Scherer on Assange: "Penetrating a sleeping woman...is not a political act."

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46 Responses to “Scherer on Assange: "Penetrating a sleeping woman...is not a political act."”

  1. Unmutual says:

    My problem with your position is that you are assuming a complex explanation for something that has a very simple one simply because you like Assange’s other work.

    My problem with Occam’s Razor is that it implies that accused criminals are almost always guilty . . . because it’s the simplest explanation. According to Occam’s Razor, conspiracies are so unlikely they should be disregarded unless some ridiculously high burden of proof is met. This is antithesis to our concept of due process, which is that the ridiculously high burden of proof should be on the prosecution.

    You could be right about his innocence, but your belief in such has nothing whatsoever to do with the evidence at hand.

    What evidence?

    You believe him to be innocent simply because you don’t want to accept that your hero could also be a scumbag.

    That’s an over simplification, but it’s more or less true.

    I think Assange is a good guy, and I would hate to see him turn out to be a scumbag.

    On the other end, I KNOW that those who are out to do him in, are scumbags to a man. He has invoked the ire of the most powerful scumbags in the world. I tend to be suspicious of them first.

    I don’t assume he’s guilty. But I don’t think he deserves any more public “support” than any other man who has been accused of multiple instances of sexual assault.

    100% disagree

    • Brainspore says:

      “You believe him to be innocent simply because you don’t want to accept that your hero could also be a scumbag.”

      That’s an over simplification, but it’s more or less true.

      You could have saved yourself a lot of typing if you’d just laid that out from the beginning.

      • Unmutual says:

        But I like the typing. Dialectic exchange is a fun exercise . . . by articulating my opinions with other people I develope a better understanding of them, and occassionally gain some new insights.

        • Brainspore says:

          I hope one of the insights you learned about yourself today is that your belief in Assange’s innocence is influenced more by your support of his work at Wikileaks than by any facts surrounding the case. Earlier you wrote:

          I think Assange is a good guy, and I would hate to see him turn out to be a scumbag.

          But as yatima linked to above, even Assange’s own defense isn’t claiming that these women themselves are lying about what happened. When the guy’s own lawyer calls his actions “disturbing” and “disrespectful” it’s time to concede that he might not be the “good guy” you imagine him to be even if his criminal culpability has yet to be determined in a court of law.

          • Anonymous says:

            Please realise that Assange’s defence is fighting extradition and not running a trial defense. They aren’t at the stage where they need to respond to the facts of the prosecution argument. Dont mistake this through poor reportage from studentactivism.net as an admission of guilt from Assange’s legal team.

            To progress you need a CHARGE, which bizarrely we dont have yet. When the material facts are not being tested, there is little to be gained in attacking the injured parties. Assange’s team are running an abuse of process argument with respect to European Arrest warrants and that the nature of the alledged offence doesn’t amount to a indictable offence for which he can be extradited under the Act.

            As others have pointed out there is a difference between saying “my client has behaved dishonorably” and “I understand the complainants believe my client to have behaved dishonorably” and it’s an important distinction because at this stage where you run a technical argument, it doesnt serve you well to start discrediting the complainants.

            There is a lot that stinks about this show trial, and i tend to think along the lines of what “unmutual” proposes. The only good to come out of this in my opinion is an adult academic conversation about the complex nature of consent in all it’s forms.

          • Goblin says:

            You can’t help but be impressed by how human emotion and its resulting politic often preempts a skeptical, scientific worldview.

          • querent says:

            When the guy’s own lawyer calls his actions “disturbing” and “disrespectful…”

            This is a misrepresentation. From the link:

            “Nothing I say should be taken as denigrating the complainants, the genuineness of their feelings of regret, to trivialise their experience or to challenge whether they felt Assange’s conduct was disrespectful, discourteous, disturbing or even pushing at the boundaries of what they felt comfortable with.”

          • Brainspore says:

            Fair distinction. But he does acknowledge that Assange’s actions could legitimately be considered all of those things by the women involved, which lends credence to the theory that he’s kind of a scumbag even if he’s not a criminal. In the very least, the lawyer’s concession that the women aren’t lying definitely undermines the theory that their accusations are part of an international conspiracy.

