innocent until proven guilty?

When Gerry was in France, I kept the TV on CNN most of the time. The first night he was gone, there was the breaking news about the killing of that evil man in Pakistan. That kept them [CNN] busy for quite some time. Then there was Arnold Schwarzenegger and then there was Dominique Strauss-Kahn. If you don’t know about the case, please take time out and follow the link.

As I had not much else to do — the weather was lousy all three weeks Gerry was away — I followed this case closely. On top of it all, Gerry was in France, so I got to hear some reactions from there too. Before this happened I didn’t know who Strauss-Kahn was and I don’t think I was alone.

All the time I had a gnawing feeling that they seemed quick to judgement … even though they have to say the word « allegedly» all the time, it sort of grows on you. The reactions in France on the ‘perp walk’ were fierce, and so they would in other parts of Europe, I think, had he been from any other European country.

This brings me to the subject that I really wanted to write about — this wasn’t meant to be entirely about Strauss-Kahn [DSK]. One of the biggest differences between my native Sweden and North America is that here they publish name, picture and address of people who have allegedly committed a crime … be it shop-lifting or rape. Swedish media are by law forbidden to publish the name before they are judged and sentenced.

This has sometimes irked me to no end, but now I honestly don’t know what to think. Before this DSK case, I’ve often asked Gerry what they do if the person turns out to be innocent. Do they publish a disclamation?! I’ve never seen one, so perhaps they’re correct each time. Sometimes I read here in  the local paper about someone who has been shop-lifting, I see in which apartment building they live and I often wonder if they can go on living there or if they move away somewhere where nobody knows them.

All these thoughts I’ve had on this subject, were once again actualized while DSK was in Rikers Island. There were so many things in the story I couldn’t get together to start with. For example, how he managed to make her do the things he allegedly had forced her to do all on his own without a knife or any other weapon. He’s almost double her age and much shorter. If you have followed this case, you know what I’m talking about.

Even though many things pointed to that he seemed guilty … they even produced some DNA evidence … I was thinking in the back of my mind: «what if it turns out somehow that he is innocent?!» «WHAT IF?» His life is ruined regardless of whether this case gets thrown out or not. He had to quit his job … he had a brilliant career going for him and could even have become president of France! A rape charge is an immensely serious allegation that could render him at least twenty five years in jail. A false rape accusation can, as we may have seen here, ruin a person’s life forever. What will happen to those who commit those crimes … will their names and faces be plastered all over the media too?!

I doubt that we’ll ever get to know all the answers in this story, but in peoples minds this is what he’ll be remembered for, whether he’s guilty or not.

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14 thoughts on “innocent until proven guilty?”

  1. You are so correct. I wish here all these things were not published. And there have been times when someone is charged but then found innocent. All the hubbub about how guilty they are, etc. is front page news. Then when pronounced innocent it is a small article on page 10. And their life is ruined. Seems not fair to me.

    1. Well … when I first came here, I thought this was great! With our [Sweden’s ] system, one can sometimes begin to ask onself who they are protecting … the crooks or the public. The downside of it is also that in high-profile cases, like for example the Palme assassination, they didn’t name the suspects and that gave way to lots of gossip and speculations… There are always two sides of the coin, I guess…

      When I watched this particular perp walk … made me once again think about this whole issue, and it never really left me. Now more and more news is surfacing…

  2. You make very good points, Rebekah.
    No system is perfect, they have strong points and weak points.
    But in this case, it seems like it’s less the weakness of the system, and more an UNSEEMLY rush to judgment.
    (And propelled by sensationalism and publicity.)

  3. How right you are Rebekah. Media and by that I mean TV, and newspapers have a lot to answer for. People are judged and convicted before they even get to court.
    When they are proved innocent, can they sue the media for defamation. I don’t think so but I think that they should. By the time the innocents is proved their life, as it was, is already in tatters. Also the rest of the family suffers as well.
    It should be illegal to publish or photograph any information until after the court hearing

  4. How sad, but true. I was thinking about this as well. I think there should be an apology from the U. S. Government, the media and that he should be reinstated into his job. I, for one, am tired of the media trials.

    Casey Anthony is case in point, as well. I am sick of hearing about her life and her parents life. Stick to the facts. Who killed little Kaeli? and who is going to pay for that crime?

    I could go on and on because I am so against big brother/big government.

    1. Linda,
      Yes, but I doubt it will happen…
      The Casey Anthony case I’ve avoided deliberately. What an immense amount of coverage it has received!!! The DSK case, I happened to be sitting there when it started and it somehow fascinated me — I didn’t really expect it to go to trial, but after the grand jury and all that ….. *shrug* I just continued to follow it.

  5. I was struck by this story too. I just wondered who had most to win by the accusation. I’m sure there is much more to this story than meets the eye!

  6. Hi,
    We have the some system as America here in OZ, a lot of people call it Trail by media. There have been a lot of cases that have turned out that people have been innocent, but as you say their lives have now changed forever. I also have never seen an apology written.
    Our papers also have been all over the DSK story.

    1. In financial circles he was very well-known … an important job!
      The Swedish system with regards to this certainly has its weaknesses. Sometimes, when there is a high-profile case, it leaks out anyway who it is, but the newspapers cannot write the name. Instead they write ridiculous sounding stuff like for example «the 33-year-old» or «the entertainment profile», and everybody knows anyway who they mean. This is not common, though.

      1. Hello Rebby: In some cases I agree with the Swedish system….once a person is labelled even b4 a trial the label will linger forever….whatever happened to Innocent til proven guilty??
        I beleive once a person is found guilty their name is public domain especially if they are a sexual predator or drug dealer or child abuser…
        What makes me VERY angry is sex offenders who are released who are allowed to “anonymously” move into a neighborhood where children reside….that happened here approx. 5 years ago & there was a huge outcry that sent the abuser right out of town. I have an idea: don’t do the crime so you won’t do the time….:)

        1. Sherriellen,
          Yes, regardless of the outcome the label will stay. I think there will always be doubt in people’s minds even if this particular case is dismissed.
          To falsely accuse somebody of rape is devastating on many levels. Not only to the person they accuse, but also to real rape victims, that will have even greater problems with credibility after such a case.

          The part about sex offenders moving in to neighbourhoods … that’s a whole different story! Terrible.

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