Image via WikipediaA New York Grand Jury has decided that Dominique Strauss-Kahn will stand trial....but the jury of French opinion has already decided on his overall innocence.
Let us ignore for the moment the fact that that the jury is composed of...as '1066 and All That' would have it, 'other barons who would understand'...... journalists, self proclaimed philosophers, politicians and financiers....as nobody else in France can get their views heard, but just listen to what it is saying.
Yes, he is strongly attracted to women...this is part of the French culture after all...but what goes on in his private life has no bearing on his capacity in public employment.
He has been accused by a number of women of seriously aggressive 'attraction'? How come they have stayed quiet so long? They must be seeking to boost their failing careers.
He was the 'white knight' who was going to beat Sarkozy and put the Socialist Party in power....so his problems in New York must be down to a plot.
His actions at the IMF which kept the Euro from risk of collapse displeased the Americans....it must all be a plot.
Photographs of him in handcuffs are humiliating and degrading for a person of his importance. Doesn't the American justice system see the difference between him and some ordinary person?
And what's all the fuss about anyway? All he did - if he did anything - was to roll an employee in the hay.
And who is this woman? Who is a cleaner, an immigrant moreover, to complain about a man as important as Monsieur Strauss-Kahn?
I think that about sums up the position of the self appointed French jury.
I think the real problem is that revelations as to the nature of Monsieur Strauss-Kahn's attraction to women have given rise to the risk of an 'Emperor's clothes' situation.....where the hoi polloi begin to question the basis of authority of their masters.
And questioning authority in France is the ultimate crime.
As anyone who has done it is aware.
It's not just on the national scale, either.
A few years ago a drunken gendarme ran over and killed two kids who were riding their scooters back from a local fete.
Had it not been for the fact that he had damaged someone's car as he left the car park, and that that someone had pursued him, it is likely that the deaths of those two boys would have remained a mystery as the gendarme's colleagues did all in their power to help him...not even breathalysing him until mid morning on the day after the crime when he was still stratospherically over the limit.
Once again, the jury spoke...the local notables.
It was the fault of the organisers of the fete......but the bar served only pink wine, beer and water; the gendarme had brought his own bottle of whisky which he had downed in the course of the evening.
It was the fault of the parents of the two boys....both sets of parents were divorced...there was no stability in the home. Both boys were doing well at school and had a settled social life.
The gendarme wasn't on duty at the time. I should hope not!
He would lose not only his job but his pension. I didn't feel that factor weighed for much in the balance with the loss of two children to their parents.
But all these factors weighed with the court, which gave him the lightest possible sentence.....
In both examples it is clear that the authority figure cannot be seen to be at fault and I think a factor in the general supine acceptance of this by the French generally is the philosophy of the state, in which the state - and thus its representatives - embodies the will of the people.
So it's quite important that the people don't decide that their will doesn't coincide with that of the elite and their enforcers.
So the elite and their enforcers discourage questions.
As the women who have come forward with revelations about Dominique Strauss-Kahn relate, they did not proceed with complaints because there would be no future in so doing...no future for them, that is.
The whistleblower on the local council who revealed the maire's juggling with tenders for public works was sacked...six years later, the maire was given a token fine.
That's how it is.
The French elite gets away with a great deal by its self confidence...its elan.
They feel themselves to be unbeatable.....but so did the young French officers of 1914 running forward, sabres held in their white gloved hands, only to be mown down...and their men with them...by the steady, organised and resourceful Germans.
Its attitude might be expressed in the words of another Dominique...Dominique de Villepin, Prime Minister at the time, I believe.
France is like a woman...she wants to be taken (by implication) by force....
Well, that's all right then.
You, a French politician, embodying the will of the people, decide what they want and give it to them.
You, a French man, decide what women want...and give it to them.
They don't like it?
Tough. What can they do about it?
The real tragedy of this unfortunate affair is that while the elite deploy their white gloved hands in defence of one of their own, an increasing number of people...the non-elite, the ones traditionally led to the slaughter...might decide that they can do something about it by reposing the embodiment of their will elsewhere.
With Marine Le Pen and her Front National.