  2. yatima says:

    Assange’s lawyer has conceded the validity of his accusers’ claims.

    http://studentactivism.net/2011/07/12/assange-lawyer-concedes/

    Yes, Assange is being singled out here, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take these accusations seriously. It means that we should take all such accusations seriously, but in the absence of nasty tangential political considerations, we almost never do. Shame on us.

    Some folks that are making the world a better place without, to my knowledge, also forcing themselves on women, include Brad Manning, Daniel Domscheit-Berg and Nick Davies.

  3. Neon Tooth says:

    Wait a sec.

    Is it possible to think that Assange is not an infallible hero…
    while at the same time thinking that he’s not been shown to be guilty yet?

    Crazy suggestion I know…..

  4. fraac says:

    The key words there are “to my knowledge”. You make an error the moment you start dividing people into good and bad, not least because you have to keep updating your models with new information. How inefficient! Try a more robust model: say we’re all basically the same and save your anger for people who hurt you personally. Don’t get emotionally involved with strangers. Problem solved.

  5. Yael Tiferet says:

    @ncinerate – As a teenage girl I had a lot of sex with older men. None of it “haunted me for years”. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but if the girl your friend had sex with has been haunted by it for years, it was probably not the good kind of consensual where everyone really wants to do this and is having a grand time. Maybe it was the kind of consensual where she really didn’t want to do it all that much, but she said or implied that she wanted it before, and what would he do if she changed her mind now that they were alone, would he hurt her, would he leave her hurt and with all of her friends insisting that she brought it upon herself and what would she say to her parents and maybe it would be easier just to go along with it, a half an hour of going along with something unpleasant instead of perhaps a fight or getting stranded somewhere with no way back or getting hurt or whatever and getting blamed for it anyway no matter what. So she said ‘yes’ because she was scared and uncertain of herself and oh yeah, a kid. If that’s the case, then he should suck it up and take his well-deserved lumps. It’s bad enough that grown women have no recourse for this sort of thing. In a world where we took enthusiastic consent seriously, we wouldn’t need “statutory rape” because teenagers and adults could both say no without fear and their yeses would therefore be meaningful, while all cases of child molestation could be treated as such.

    Also, don’t be stupid about this. It’s not the rough sex (like the rough sex you had consensually with your wife) that makes this a problem with Assange. It’s the fact that consenting to sex with a condom is fundamentally different from consenting to sex without one. You’d know this if you could get pregnant. Consenting to sex does not equal consenting to the possibility of either having to have an abortion, or try to go to full term for nine months and either miscarry/have a stillbirth, give up your baby and wonder about him or her forever, or raise a child for the next 18-20 years. FAIL FAIL FAIL. Unless you’re also sabotaging your wife’s birth control, nothing you did involving clothes-tearing and jewellery-breaking is applicable here.

    @Unmutual et al — if the government had chosen a crime that was hard to prove conclusively just to erode support for Assange, they’d have picked something that men don’t tend to excuse in each other and actually take seriously.

  6. querent says:

    I don’t know if Assange is guilty or not. I always hope justice is done. I do hate to see a trial by media, as someone called it.

    I hope that whenever the work “Wikileaks” comes up, people don’t immediately think “rapist.” I hope they think of the work that’s been done, of the way we know now the US was lying about that Reuters team they killed in cold blood, of the video of that Apache opening up on the van that stopped to help a man bleeding in the streets, of the US’s complicity in the ongoing torture of “insurgents,” and of the fact that we now have a more complete record of the Iraq war than we have ever had of any war in history.

    In short, I hope the well has not been poisoned, no matter who the poisoner. Not that the cat can be put back in the bag…I just hope we don’t lose sight locally.

  7. irksome says:

    Commence poor, persecuted sexual predator hero-fawning in 3..2..1…

    • Anonymous says:

      I think Assange is a scumbag, and does deserve to be prosecuted. However, I do feel like his charges were greatly inflated due to wikileaks.

      The fact that he does deserve to be charged doesn’t mean that there was no political motive for his punishment.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Power goes to the head of people.

