Earlier this week, I personally fell for some of the hype defending Julian Assange in the face of the rape charges leveled against him. The lines of defense focused on Sweden’s “absurd” sex offence laws, as well as the hypothesis that one of the accusers is associated with the CIA and so on.
Thinking more clearly about this, I think I was mistaken. For one thing, Sweden’s sex offence laws are not “absurd”, they are on the right track. I wish other countries had as progressive laws as Sweden’s. I’m no lawyer and I don’t know the details of Swedish legislation, but from what little I’ve read, it seems to be in the right direction for societies that want to uphold women’s rights and combat patriarchy and “rape culture”. Moreover, it simply does not matter if one of the accusers may have ties with sinister organizations. Rape is rape, whoever the victim is.
At the same time, the accusations must be seen as what they are: accusations. Nothing has been proven in court yet, and Assange is innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, while we need to avoid the pitfalls of sexism, we need to also avoid the pitfalls of character assassination.
The simple conclusion is that Assange and his accusers must have their day in court for a just trial.
At the same time, all attempts to link WikiLeaks with this case should be discarded as bad faith rubbish. Assange is not WikiLeaks and WikiLeaks is not Assange. Furthermore, any attempts to use Assange’s detainment as an opportunity for extraditing him to the US or for charging him “while we got him” should be fought vigorously.
That said, can we please please now leave the soap opera to the courts and go on having fun with the embarrassing details contained in the leaked cables?