Noah denkt™  -
    Project for Philosophical Evaluations of the Economy
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What to make of Perp Walks?
Dialog with the Alter Ego on the Strauss-Kahn arrest, first drafted on June 9, published on June 10, 2011
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Question by Alter Ego of Noah denkt™ (AE): Noah denkt™ has been eerily quiet about the controversy
surrounding Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s perp walk. Given
your prior endorsement of the Anglo-american justice system, it
seems only reasonable to ask you for a statement on this.
Answer by Noah denkt™ (Nd): Thank you for raising the issue. We, obviously, have followed the transatlantic
debate about the perp walking practice in the US.  But we haven’t, so far, said anything about this because,
fortunately, we have never been subjected to this type of public display. And since we haven’t experienced it first-
hand, we can’t really comment on how dreadful the process actually is.

AE: But, come on, you do not have to have lived the ordeal in order to understand how much it undermines the
presumption of innocence that the defendant should otherwise benefit from!
Nd: Well, there may be issues with this. But, at the same time, you should not forget that it ultimately takes only
one doubt in the mind of one juror to be acquitted of the charges that the prosecution holds against you. In other
words, the playing field between prosecution and defense in the American justice system isn’t exactly levelled.
After all, it is much easier to raise doubts about the culpability of an accused than it is to prove
beyond
reasonable doubt
that he is actually guilty of the charges pressed against him or her. Hence it doesn't come as a
surprise that the common law system generates a lot more acquittals than a civil law jurisdiction does.

AE: That may be so. It doesn’t take away anything though from the fact that the perp walk images of a humiliated
suspect remain for ever in the public arena. So, the people who have been depicted therein will have to live with
these photos for the rest of their lives, no matter whether they have been acquitted or not. Do you think that this
is acceptable?
Nd: Perhaps it’s less acceptable for your average suspect than it is for someone like
Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

AE: Why do you say that?
Nd: Because people like Strauss-Kahn will eventually be able to publish a book about their predicaments. And so
they will ultimately make more money with the perp walk experience than they would have been able to do without
it. Your average Joe, however, will neither get a book deal, nor will anybody want to know who he is nor why he
got to where he seemed to be at one point in his life.

AE: Don’t forget, though, that DSK wanted to be president of France. Any such ambition, however, is beyond his
reach now, even in the unlikely case that the present charges against him should get dropped.
Nd: It’s equally unlikely though that he will ever end up being poor and destitute. Much rather is it reasonable to
presume that talk show producers all over the world will eventually fall over themselves to get him booked for their
show. So, in the end, the perp walk will have augmented his media appeal rather than damaged it.   
.
AE: Perhaps. Is it fair to say then, that you are pretty relaxed about the constitutionality of this practice?
Nd: Well, we trust that the courts will continue to review this issue in years to come and that their judgment on this
will adequately respond to the ever evolving circumstances on the ground.


AE: This is a very politically correct answer, isn’t it?
Nd: Perhaps. But you have to understand that we simply can’t have the perfect answer to any and all issues
under the sun. After all, we’re only human beings, just like you are.

AE: Fair enough.
Nd: Thank you and thank God.
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Keywords:

perp walk, constitutionality of perp walks, Dominique Strauss-Kahn's perp walk, outrage
about the perp walk practice,
transatlantic debate about the perp walk, comparing
legal systems, perp walk and presumption of innocence, Strauss-Kahn's arrest