  9. CLP says:

    This is one of the most intelligent things I’ve read about the Assange case:

    [S]exual assault is something that happens. A lot. And like everything else that lots and lots of people do, there are lots and lots of types of people who do it. And invariably, those people have other hobbies and do other things. [. . .] And I guarantee you, some of the work done by the rapists in the world is work you appreciate: they make awesome vegan muffins that you buy every morning on your way to work. They make fantastic music or movies you love. And some of these guys, they fucking run websites. Websites with interesting and important missions.

    Some people have to believe that Julian Assange is either someone who did an amazing thing by making important information available to the world, or someone who did a horrible thing by raping two women. But this isn’t an either/or situation–these possibilities aren’t mutually exclusive.

    • kibbee says:

      This is so true. Same thing happened for Hans Reiser of ReiserFS. He developed a really good file system, he also happened to kill his wife. Often people who do illegal things also do great things.

  10. fraac says:

    He’s right, it’s not a political act. So why talk about it? He could be a fascist anarchist, it wouldn’t change the fact Wikileaks can’t easily receive donations.

  11. Irene Delse says:

    @ CLP: Thank you. That comment is a lot more perceptive and helpful than Sherer’s thinly veiled attempt to conflate support for Assange with support of rape.

    • Brainspore says:

      That comment is a lot more perceptive and helpful than Sherer’s thinly veiled attempt to conflate support for Assange with support of rape.

      When someone says “support Assange” it sounds like they are soliciting help and resources for the benefit of one particular human being who may be a rapist. If the cause you support then say “support Wikileaks.”

  12. goldmineguttd says:

    I just direct my Wikileaks support towards Bradley Manning, who did the dirty work and paid a high price. Assange is kinda creepy and I try to ignore him and the hysteria around him.

  13. Unmutual says:

    I SUPPORT ASSANGE UNTIL HE IS CONVICTED OF A GOD DAMNED CRIME.

    And I will probably CONTINUE to support him, even if he is, because I know how things work and its just as likely that this is a hatchet job as a serious allegation.

    Is rape a serious crime? Of course! Are false allegations also used to pillory problem people? Damn right they are!

    Just like they are going the whole “mentally unstable, troubled past, oh and he’s a fag LOL” route with Bradley Manning. This is text book psyop bullshit, most people actually KNOW this is the case, and yet it still works every time, that’s how deep these subconscious biases we have towards sexuality / sex crimes run.

    • Daemon says:

      Just for the record, you’re using Occam’s Razor incorrectly.
      Also, logic.

    • Brainspore says:

      By claiming false allegations you’re not just proposing a government conspiracy, you’re essentially claiming that several women are guilty of lying about their relationships with Assange. Is it possible that government operatives tracked down several of Assange’s past lovers to bribe and/or intimidate them into filing false charges for the purposes of an international psyops campaign to undermine his credibility? Sure, but it begins to stretch plausibility.

      Ask yourself: how many of your former lovers could be persuaded to publicly accuse you of sexual assault? And if asked to do so, wouldn’t at least one of them come forward and say something about it?

    • fraac says:

      You already lost when you cared.

    • SedanChair says:

      You’re not helping.

  14. Unmutual says:

    if the government had chosen a crime that was hard to prove conclusively just to erode support for Assange, they’d have picked something that men don’t tend to excuse in each other and actually take seriously.

    But it certainly gets women riled up doesn’t it?

    Now I’m sure somebody will come along and tell me this was sexist and completely ignore what you just said.

    • fraac says:

      Your cognitive dissonance will evaporate if you can find some strategy to stop caring about people’s personal lives.

  15. james says:

    Fuck all of you who flippantly pass off respect for due process as hero worship just because you think the mere accusation of sexual assault should result in a summary lynching. BoingBoing’s image is a high-minded community of mature and progressive intellectuals, but really, that’s just bullshit for the most part. Here, people often cast themselves as Juror #8 when it comes to Bagram torture victims or alleged copyright infringers, but actually betray themselves as Nancy Graces once a juicy rape allegation comes along. If that’s you, then please, switch your brain back on. That would mean not jumping to conclusions about my views as well – how inconvenient!

