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A really long roundup of links on Assange rape accusations

Valhalla's picture

I've done my best to avoid the worst sites, but this latest wave of misogyny and rape apologism has me ready to vomit. The only good thing (from a personal point of view) for the whole nauseating mess is that I found I number of kick-ass sites this last week. Since they've mostly already said what I would've liked to say, but a whole lot better, here's a big honkin' roundup.

Hipp and Lambert are following the details of the accusations, etc, here. That's not what this post is about. It's about the sadly predictable narrative which has arisen (and the pushback against same) surrounding these allegations. And by “sad” I mean “overwhelmingly depressing.” I've been hearing this standard set of apology tropes for 25 years, and I dare say that would be a longer period I were older (like about 10,000 years old). They haven't changed a bit; the only difference is we now have new generations mouthing them.

Divining Rape

First off, Violet explains rape culture. The Hand Mirror expands:

But I think that defenders of Julian Assanger do the most damage when they construct a way that rape victims behave and imply that the woman involved isn't acting like a rape victim: she tweeted about him, or she seemed happy, or she saw him again.

I lose it at this point. There is no way that rape victims act - there is no way that rape victims don't act. Seriously. If you don't know this then you have no right to say a word about rape.

Perhaps the best admonition I found, which really says it all about all the rush to dismiss and judge the allegations, and which I wish I could magically tattoo on the foreheads of everyone (including myself) who has said anything at all about the rape allegations against Assange:

I only want to say this: whatever you say about a rape, any rape (or alleged rape, let’s be clear, because I am well aware that Assange may be innocent — or fictional rape, for argument’s sake, because whether the rape actually occurred or not is not relevant to this point) can be heard by others. It can be heard by others who have been raped, or who will one day be raped, or who may have raped someone, or may rape someone one day. And you, when you are speaking or writing or tweeting or commenting on Facebook or blogging or muttering under your damn breath on the train, need to take responsibility for that.

IOW, if you don't know what you are talking about, stfu and take this opportunity to learn something. And be mindful that you don't contribute to making it harder for victims to come forward or easier for would-be rapists to get away with it. And please, stop generalizing your single experiences to the whole world. Goes double for assuming you understand anything because you watch Law & Order: SVU.

Celebrity “Progressives” Who Win the Rape Apologist of the Year Award

There are probably many more of these than I came across, but as I said, I was already vomiting. And I don't have the fortitude to parse through the original offenses, so feel free to follow the linkage. I'll just say that some prominent contenders are Moore and Keith Olberman. Color me unsurprised. Although one woman's pushback story was pretty interesting, and encouraging, until I read her account of the cyberattacks visited on her for daring to question two other “progressive” folk heroes plumbing the depths of despicability. Excuse me, I need to go vomit some more.

But some special attention needs to go to Naomi Wolf because, based on some of her previous work, some may mistake her for a feminist. Violet, again, has the best headline:

Naomi Wolf to serve as the new spokesmodel for Ladies Against Feminism:

Violet points us to an excellent point from Jaclyn Friedman at The American Prospect, What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape,

at The American Prospect:

Had the backlash against Assange's arrest focused on Interpol's hypocrisy, my colleagues and I would have been free to join and strengthen that critique. But it didn't. Instead, Keith Olbermann used scare quotes around the word rape as though the charges themselves (which are that Assange held one woman down against her will, and in a separate incident raped another while she was sleeping) were silly, and everyone from Glenn Beck to Naomi Wolf rushed to belittle the accusers, along the way employing every victim-blaming, rape-denying, slut-shaming trope ever invented, from "they're just lashing out because they got their feelings hurt" (that's both Beck and purported feminist Wolf, paraphrased) to my personal non-favorite, popular blogger Robert Stacy McCain's suggestion that women who consent to any kind of sex are sluts who deserve whatever happens: "You buy the ticket, you take the ride."

Going back for the moment, to the forehead tattoo point, Friedman runs us through how the chattering comparisons to our societal conception of what “real” rape is all about (or “rape-rape” per Whoopi Goldberg, another contender for the Apologist award expresses it), hurts victims:

Here's a quick primer on that ideal: The rapist is a scary stranger, with a weapon, even better if he's a poor man of color. The victim is a young, white, conventionally pretty, sober, innocent virgin. Also, there are witnesses and/or incontrovertible physical evidence, and the victim goes running to the authorities as soon as the assault is over.

But let's face it, actual rapes almost never match up to this ideal. Most rape victims know their attacker (estimates range from 75 percent to 89 percent), most rapists use alcohol or drugs to facilitate the assault (More than 80 percent, according to researcher David Lisak), not weapons, and most of the famous men whose accusers receive media attention aren't poor men of color. But once the accusation hits the news cycle, whatever pundit gets there first uses the non-ideal details of the alleged assault to argue that surely, we shouldn't take this seriously, and other pundits nod their head in agreement.

Piling on the accuser with victim-blaming language, or questioning why this account doesn't match what we think sexual assault should look like, doesn't happen in a vacuum. Millions of people are watching and listening as these rape myths are repeated ad nauseam. A 2008 study by Renee Franiuk, published in the journal Violence Against Women, revealed that these narratives make victims less likely to take their own experiences seriously and more afraid of reporting what's been done to them.


It gets worse. Devaluing victims' accounts makes it easier for men to excuse or dismiss their own sexually assaulting behavior. It also makes it easier for cops, judges, prosecutors, and jurors to not take rape claims seriously if and when those victims decide to ask for help (a dynamic well illustrated by the story Amanda Hess broke in the Washington City Paper earlier this year of a young woman at Howard University who was denied both a rape kit and a prosecution all because she had been drunk at the time of the attack). Worst of all: Unreported and unpunished rapists are free to rape again. And the groundbreaking findings of researchers David Lisak and Paul Miller suggest they're likely to do just that, an average of five more times each.

Alrighty, back to Wolfe. Several sites have deconstructed Wolfe's faux-feminist defense of Assange and dismissal of the accusers, Julian Assange Captured by World's Dating Police. The most acerbic is Salon's This Week in Crazy, while the most sober is Why Naomi Wolf Really Needs to Read the Internet, with the latter pointing out that Wolf's early declaration that the two women were really just sore over Assange's catting around had as her primary source, the Daily Mail (potential problems with DM sourcing here, if anyone needs them.)

But I'd like to point out to Wolf (et al) the more subtle problem with her snarky dating police headline and her comparison between the accusations and women whose feelings are hurt because their boyfriends don't notice a new haircut. It's this: the answer to Interpol's hyprocrisy in pursuing an arrest warrant for Assange based on allegations of rape, or the politicization of these allegations by pick-an-entity is not to fail to take these allegations seriously. The answer is to demand that rape allegations are taken seriously the world over, whether the accused is a “progressive” folk hero or not. Anything else is concern-trolling, no matter how many times you've appeared on the teebee.

More on Sourcing

Kate Harding of Salon's War Room takes apart one of the accuser's alleged ties to the CIA. Shorter – the CIA sourcing comes exclusively from Assange fanboys (he's Neo from the Matrix!), and depends on: 1) she published in a journal connected to a group that is led by a guy with CIA ties. According to a fanboy; 2) she interacted, during a march, with an anti-Castro group (along with Gloria Estefan, the horror); and 3) she's a known feminist! Mind, I haven't plumbed the depths of the CIA links myself (either from Harding or "alleged" fanboys.

And in case you missed it, there's no such thing as “sex by surprise” in Swedish law, much less one which carries a $700 fine. (Official English translation of Swedish sexual assault laws here,, chap 6). While we're on the topic, here's Feministe with some thoughts on “sex by surprise” by which I (and the author Jill) really mean “how to understand rape through a consent-based paradigm which is the actual paradigm we apply or should be applying to rape.” (that's my paraphrase, not hers).

Walking and Chewing Gum

Assange may be both a rapist AND heroic toiler for government transparency and anti-secrecy. He may be one and not the other, or neither. The pursuit on rape allegations may be (most likely is) politicized AND a legitimate investigation at the same time. Or one, or neither. Hells bells, of course we should look askance at the timing of the investigation, but to assume the governments' actions, illegit or not, a priori negates bad acts on Assange's part, is just wrong. They can be treated separately, and should be.

Duh, yes, the charges are politically motivated—but that doesn’t mean they’re baseless. It just means that they weren’t useful to Interpol until now. (Recall that news of the accusations against Assange broke over the summer.)

But plenty of reasonable folks have pointed out that, with everything we don’t know about this story, it’s important to recognize that binary thinking is counterproductive. We can believe that Julian Assange is doing crucial work with Wikileaks while also allowing that he may be capable of violating a sexual partner’s trust and consent. We can believe that political opportunism is at play in Interpol’s pursuit of Assange without assuming that it’s a total frame-up. And I hope we can agree—listen up, Naomi!—that victim-blaming, feminist-baiting, slut-shaming accusations in the service of a larger progressive agenda help no one in a culture where distrust of women in sexual harassment and assault cases is still deeply entrenched.

Bitch magazine, via another great site. A commenter:

Intelligent people should be able to hold more than one thought in their head at once. The point of this piece, once again, was NOT to speculate on whether Assange did or did not commit a crime -- it's to point out that the media narrative around this story has quickly become depressingly similar to every other media narrative around rape and alleged rape. (That is to say, ugly and victim-blaming.)

Some Thoughts of My Own

With regard to the Swedish prosecutor's behavior: I don't know much about the Swedish justice system, but I am familiar with the U.S. one There are some things that aren't uncommon. The decision to pursue or prosecute an alleged crime is made based on multiple factors. I wish all the factors were strictly justice-based, but they're not. One is whether the prosecutor believes they can get a conviction, regardless whether they believe the victim or not. Didja ever notice anytime a DA runs for office they tout their astronomical conviction rate? That's because most prosecutors won't got to trial unless they're confident they can get a conviction. Which turns on many evidence-based factors, but a lot of other things, including the prosecutor's assessment of the likely prejudices of the local judge or jury pool. Another is the likelihood of getting a satisfactory plea bargain without having to go to court, which is expensive and time-consuming. Sometimes it's the level of casework at hand, and sometimes it's based on the prosecutor's own personal biases. Some prosecutors just have bad judgment. And, unfortunately, it often depends on the politics surrounding the parties involved. Usually, the fame of a potential defendant works in his/her favor, rather than the other way 'round. It's not uncommon for a prosecutor's office to go back and forth on bringing charges (which the accusers' attorney asserts is what happened here), esp. when a famous person is involved, or when the crime at issue is for whatever reasons getting a lot of attention, or a bunch of other reasons which have nothing to do with liberty and justice for all.

