Tag Archives: Julian Assange

No need to know known unknowns

I am quite well suited to journalism and research because I’m nosey. I like to ask questions and find things out. And I’m well suited to blogging because I’m opinionated and like the sound of my own voice. So I find it rather odd that there are some things I don’t feel the need to have an opinion about.

Like whether Julian Assange is a rapist. I don’t know if the charges against him are true or false, because I simply don’t have enough information to make that decision. And – strangely, considering I’m an opinionated feminist – not having an opinion on that doesn’t bother me at all. On the issue of consent and whether it’s “rape” or “rape rape”, I want to quote a comment that kimsonof left here:

Consent was predicated upon the use of a condom. When Assange allegedly deviated from this condition, consent was no longer present. Thus if the alleged victims are accurate in their claims, it is rape in any jurisdiction including ours. Consent needs to be continuous.

That is spot on. And frankly, it needs to be a part of a national advertising campaign.

As a quick digression, Assange doesn’t actually present a problem for feminists, and the media commentary saying he does is yet another excuse to say there’s something wrong with feminism. You can support WikiLeaks and still demand that Assange goes to court to face the charges against him, because the two are unrelated. The rape charges arise from his private behaviour – unlike Mark McInnes’ sexual harassment of Kristy Fraser-Kirk at work functions which wasn’t taken seriously by the company. (Hey Lexy, can you link to that great WikiLeaks-ain’t-so-great article you were telling me about?)

And while I’ve got this high-horse saddled up, the thing about people saying “feminism is stupid so nyerrh” is that it’s sneaky. If they said that women should not have equal rights and opportunities to men, people would be lining up to tell them that only anachronistic arseholes hold that view. So instead, they use the f word – feminism – to hide what they’re really saying.

Anyway, back to not needing opinions on things I probably should have opinions on. I don’t know if Keli Lane killed/sold/gave away Tegan. I don’t have all the facts – I wasn’t in court and I didn’t follow the story – so I know that any opinion I form about it will be ill-informed. And I’m perfectly ok with that. But I find it quite frightening that we don’t need a unanimous verdict to convict someone of murder in a case where there is no body, no witnesses, and only circumstantial evidence.

The other frightening thing about this case is all the mother guilt/worship that’s going on in the mainstream media: “how could a mother do that to her child?”, “the strongest bond is between mother and child”. What utter bullshit. Firstly, it trivialises the relationship fathers have with their children. Secondly, it perpetuates the belief that only women can care for children and women only want to care for children, so women will continue to face a career disadvantage – men who leave work early to pick up the kids are called “great dads”, but women who do the same are “lacking commitment to the company”. And those who put their young kids in daycare so they can go back to work are “bad mothers”. And thirdly, like many people, I don’t have a good relationship with my mother. She wouldn’t kill me, but to say that the bond between us is the strongest of all is laughable.

Diplomats have opinions? I’m shocked

Who else is underwhelmed by the diplomatic correspondence released by WikiLeaks? Berlusconi is vain? Putin is an “alpha dog”? No shit. Rudd’s a control freak who makes announcements without consulting anyone? We knew that already – did we really need almost the entire front page of the SMH to tell us again? The diplomat behind that one could have just been writing about the stories about Rudd while he was PM.

Maybe I’m missing something, but where did we get the idea that a diplomat should only say nice things about their host-country’s politicians in private correspondence to their home country? Isn’t it their job to play nice with the locals while quietly reporting back to the boss?

Yes, I understand that the release of this previously-secret correspondence represents a warning to people with power, rather than any genuine outrage over what’s in them. I get that. But I have this nagging feeling that each time Australia’s mainstream media focuses on the silly and tawdry – like Gaddafi’s Ukrainian nurse – it means they’re missing something that’s actually important. WikiLeaks is dumping thousands of secret documents, yet what have we found out? That diplomats have opinions about world leaders. Big woop.

There are certain words that cause hard-ons in newsrooms: sex, Facebook, Twitter, and now, WikiLeaks. Journos will use anything to link a story to either of these, no matter how tenuous. Someone who used Facebook to arrange to meet up with someone else they planned to kill becomes known as the ‘Facebook killer’. If they’d met at work, the murderer wouldn’t be called the ‘work killer’. A teacher accused of raping a child becomes (wrongly) known as the ‘sex scandal teacher’.

And now, since the collateral murder video, the MSM has soiled its pants over anything to do with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. So it’s not surprising that the sexual assault charges against Assange have made headlines around the world, in a way that those against, say, Roman Polanski didn’t. I don’t recall politicians calling for Polanski’s assassination for drugging and raping a child and then spending the next 33 years avoiding countries where he might get caught. Just to be clear: one is a high-profile spokesman for a whistleblower website who has be accused of sexually assaulting two adults. The other is an award-winning film director who admitted drugging and anally raping a child. So why was one just a news brief in the world section and the other The Most Important Story Of The Week?

I’m not saying the charges against Assange are bogus. He should go to Sweden and face court, just like anyone else. But look at what we’re all talking about – whether or not the women made it up. As Marian at The Conscience Vote writes, the condom issue has been used to demonise the women involved:

But wait a minute – whatever people think of this specific law, look at the hypothetical situation being described. One partner has withdrawn consent for whatever reason. Most rape laws in the Western world would agree that at this point, the sex is no longer consensual.

What I am saying is that we’re all missing the point. We’re too busy looking at the nude mouse in the corner to notice the elephant is tap-dancing and singing Frank Sinatra songs. It’s not just me feeling uneasy about this. James O’Neill writes in New Matilda:

Predictably the mainstream Australian media chose to emphasise the trivial at the expense of the many substantive issues raised by the Wikileaks disclosures. Now that Australia has been brought into the furore with revelations about Kevin Rudd during his prime ministership that may change. But don’t count on it.

The MSM obsession with anything to do with Assange and anything to do with sex means we’re arguing over whether it’s “rape” or “rape-rape” instead of looking closely at the documents that are being released. I don’t need to read a new WikiLeaks story every day. I just want to read the important ones.