Ben Stein, classy to the last

Remember when Ben Stein, promoting his schlockumentary in Canada, dismissed the ADL’s concerns about his mistreatment of the Holocaust by saying “it’s none of their fucking business”? Classy, right?

Anyway, having been booted from the pages of the New York Times for violating the paper’s ethics policy, Stein is now shilling in decidedly down-market conservative rags. Today, he takes to The American Spectator to defend accused rapist and IMF Managing Director. It is a paragon of the art of bad-faith arguments. The highlights of his 8-point defense:

1.) If he is such a womanizer and violent guy with women, why didn’t he ever get charged until now? [Perhaps because rape is severely under-reported by victims, especially against powerful men?]…

2.) In life, events tend to follow patterns. People who commit crimes tend to be criminals, for example. [Are there people who commit crimes and aren’t criminals?] Can anyone tell me any economists who have been convicted of violent sex crimes? Can anyone tell me of any heads of nonprofit international economic entities who have ever been charged and convicted of violent sexual crimes? Is it likely that just by chance this hotel maid found the only one in this category? Maybe Mr. Strauss-Kahn is guilty but if so, he is one of a kind, and criminals are not usually one of a kind. [emphasis added. Note that nothing is usually one of a kind, which is what makes one of a kind events … one of a kind.]

3.) The prosecutors say that Mr. Strauss-Kahn “forced” the complainant to have oral and other sex with him. How? Did he have a gun? Did he have a knife? He’s a short fat old man. [84% of rapes in 2001 involved no weapon.] …

4.) Did the prosecutors really convince a judge that he was a flight risk when he was getting on a flight he had booked long beforehand? … How is it a sudden flight move to get on a flight booked maybe months ago? [Yes, how could a person arrested literally while about to begin an international flight, be considered a flight risk?]

5.) Mr. Strauss-Kahn … is one of the most recognizable people on the planet. Did he really have to be put in Riker’s [sic] Island? … Was Riker’s [sic] Island really the place to put him on the allegations of one human being? [emphasis added] Hadn’t he earned slightly better treatment than that? [Well, if he indeed attempted to rape his hotel maid, he earned exactly that treatment, and more of the same after conviction. Being recognizable and powerful shouldn’t excuse him from the rougher parts of the criminal justice system.] …

6.) People accuse other people of crimes all of the time. What do we know about the complainant besides that she is a hotel maid? I love and admire hotel maids….

No doubt some of his best friends are hotel maids, and despite Stein’s tendency for sexist humor, I’m sure he isn’t alleged to have tried raping any hotel maids. Which is why Stein is not in jail at Rikers Island, and Strauss-Kahn is.


  1. #1 Anthony McCarthy
    May 18, 2011

    The comments I left about Ben Stein at one of the political blogs I frequent would violate your policies, I suspect. Though I hope they gave an animator some ideas for a bio-short of him. Of sorts.

    The man is absolute scum, he always has been.

  2. #2 informania
    May 18, 2011

    ..Economists are so good a people, they could never ever commit a crime unless the victim was asking for it.. For, you know; only criminals commit crime…

    Too imagine that all the while, I thought economist equivalent to psychopath.. Silly me!

  3. #3 informania
    May 18, 2011

    If you need help removing that brain tumor,- mr. Stein-, I’m quite willing to step up, scalpel and saw at hand, to do the job just right..

  4. #4 Ericb
    May 18, 2011

    You’d think that since Strauss-Kahn is a French socialist that Stein would be leading the pack to bury him.

  5. #5 Anthony McCarthy
    May 18, 2011

    Ericb, a multimillionaire raping a middle-eastern immigrant- house keeper? All slimy plutocrats are brothers in those circumstances.

    As a socialist, I’m disgusted with that kind of aristocrat-“socialist”.

  6. #6 Ericb
    May 18, 2011

    I should have added to my last post:

    I guess misogyny trumps politics.

  7. #7 Greatbear
    May 18, 2011

    As if my regard for Stein could not sink any lower.

  8. #8 Laurent Weppe
    May 18, 2011

    Too imagine that all the while, I thought economist equivalent to psychopath.. Silly me!

    Speaking of which, the Guignols de l’Info (a french satirical puppet show) had during one of their most recent sketch Obama telling a french reporter: “He did not just rape a maid: he also raped Greece and Portugal”

    Anyway, Stein embodies so much the arrogance of the upper-class that sometimes I almost wonder if he’s not just the best agent provocateur to even live: this is the kind of guy who’s so often so smugly wrong that if he said something like “There is no way that Lady Gaga took part of the Rwanda genocide”, I would be writting a letter to the ICC so they detain her on the basis that a primary school girl taking part in a mass murder 11.000 kilometers away from her home is more probable than Ben Stein telling the truth;Stein is the kind of guy that can makes you think that Lenin kinda had a point in his “lets slaughter the upper-class” political plateform every time he opens his mouth.

  9. #9 Russell
    May 18, 2011

    It’s pretty obvious that why Ben Stein would support the short, fat, old man defense.

  10. #10 Ender
    May 18, 2011

    Wow. What a fucking tool.

    And to think, he’s gone from being the centerpiece and main character in that hilarious Mockumentary ‘Expelled’, to being a shit and rapist-apologist for the rich and powerful.

    I hope his co-star Richard Dawkins doesn’t hear about this, he will be crestfallen to find out that his previous partner in mocking creationists is now using bullshit arguments to defend probably rapists.

    I stand by the factual accuracy of all my claims in this post. Especially those relating to comedy. I know my comedy, and that shit was ridiculous.