    • Brainspore says:

      If anyone here has suggested that Assange doesn’t deserve his day in court then I must have missed it. The only activity I assume he’s guilty of is what he and his defense team have already admitted to, but that’s still enough to make him sound like kind of an asshole.

  16. bjacques says:

    Time, as timely as ever. That’s about as relevant as still sarcastically referring to President Obama as “The One.”

    Maybe they should just change their name to Late.

  17. MRKiscaden says:

    I would have thought the fallout from the Strauss Kahn incident would have taught people to not lay guilt so quickly.

  18. Unmutual says:

    By claiming false allegations you’re not just proposing a government conspiracy, you’re essentially claiming that several women are guilty of lying about their relationships with Assange.

    Thanks for explaining that to me.

    Is it possible that government operatives tracked down several of Assange’s past lovers

    Um yes. While I will be the first to admit that many “intelligence” agencies are in fact not that intelligent, I find it hard to believe they have not been watching this guy for quite a while.

    to bribe and/or intimidate them into filing false charges for the purposes of an international psyops campaign to undermine his credibility? Sure, but it begins to stretch plausibility.

    Not in the slightest, it doesn’t.

    In the time since this whole Assange case hit the news till now, another, somewhat similar honeypot story ran its whole course in NYC with Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

    Ask yourself: how many of your former lovers could be persuaded to publicly accuse you of sexual assault? And if asked to do so, wouldn’t at least one of them come forward and say something about it?

    What kind of question is this? Are you trying to convince me it is difficult to persuade people to do evil things, to lie on record, and so forth? Do you live on planet earth?

    I don’t feel like going down the rabbit hole of possible conspiracy scenarios. Whether or not these women were “tracked down” as you say, or honeypots in the first place, or whatever. It’s not necessary. Assange has not been charged with any crime yet, let alone convicted. So what purpose does this line of dialog serve?

    “Penetrating a sleeping woman he had only recently met, if true…”

    IF TRUE

    Why are we thinking about what this potentially means if it turns out it is completely or maybe partially some kind of true story? Lots of things would put events into a different context if they were true.

    The only purpose this line of reasoning serves, is to prejudice you against the person in question, at the very least, on a subconscious level. Which is why it continues to be used.

    • Brainspore says:

      My problem with your position is that you are assuming a complex explanation for something that has a very simple one simply because you like Assange’s other work. You could be right about his innocence, but your belief in such has nothing whatsoever to do with the evidence at hand. You believe him to be innocent simply because you don’t want to accept that your hero could also be a scumbag.

      I don’t assume he’s guilty. But I don’t think he deserves any more public “support” than any other man who has been accused of multiple instances of sexual assault.

  19. querent says:

    All alleged sex offenses should be treated with the same seriousness and severity as is the alleged sex offense in the Assange case. As it was in the Strauss Kahn case.

    But it is not always so. Which does raise red flags as to why it is so in this case. Which is true without blaming the possible victims.

  20. travtastic says:

    Media trials are so much more efficient than jury trials.

  21. Bodhiz says:

    There are so many reported “facts” left out, so many misrepresentations of the REPORTED events both in this comments section and in Scherer’s piece. I will try to inform you all of some of the ones I find most important.

    1 – As it stands now Julian has not been charged with anything, he is wanted for questioning. An arrest warrent (EAW) has been filed yes, for questioning.

    2 – Commenter yatima (above) along with professional columnists wrongly asserts:

    “Assange’s lawyer has conceded the validity of his accusers’ claims.”

    This is either caused by gross misunderstanding or it is simply a gross lie. The lawyer paraphrased the witnesses accounts of the events.

    There are reports of pertinent details which are being ovelooked by many. Here are some, and dont just take my word for it, look it up. I may have been misled, a conspiracy nut or simply dishonest. You never know, you know :)

    -The women didn´t go to the police to file charges of rape against Assange. They went there for advice, advice to wheather or not it was possible by law to impose a HIV-test on someone. They went together to the police several days after the alleged sexcrimes had occured and only after they learned that they both have had unprotected sex with Assange. They choose to go to a policestation at which a friend of one of the women was working.