Lest I be accused of "petitio elenchi" I mention these factors not to disprove that the allegations against Assange are/have become politicized, merely to point out that the list of “proofs” that this is the work of the CIA or whomever is not as anomalous or unusual as some would have it. Anyone who's ever worked in a government office (or any office, really) knows that the way decisions get made is based on multiple, often contradictory factors, which include miscommunication and differing agendas, bureaucratic grind, and yes, politics.

And finally, I want to repeat this one quote

I lose it at this point. There is no way that rape victims act - there is no way that rape victims don't act. Seriously. If you don't know this then you have no right to say a word about rape.

I've worked as a rape counselor and as an advocate for battered women, where sexual violence is often a component of the larger violence. The first thing you learn in training (or rather the first thing you have to do a lot of unlearning about, because we all come to these issues with the larger culture's prejuices kicking around our brains) is exactly this: “There is no way that rape victims act - there is no way that rape victims don't act.”

There actually are some common behaviors in reaction, though (note I said “common”, not “ubiquitously dispositve”). Victims of rape and other violence often act in ways completely contrary to what you see on teebee or what someone who doesn't know what they're talking about would expect. Like other victims of traumatic experiences, one common (but not ubiquitous) reaction is denial; another is a strong reassertion of control over one's life. Both lead victims to not only act like nothing happened, or to minimize the effects or circumstances, but to actively pursue normalcy (whatever that means in their lives), to a degree which comes across as astonishing to those who haven't experienced or seen it. Experiencing trauma, whatever the source, is about losing control over some part of your body or your life. When the rapist (or batterer) is an acquaintance or an intimate, and is part of the web of family and social ties you inhabit, regaining control often (but not always) does mean not disturbing the existing pattern of expected interactions, and esp. so when acting in any other way would mean challenging any number of people's trust and belief in the essential goodness of the batterer or rapist. I saw this a ton of times, and I was only working with people who actually pursued some sort of help.

My point is, rape victims exhibit a whole lot of behavior that looks just like the behavior of women who weren't raped. This presents problems the justice system, which likes to use behavior as evidence, and rape apologists, because it reduces their toolkit, as well as frustrates perfectly well-meaning people who are hoping to find some something to hang their hat on.

One final quick point (ha!) – I'm trying to figure out how to say this diplomatically, because I don't want to diss anyone's experiences, but all the personal not-rape experiences being put forward don't mean a thing with regard to whether any of the Assange accusations is rape. It's just not dispositve. Millions of women have been not-raped, and millions have been not-raped by Assange. Probably other millions have been able to be not-raped in circumstances superficially similar to those described by the accusers. Still doesn't matter, it's not evidence or even probability. The crux of rape is consent, not the level of evasion used to obviate nonconsensual actions, and not any of the circumstances where consent was present.

nb: edited to correct some bad html and punctuation.

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Jack Crow's picture
Submitted by Jack Crow on

If I have to choose between:

1. Connect-the-dots conspiracy involving Swedish socialists and liberal democrats, the CIA, Cuban fascists, a Swedish prosecutor, the British legal system, Eric Holder, and two women who have nothing in common except sexual contact with Assange, and,

2. A guy who fronts an outfit which has done demonstrable good, by forcing various states and corporations to struggle to explain the consequences of secrecy and secrets obsession, and who must now calculate the actions of would be leakers, but who might be also rapist because two separate women have similar stories about what appears to be sexual assault and rape on his part, well...

...that's really quite simple: Assange, likely a rapist.

Which doesn't mean that's the case, exactly, of course. We're dealing with two competing narratives, with a lot of silly rhetoric, and a number of reasonable arguments. Just because a lot of men rape women, it does not follow that every man accused of rape is a rapist. And just because some States use sexual allegations to tarnish the reputations of its enemies, it does not necessarily mean that this is the case, regarding Assange.

It would do leftists, and especially Assange apologists, to separate Assange from Wikileaks. Wikileaks does not need Assange. It needs people like Bradley Manning. Assange might be its founder, but as a singular personality, he's really just a liability. On the other hand, Assange needs Wikileaks.

On a final note, I've read some moral equivalency rebuttals which have the stink of hero worship, and desperation. Just because it might prove true that Assange is not convicted, it does not follow that feminist critics of Assange apologism have in any way overstated the case. They have not. Women are routinely and zealously alienated and threatened for accusing powerful men of sexual assault and rape. Women are often institutionally discouraged from accusing complete non-entity men of rape. Women who accuse men of rape face institutional obstruction. Powerful men who rape women do not.

~ Jack

Submitted by wlarip on

I agree that there is no common way for rape victims to act. Each person is unique. Each will react in a different way. But before we move to venue of 'we can't infer a reasonable hypothesis as to the likely events that occurred', it should be obvious that a trial in the blogosphere is about to become a trial of law.

In that venue, everything that the defendant and alleged victims did, said and thought that can be established as fact is fair game. That includes tweets, ripped clothing, failure to appear before the police for questioning, internet posts, similarity of complaints from alleged victims, conversations with friends and everything else.

One thing it will not include is allegations of CIA 'honeypots'. I think that is because under the norms of international law, that cannot be established as a matter of fact. If it exists (and I'm not saying it does), it is likely well-cloaked in what used to be called 'plausible deniability'.

Because of the high stakes of Assange's prosecution for both himself and the involved governments, his attorneys will go for the throat of the victims. They would prefer not to since it carries a lot of negative baggage. But it doesn't seem to me that they have a lot of choice if they take their oaths as attorneys seriously.

I predict it will happen like this.

There will be a woman on Assange's defense team. The male attorneys will be both deferential and cordial to the victims but the woman will handle the cross-examination. It will be brutal.

Sexual history will not be an issue. But post-rape(and I'm not saying there was one) behavior will. As Affinis pointed out, Miss W's account seems more credible than Miss A's. But Miss A's discussion with her friend of Assange as the 'world's worst screw' has more the ambiance of chat than it does heartfelt condolence. You may explain this as abnormal rape adjustment behavior but the court will not. That is just the tip of the iceberg. There will be much more and none of it will be pretty.

Oddly enough, one of the people for whom I have sympathy is Monica Lewinsky.
She became the focus of a struggle between intense political powers who didn't care if she was destroyed as long as the objective was accomplished.

Rape apology certainly needs to be struck down. But this is about real people.
As a rape counselor, I'm sure you know that.

Submitted by gob on

I don't get it. I really don't. In what universe would a rape not be the world's worst screw????? That's certainly an accurate description of my experience.

Moreover, your phrase "abnormal rape adjustment" exactly misses the point of "There is no way that rape victims act - there is no way that rape victims don't act."

Read it again. Read it again. Read it again.

Damn it.

Submitted by wlarip on

But in what universe will Miss A's conversation not cause doubts as to what may have happened to her?

Utopia perhaps but not in the mind of a juror.

This case may not come to a jury. But, were it to do so, juries are routinely picked for their sympathies to the cases they will consider. That is the whole purpose of voir dire--to include jurors who will help your case and to eliminate those who will not.

The 'evidentiary' information that will be presented in the course of the trial is designed to appeal to prejudices and beliefs of the jury.

In my experience, rape victims who have the courage to accuse their attackers are frequently raped again by the legal system which should be protecting them. I freely admit my evidence is anecdotal.

My interest is in justice, both for Assange and the alleged victims. Along the way, if we learn the truth, so much the better.

But you can't do that by ignoring reality.

Submitted by gob on

and I don't see what predicting the mindset of the jurors has to do with an interest in justice or learning the truth.

Thank you for taking my point.

Submitted by wlarip on

"and I don't see what predicting the mindset of the jurors has to do with an interest in justice or learning the truth."

That is exactly my point. It doesn't do either. Its intent is to win and not only win but to win at all costs.

Sometimes defendants who are charged (usually wrongly) in a criminal case will tell their lawyers: "Let me tell you what happened.."

A response I have heard is "Don't bother. I don't need to know."

I agree with Valhalla that this case is a poster child for rape apology. But it is much more than that. Because of the unusual forces involved, everyone won't just be playing hardball, they will have graduated to Rollerball.

That kind of pressure obscures the truth and exponeniates the damage across the board as if rape needed any help in that regard.

What I didn't see in Valhalla's post(and I didn't read all the links) was an acknowledgement that these women are likely to be crucified by the tender mercies of the criminal justice system and they will likely need the best lawyers on globe to defend their interests.

I'm just sayin'

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

Most often defense attorneys will tell clients this (in any criminal matter, not just sexual assault), because it closes avenues of defense, paradoxically. It's the defense's job to refute the prosecutor's case, and it's the prosecutor who has the burden of proof (beyond reasonable doubt). Some cases are refutable without knowing what actually happened, and in some cases knowing what happened means the defense can't suggest alternatives that go to reasonable doubt.

Submitted by wlarip on

But the Supreme Court has also said:

"Innocence is no bar to upholding a conviction.'

Both are about procedure. Neither is about the truth.

Excluding irrelevant and possibly prejudicial information is a good idea.

But contrast that laudable ideal with a situation you may have encountered in your work. How many times have you seen a rape victim try to explain the circumstances of some (perceived) damaging piece of information revealed during cross only to have the interrogating attorney demand a 'yes or no' answer?

Jack up the pressure and you have a good idea of Assange's pending trial.

No matter what happens, we probably will not be any closer to the truth. But sometimes you have to go with what you can get.

** NOTE **

Edited to be a lot less wordy and convoluted.
Sometimes it is easy to fall in love with your own keyboard.

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

In Sweden, these cases are never heard by a jury, they are all bench trials, ASFIK. Therefore, the bias of the judge is of prime importance...there have been many instances in the past of some very hinky rulings in re sex crimes and murder convictions.

Submitted by lambert on

Stunned, gotta go. We need to collect these posts into a book, because they're great and they should be together. I'll go do that.