  11. #11 Vicki
    May 18, 2011

    He is getting special treatment: no fifty-man barracks for that rich man, he’s got his own private cell. For his protection, just in case someone in Rikers would recognize the head of the IMF on sight (perhaps from reading the newspapers in the last few days).

    Stein is following one of the basic axioms of the patriarchy: in any disagreement between a man and a woman, assume the man is telling the truth and the woman is lying.

  12. #12 TTT
    May 18, 2011

    Ben Stein: “Science leads you to killing people. Now, please buy some Visine. Active ingredients: tetrahydrozoline hydrochloride, pheniramine maleate, naphazoline hydrochloride, oxymetazoline, and polyethylene glycol.”

  13. #13 AnonymousCoward
    May 18, 2011


    To be fair, he represents Clear Eyes which contains naphazoline hydrochloride, benzalkonium chloride, boric acid, edetate disodium, purified water, and sodium borate.

  14. #14 paulmurray
    May 18, 2011

    ” [84% of rapes in 2001 involved no weapon.]”

    That link cites “U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics. 1997 Sex Offenses and Offenders Study. 1997.” … Ah: here we are:

    “About 1 of every 16 rape/sexual assault victims reported that a firearm was present during the commission of the offense. Most victims (84%), how- ever, reported that no weapon was used by the offender.”

    Ok. We are not talking about rapes, here. We are talking about – say – groping someone’s breast after clearly being told that the groping is unwelcome. That’s a a sexual assault, and yes – it is an assault. The fact that these sorts of assaults are done without a weapon is really rather unsurprising.

    But sexual assault it not the same thing as a rape, and if you think it is, then you should speak to someone who *has* been raped and let them explain the difference. For that matter, find someone to explain the difference between “assault” and “battery”. That website – like many of its kind – conflates the two things unashamedly. I’d suggest that in future you keep this in mind when quoting these sorts of statistics. People writhing on this issue – on either side – tend to be dishonest.

    Your reply: “84% *of rapes*” is simply a misquote and is wrong.

    Actually – I’m not sure what your point is. If we grant that a lot of rapes are done without a weapon – by the assailant simply overpowering the victim – BS’s point that SK is a “short fat old man” is relevant. I mean – he might be wrong or lying (in his photos, he doesn’t look that short or old to me) – but you didn’t address that.

    And anyway, Ben Stein’s point is that you can’t really “force” someone to perform oral sex on you. You reply that a lot of rapes don’t involve a gun. Yeeeees, and? I rather think BS has a point – you cant’ really “force” someone to perform oral sex on you without some sort of threat. Rapes would usually involve putting your penis somewhere without teeth. I suppose I could be wrong, but I’d need a little evidence.

  15. #15 Josh Rosenau
    May 18, 2011

    Paul, DSK is charged with sexual assault and attempted rape, so I still think the statistic I cited is relevant. And “perform oral sex on me or I’ll claim you robbed my room and get you fired” can be just as powerful a threat, if not moreso, than a gun to a head. It plays on the power difference between a managing director of the IMF and a hotel maid, and it’s incredibly exploitative. The idea that you can’t “force” someone to have oral sex with you is absurd, and ignores the reality of many, many sexual assaults.

  16. #16 Anton Mates
    May 18, 2011


    That link cites “U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics. 1997 Sex Offenses and Offenders Study. 1997.”

    It also cites some other publications, and I’d assume that its figures for 2001 didn’t come from a 1997 study. That said….

    Ok. We are not talking about rapes, here. We are talking about – say – groping someone’s breast after clearly being told that the groping is unwelcome.

    Er, no, we’re explicitly talking about rapes and forcible breast-groping and whatnot. I mean, that’s what it says–“rape/sexual assault victims.”

    Further, that study examines another data series covering three states, in which rape alone was considered, and finds that 80% of those rapes were weaponless.

    Rapes would usually involve putting your penis somewhere without teeth. I suppose I could be wrong, but I’d need a little evidence.

    According to the “Rape in America” study by the Medical University of South Carolina, about 25% of victims reported forced oral penetration.

    Again, in Lisak and Miller’s “Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending Among Undetected Rapists”, 2002, 10-12% of self-reported but uncharged rapists reported coercing oral sex.

    Finally, in Acierno et al’s “Rape and Physical Violence: Comparison of Assault Characteristics in Older and Younger Adults in the National Women’s Study,” about 31% of female rape victims between 18 and 35 reported coerced oral sex.

    As for the incidence of force-based vs. threat-based coercion into oral sex, I have no idea. Doesn’t seem all that relevant, unless there’s reason to think that a hotel maid couldn’t find a short fat old man threatening. A short fat old man who stays in $3000/night hotel rooms.

  17. #17 Jean Kazez
    May 19, 2011

    Rich, successful football players don’t usually kill their wives. Therefore OJ Simpson was innocent. Um. What an idiot.

  18. #18 Paul Braterman
    May 21, 2011

    I never thought to find myself defending Ben Stein’s take on anything, but …

    We have a real problem. DSK (presumably) says that whatever happened (note that the charge is attempted, not actual, rape) was consensual, and may claim that he left in a hurry after a blackmail threat. She says he tried to rape her. How with any degree of confidence do we decide who to believe? Does it affect our judgement that SK was probably heading for victory in the French presidential election?

    In general, how do we resolve the inevitable conflict of evidence in cases of suspected rape, except when there is physical evidence of a struggle, which there will not be if the victim was effectively terrorised?

    It is precisely because rape is a crime of extreme gravity, that we need a good answer to this question.

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