What was the BBC Thinking?
The sexual assault charges filed today in New York against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Director General of the IMF, have shocked the world. Imagine, then, Peter Dobbie, filling in for Nik Gowing on BBC’s The Hub interviewing a Frenchman. He wonders if the charges reflect a more “puritanical” American view of sexual issues and refers to the extramarital affair of former President Francois Mitterand. His French interviewee remarks that the only French president who was without a whiff of sexual scandal was Charles de Gaulle. I almost fell off the sofa! What do extramarital affairs have to do with sexual assault? And by the way, rape is a crime even in France. If there is one difference between the US and France it is that in France, high officials sometimes seem to live in a bubble of impunity when it comes to behaviour that would incur criminal penalties in lesser mortals. Thus the sight of a member of the elite in handcuffs in a New York courtroom was indeed a shock to the French. (I can hardly wait for the Law & Order SVU version – this was the real thing!). It remains to see if the charges will be proven but the acts described in the charges are horrifying, no matter which side of the Atlantic you are on.