We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“People who do otherwise commendable work are capable of rape and other crimes. If presented with rape allegations, they must face them like anybody else, however otherwise worthy their past contributions. Now, these statements should be so self-evidently obvious, it is ludicrous that they need to be said. But the furore over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sadly makes it necessary. Although now granted political asylum by Ecuador, Assange is a rape suspect who skipped bail. Yet some of his supporters have ended up making arguments that they would never dream of making about anybody else.”

- Owen Jones, writing in the Independent. He is, by the way, a big fan of Wikileaks. I am not so keen, as I have explained here before at Samizdata, such as when Wikileaks affected private bank details.

Here is also a good article on the impact of Wikileaks’ activity on investigative journalism, by Nick Cohen.

Update: George Galloway has, er, tried to defend Assange. With friends like Galloway, Assange doesn’t need enemies.

37 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    The problem here is the rape allegations are being used for political ends. This is evident from the fact that they very conveniently cropped up right after the Wikileaks scandal.

    Now that does not mean Assange is innocent. But I interpret it as almost certainly meaning someone was saving the allegations up for an opportune moment.

    I very much doubt the UK government would be threatening to revoke the diplomatic status of an embassy over any other “rapist”.

    If they want Assange because he embarrassed them, they should come out and say so. To pretend this is only about rape is to make a mockery of justice – the rape is just a very convenient justification for a multi-government campaign against one man. They would not go to these lengths over anyone else accused of the same crimes.

    I think the message is very clear – thumb your nose at state authority and we will make you pay. What’s more I think they want us to know that this is being orchestrated from above in order to induce fear and submission.

    I should add that I am neither a fan of Assange nor his methods. Although I think the way in which he has exposed the churlishness of Western governments a very useful development.

  • TFG

    Describing the allegations against Mr. Assange as “rape” is a disgusting trivialization of REAL rape and an incredibly tasteless insult to real rape victims.

  • Alisa

    What Jaded said.

  • The “skip bail” part is a bratty non sequitur. If I thought my natural due process rights were at risk in a banana republic, I’d skip bail — and hopefully so would you.

  • What TFG said. The proceeding against Assange are so obviously bogus that holding up two fingers at them is completely appropriate. These allegations are indeed laughable and the courts involved should be treated with the contempt they deserve.

    And Kip… I agree.

  • Dom

    I guess the next question is, “Why haven’t the girls said something about it?” At this late date, I’d think at least one would say, “The government told me to make the charge.”

  • john

    Not only are these charges almost certainly bogus, but the “rape” with which Assange is likely to be charged is not what you or I might consider rape to be. Needless to say, Sky News, the BBC and the rest of our bought and paid for media just repeat the word “rape” with no further clarification.

    I understand the situation in Sweden is that they have three different rape classifications. The first is what most of us would understand rape to be, sex by force. The second and third classifications are what one might expect from an all embracing, socialist, nanny state – watered down politically correct classifications designed to placate womens libbers.

    Assange is facing charges under the weakest Swedish rape classification, obtaining sexual favours by coercion, which is such a woolly definition it could range anywhere from using good chat up lines all the way up to threats and intimidation.

    I’ve no time for the left or for Assange, but I’ve even less time for the blatant perversion of justice being cooked up between London, Stockholm and Washington.

  • Agammamon

    I don’t disagree with Mr. Jones’ on the whole – yet we also have to take into consideration the culture and legal system of the accusing state.

    I have no more a problem with the man trying to evade a legal system that has such a broad definition of sex crime and has in place such powerful “protections” for the alleged victims than I would a guy running away from blasphemy charges in the UK.

  • Corsair

    I find the whole matter hilarious, particularly since holier-than-thou socialist utopia Sweden in being made to look bad. What must lefties be going through? If I were a betting man I would bet that it is Mr Assange’s fate to be, sooner or later, sound dead in a skip in Quito. My personal intuition is that neither the US or the UK governments give a toss about Julian, however important he thinks he is. I would guess the game is played at a level he doesn’t even know about.

  • Mike Giles

    Of course the question does arise, if the charges were so weak, why didn’t Mr. Assange stay and face them. I wouldn’t call the Swedish legal system a “banana Republic” as one mad supporter of Mr. Assange would have it. And another would accuses the US of dealing with dictatorships and other assorted tyrannies. I always find that charge interesting. Take a quick look at the UN, how many of its members are not tyrannies of one sort or another. The US is still receiving static for refusing to deal with one tyranny – Cuba. If the US only dealt with freedom loving democracies, it could withdraw it’s diplomats from whole continents.

  • Robert

    Perry said:
    “These allegations are indeed laughable and the courts involved should be treated with the contempt they deserve.”

    And john said the charges were “not what you or I might consider rape to be.”

