Tuesday, 26 June 2012

A quick note on my post about Assange

As opposed to repeating this ad nauseum in the comments section, I thought I would clear up this here and now.

Some commenters have pointed out that the defence quotes mentioned in my Assange myths post were the defence outlining the accusations against Assange.

This completely misses the point of what I was writing.

The issue is clear. Assange's supporters are reading the accusations made against him, and arguing that what he allegedly did is legal under English law. That it's 'sex by surprise' and not really rape. However, the accusations made against him are clearly and definitely rape and sexual assault under UK law.

My issue with this, and the issue we should all have with this, is that by repeatedly denying that the alleged offence was not rape, they're silencing and invalidating the experiences of thousands, millions of women across the world. This is not acceptable. What's more, it is hugely revealing about what people are prepared to believe about consent.

It is incredibly troubling that people across the political spectrum are happy to argue that rape isn't rape. The impact this has on how we talk about and define consent is huge.

I don't know if Assange is guilty. Neither do you. What I do know is that he is accused of rape. Not sex by surprise, not 'having sex without a condom', it's rape. And we need to respect that this is how rape is defined in English law, and respect the experiences and voices of survivors.


Simon said...

Assange is doing everything he can to avoid a trial in Sweden, reputedly because the Swedes will send him to the US which is a spurious argument if the US wanted Assange the UK would be more than willing to oblige! Much more willing than Sweden! If Assange is truly worried about extradition to the US then Sweden makes more sense than the UK unless of course you’re guilty, which is why the argument of it was “sex by surprise” not rape becomes crucial to Assange – SEX BY SURPRISE IS RAPE – which makes Assange a rapist – Sian that’s why you’ve be assailed by the Assange supporters, but don’t be put off keep up the good work.

sian and crooked rib said...

thank you - and absolutely, sex by surprise is rape!

ladyjulian said...

I don't know why we're even still discussing it - the High Court of England and Wales (that would be our High Court then, the one which he was arguing wouldn't regard it as an offence) chucked his argument out with some vigour las year. See paragraphs 86 - 91 of the judgment here: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2011/2849.pdf

And wisely perhaps, he didn't pursue it. He may be arguing that he didn't do it at all, but he can no longer argue that what amounts to an offence in Sweden doesn't amount to one in the UK.

Corrections Veritas said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tavi said...

OK, I think you're missing the point - those people wanted you to erase the sentence

"Here’s a reminder of the defence team’s description of Assange’s actions. I say this every time but please bear in mind that this is his DEFENCE!"

because it gives a distorted impression of Assange's defence and thus his guilt. It's great to have a debate about whether sex by surprise is rape, and what leads so many believe it isn't

...but until you edit your post, you're still saying this is the defence's description of Assange's actions. And it isn't. They may be challenging whether the actions as quoted constitute rape...but that isn't the same as tacitly admitting he performed those actions. It's wrong to misrepresent them, not the least because it undermines your credibility.

biff-tannen said...

I don't think I missed the point of what you had written, I took issue with what you had written.

A large part of your post was devoted to claiming that was “the defence team’s description of Assange’s actions”, which isn't true. Perhaps this wasn't your intention, but a quick scroll through the comments section shows that's what people took from it.

I've never claimed that the allegations themselves don't amount to rape, though his defence team did attempt to use it as part of his fight against extradition. This was rejected by the courts and I don't see how it's justified to blame "Assange's supporters" for the actions of his defence team.

As it stands you've made massively misleading statements then accused others of "completely miss[ing] the point of what I was writing".

glosswatch.com said...

Hi there
I have written a post about the Assange case which links to this. Do let me know if this is okay! If not I will remove the mention and link:
Thank you (I think the points you make are excellent)

sian and crooked rib said...

It's not a huge part of the post. It's a quote from the Guardian. The bulk of the post is about how Assange's supporters have attempted to redefine what we mean by consent.

Tavi said...

Do you really believe what you're arguing here? That if something only makes up 10% of an article, people are wrong to object to it?

biff-tannen said...

This is my third and hopefully last attempt at this.

Okay, let's say it's a tiny part of your post. The main issue is not the quote from the Guardian's coverage (although since you mention it - you're heavily edited version is misleading).

You said that the quotes were "the defence team’s description of Assange’s actions" this is not true. You keep ignoring this point and saying that's not what your post is about. The problem is - that's what you wrote and you haven't changed or retracted that statement.

If you'd just answer this fairly simple point I'd grateful. Although if you'd rather attack straw men feel free.