NOTE No petitio elenchi here. Did you begin with a perfunctory nod toward justice, and then segue into a turn-the-knobs-up-to-11 rant that ______ is ______? (just to extract the form). Nope. Would you have? I doubt it very much. Thanks.

UPDATE Somebody should really come up with a headline that does justice to the post. Not me right now, though. (Consider the headline what people see in their RSS readers, and probably nothing else....)

UPDATE A big shout-out to jawbone, too, for "post post post"! I didn't realize how many days there were until I collected them, and even now I may have missed some.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

to come up with a better headline, since I came up with original!

Btw, the links to Tiger Beatdown aren't working. Trying to fix.

Submitted by jawbone on

prosecution. Whoa! Really? From Greg Mitchell's Sunday aggregation of all news on WikiLeaks.

7:15 Claim by attorney at Huff Post that the man behind Sweden going after Assange is ....Karl Rove.

From the article:

Karl Rove's help for Sweden as it assists the Obama administration's prosecution against WikiLeaks could be the latest example of the adage, "Politics makes strange bedfellows."

Rove has advised Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt for the past two years after resigning as Bush White House political advisor in mid-2007. Rove's resignation followed the scandalous Bush mid-term political purge of nine of the nation's 93 powerful U.S. attorneys.
"This all has Karl's signature," a reliable political source told me a week and a half ago in encouraging our Justice Integrity Project to investigate Rove's Swedish connection. "He must be very happy. He's right back in the middle of it. He's making himself valuable to his new friends, seeing the U.S. government doing just what he'd like ? and screwing his opponents big-time."

WikiLeaks created a problem for Sweden and its prime minister, at left above, by revealing a 2008 cable disclosing that its executive branch asked American officials to keep intelligence-gathering "informal" to avoid required Parliamentary scrutiny. That secret was among the 251,000 U.S. cables obtained by WikiLeaks and relayed to the New York Times and four other media partners. They have so far reported about 1,300 of the secret cables after trying for months to vet them through U.S. authorities.
Legal Schnauzer blogger Roger Shuler scooped me on the story about Rove's Swedish work in a Dec. 14 column, "Is Karl Rove Driving the Effort to Prosecute Julian Assange?" But a big part of our role as web journalists should be following up on each other's work.

Shuler is an expert on how Rove-era "Loyal Bushies" undertook political prosecutions against Democrats on trumped up corruption charges across the Deep South, including against former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, his state's leading Democrat. The Siegelman case has turned into most notorious U.S. political prosecution of the decade, as readers here well know. It altered that state's politics and improved business opportunities for companies well-connected to Bush, Rove and their state GOP supporters.

Ultimately, the House Judiciary Committee's oversight questioning of Rove in July 2009 turned out to be a whitewash. The probe was crippled by restrictions on format that had been brokered by the Obama White House and, more importantly, by an unwillingness of House Democrats to risk antagonizing Rove and his backers by asking obvious questions. Call it speculation, but the federal bribery charges that imprisoned the wife of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) surely deterred him from building a thorough case regarding Rove's relationship with the DOJ, or at least calling relevant witnesses from the Justice Department and elsewhere for public testimony.

At this stage, the specifics of Rove's Swedish work for Reinfeldt, a former Council of Europe president nicknamed "The Ronald Reagan of Europe," remain in doubt for outsiders.

There's more and a link to Shuler's work at HuffPo. Interesting, to put it mildly, given that Rove and his master were willing to burn a valuable CIA agent who was working to prevent nuclear materials from getting into the hands of terrorists.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar; sometimes it's part of political hardball.

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

It makes such a bad name for the Left when these supposed progressive heroes dismiss rape allegations because they consider the suspect their guy. We don't know what this guy did but to just assume out of hand that this is all a conspiracy or worse, that these women are just being catty, is beyond damaging to the cause of feminism.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

of A, two pertinent passages from an interview she gave to the newspaper Aftonbladet (published 8/21/2010): "The woman in her 30s said that she, for her part, claims to be the victim of a sexual assault or molestation, but not a rape."...."'he is not violent and I do not feel threatened by him. In both cases, this is voluntary sex initially that subsequently turned into abuse.'"

votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

the victim does not get to decide if it was a crime, because often they are not objective enough to judge. Many examples in domestic abuse, child abuse, and stockholm-syndrome abduction cases will proves that.

votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

that this is a criminal case. Most of the pro-Assange bloggers are acting like he was accused of kicking his dog.
No, scratch that, kicking his dog would be considered worse.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

have a problem with some of this.

If one of the accusers says something inconsistent with a rape charge (or regarding Assange and violence) the reaction in certain parts is "that's just a victim minimizing". Victims can totally minimize, but that doesn't mean that all inconsistent statements are just minimization. And, in general, A isn't necessarily a minimizer.

Meanwhile the corallary to "There is no way that rape victims act - there is no way that rape victims don't act" is that any action is as likely as any other - there's no information in behavior. I don't think the truth is quite this clean. What is true is that (as Valhalla notes) many psychological defense mechanisms can be activated, and that victims can act in ways that are completely at odds with conventional sterotypes. And that a lot of people don't realize this (and disbelieve victims, given expectations based in ignorance). So the phrase above is a useful entry point, but beyond can be somewhat misleading if reified and taken at face value.

It seems that in certain quarters, anyone who openly questions aspects of this case is insinuated to be an insensitive rape apologist. In certain ways, it reminds me of the Obama election (i.e. statements questioning Obama were "racist"). There was only one way to be "morally pure" and not be "insensitive to the historical injustice". Some of the argument for this was explicit, and some was implicit - but there was only one allowable position for any sensitive person on the left.

There are a lot of deliberately hideous things being said on the internet about the accusers. I'm not discounting that (I've looked around quite a bit and some of it is extremely disturbing). And I wouldn't want to be in their shoes. But sometimes it feels that we're told that questioning the case is wrong because this would discourage future assault victims from coming forward - and though this argument has some merit, it also has some problems.

And before anyone starts lecturing me (in response to parts of my comment here) about how sexual assault victims act, perhaps they should pause to consider that maybe I wouldn't be talking about that without some basis.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

It seems that in certain quarters, anyone who openly questions aspects of this case is insinuated to be an insensitive rape apologist.

Telling the women defending the accusers against the most baseless of accusations, by the most prominent of left wing journalists, is just like when women(most of them the same ones defending Miss A & Miss W) and others were villified as racist for suggesting that Obama be allowed to undergo the rigorous gauntlet that was Primary 2008.

Instead of assuming that feminist survivor advocates have some nefarious plan to further discount the seriousness of rape, when being accused of rape apologia, why not check yourself?

Cuz, for realz, questioning the veracity of victims actions, regardless of your own circumstances or experience, is rape apologia.

I don't think questioning what the victims have done makes future victims less likely to report assualts, I think its part of the patriarchy, where women's lived experiences are ignored and discounted, in favor of narratives that value men more.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

questioning the veracity of victims actions, regardless of your own circumstances or experience, is rape apologia.
Such a statement seems to prove my point. Any questioning is defined as rape apologia. And thus anyone who questions is labeled a rape apologist (which equates to being the lowest of the low).

And I don't think there's some "nefarious plan" of feminist survivor advocates to "further discount the seriousness of rape". I never said anything even remotely resembling that.

Is what I wrote a STFU. No. And did I say that people shouldn't defend "the accusers against the most baseless of accusations"? No. I myself alluded to "deliberately hideous things being said on the internet" about them. And at this point, I myself don't have anything like a really strong opinion about Assange's guilt/innocence (I think it's complicated, and there's a lot that isn't yet known).

But I think what I said in my comment has substantial validity. In 2008 it would appear (from your comment) that you and I were both arguing that charges of racism were allowed to trump gender, with widespread expression of misogyny. And we live in a culture structured by patriarchy. And now, there's plenty of misogyny visible in some of the reactions to the Assange case. And since I'm a guy, I haven't had to suffer misogyny myself. But if the question is sexual assault...that's another matter. And personally, your response feels like a STFU to me.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

People continue to say that attempting to divine the veracity of the victims claims, by their actions, is a losing battle, because there is no "right" way to act after being raped.

You agree, but then you continue to want to address their actions anyway.

That's rape apologia. Period. Full Stop. You don't want to be accused of being a rape apologist, stop making excuses for rapists.

And yes, comparing our defense of rape victims, to the hateful and gleeful actions of those who would see H. Clinton defeated at any cost, is a big old STFU to those who went through that shit. It's "Look you're as bad the Kos Krowd, you better stop".

I haven't seen anyone question anything but the victims actions. That's what makes them a rape apologists. Most survivor's advocates on the web acknowledge a) that the vociferous prosecution is politically motivated, and b) that the amount of attention these charges have recieved is grossly exagerrated compared to the amount paid to similiar accusations(which is a travesty).

That's the only "questioning" necessary. All other questions, about why she maintained a relationship, why did she wait so long, why she did this, or why she did that, are rape apologia. They are attempting to divine the truth of her words, based upon the way they think she should have.

The fact of the matter is, if one or both of the women is lying, it will be found out. Almost all false accusations are found out, because the endurance required to formally charge someone with rape, is too much for actual victims, let alone people who are lying about it.

So, misguided motivations aside, all attempts to discern the truth based on their actions, continue to feed the harmful narratives of the rape culture. Which is another travesty, and must be stood against.

And that the onus must be put on those who are defending victims, to stop being so polarizing and strident, when people as prominent as Keith Olberman and Michael Moore, are out spreading lies about this case, is quite offensive. The advocates defending these victims are the only thing providing any kind of balance to this situation.

"There was only one way to be "morally pure" and not be "insensitive to the historical injustice". Some of the argument for this was explicit, and some was implicit - but there was only one allowable position for any sensitive person on the left

Big diff. In one, a person voluntarily chose to submit to the grueling process of competing for electoral position. Judging someone by their actions is a part of the process. Emotional appeals have no basis in a rational process. In the other, a person was raped. Emotional appeals have a basis in requesting that the media and the populace not prejudge the case, in respecting the privacy of the victims. Those emotional appeals have no place in the court of law.

Trying to draw invalid comparisons in this case, is a Big Old STFU

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

1. I haven't seen anyone question anything but the victims actions.
That's actually not true. I for one have questioned other elements, both in this blog and elsewhere - e.g what I read as entitlement on the part of Assange (potentially consistent with assault), etc. And I've seen a lot of material by others critically questioning Assange's innocence (dissecting defense arguments, behavior, etc.), both on blogs and in MSM.