    -One of the women (‘AA’) was AFTER the time the alleged sexcrimes were committed (night between 13-14 august):

    - working together with Assange at the seminar he attended in Sweden.

    - arranged a crayfish-party for Assange and at that party she twittered “Sit outside at 2pm, hardly freezing with the worlds coolest,smartest people, that´s amazing!”. Assange is there and she is apparently happy. Note that she tried to delete these (positive) messages from Twitter but forgot to delete them from Bloggy that had mirrored them. She also told Julian Assange during the party that it was OK that he continues to stay in her apartment during his visit in Sweden.

    -On the sunday (15th) she´s at a meeting with the Pirate Party and volunteers to become Assange´s press-secretary.

    -on thursday (19th) she learns that Assange had sex with the other woman (‘SW’). This knowledge makes her unwilling to having Assange live with her in her aparment.

    -friday (20th) she claims that SW has been raped by Assange and tries to make SW go to the police. Later nothing from the police-hearing with SW supports that he raped her.

    -later AA deletes the messages from Bloggy as well.

    -The other woman, SW:

    Assange is accused of penetrating her whilst she was in a state of helplessness. This will mean rape according to swedish law. In this case however SW was, according to her own statement, half-asleep (which also means half-awake!). She talked to Assange, asked “are you wearing anything?” (meaning a condom) when she felt his attempt to penetrate her. Assange answered “I´m wearing you.” THEN they had intercourse.
    She made no attempt to stop Assange. She says she was THINKING “it´s too late”, PRESUMABLY meaning that if Assange had a STD she would have gotten it already.
    The next morning SW and Assange are joking about what they should name the baby, should she have gotten pregnant. They laugh at the suggested name ‘Afghanistan’.

    All according her own statement.

    I could also go into detail about the particulars regarding the farse ensueing the initial indictment, which was dropped. Like the Swedish state attorneys office leaking details of the charges to the press and the dropping of the charges days later. But I don’t want to futher enable anyones intellectual laziness. Look it up yourself.

    In closing, the trails currently running in UK is about rendition for QUESTIONING. I don’t see any reason at this point to speculate in guilt, there is no indictment. If there never is Julians name will forever be stained by this media circus.

    These details have led me to BELIEVE there was no LEGAL wrong doings from Julians part in this case.

  22. Mister44 says:

    re: “you’re not just proposing a government conspiracy”

    More than that – if a gov. was going to frame someone, why pick a crime that hinges mostly on testimony vs evidence, doesn’t usually carry a very long or harsh punishment, (At least in the US. Maybe Sweden doesn’t fill it’s prisons up with pot smokers so they have more room to hold real criminals longer.), and as far as crimes go, it isn’t as damning in the public eye as other crimes would be.

    To put it bluntly – if they are going to go through the trouble, why not do it right? That’s the problem with conspiracies, they usually make no goddamn sense. Also, Sweden isn’t really known for cloak and dagger stuff.

    • Unmutual says:

      More than that – if a gov. was going to frame someone, why pick a crime that hinges mostly on testimony vs evidence,

      Precisely because of the reasons you just stated. They do not have to go to the trouble of acquiring DNA evidence, framing him for murder, or some other “cloak and dagger” shit that you read about in some paperback spy thriller. They can just pay somebody to make allegations, and that is enough to put him through the “due process” rigmarole. When he comes out the other side, guilty or not guilty, he will be effectively discredited.

      To simply kill him off or frame him for something silly like homicide would be obvious. Hell, RAPE is obvious too, but it hits the right notes in our psyche that we forget how many times we have seen false allegations come out of nowhere and ultimately fizzle out.

      doesn’t usually carry a very long or harsh punishment,

      The goal would not be to put him away in jail so much as to erode his public support which would financially cripple Wikileaks.

      To this end they are hitting them from all sides.

      (At least in the US. Maybe Sweden doesn’t fill it’s prisons up with pot smokers so they have more room to hold real criminals longer.), and as far as crimes go, it isn’t as damning in the public eye as other crimes would be.

      What would damn him in the public’s eye more than being a serial rapist?

      To put it bluntly – if they are going to go through the trouble, why not do it right?