    I think both are wrong. From the Wikipedia page on Julian Assange:
    “There are four charges: that on 14 August 2010 he committed “unlawful coercion” when he held complainant 1 down with his body weight in a sexual manner; that he “sexually molested” complainant 1 when he had condom-less sex with her after she insisted that he use one; that he had condom-less sex with complainant 2 on the morning of 17 August while she was asleep; and that he “deliberately molested” complainant 1 on 18 August 2010 by pressing his erect penis against her body.”

    I think all four actions are clearly wrong, and the third one is unambiguously rape (if you think not, then just exactly what is your idea of rape). The first is vague, but clearly a wrong thing to do, I think the second is rape as well, but appreciate that this is likely to be a minority view, the fourth allegation, while not rape is also clearly sexual assault.

    The second charge is “that he “sexually molested” complainant 1 when he had condom-less sex with her after she insisted that he use one”
    If you are unconvinced that this should be considered rape then consider the following analogous situation. A landlord allows a rambler to walk on his land on condition that the rambler does not take his dog with him, the rambler agrees to this condition, but then takes his dog with him when walking on the land. Have the landlord’s property rights been violated in this case? I think that they clearly have, and I suspect that most Samizdata readers will agree. If the rambler has violated the landlord’s rights, then why isn’t it a violation of someones rights to coerce them to have condomless sex when they had only consented to sex with a condom? And if you agree that their rights have be violated, but that it isn’t rape, then what is it, and what is your justification for calling it something different?

  • Richard Thomas

    It may not even matter whether the US does get him in the end, merely that people get the message of what lengths the US will be willing to go to if you cross them.

  • long-lost acquaintance

    I’m confused as to the US’ involvement.

    JA is not charged with any crimes in the US.

    JA does not appear to have any arrest warrants with his name on them in the US.

    The US did not request that JA be shipped over here for anything.

    So, is SWEDEN a puppet of the US now?

    No, what happened is that Assange is charged with a crime in one country. He tried to hide in a second. The second one decided to ship him back to the first because they didn’t want him anymore. So he decided to hide in the embassy of a third, whose president thought it would make a great opportunity to curry favor with certain of his neighbors by bloodying the nose of the “capitalist west.”

    And so Country Number Two is making noises about going Full Drum Set on the concept of diplomatic immunity – almost as FDS as the comments to the post on Quantifying Rats in Zimbabwe or whatever they call themselves now.

    The nature of the US’ involvement is eluding me here. So far, there hasn’t been anything but “You just know that they’re there,” which is some “elders of Zion” -level logic.

    And maybe it would be perfectly natural to run and hide whenever a banana republic is trying to lock you up, but people commit real crimes in those places too, and then try and run and hide. Not everything is political.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    If the rambler has violated the landlord’s rights, then why isn’t it a violation of someones rights to coerce them to have condomless sex when they had only consented to sex with a condom? And if you agree that their rights have be violated, but that it isn’t rape, then what is it, and what is your justification for calling it something different?

    Robert, calling condom-less sex, “sleep sex” or sexual advances toward someone with whom you are sexually intimate rape is absurd. It would like your hypothetical landlord claiming the dog walker’s violation of his property being equal to him detonating a 1000 lb bomb on the land.

    Rape involves forced sex accompanied by violence. There is nothing sensual about it.

    Does Assange sound like a nice guy? Not particularly, but there’s a world of difference between a guy who doesn’t play nice once you’ve let him in your pants, and a guy who forces his way in there by breaking your ribs.

  • Nemo

    I’m still waiting for someone, anyone, to provide any actual, y’know, “evidence” that this was a frame up. And no, rolling your eyes and saying “isn’t it convenient!” isn’t evidence of anything in particular. I don’t want to shock you guys, but people get charged with sexual assault all the time, the assumption that it couldn’t possibly be true is unwarranted.

    The arguments that Sweden is a banana republic are flat-out bizarre.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Johnathan, I thought that was a very good piece by Mr. Cohen. Thanks for posting.

  • Not everything is political.

    Very true. But this is.

  • Corsair

    >>Very true. But this is.

    Only because of Educador interferring in the Brittish legal system.

    And what acquaintance said. JA isn’t wanted in the US. He has brought down all his current miseries upon his own head, without any help from ‘Them’.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Those who doubt that Sweden has the justice of a banana republic need look no further than how they treat homeschoolers to see that the pejorative is well deserved. Particularly the case of Dominic Johansson.

    As to criticising the “isn’t it convenient” argument as evidence of top-down collusion, I stand by it.

    Jullian Assange was facing calls for his head on a spike in the US. He made the UK look bad too. The US couldn’t think of anything to charge him (a foreign national with) so eventually they stopped making noises about hunting him down as a terrorist.