2. On some of this, we do have a real difference of opinion that's unlikely to be resolved (at least any time soon). And I'll say what I believe to be true (i.e. I try to be aware of my own biases and engage in critical thought - but don't expect that I'll muzzle myself - I've done more than enough of that in my life). If it seems to me that reason, evidence, and my life experience support something, I'll say it.

3. Just to avoid misunderstanding - looking back at my comment from yesterday, I see that the phrase "some of this" could be interpreted as specifically directed at the votermom comment just prior. I used that vague phrase to refer to certain appeals to emotion in the argumentation about this topic - i.e. not specifically to votermom (and given other specific material in my comment, the placement seemed reasonable).

4. To use one of Lambert's favorite phrases, RL calls.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Very carefully argued. Best thing I've seen yet on this subject.

votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

USA culture is seriously sexist, and that' what we're seeing, again and again.

Tangentially, I think it's probable that many laws that are usually skated by get taken seriously by the public once they are used to take someone powerful down. A powerful precedent. Like Tax Evasion and Al Capone, Insider Trading and Martha Stewart, and if Assange does get convicted, Date Rape and Julian Assange.

Submitted by lambert on

By comparison to, say, an alphabet agency or the United States government, both of whom are his adversaries, Assange is not powerful.

Assange is, like Stewart, a celebrity, so the effect may be the same.

votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

Celebrity so that it is a high-profile case.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Thanks for all this. Here is something very interesting to consider:

Both Sides Hypocritical on Sexual Assault "It has been very interesting (predictable?)," sighs Feminist blogger Terri Whitehouse, "to see how quickly people who would normally be feminist allies have been pretty quick to slut-shame and victim-blame (or, at best, victim-dismiss), while people who have demonstrably proven to be enemies of women's bodily autonomy in the past so suddenly seem to give a shit about a few sexual assaults across the world."

This needs attention and don't want woman's rights especially having the minimization of rape swept under the rug, but we do need to keep in mind how low the right sociopaths will use anything to discredit momentum on the left calling out their war sociopathy.

Also, such a grotesque double standard when it comes to military rapes and Xe (Blackwater) behavior and the say-anything especially in using the most toxic reputation poisoning methods to poison the reputation of those on the left.

Also to use women's rights to justify violence in Afghanistan when the women now are at the mercy of the warlord violent misogynist culture, amidst an already misogynistic culture. Illuminates the hypocrisy of US government in not really caring seriously about plight of women.

Been focused so much myself on the Wikileaks issue I have not been addressing this. Thank those above for considerations. Will explore more and respect the research into this. There is a need to be careful.

During the free-love era for the hippie generation I felt some misogynistic opportunism was going on and though women's movement did learn from the anti-war movement, I felt there were some dangerous covert currents going against women as well as some promoting their sensibilities.

I was reassured re Assange by Greenwald's scepticism a while back. Especially when he wrote about Scott Ritter's experience having endured a smear campaign using sex. Also, this from Justin Raimondo:

So the police just happened to conduct a "sex sting" operation against the one man who had exposed the lies of our war-mad rulers from the inside. On the eve of war, as hundreds of thousands protest in the streets, this staunch Republican and solid family man who has become one of the War Party's most formidable enemies is suddenly "exposed" as a child molester.

Since the court records have been sealed, and the case was merely "adjourned in contemplation of dismissal," the authorities will say nothing, at least in public. The entrapment was apparently so transparent, so obviously the clumsiest sort of Cointelpro-style operation badly bungled by our newly-empowered political police, that the charges were dropped to the legal equivalent of a traffic ticket. Could it be that the records were sealed not to protect Ritter, but to protect whomever tried to set him up?

Anybody who doesn't believe that Ritter was specifically targeted on account of his political activities needs to seek help: that sort of naivete can be terminal, and the patient probably shouldn't be trusted to cross the street unattended.


It's sickening, really, to even contemplate what is going on here, but we should look at this ugliness full in the face. Because in forcing ourselves to see it, we can see the War Party – the gang of lying, thieving, conniving thugs with delusions of grandeur who dominate this administration – in its essence.

Look on the face of evil, and, if you don't turn to stone, remember it well. Because this is what we're up against, in America: an evil that is almost demonic in its pure malevolence, a dark destructive spirit that feeds on pain and is animated by the will to crush its enemies underfoot. This is the face of an enemy that must be defeated.

Ritter not Assange, but when you look at how much money and time went into discrediting Bill Clinton, who doesn't deserve a pass but how the drum beating on the right was relentless and outrageous. How little money and time went to explore the very 9/11 attack it boggles the brain. How much money and time in going after both Clintons.

I felt the left was over-protective of Clinton, especially the "bimbo eruptions" and how they were "pragmatically" handled by staffers to discredit women coming forward over Clinton's behavior. Again, some principles should not be sacrificed to promote the very same messengers pushing for other principles. But a lot of care must be exercised when US corrupt and right-dominated legal system and its international manipulation defies ethics so stunningly.

I am also old enough to have personally witnessed the horror of having known a fellow woman who did make a false rape accusation against someone legally to counterpoint an intimidating backlash from a potentially violent boyfriend. It was a heartbreaking education for me. The charges were dropped thank God, but it was horrifying to my assumptions that rape would never be charged if that horror hadn't actually happened. And to have it committed by someone I trusted as a person with character standards.

Paul Rosenberg quoting Glenn:

GLENN GREENWALD: [W]hatever you think of WikiLeaks, they've never been charged with a crime, let alone indicted or convicted. And yet, look at what has happened to them. They've been essentially removed from the internet, not just through a denial of service attacks that are very sophisticated, but through political pressure applied to numerous countries. Their funds have been frozen, including funds donated by people around the world for his-for Julian Assange's defense fund and for WikiLeaks's defense fund. They've had their access to all kinds of accounts cut off. Leading politicians and media figures have called for their assassination, their murder, to be labeled a terrorist organization. What's really going on here is a war over control of the Internet and whether or not the Internet can actually serve what a lot of people hoped its ultimate purpose was, which was to allow citizens to band together and democratize the checks on the world's most powerful factions. That's what this really is about. It's why you see Western government, totally lawlessly, waging what can only be described as a war on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange outside the bounds of any constraints, because that's what really is at stake here. If they want to prosecute them, they should go to court and do it through legal means. But this extralegal persecution ought to be very alarming to every citizen in every one of these countries, because it essentially is pure authoritarianism and is designed to prevent the internet from being used as its ultimate promise, which is providing a check on unconstrained political power.

Am away and borrowing computers and not on top of all this attention now but glad I caught this one. Wish I had time to stay with this now and keep on but glad I got this far.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

More info on Assange:

Assange's lawyers were asked to respond on his behalf to the allegations in the documents seen by the Guardian on Wednesday evening. Tonight they said they were still unable obtain a response from Assange.

Assange's solicitor, Mark Stephens, said: "The allegations of the complainants are not credible and were dismissed by the senior Stockholm prosecutor as not worthy of further investigation." He said Miss A had sent two Twitter messages that appeared to undermine her account in the police statement.

Assange's defence team had so far been provided by prosecutors with only incomplete evidence, he said. "There are many more text and SMS messages from and to the complainants which have been shown by the assistant prosecutor to the Swedish defence lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, which suggest motivations of malice and money in going to the police and to Espressen and raise the issue of political motivation behind the presentation of these complaints. He [Hurtig] has been precluded from making notes or copying them.

"We understand that both complainants admit to having initiated consensual sexual relations with Mr Assange. They do not complain of any physical injury. The first complainant did not make a complaint for six days (in which she hosted the respondent in her flat [actually her bed] and spoke in the warmest terms about him to her friends) until she discovered he had spent the night with the other complainant.

"The second complainant, too, failed to complain for several days until she found out about the first complainant: she claimed that after several acts of consensual sexual intercourse, she fell half asleep and thinks that he ejaculated without using a condom – a possibility about which she says they joked afterwards.

"Both complainants say they did not report him to the police for prosecution but only to require him to have an STD test. However, his Swedish lawyer has been shown evidence of their text messages which indicate that they were concerned to obtain money by going to a tabloid newspaper and were motivated by other matters including a desire for revenge."

Submitted by lambert on

There are some legal systems that are after the truth, but common law-based systems like ours (pace the several lawyers here) are not among them. The lawyer's job is to defend the client, and if that means spreading disinformation in the press, then so be it. That doesn't make them bad people, since it's quite likely that's exactly what we would want them to do for us, if we were accused. It does mean that what Assange's lawyer says, and a dime, will get you a cup of coffee. At the very most, a statement from the lawyers will tell you what they're worried about.

* * *

Votermom points out that:

[T]he victim does not get to decide if it was a crime


That's a wonderful argument because nails the he/said she said construct totally. What matters is what happened, eh? If the victim doesn't say anything for 5 days, that's simply not relevant. Which drags the whole issue firmly onto the ground of actual evidence, which is where it ought to be, or am I missing something? (A matter for the police courts, as I think one of the Swedes said.)

What I would like is:

1. A timeline with some facts on it. Is there one? Did the condom break, or is that disinformation from the lawyers? And so forth.

2. A version of this post that's, like, 10 sentences long with the takeaway points. Now that, I could possibly try.

Versailles is not only a place, it's a state of mind. There's plenty of work there, and plenty of money, and so the people who make the laws, and write the regulations, and service the banksters literally do not see, and hence could not empathize with, the people who have no jobs and no money, even if they wanted to. "Out of sight, out of mind" is one ability the privileged (privi-leg, private law) have. It would be useful, as a trope, to have an equivalent locational metaphor for state of mind in which male privilege rules; the "dudely" and "dudebro" tropes -- unless in the hands of a real master, heh, like twisty (I like "dude nation") -- are both offensive and essentialist, and worse, they're static; a location, after all, one can leave. So we're not in a perpetual condition of Huis Close.

NOTE "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." -- Quellcrist Falconer, cited in Richard Morgan, Woken Furies.

Submitted by windy on

Did the condom break, or is that disinformation from the lawyers?

According to Expressen, the protocols show that the Swedish police have requested a forensic examination of an "object" to determine how it was damaged.

