Julian Assange, Allegations of Rape, and Accountability
Amid all the holiday talk this past week about last-minute shopping and wrapping gifts and eggnog, a highly charged ‘discussion’ (understatement) has been going on concerning #mooreandme, the Twitter campaign undertaken by blogger Sady Doyle to support the two Swedish women who have filed rape charges against Julian Assange and to protest Michael Moore’s $20,000 contribution to his bail. As Care2′s Jessica Pieklo wrote:
The purpose behind the campaign was not to shame Moore, Olbermann, or anyone for that matter. The purpose of the campaign was to issue a call to progressive men to stand with the women in their lives and put an end to rape culture. Those pushing back against rape culture sent messages to both Moore and Olbermann’s Twitter account with the #MooreandMe hashtag, simply asking them to apologize for the way they dismissed the rape charges and to see how by not doing so they continue a culture that accepts, as normal, violence against women.
That message was lost on Moore and Olbermann, at least temporarily, as Olbermann “quit” Twitter for three days and Moore just refused to answer. But then something happened. They got it–at least Moore got it. And on national television, on the Rachel Maddow show, looked right in the camera and said that allegations of violence against women must always be taken seriously and that any suggestion otherwise is inexcusable. That’s it.
But it doesn’t mean that Assange or many (most) of his defenders are getting it.
Over a week ago, the December 17th Guardian‘s reported the full allegations against Assange. Assange’s defenders are claiming that the two women were part of a ‘honeytrap’ in a wider conspiracy against him. The fact that the women were supporters of Wikileaks and of Assange, is being held against them and used to belittle their charges of rape.
But it could also be said that Assange took advantage of the two women’s support (one woman had arranged his trip to Sweden back in August) and even trust in him, in more than one way.
Assange’s defenders apparently believe that although his mantra is holding governments accountable, he need not be accountable (nor should Moore or Olbermann).
Assange, Posner continues is ‘the authoritarian televangelist’ who calls on us to give, give, give him your money to support his (higher, morally superior) cause, with, as she notes, one caveat:
…..don’t question me. I will bring you salvation — or a trove of embarrassing government documents — but don’t ask any questions.
If we’re talking accountability, and those who are on the one hand accused of criminal acts, and who on the other hand invoke a higher authority and seem to think that a different kind of morality applies to them, a comparison could also be made between Assange and the too many priests accused, (and in some cases convicted) of sexual abuse against children and others.
Like Assange, many clerics in the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church have acted as if they need not be accountable to the laws and moral standards that the rest of us, and more than a few have been shielded by church authorities (including, here in New Jersey, the Archbishop of Newark).
A column in the December 22nd The Nation sums up the dilemma faced by those who wish to support Assange in the name of free speech and truth, and who seem (like Moore and Olbermann) to be struggling with the rape allegations:
‘WikiLeaks is revealing information citizens need to know—it’s a good thing. Assange may or may not have committed sex crimes according to Swedish law. Why is it so hard to hold those two ideas at once?’
It remains to be seen if Assange might be chosen as 2010′s ‘Person of the Year.’ But one thing’s for sure: the story of Julian Assange—hero of truth and transparency to many, and an ‘unscrupulous megalomanic with a political agenda‘ to others—is reaching mythic proportions that could lead us to forget some basic facts, and truths.
Defending Assange Accusers: Sady Doyle Is Getting It Done
Photo by dpstyles™.