    And just when Julian Assange might have fled to a non-extradition treaty country and become a mocking face on YouTube for the rest of his life (further humiliating the US), accusations come out of the woodwork that prevent him from leaving the UK and ultimately threaten extradition to Sweden.

    Now what are the odds that America’s most hated foreigner would just happen to commit a crime at just the wrong moment for all this to happen? Isn’t it more likely that someone did some digging, found something they could use against him and then dropped the hammer with absolutely perfect timing?

    Add into this the absolutely unprecedented step whereby Britain was threatening to revoke the Ecuadorian embassy’s diplomatic status, and I don’t think it unreasonable that this is more about getting Assange no matter what, than it is about nebulous accusations of “Class 3 rape” whatever that is.

    By even making such noises Britain is putting its diplomats in unfriendly countries in considerable danger. They know this. They wouldn’t even suggest such a thing unless getting Assange was really important too them – far more important than the crimes he is ostensibly wanted for could possibly warrant.

  • Alisa

    Indeed, thanks for the Cohen piece – that Assange character is even more odious than I realized.

    That said, anyone who thinks that TPTB are pursuing Assange because of his unquestionable odiousness is naive: there are far more odious characters abound, but TPTB do not care one jot about them, and the reason is that they do not constitute a real threat to TPTB – Assange does. Even then, I would have no problem if they threw the book at him – if it were not for the fact that they make the “book” up as they go. This whole affair may be many things, but the rule of Law it ain’t.

  • RAB

    Only because of Educador interferring in the Brittish legal system.

    No it isn’t Corsair, it’s a European one, The European Arrest warrant that we foolishly signed that means you can be extradited from Britain for a “Crime” that isn’t even a crime here, no questions asked or evidence given. Happy Days eh?

    If I remember the original story, the two “ladies” in question were not shy in coming on to Assange in the first place, so it is not beyond the bounds of my cynical mind that he was honey trapped. The section 3 “Rape” Law of Sweden sounds so vague that you could convict on almost anything, including commiting the faux pas of wiping your cock on the hotel cutains afterwards. What it certainly isn’t is Rape as British Law understands it, more like bad sexual manners.

    This smells like revenge not Justice to me. And I think Assange is a complete and utter shit by the way.

  • He has brought down all his current miseries upon his own head, without any help from ‘Them’.

    Sweden, one of the nations involved in the astonishing CIA ‘renditions’ of third party nationals (in violation of a bucketful of their own laws, I should add), manages to produce an wonderfully timed indictment of someone the US government hates, and you don’t smell a rat???

  • Robert

    Jaded Voluntaryist said

    “calling condom-less sex, “sleep sex” or sexual advances toward someone with whom you are sexually intimate rape is absurd…

    Rape involves forced sex accompanied by violence.”

    That might be what you mean by the word “rape” but in general use “rape” means sex with someone without their consent; there is no need for violence. Violent rape is worse than non-violent rape, but both are rape, both are wrong, and both should be illegal. This is no different from theft: violent theft is worse than non-violent theft, but both are theft, both are wrong and both should be illegal.

    Jaded Voluntaryist continued with:
    “… there’s a world of difference between a guy who doesn’t play nice once you’ve let him in your pants, and a guy who forces his way in there by breaking your ribs.”
    As I said above violent rape is worse than non-violent rape, but it’s still rape, and it’s still wrong, and should be illegal. If I become friendly with you, and you come to trust me and give me gifts of money, and then I take money from you without your permission, have I commited theft? Very clearly yes. Is it worse that assaulting you before taking your money? Clearly no, but it is still stealing, and it is still wrong.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    That may well be the case Robert, in Sweden it certainly seems to be. But in Britain when you call someone a rapist that is not the image it conjures. It casts an image of a violent man who takes sex through force – an image that is the kind of mud that sticks.

    I think the word “rape” is inadequate to describe Assange’s violations. And I think the willingness to throw everything under the one heading is part of the feminist lobby’s attempts to shift the linguistic balance of power.

    This can be useful in utterly destroying a man’s reputation. Is that what is happening here? I don’t know.

    I do know that much of what Assange is accused of is not even a crime in this country. In a physical relationship there is always a degree of presumed consent. If I have to ask before I do anything for fear of rape or theft or assault charges being brought, a relationship would be impossible.

    But all of this is rather beside the point.

    The point (or at least the one I was trying to make) is that a rape accusation makes what Assange is wanted for sound much worse than it is to British ears (hence the willingness of much of the public to see him sent down the river), but that when you consider what crimes he is actually supposed to have committed, the response of the British government seems incredible in its aggressiveness.

    Which leads me to believe that there is more going on here than meets the eye.