Submitted by wlarip on

Are 'freedom of information' junkies willing to give Assange a pass? yep.

Are people sensitive about rape unwilling to acknowledge that behavior has inferential consequences? yep.

Hard-nosed cops and investigators don't live in Versailles. They do care about the truth. Too often, their work is obscured by the courts which are in Versailles.

Adversarial justice is not about finding the truth(which is my beef). It's about creating reasonable doubt or establishing the lack of it by any means necessary. That's why they need a referee.

Where there's a cop, there is a judge who also doesn't live in Versailles.
Ultimately, he(or she) will be chosen by people who do. The high stakes of competing interests will make it necessary to avoid the appearance of evil.
That doesn't mean it won't be a put-up job but that's a risky gambit.

That is what I see as the only hope for a fair trial both for the accusers and the accused.

It would be nice to have a 'smoking' condom. But that seems unlikely.

Sex is a private affair. There is nothing quite as confusing as no witnesses.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

(As an aside, can I mention how much I love being told, as a survivor, that I'm naive and I don't understand how the world works, because I look at the way the world "works" and am outraged by it).

It doesn't matter that other people will infer stuff about the victims, based on their behavior. What all of us are saying is that you shouldn't. You continue to try and get us to address the victims behavior, and how it doesn't "fit", and we keep telling you that it doesn't matter.

Your response to that has been that it's not that you care about it, it's that other people will, so we should still be talking about it. Which is totally garbage.

"Sex is a private affair.

Yes it is. A good thing that Sex=/=Rape, which is a very public affair. As someone who claims to care about survivors, you should know that.

Submitted by wlarip on

I don't just care about survivors. I came very close to being one. Though I was not raped, I would have been had I been a little drunker and a little less feisty.

I used to amuse myself and keep the demons at bay by telling the story in less than graphic detail about my attacker being a good kisser. The truth is he was stripping me while I was passed out and would have penetrated me had I not been able to stand up and stagger towards him in a threatening manner. I was lucky he ran. I wouldn't have been able to fight him off.

He had seen me drunk in a bar and followed me to my dormitory, unnecessary since I'd been stupid enough to tell him where I lived.

That isn't my only experience with rape. But it is the only one I am willing to share with you.

How I feel about rape is a matter between me and me. It doesn't concern you.

I accept gob's point that my choice of words 'abnormal rape behavior' was poor. But if you can't believe than a man can be concerned for the welfare of rape victims and still acknowledge the way the world works, then your rapist took more from you than you know.

BTW, look at the first three paragraphs and tell me what you think a defense attorney would make of that.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

First of all, you were not stupid. The stupid person is the one who tried to rape you. I'm sorry no one's ever told you that, but I will. You should not, and do not, have to change your behavior to prevent rape. The onus is on the rapist to stop that. A scumbag defense attorney might try to put the focus on your behavior, but that's wrong. The behavior that needs to be examined, is not that of the young adult engaging in adult activities, but of the rapist who rapes people.

But, continuing on your point, the internet is not a courtroom, so trying to discuss the victims actions, to discern what a defense attorney might do, is pointless, and feeds our cultural narratives about rape. You are hurting victims and survivors, however you might dress it up. Maybe you're trying to play devil's advocate, but you know what, there are plenty of people who are willing to do that, who don't care about survivors. So if you don't want to be counted among their number, don't join their ranks.

But if you can't believe than a man can be concerned for the welfare of rape victims and still acknowledge the way the world works, then your rapist took more from you than you know.

I have no idea what this means, but attempting to discern "what my rapist took from me" is offensive on so many levels, it's not worth addressing. And I never claimed men can't be concerned for victims, I said that I perfectly understand that "behavior has inferential consequences", and that I am outraged by that. You would insist apparently, that we continue to operate within that framework(i.e. the rape culture), instead of resisting it, which I do, by arguing with people who I see perpetuating the rape culture.

Regardless of your personal experiences with rape, attempting to discern the truths of someone words, by the way they act after being traumatized, is WRONG and HARMFUL.

And if you equate sex with rape, as you did in your previous comment, yeah, I have to question how much you care about survivors other than yourself. Because equating sex with rape is one of the primary tools of those invested in maintaining a rape culture(and I include all of the MSM in "those").

These cultual narratives, about rape victims and their actions before and after the fact, feed a culture where men rape with impunity, secure in the knowledge that their behavior will never be examined(boys will be boys, now). It also perpetuates the culture where, when a man is raped by a woman, the response is disproportional to the typical response, because deep down, we believe that men "shouldn't" be raped. Which, conversely, means women "should" be. (Not really relevant, just fleshing out). And in those cases, the victim's behavior isn't examined. So it's really just about, as always, policing and invalidating women.

I would like think that people, especially people who believe in freedom, justice and equality for all, would examine their own behavior to see how they might be contributing to that culture. No one is immune to falling into these narrative traps, to my eternal shame I've done it myself. But traps they are, and we must be wary of falling into them.

Submitted by lambert on

... or to escape them, if the traps have names. Is there a "Games Rapists Play?"

Clearly, deploying "He said, she said" is one such game (trap); and no doubt there are more. "Slut shaming" is another. If there isn't one, then I'd bet statements by Assange's lawyer would provide a compendium. But there must be one. It would be a good resource to have. "Name it and claim it," and all. The quicker one cuts through the bullshit, the quicker one gets to what matters...

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

tigtog over at Hoyden just today has a post up that applies. Very quickly, because I have to run for RL:

Or at least not without extremely close scrutiny of the poking it to see what pops out and holding it up to the light to see what bounces off it from different angles variety, since I guess I can imagine perhaps maybe approving something along the lines of “Real Dementors don’t dance” etc. when it’s discussing fictional characters who embody a well delineated archetype. Something like “Real Lawyers Do Change Their Briefs” or “Real Heroes Don’t Wear Capes” etc might get a run, on a good day. Otherwise? Not so much.

As the post title says – there’s enough fucking normativity-policing in the world already, thanks. I don’t have to let it get published here. Telling people that they are Doin’ It Rong because they are doing it differently than people do it on the telly, or in books, or (Blob forbid) differently than you did it? Who made you the This Is How It Is police?

There is no One True Way that everybody responds to the same stimulus, because there are always different circumstances surrounding what might look like the same stimulus, and a lot of those circumstances are going to be a person’s internalised beliefs about how the world works for them, built up over years of that person’s life, that you know 1% of a nanoparticle of fuck-nothing about, and even if you did still wouldn’t guarantee that they would react the exact same way as somebody else with a similar background.

This rant has been brought to you by people who should know better engaging in second-guessing rape complainants, because apparently they know just how every rape victim ever “should” react/behave following a sexual assault.

Throwing it out as a suggestion -- I think when discussing sexual assault it needs a modifier to make it more specific. It doesn't exactly trip off the tongue.

Submitted by lambert on

works for me as a starting point. Clueless, unhelpful, and in the social context, corrosive.

Needs a modifier of some kind, "ur doin it rong, ____".

Come to think of it, there's a boatload of "ur ___" in this whole thing, with the issue of who gets to be saying "ur...." at the top of many of the agendas.

I had more in mind something a lot more detailed, more like Berne. Players, rules, "And we get?" for all parties, all of that. Berne doesn't cover this topic area. There are equivalents for Con games. It's hard for me to imagine such a thing doesn't exist, and it would be great to have. Now, since I'm a fully paid up member, by birth and acculturation, of Dude Nation, the argument could me made that this is some sort of derailment, or a distancing device. I think it's a name it and claim it device. To understand the territory, one needs a map. ("Because otherwise, you've got to ask for directions! [rimshot, laughter]). That implies abstraction and distancing, but also motion, if not progress...

I'm asking a genre question, not an work/document/talking point question.

Submitted by wlarip on

And if you equate sex with rape, as you did in your previous comment, yeah, I have to question how much you care about survivors other than yourself. Because equating sex with rape is one of the primary tools of those invested in maintaining a rape culture(and I include all of the MSM in "those").

You missed my point completely.

The sex between Miss A and Assange began consensually(at least as far as we know). There were just the two of them there. That means no witnesses to the alleged rape. That's all I'm saying.

First of all, you were not stupid. The stupid person is the one who tried to rape you. I'm sorry no one's ever told you that, but I will. You should not, and do not, have to change your behavior to prevent rape. The onus is on the rapist to stop that. A scumbag defense attorney might try to put the focus on your behavior, but that's wrong. The behavior that needs to be examined, is not that of the young adult engaging in adult activities, but of the rapist who rapes people.

My attacker wasn't stupid. He was as crafty as they get. Do I agree that, in a perfect world, we should be able to do anything, anywhere, anytime? Sure. But it isn't a perfect world and to continue to act as though it is because it should be isn't just naive, it's dangerous. Resist yes. Strive for change yes. Commit suicide no!

But if you can't believe than a man can be concerned for the welfare of rape victims and still acknowledge the way the world works, then your rapist took more from you than you know.

I have no idea what this means, but attempting to discern "what my rapist took from me" is offensive on so many levels, it's not worth addressing. And I never claimed men can't be concerned for victims, I said that I perfectly understand that "behavior has inferential consequences", and that I am outraged by that. You would insist apparently, that we continue to operate within that framework(i.e. the rape culture), instead of resisting it, which I do, by arguing with people who I see perpetuating the rape culture.

I can tell you exactly what it means.

Your response to that has been that it's not that you care about it, it's that other people will, so we should still be talking about it. Which is totally garbage.

That implies that I do care about it and if that assertion is related to my gender, it's bigotry. That may not be related to what happened to you. But if it is, suck it up. I've seen real courage.

If we extrapolate your views of deductive reasoning, how can we know anything?
The extreme logic of your position is that the legal system should be scrapped and we should vote by acclamation on the guilt or innocence of the accused. Why bother? Let's just castrate accused rapists and go out for a beer.

Men rape because they can. It you want to stop rape, make sure they can't and it doesn't have to be passive resistance either.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Your response to that has been that it's not that you care about it, it's that other people will, so we should still be talking about it. Which is totally garbage.

That does not imply that you really do care about the victims behavior, it says, rather explicitly, that your justification is garbage.

