Friday, May 20, 2011

DSK, Infidelity, Censorship, Feminism, News and Aljazeera (Lots o' links)

Dear Reader, As I preview this blog entry, I realize it is too long.  Too much information.  Too unfocused.  It should be perhaps three separate blog entries, but it isn't.  Sometimes things just flow, overlap and connect.  That is what happened here.  Feedback always appreciated!

I would like to comment on the news' all-consuming 24/7 coverage of the recent accused rape case of "DSK".  For one thing, the former head of the IMF is French and so his arrest has been much debated here in France.

Since my knowledge of the French political system is being gained at a snail's pace and really, I can't vote anyway - it is more of a hobby.  I basically learn about it in real-time; as controversies or political races arise - which keeps my interest more than a "Politics of France" textbook likely would anyway.

So, this is a case, er, ahem ... or controversy in point.  This French Socialist Presidential candidate, leading in the polls vastly was already a known womanizer!  He cheated on his THIRD wife three years ago, asked for forgiveness and the French just shrugged this off with seemingly anti-puritanical pride.  They even have laws that prohibit the media and news agencies from discussing public figures' private lives.  This is leading to a current debate about the media and those in power having a cozy, inappropriate relationship.  In other words, reporters may not report on many topics such as those deemed private by the rich and powerful.  So much for free speech, right?

Strauss-Kahn has been married three times. His wife is Anne Sinclair. (Time)
Sounds like censorship to me, but the French seem to embrace this with fervor and outdated notions of personal privacy rights.  Yeah, sure, but for who?  Not likely for the wife, whose husbands' infidelities are shrugged off by the general population who says gallantly, " Vee are not like zee Americans, what our leader's do in zee bedroom is none of our business". Who gets shamed in this situation?  I think it is the wife for whom society turns it's back on as they clap and cheer for a man and tout as worthy of leading a country.  WTH?

I think someone who is capable of cheating on their partner and/or sexually harassing their subordinates (as was the case with DSK) speaks to their character.  I know that there is no perfect person and we can't expect our leaders to be perfect either, but that behavior tells me they are not worthy of trust.  If he can't even be faithful to his wife and family, why should he tell the truth to millions of strangers?  I wish so much that Bill Clinton had been above this, but unfortunately he wasn't and I lost respect for him.  It just isn't right to have sexual relations outside of marriage but it is particularly bothersome when the relations are not of equals.  And, really, who can be equal to the president?  Okay, maybe another president or prime minister.  ANYWAY....

Most French people are very upset with the way Strass-Kahn was 'treated' like a criminal, hand-cuffed in the perp walk.  According to the talkingheads on French TV, since he is so damn "important" he should be treated as a fucking VIP.  Anyway, they say, he wasn't proven guilty so why is he treated like a criminal?   It is hard to believe he is not guilty of something since he was trying to scurry off onto an Air France plane the day it happened.  But also, no mention of the real victim in the early reports of DSK's assault, the woman.  This shifted due to some pro-active French women's groups.

One good thing that came out of this for me personally, was learning about these French Feminist groups (another concept lost on most French women) who spoke on behalf of the woman who is accusing DSK of inappropriate sexual conduct. and   I am eager to get more engaged in feminism here in France.  I have been told with great pride by several French women that they are "NOT feminists and don't want to be!"  I will devote an entire blog, maybe MORE about the sad state of feminism in France.  Though it appears that feminism in the USA is getting more regressive everyday.  But that deserves it's own blog, let alone blog entry.

To make this whole DSK thing even more offensive was HOW MUCH coverage this piece of crap 'news' piece is getting.  Yes, he was one of the world's most powerful men blah blah blah, but Obama made a historical speech about the state of affairs in the Arab world THE SAME DAY which was barely spliced in between images of badboy DSK on all of the English speaking News Channels here.  That is a big, damn deal.  What he said about honoring the borders that were agreed upon by Israel  pre-1967 war.  That is HUGE.  This is an issue that should have trumped the DSK scandal 100 times.  But that would require money to make a real story out of a real story.

I really, really detest mainstream media.  I know it is cheaper to produce repetitive news filled with soundbites instead of deep analysis and reseach, so that is why I rarely watch it.  For one thing, I always feel depressed, dirty and despondent after viewing the "news".  The information they provide only makes me ask MORE questions.  Questions which I think I shouldn't have to ask.  What is the background (ethnic battles), how is it effecting the animals (forest fires),  where are the people living (foreclosures) and so on.

That is why I usually watch Aljazeera.  I feel informed after watching their news reports and always cry during their investigative reports.  They really produce amazing news.  They answer questions I don't even have.  They interview people we don't usually hear from, they talk about topics we don't usually think about much (diamond miners live's in Africa, women in Egypt, etc).  They provide unbiased, thorough coverage that makes you think and reflect long after watching.

And what they don't have matters even more: anything at all that looks like Faux news.  I mean Fox news.  They don't have hysterical people interrupting each other, saying hateful, unproven opinions and calling it news.  Actually it is pure folly to even compare Fox News to Aljazeera, they just aren't even in the same league.  Aljazeera does the news better, even if it is bad news. Watch Aljazeera streaming live

When ALL the other stations (CNN, BBC, CNBC, France 24, Sky, ABC) were blathering on repeating the same crap over and over, pontificating over what MIGHT happen to DSK, Aljazeera was informing the world about what WAS happening all over the world.

If you want to learn more about WHY Aljazeera is only available on-line to Americans and not on cable, Aljazeera Blacked out by Big Corporations  It really is pathetic, but typical especially since Aljazeera highlights much of the corruption in the USA and Big Corporation's evil doings.  

Despite the Arab name, it is international news. For example, two American stories I "enjoyed" were:   BP spill effecting humans, Hollywood and the War Machine.  But Witness is my favorite show on Aljazeera. 


Margie Rynn said...

I too am suffering from DSK overload...I've been here 11 years and though I can feel the French pain (He's been a fixture on the left since Mitterand - it's sort of like finding out a family friend did something despicable) like you, I find there is a startling lack of discussion about the feminist issues the scandal raises. The panel discussions are almost all men, for one! Some men seem to be incapable of seeing the obvious (to me) line between seduction and harassment - I think that's a major issue here...I don't care if a guy has affairs (not that I endorse it) but violence is something totally different. It's the violence that makes this different than Clinton, etc. I think I'm going to write a rant about this myself...

oliviadog said...

Hey Margie, Thanks for commenting. You are absolutely correct in making the important distinction in seduction vs force. I look forward to your rant. No doubt you will bring the discussion even deeper since you have been here 11 years!