  • Thomas Gibbon

    Dead right Jaded, there must be something else going on.
    For example, the Foreign Office has just presented every other nation in the world with a cast iron excuse for breaking in to British embassies.

    That’s a ridiculously high price to pay for passing an unindicted individual to a foreign judiciary.

  • Alisa

    I don’t know if I would go as far as assigning *that* kind of importance to Mr. Assange, Thomas – to me it looks more like a mere pissing contest between the UK government and the Ecuadorian one.

  • john

    If anyone is interested in the current sociopolitical status quo in Sweden listen to this 1 hour Swedish radio interview (in English) of US freelance writer Alex Newman who is married to a Swede and lives in Sweden.

    It’s a fascinating description of a modern progressive state ruled by consensus with a largely servile population. In many respects the picture painted is of a happy contented populace, but this hides a more ominous group think mentality that is increasingly crushing all independant thought.

    This is well worth a listen if you are sick to death of socialists telling you that Sweden is a socialist utopia.

  • john

    Oops, forgot the link to the Alex Newman interview:

    http://www.redicecreations.com/radio/2012/06/RIR-120617.php

  • john

    As a follow up to my initial post above, criticising the blanket use of the word “rape” that I was seeing from the MSM in this case, has anyone noticed all the media now seem to have dropped the word “rape” and replaced it with the less serious phrases like “sexual charges” (ITV, Sky), “sexual assault” (BBC), and “sexual misconduct” (Daily Mail).

    What strikes me as a bit ominous here is not the change to a more truthful description, but the fact that all of these MSM outlets seem to have adopted this change simultaneously.

    A free and independent press, anyone?

  • Alisa

    Spot on, John: I also noticed this today watching France24.

  • Thomas Gibbon

    I suspect it’s because his lawyer today announced unspecified legal action today to protect Wikileaks. That might have reminded the MSM’s legal eagles of their defamation exposure.

  • Rich Rostrom

    JP’s SQotD included: some of [Assange's] supporters have ended up making arguments that they would never dream of making about anybody else…

    Which is not true – some of those defending Assange have previously defended confessed, convicted rapist Roman Polanski.

    Though perhaps not with the same arguments. But there is definitely a parallel between the sentiment that Polanski, a brilliant, transgressive artist, should not be held to the same standards as ordinary mortals, and the sentiment that Assange, a very effectivist activist against powerful governments, should receive similar forbearance.

    And between the tacit presumptions that the charges against each of them are “bogus”.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    “Of course the question does arise, if the charges were so weak, why didn’t Mr. Assange stay and face them. I wouldn’t call the Swedish legal system a “banana Republic” as one mad supporter of Mr. Assange would have it.”

    Well said. Even if these charges have been fabricated, those who brand Sweden a “banana republic” are sounding desperate. Despite lapses, I would guess that Sweden’s legal system is no more or less adequate than our own.

    Does this mean that if anyone gets accused of an offence such as rape that they can skip bail and hang out in the embassy of Ecuador? Does that country (which recently extradited a person to Belayrus) really want to become known as a haven for such people?

    BTW, I should add that this issue also raises questions about the workability of extradition treaties. The UK-US one is controversial and in my view, raises problems in terms of due process of law. For instance, prior to extraditing someone from country X to Y, country X should have the chance to establish prima face evidence of guilt before handing someone over. I would hope the same applies to whatever deal we have with the Swedes.

    And of course the EU Arrest Warrant, as RAB stated, is a mess.

    But I am not making as martyr out of Assange. If the charges against him are legit, he should face them. The man has played the role of self-styled freedom fighter, but as others (like Nick Cohen) have pointed out, his record is spotty. Let him face the legal system in Sweden and start behaving like a grown-up.

  • Alisa

    Sorry Jonathan, but holding Assange as a martyr is a straw man. As far as I can tell, the guy is a good-for-nothing who is embarked on a large-scale ego trip at the expense of other people – some of them good, and some of the politicians. None of that makes him a rapist or even a sexual assailant. I’m sure he’d caused some serious damage to innocents through his WL activity – and so he should be prosecuted for that. If the law is inadequate in that regard – well, tough, fix the law if you can, or just live with the fact that laws can’t possibly fix everything under the sun. Don’t resort to dishonest accusations in areas that got nothing to do with the real matter at hand.

    A legal system that diminishes the severity of rape by extending its definition to things the feminists may find distasteful (which may range from men having sex with women to even having a penis in the first place) is not a system I personally find worthy of much deference. We let legislators legislate to their little hearts’ content at our own peril.

  • Alisa

    …’and some of them politicians’…

  • Ben

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anwar_Ibrahim_sodomy_trials

    If it was Malaysia, rather than Sweden, and we were not obliged by treaty to pretend otherwise, who would not be denouncing these as trumpted up charges?