It doesn't matter that other people feel the victim's actions are fair game for discussion. Conducting discussions about this case, as if the victims post-attack actions had actual bearing on the veracity of their accusations, perpetuates the rape culture. Survivors and their advocates are aware of how harmful that is, that's why we don't do it. To perpetuate the rape culture in this manner, to make this an exercise to examine the victims' behavior instead of the rapist's is to be a rape apologist.

It really is that simple. It has absolutely nothing to do with your gender. There are rape victims that continue to view their own assaults that way, who only look at their behavior, and what they could have done different. They put the entire blame on themselves, and examine what they should have done. It's heartbreaking and sorrowing, that we as a culture, accept that "men rape", and put the onus on the victim to stop it. We should instead create the culture where the idea that "men rape" is unacceptable. Continuing to discuss the actions of victims, as if it has some bearing on the fact the that "men rape", perpetuates a culture that views that as an acceptable, if uncomfortable, fact of life.

I expect more.

Submitted by wlarip on

But we don't live in that world. We live in this one.

Change the culture? I absolutely and unequivocally agree.

I also agree that much, if not all, of the speculation about the victim's behavior has no probative value and amounts to intellectual masturbation. In the interest of knowing more, I've been as guilty of that as others. Too often, we do not recognize that there are real victims behind a rhetorical flash of witty repartee. That was my original complaint about Valhalla's post. These women are more than poster children for rape apologia.

But that culture is human nature and it stems from a lack of personal experience with rape. One blistering experience with rape and you won't have to tell them to STFU, they won't be saying a word.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

But that culture is human nature and it stems from a lack of personal experience with rape.

1 in 4 women have been raped. That means everybody knows somebody who has been raped. They may know who that person is, but they do know someone. People have all kinds of personal experience with rape, it's just that those experiences are steeped within a patriarchal culture, that discounts the words of women, and trivializes their experiences. The culture comes from the fact that the words of rape victims don't dominate our discourse, the words of rape apologists do.

Which is why I always try to speak against it when I see it.

Submitted by lambert on

For example, the factual little detail (from the Guardian IIRC) about Assange not wanting to use his card to get train tickets on the way "back to her place," and her paying cash for them both instead, doesn't make any sense. Because if the surveillance is that tight, then there could be a watcher on the train, at the apartment, and heck, how does Assange know, at the time, that "her place" isn't a honey trap? I don't see how he can.

That's some sort of tell, or "blooper," if you will. It could mean that Assange's tradecraft is lousy. Which is odd, because he seems quite careful otherwise. So to me, it reads like some kind of creepy ploy by a player, an entitlement gambit, which means he's totally led round by his dick. ("So he wants to get laid. What's wrong with that?" Er, at least from the standpoint of tradecraft when you're the target of the intelligence agencies, everything?) Which would move him into the class of "lied about that, so he'll lie about other things." (Another way to make sense of this is that what I'm calling a ploy is all there is, because there is no real danger at all, since Assange is a plant or a mole, a possibility that's also been discussed.)

Ploys being “common”, not “ubiquitously dispositive," as Valhalla brilliantly says, and part of the narrative, not part of the evidence.

NOTE I think I know the aphorist that Richard Morgan patterned Quellcrist Falconer after.

Submitted by JuliaWilliams on

I understood it to mean "electronic surveillance", and as such, was a reasonable inference, especially after the recent exposure on how our government tracks even our loyalty card purchases. I can well imagine how much more intense that kind of tracking of credit cards and banking cards might be when focused on "persons of interest". Indeed, Assange is said to use "throwaway" cellphones, and even at that, keeps them turned off most of the time, so as to foil GPS pingbacks (and I'm sure he knows which ones are "on" all the time, even when "off'). In any event, "watching" by a government has expanded into electronic snooping of all kinds, so it's not necessarily bad tradecraft, or a ploy. And, anecdotally, I do know many people who've sworn off electronic money transfers of all kinds for various reasons, most connected to their peace activism, after the FBI raids.

Submitted by lambert on

... but given the givens, doesn't it make sense to consider the other kind, as well? I mean, basically, the guy's world-famous, right? Can he really imagine the possibility of some alphabet agency, or a liaison, putting somebody on the ground to target him, is near zero? I realize that I'm going "ur doin it wrong" in this context, but shit, it seems more like "due diligence" to me than anything else.

People should already be minimizing plastic to avoid paying rent to Big Money. The surveillance, to me, is not exactly a side issue, because it's horrible for the people involved, but I think the systemic issue should be the driving factor (has to be, if we are to succeed). In other words, if usury is seen, as a moral issue, as a form of pollution, that puts sand in every gear imaginable. Activist surveillance, as a moral issue, puts sand only in one or two gears.

Submitted by lambert on

One thing to remember about Internet handles and identity--

It's not always possible to infer a writer's sex/gender from their handle. I've certainly made the mistake of thinking a reader was female when they were male, and the same mistake has been made about me.

One consequence is that writers responding to each other might inadvertently confuse "some knowledge about" with "actual field experience," shall we say. And if the "field experience" was brutal and demeaning... Well, that's going to lead to thread management issues. Shall we say.

A more interesting consequence is that if we made the assumption that the sex/gender of all writers was never known, we'd effectively be operating under Rawl's veil of ignorance (See here for an example of the beneficial effects of this practice, which I recommend to all the voting theorists, including Nancy Bordier.)

For example, if I decide to wear the veil of ignorance myself.... Something very obvious that I, as a Dude National* in a college town, never worry or think about, is walking on the street in the dark. Never enters my mind that there's any issue with that at all. ("Out of sight, out of mind" is a daily privilege on my Dude Passport** that leads to "out of mind, out of sight" on policy, just as Versailles being a boom town for bullshit creation puts the DISemployed out of sight for the courtiers). If I don the veil of ignorance, suddenly the issue leaps to the fore. So that's an interesting result of an experiment, no?

Bottom line here, besides etiquette, is consider that when you comment, the sex/gender of your interlocutor might be neither known nor knowable. I think your writing and thinking may change, however slightly. (I'm not advocating the removal of avatars or a persona purge -- "Let's all change handles!" -- because I think that would lead to lack of engagement and lousy writing and no accountability for past posts. But it's an interesting experiment to think about.)

NOTE * I like this metaphor since it permits "expatriation" [rimshot. laughter]

NOTE ** Yes, I like this metaphor.

NOTE It's also true that males rape males. I don't think that affects the veil of ignorance idea.

Submitted by hipparchia on

thanks for doing this. i especially got a kick out of the 'ladies against feminism'. i'm going to have to remember that one.

dunno what to think about the 'interpol hypocrisy' part of it, and besides, it would be irrepsonsible of me not to speculate, wouldn't it?

the interpol alert went out in late november, which was a little more than 3 months after the alleged sexual encounters are alleged to have taken place. sweden may or may not treat rape as seriously as we would like, but they do seem to have a reputation for being tough, even draconian, when it comes to aids. if assange really is going around recklessly spreading hiv, no wonder he doesn't want to go back to sweden.

on being normative ...

i did trauma counseling for a while, and one of the first things they taught us -- practically beat it into our souls -- was that reactions to trauma are as varied and individual as individuals are.

but i'd like to take it a step further.

if someone breaks into your house while you're away on vacation and steals your 42" flat screen tv, it's probably not going to be a traumatic experience. if you were at home when it happened and the thugs beat you and family members within an inch of your lives, it would be traumatic, but both actions are illegal, and both actions are considered by our society to be 'wrong'.

this is why i was glad to see you included the link to jill's post at feministe. we're still stuck, here in the us, at requiring rape to be a traumatic experience before we call it rape. assange's accusers may very well have not been traumatized even the least little bit. women do have the right to tell the guy 'no' or 'stop' or 'put a condom on it, buddy' long before the situation escalates to a traumatic one, y'know.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

for putting that into words. When I was writing the post there was something bothering me about it (one of those things that dances around the edge of your mind and darts away when you try to catch it), and this was it.

It's really a two part package. Absence of expected behavior in reaction to trauma means nothing because the problem is not the absence, but the expectation, and trauma isn't the trigger for either concern or legal consequence because the wrong is the violation of consent. Don't know if I quite said that right.

It sort of like how the idea that rape is a very serious crime got perverted by rape apologists. When I was first involved in rape counseling years ago, the idea that rape was a very serious crime was first really getting some traction (as opposed to rape is very serious ... crime against his property). That was, of course, a positive development. But then all of a sudden this idea, which many many people worked for years to get into the general consciousness -- of police, of judges, of the general pop -- was being repeated by the opposing crowd with a weird "ergo", as in, oh yes, rape is an extremely serious crime, so serious that women must be doubted and raked over the coals even more, because it's so serious it will ruin his reputation, alienate his family, ruin his career etc etc, far too serious to trust to the word of wimminz. I was always like WTF, how did this become about rapist-protectionism again? "We didn't believe you before because rape is no big deal and now we don't believe you because turns out it is such a big deal. Shorter: We don't believe you."

Submitted by hipparchia on

I was always like WTF, how did this become about rapist-protectionism again?

me too. when i'm not scratching my head over this, i'm gnashing my teeth over it. getting past the women are the property of their husbands [or fathers] really was a big step forward, and an important one.

not really the non-sequitur it seems, but i sure do miss barbara jordan and shirley chisolm and bella abzug.

Submitted by windy on

Except that Assange has not been charged with attempting to spread a disease, or any charge related to that (reckless endangerment?), although this is possible under Swedish law (but the person has to be aware they're infected). Also, if some reports are true, at least one of the women tried to convince Assange to take a HIV test in the days immediately following the encounters, so it's not something that emerged months later.

Worries about STDs are certainly compatible with rape and assault, but some people involved are saying that the women would not have gone to the police if Assange had agreed to take a test. So if he would have agreed and the test was negative, then they would have been OK with his behavior?

Submitted by hipparchia on

Except that Assange has not been charged with attempting to spread a disease,

actually, we don't know that. direct from the website of the swedish prosecutor's office:

If there is insufficient evidence to prove that an offence has been committed, the suspect cannot be prosecuted. It could, for example, be because the suspect denies committing the offence or that there are no witnesses or forensic evidence linking the suspect to the crime. Sometimes it becomes apparent during the course of the preliminary investigation that it is not possible to prove that a crime has been committed. Under these circumstances the prosecutor decides to discontinue the preliminary investigation.

