What was Ben Stein Thinking or Why Am I Still Writing About Rape?

Ben Stein is good at stirring up controversy.  He has insisted Bob Woodward made up Deep Throat, and had Nixon not had to resign the Khmer Rouge never would have come to power.  Bob Woodward, Mark Felt, and Ben Bradlee are really to blame for the genocide that happened in Cambodia.

Just over a year before Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, and Fannie and Freddie were taken over by the U.S. Government, Stein was on Fox News insisting the credit crunch was overblown and the subprime market was a tiny problem in relation to the rest of economy.  He discussed this in New York Times opinion piece as well that year.

Barack Obama accepting the Democratic nomination at Invesco Field was comparable to Nazi rallies for Hitler. Yes, that was too far, and not accurate in any way.  Now he’s taking flying leaps over the edge.

I almost expect it now.  But an entire article on why Dominique Strauss-Kahn is being unfairly treated for the accusations of rape is more than I can take. Stein’s piece in American Spector, titled “Presumed Innocent, Anyone?” makes eight detailed points about the accusation, furiously defending someone he has never met.  It immediately seems so unnecessary it is tempting to just move on without reading the whole thing.  Let me stop here and thank Felix Salmon for sharing the best parts of it in “Ben Stein Watch”.

Stein’s beef with the whole Strauss-Kahn story: He supposedly committed this crime, while not being a criminal since he has no history of committing crimes, and did so without a weapon.  How could he possibly force this woman to do anything if he had no weapon?  I have to wonder what Stein thinks rape is, and how it normally happens.  It rarely involves a weapon, and unlike this instance, is usually committed by someone the victim knows.  I also question his assertion that all criminals have a background in crime.  Whether true in this case or not, there is always a first time.  Whether there is a second time is something else.

As Strauss-Kahn has been a lifelong public servant and is so distinguished we should treat him better than waiting for trial on Riker’s Island, at least according to Stein.  Honestly, it’s about time a public servant isn’t given special treatment when accused of a crime.  It’s time they get the same treatment as any one else under similar accusation.  If Riker’s is where any other person accused of rape would be sent then it is fine.  Now of course, he will be released on $1 million bail.

Steins internal debate about the victim being a “chamber maid” is not only confusing but also degrading.  Her job does not determine the level of trustworthiness she is as a victim or witness.  In his last point Stein says this is a battle of the haves versus the have not’s.  In reality this is a case of a woman stating a high- powered man raped her.  Trying to turn into he said, she said does not help. Jumping to a conclusion because the two were from different socioeconomic backgrounds is repugnant, and assumes this woman is doing it for any sort of personal gain.

Stein is only the most recent person (all men) to assume a victim of rape is somehow to blame.  Yes, he goes on about how the media is assuming Strauss-Kahn is guilty, but the media does that with almost every major case.  That doesn’t mean the victim is lying, or we should question her because she might be one of those maids who steals Stein’s medicine and throws away his important papers!  Yes, he really said that.

The last two weeks I have focused on sexual assault and rape in my posts here.  It seems the topic will just not go away.  It is frustrating to see it come up again in such a way that I cannot ignore it, and have to write about it.  It is even more frustrating to see such random thoughts shared so widely by someone who commands a readership.  While I hope no one will take his comments too seriously, some of them are serious, and make it more difficult to drop the stigma from rape, and scare women away from admitting what has happened to them.

Mr. Stein, this shouldn’t be about your buddy (though you’ve never met), and it shouldn’t be about the victim’s social standing, job, or trustworthiness.  This should be about the crime.  No matter who the victim or accused is, it should always be about the crime at hand.


Photo Credit: Robbie McCord      Originally appeared on Fem2.0


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