believe you. Ms. Diallo was so convincing in her story about being gang-raped by soldiers in her home country that when she finally admitted that she had made up her story, the prosecutors could not believe anything she said then on.
2. Reputation matters.
Mr. Kahn’s reputation in his less then honorable relationships with women played a role in the hasty public condemnation. It may also have influenced the prosecution in the early stage of the legal proceedings.
3. Assumption is not knowledge.
There is a difference between assuming and knowing. Many assumed, particularly the media that Ms. Diallo had been raped by DSK but we did not know because we did not have the facts. We never have “all the facts” at best, we have some facts. The truth sometimes is illusive.
That is why we are not to judge others although we surely can condemn actions.
As Samuel Johnson once said:
“God Himself, sir, does not propose to judge a man until his life is over.
Why should you and I?”