A decision like this has the same significance as a decision to drop the charges against a suspect.

In the case of both decisions it means that the preliminary investigations can be resumed if new information is received concerning the crime.

i can't find the link now [don't remember where i saw it], but at least one swedish official has been quoted as saying [caveat: i'm paraphrasing, from memory] that by swedish law, the charges against a person cannot be made public outside of sweden, and that the accused person has to be physically in sweden to hear them.

iirc, except for the fugitive alert issued by interpol, all of the charges that we've heard about so far have been from leaks, not from official statements.

So if he would have agreed and the test was negative, then they would have been OK with his behavior?


but as we keep saying, women have a variety of reasons for not reporting rape. you could perhaps say that many of them are not ok with being raped, and they're even less ok with the process they have to go through to report being raped.

Submitted by lambert on

and the claim is that this condition applies (from the Swedish prosecutor's office) then, by definition, we know that charges have not been brought, yes? Since the case is still in the investigatory stage. Charges might be brought in the future, but that's not the point at issue here.

Submitted by hipparchia on

can you rephrase this? i'm finding it waaaaay too cryptic, but i'll try to answer it, sorta, anyway.

the next step in the investigation is for assange to appear -- in sweden -- for a hearing. at the hearing evidence will be presented and it will be decided whether to press what we americans think of as "formal charges" and a trial will then be scheduled, or whether to drop the present ["informal", if you will] charges altogether.

keep in mind that (1) none of us speaks swedish, and (2) the swedish court system is not like the u.s. court system, so it's waaaay too easy to get all twisted up into semantic knots.

you might also keep in mind that the hearing was originally scheduled for some time in october, but that assange left the country some time in late september and has refused to go back to sweden ever since.

Submitted by lambert on

Now I see what you're saying. There could be additional charges not yet known, which are under preliminary investigation in addition to the main charge.

I'd sure like to see the link that says Assange has to be physically present; he seems to think that he can testify (if that's the word) via a video link, in the BBC interview.

Submitted by hipparchia on

I'd sure like to see the link that says Assange has to be physically present;

me too. i'm still looking for it [actually, iirc i saw something to that effect in two different places].

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on
Lead Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny says the latest arrest warrant was issued because Swedish law prohibits formal legal interviews over a telephone or video link. "We had a case in the southern Swedish city of Helsingborg where a suspect was heard via telephone, and it was heavily criticized by the Ombudsmen for Justice as not being in accordance with existing law," she tells TIME. "The Swedish embassy in London is not Swedish territory in the sense that we can hold interrogations there without formal approval of British authorities."

Asked why she did not request that Assange voluntarily submit to questioning rather than face arrest, Ny replies, "I am not at liberty to disclose all the details regarding different actions we took in order to hold a hearing with him. But since we are unaware of his whereabouts, and we are by law prohibited from conducting hearings via telephone or video link, this was the only legal action left."

The exact meaning of the sentence about the Swedish embassy is not clear to me (Assange offered to be questioned there), but the video link part is understandable.

Submitted by hipparchia on

i hadn't seen that one [and i was just now reading about the ombudsman's office too, looking for something on this]

eta: for most purposes, embassies don't belong to the country where they are physically located, they belong to the country that is using them. that means that the swedish embassy in london, for most purposes, is considered to actually be a part of sweden, not a part of england, and anybody who is inside the building is technically in swededn until they leave the building.

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Submitted by affinis on

Apparently Assange offered to be questioned in person at the Swedish Embassy (formally Swedish territory), by Swedish investigators at Scotland Yard, or by video link. If the point were merely to question Assange, it would presumably be far easier to question him at the Swedish Embassy (even if this required formal permission from the Brits) than to arrange to have him arrested and try to extradite?

Submitted by hipparchia on

this goes back to the process questioning >>> hearing >>> trial [and i'm still looking for the link i had on that one].

it looks to me like they are beyond the questioning and have reached the hearing phase [which would look something like what we think of as a real trial] with the accused, witnesses, and lawyers all appearing before a panel of judges. one of the things that assange and his lawyers are obscuring with all their table pounding is the fact that he has already been through questioning and then skipped out on the hearing that was scheduled for, iirc, about mid-october.

Submitted by lambert on

... If it had linky goodness, which it has none at all of [pounds head on desk]. "Based on what I've read," forsooth. It's an interesting point about the Swedish prosecutorial structure. They're not common law, right? But civil code, with a fact-finding prosecutor? Is that how it works?

Submitted by hipparchia on

If it had linky goodness, which it has none at all of [pounds head on desk].

you just have no clue how many google searches i've done today, looking for vaguely remembered stuff that i once read on the interwebz and thought i'd never again have to find.

dude! i've found 3 different and conflicting timelines [i can give you links!] and i'm even now trying to resolve the differences, gaps, and inconsistencies. and bryan's post is more about procedure [if a happens then b happens then c happens etc] than it is about actual dates.

Submitted by lambert on

Except in the context of "Dude Nation," I'm not a "dude."

That said, here's the quote on video testimony in Sweden:

Lead Swedish Prosecutor Marianne Ny says the latest arrest warrant was issued because Swedish law prohibits formal legal interviews by telephone or video link. "We had a case in the southern Swedish city of Helsingborg where a suspect was heard via telephone, and it was heavily criticized by the Ombudsmen for Justice as not being in accordance with existing law," she tells TIME. "The Swedish Embassy in London is not Swedish territory in the sense that we can hold interrogations there, without formal approval of British authorities."

My understanding is that the Swedish justice system makes a strong distinction, like the UK, between the civil service and the political appointees, and it looks to me like Ny is on the civil servant side. (In other words, it wouldn't matter if the Swedish justice minister were a right winger aided by Karl Rove, or Satan himself, assuming Swedish political culture to be less corrupt than ours, which isn't hard.)

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on
"The head of the prosecution service is the Prosecutor-General, who – as well as the Vice Prosecutor-General – is appointed by the Government. The Government appoints – on the proposal of the Prosecutor-General – also directors and vice directors of the prosecution offices. The other prosecutors, i.e. chiefs and vice chiefs prosecutors, as well as chamber prosecutors, are appointed by the Prosecutor-General. It should be noted that on each level within the hierarchy, assistant prosecutors could be appointed."

If I understand this correctly, she's actually appointed directly by the government (on the proposal of the Prosecutor-General, who the government appoints and who is at the top of the hierarchy).

I'm still not clear on the degree of politicization of such a post (and the exact appointment process). Also, here's a general article discussing politicization of the Swedish civil service.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

and then skipped out on the hearing that was scheduled for, iirc, about mid-october
If you could find a link for that, it would be great. What I've seen reported is that he left Sweden with the express permission of Swedish authorities. And that he didn't return for additional questioning (as opposed to a hearing of the sort you appear to be alluding to) when that was requested in October.

The primary complaint I've seen him making is that he would be held incommunicado in Sweden. That's what was done in Britain (supposedly the Swedes requested this). Legal proceedings can drag on for a long time, Sweden doesn't have a bail system, and his Swedish attorney is under a gag order. Given Assange's role in Wikileaks, a concern about incommunicado detention is not necessarily illegitimate.

From my understanding of the Swedish system procedurally, there's the investigation (conducted by police and prosecutors), then the prosecutor can decide to proceed with formal charges. This is followed by a pre-trial detention hearing. Then the main trial. I believe Sweden doesn't have a jury system - instead it uses a professional judge plus three lay judges. Not sure if my procedural understanding is entirely correct here - so you should check it if you can find appropriate sources.

Submitted by lambert on

... turns up a tangled mass of self-referential confusion. The best I can do is that Assange's UK lawyer John Jones (not the one who's pounding the table, Mark Stephens) is paraphrased in the Guardian as saying that Assange left after seeking permission (which isn't the same as getting permission....) Jennifer Robinson, another UK Wikileaks lawyer, says permission from Ny was sought and given. A Swedish Wikileaks lawyer says the same:

I remind her that I asked her in writing (14 of September) if he was free to leave Sweden for doing buissines in other countries and that she [Ny] called me and said that he was free to leave. This is important because it means that Julian has not left Sweden in trying to escape the Swedish justice.

I realize these are three lawyers defending a client, and that three times zero equals zero, but at least the Swedish lawyer cites to some case law (below).

So, I'm not sure about "skipped." Better linkage?

Whether he left with permission is, of course, a separate issue from whether he has to go back.

So, unless I've missed something, which is entirely possible....

NOTE Still from the Swedish lawyer, on the teleconference issue:

Then I reminds her that Julian and I several times have tried to give them dates when he could come to Sweden and participate in a hearing, for example I spoke to the second prosecutor Erika Leijnefors during week nr 40 and told her that Julian could participate in a hearing the 10 of October (a Sunday) or some day the following week. The prosecutor in charge (Marianne Ny) said no to this. Other times Marianne Ny has said no to our proposals due to that one of her policeofficers were sick or because the time did not suit her. This is also important because it shows that Julian has tried but Marianne Ny has said no. I go on remembering her that Julian has suggested that he could participate over a phone line and from an Australian Embassy. She has said not to this also. Then I tell her that Julian is willing to participate through a videoconference or to make a written statement over the accusation and the questions they may have. This is of utmost importance, since it shows his willingness to participate. I remind her of a ruling from our Highest Court; NJA 2007 s.337, in which the court did not put a man in custody although he was abroad and did not come to Sweden to participate in a hearing. It was not proportional to do such a thing, since he left Sweden rightfully (just like Julian) and thus did not try to escape the Swedish justice, he was willing to participate via phone or in writing and so forth.

So at least this guy is citing to some case law, even if it's about tax evasion, and not rape. (I don't know if in Sweden there's even a civil/criminal distinction).

From this day forward, the official language of our jurisprudence will be Swedish!

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

is really a legal fiction all countries agree to for international relations. I'm not sure it has meaning to domestic courts in a domestic matter.

Also, if the Swedish authorities were criticized (as above) for holding a phone hearing within Sweden, it doesn't make sense that they'd go for it when the defendant (prospective defendant?) is fictionally on Swedish ground.

Courts are understandably a bit techty about people actually showing up for proceedings which involve them. They're probably not interested in taking the phrase "phoning it in" to new legal levels.

Submitted by hipparchia on

made my day to read this:

Courts are understandably a bit techty about people actually showing up for proceedings which involve them. They're probably not interested in taking the phrase "phoning it in" to new legal levels.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

Even if it's a "legal fiction", it's how it's defined in law that matters here (i.e. that's exactly what matters). Given the formality of law, it's rather sloppy to say that 1. Swedish authorities criticized for phone hearing (that's apparently contrary to Swedish law) is equal to 2. therefore interrogation in person on Swedish soil in an embassy is impermissable. Especially since Ny seemed to be trying to give another reason for the decision not to question him at the embassy (it seems clear that she wasn't trying to claim that it was incompatible with Swedish law - she was explicitly referencing that rationale only for phone or video link).

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

by default deserves, or has some right to, special treatment. And I'm not sure why that would be. It can't be because Assange is claiming the Swedes are just going to turn him over to the US, or because he claims he won't be treated fairly, because anyone Sweden wants to extradite could claim that. What differentiates Assange from them? Certainly it can't be just because a bunch of celebrity "progressives" in the US believe it. Even Swedish law would allow for "telecommuting" his testimony, there's little reason why they should. This isn't table manners we're talking about here, Assange doesn't get special treatment credit for offering to webcam himself in.

That it's a legal fiction that an embassy is foreign soil is important because not all the same rules apply as when you're actually in the country. It's foreign soil for very particular purposes, most of which relate to the ability to have functioning diplomatic relations, not to accommodate those who wish to avoid possible court cases.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

anyone Sweden wants to extradite could claim that
But almost none of them would have the U.S. actually exploring their prosecution and possible extradition on fundamentally illegitimate grounds. And as noted earlier, it's likely that he would face protracted incommunicado detention in Sweden (some have argued that the Swedish red notice and extradition attempt, incommunicado detention in solitary, and CPS attempts to prevent release on bail in Britain already constitute "special treatment").

because not all the same rules apply as when you're actually in the country
Perhaps you're right, but Ny's statement suggests that the only impediment here would be obtaining Brit permission (as opposed to a fundamental legal issue, such as the apparent impermissability of video link testimony under Swedish law). If you could find actual linky evidence showing otherwise (regarding testimony in a Swedish criminal investigation), I'd be fine with the argument.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

Swedish Prosecutor Raises Possible Extradition of WikiLeaks Founder to U.S.
Article notes - "if American officials are hoping to extradite Mr. Assange in less than eight years, they might just be rooting for him to end up in Swedish custody."
[given how protracted extradition proceedings for Commonwealth contries apparently are]

Also, HuffPo comments on this
"Sweden should have learned its lesson about handing over suspects to the U.S., and the human rights gap long ago. If Sweden hands Assange over to the U.S. -- yes, even if it brings him to Sweden for interrogation knowing that his extradition there will set the wheels turning for eventual extradition to the U.S. -- it will repeat the same mistake it made in 2001: that's when Sweden, responding to a request from the CIA, handed two terror suspects to U.S. operatives who flew them to Egypt, where they were tortured."

Interestingly, the law partner of Claes Borgstrom (who is representing the accusers and got the case reopened) is Thomas Bodstrom - who (as Sweden's Minister for Justice = essentially, Attorney General) was apparently involved in the extraordinary rendition of the two suspects mentioned here (which occurred in violation of European human rights laws). Bodstrom was known for close cooperation with the U.S. government and for pushing warrantless wiretapping. Bodstrom more recently chaired the Justice Committee in the Swedish parliament, leaving that position in October of this year (to live with his family in the U.S.).

Submitted by lambert on

The Atlantic:

But I've been wondering how often Swedish officials go to the effort to get people in Assange's position extradited.

I could only track down statistics from two time periods, calendar year 2005 and business year 2009-2010, but both show that extraditions are not common. In 2009-2010, a mere six people were sent from the UK to Sweden under the rules of the European Arrest Warrant agreement. In 2005, just a one single person was extradited from the UK to Sweden.

I am still looking for breakdowns of the statistics by charge, but even the aggregate statistics show that extraditions from the UK to Sweden are rare, though not unheard of. It's important to remember, as Howard Weaver pointed out to me on Twitter, that Swedish authorities have not formally filed rape charges against Assange.

So it looks to me like there's a case to be made that Assange isn't seeking "special treatment" at all. Rather, it is the Swedish authorities who are giving the case special treatment (at least by the numbers). That is the argument that Assange's Swedish lawyer makes, citing NJA 2007 s. 337.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

So this is helpful. Although it doesn't say how many requests there are each year, so we still don't know whether it's Sweden who's acting rarely or th UK. Plus Assange had turned himself in to the UK. I have no idea how often requests for extradiction include situations where they know exactly where the target it. (really have no idea, might be all of them).

But there is a difference between special treatment in terms of decision to investigate/prosecute and special treatment in terms of following the usual rules of law.

We all agree, I hope, that the law should apply pretty much equally, right? Pretend it's not Assange we're talking about here, but some no-name person on a "serious" charge, or some toxic bankster* who fled a Swedish fraud investigation. And the Toxic Bankster turned himself in to the UK, but is now telling Sweden "Yeah, I'm not coming back, far too busy, but I'll videochat you from the Embassy. Have your people call my people and set something up."

Would we think, hey, that sounds ok, the TB guy is being so reasonable, the guy offered to talk to them by videolink didn't he?

* I realize that this is almost impossible to imagine, since it would mean a governmental entitity somewhere on the globe would actually have to go after a bankster, and that's not going to happen.

Submitted by lambert on

If your point is that all fraudsters should be extradited, then you accept the defense team's argument that extraditing their client is "disproportionate" and exceptional; NJA 2007 s.337 is on point, because currently fraudsters are not extradited (usual caveat about defense lawyers).

NOTE You write:

[I]t doesn't say how many requests there are each year, so we still don't know whether it's Sweden who's acting rarely...

From the Atlantic:

[I]n 2009-2010, a mere six people were sent from the UK to Sweden under the rules of the European Arrest Warrant agreement. In 2005, just a one...

Doesn't the quote do what you want? Or are you saying we don't know who made the request, so of the six, three could have been at the behest of Sweden, and three the UK?

NOTE Just to clarify, by "toxic bankster," do you mean a toxic male, patriarchal bankster? (As I happen to think they are.) A real Mr. Big?

Submitted by windy on

actually, we don't know that.

The 'charges' (I should call them 'reasons for arrest' or 'suspected crimes' since he hasn't been formally charged yet, but that's a bit unwieldy) have been published on that same prosecutor's website (but only in Swedish), and also by reporters who were present for part of the arrest order hearings.

the preliminary investigations can be resumed if new information is received concerning the crime.

This refers to something like the original rape investigation, which was dropped and then resumed. There was no disease-related suspected crime among the ones they presented to the court to get the arrest warrant, which were the 'charges' I was talking about.

You can always speculate about secret evidence that may come into play later, but if the Swedish authorities truly were most concerned about someone spreading HIV, they would have had to bring that up in court to be able to use it on the Interpol notice and the extradition requests.

("fugitive alert"??)

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

The Swedes can always add other formal charges later, which can be based on other evidence. Just being arrested on one charge doesn't preclude other charges, and potential HIV-related ones wouldn't exactly be secret.

Submitted by windy on

Hipparchia was speculating about why the big Interpol push months after the events, and suggested it might have something to do with HIV. But the suspected crimes that form the basis of the arrest warrant and Interpol search have been made public, and there's nothing there related to HIV. There's no basis to speculate about secret HIV charges that may emerge later.

Submitted by lambert on

If not, where did they originate?

UPDATE Here it is, it's from the Guardian's Swedish prosecutor dump. I'm certainly never going to use the word "prophylactic" in the same way ever again. Setting aside the idea that prosecutors like to try cases in the press just as much as defense teams do, and taking the issue of consent while sleeping as read, certainly the gentleman that Assange claims to be would get an STD test when asked to by a lady.* That said, I'm trying to imagine how Assange could have "done something" to the condom (Miss A) to cause it to tear, and without being seen; condoms do break. Surely one doesn't remove the condom from its foil -- another word I'll never think of in the same way again -- before the act?!

* * *

OK, let me take a minute to look at the condom sequence. [to come]

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

Apologies, I thought you were saying the HIV thing couldn't be charged later because it hadn't been brought up already.

Submitted by lambert on

Can't look at the Swedish process through the US lens!

Submitted by jawbone on

to have been local teens), I felt violated, invaded, embarrassed. The first time my house was turned upside down (I'd been working very late for a long time -- got home after midnight). Every drawer in my bedroom was pulled out and the contents dumped, ceiling panels were knocked out of place, my Sunday School perfect attendance pins were stolen along with more expensive items, the freezer content were thrown on the kitchen floor, books were tossed around, papers dumped, phones stolen.

I was exhausted when I got home and shaken by what was done. Oh, and the mattress and box springs were pulled off the bed, so just finally getting to sleep was time consuming. Add furious to how I felt. Angry with no way to act on that anger.

I was frightening and the desire to do damage was unnerving.

The police said it had to be kids, it was so unprofessional. Plus, they left things that were worth more in favor of talking things like a stopwatch. 'When they were caught, the youngest kid, the ringleader, flushed jewelry down the toilet while his father stalled the police at the door. They wanted money for drugs, it turns out.

So I have to say being robbed is deeply disturbing. Being physically invaded would be worse, I think, so on that I agree. But, believe me, it was bad enough.

I didn't learn until much later, when I was sent a copy of the court hearing, that one of the robbers/vandals was a neighbor's son. And I had stopped by to tell them to be careful of robbery before I went to work the next day....

Did they know? I would assume they did after the court hearing, at least. It has never been mentioned between us.

The second robbery, with a broken brand new Andersen window as part of the damage, was more thorough and less vandalizing. The police thought it was the older brother of the neighbor kid involved in the first robbery.

I got my phones and stopwatch back; the kid had held on to those and was using the phone in his room. None of the expensive stuff was recovered.

Oh, and my poor cat was traumatized -- she'd peed on my bed. I think she might have been hiding under the covers; she often went under the covers when there was thunder or fireworks. That wasn't her safe place after that--she only got onto the bed when I was in bed and then she'd sleep close to me.

Submitted by hipparchia on

what a horrible experience!

which just goes to show, yet again, that there are no perfect analogies.