      Apparently doing it “right” means doing it in such a way that the case for conspiracy would be plain as day for you? Seems like that’d be doing it “wrong”. . .

  23. Anonymous says:

    The fine for Assange, if found guilty, is less than $800. Obviously, since they must have spent more than $100,000 by now trying to extradite him, there is some conspiracy going one somewhere.

    http://www.aolnews.com/2010/12/02/sex-by-surprise-at-heart-of-assange-criminal-probe/

    “Assange’s London attorney, Mark Stephens, told AOL News today that Swedish prosecutors told him that Assange is wanted not for allegations of rape, as previously reported, but for something called “sex by surprise,” which he said involves a fine of 5,000 kronor or about $715″

    Or this:

    http://www.fastcompany.com/1707146/wikileaks-assange-wanted-for-sex-by-surprise-but-the-internet-thinks-hes-a-rapist

    “Assange’s current lawyer then revealed Swedish prosectors had told him they were not seeking Assange for “rape” at all, instead the alleged crime is “sex by surprise,” which carries a penalty of a fine, although the details of the allegations haven’t been revealed yet.”

  24. ncinerate says:

    I suppose what bothers me about the whole thing is that it’s just a colossal he-said she-said, and it’s admitted by the women that the relationships were consenting before and after these supposed acts. It’s not like this was an instance of a woman running to police immediately after something happened – things didn’t seem to come to a head until significantly later after continued relationships and without any real proof of wrongdoing. Some of the discussed “evidence” seems silly too. Assange “roughed up” a woman by breaking her necklace and tearing some of her clothes? Bloody hell, I did that to the wife -yesterday-.

    Assange faces possible charges (of course, none have been laid out just yet) from multiple women – but again these accusations didn’t come out until considerably after-the-fact (once they found out about each other) and it seems to me that there more involved here than meets the eye. For example – how many other international extradition notices have went out for tourists accused of similar crimes? How many people have been extradited in the EU without any charges actually being laid? Circumstances seem exceptional because circumstances ARE exceptional. Assange, guilty or not, is being singled out for extraordinary treatment by the existing system in a way that can’t be explained – unless you start taking into account his “other” dealings.

    I’d sit here and ask in disbelief just how exactly anyone could prove such a case without any real physical evidence or witnesses and especially with continued relationships and happy-tweets happening after the supposed wrongdoing occurred – but I already know how easily it can happen.

    My wife is at a hearing this-morning. An old friend is accused of having sex (consenting at the time according to the girl) with a 14 year old – a handful of years ago. She finally came forward to talk about it with police, saying it’s been haunting her over the years, and my friend was immediately dragged out of his office by police with no further evidence required. He’s been sitting in a jail cell since thanksgiving awaiting trial denied bail because the crime he’s accused of is against a minor. He has been thus-far denying the whole thing of course, but he’s still treated to Arizona’s wonderful justice and jail system (sherrif joe prides himself on feeding inmates on less money/day than he spends on his police dogs).

    Grand jury met and decided there should be a trial, so he’s still waiting, but his lawyer has informed him that if he attempts to fight this charge it’s incredibly likely that a jury will take the word of a young girl over his own. Given that he has a small pre-existing criminal history from his younger days (pulled over with marijuana in the car, a DUI, etc), the lawyer explained that the judge in AZ would absolutely throw the book at him and he’d be in jail -forever- if he fought and lost.

    The option? Take a plea agreement, spend 2 more years in jail and life as a sex offender with all the fun that title brings you.

    Again – no witnesses, no evidence, just one girl’s word against his own is enough to already put him in jail for 8 months with no end-date in sight. He’s being railroaded into accepting guilt or potentially spending most or all of the remaining days of his life behind bars. No bail, no freedoms, green baloney, and if you go to talk with him you can’t even “see” him – he’s on the other side of a video screen.

    I think he’s going to take the plea agreement this morning.

    I’m not trying to diminish the crime – it might have happened -exactly- as described, but there’s no physical way to prove anything happened. In my mind, this sort of accusation is a clear case of insufficient evidence to make a conviction beyond “any reasonable doubt”. Unfortunately, a jury of his peers seeing a pretty young girl vs an older bear of a man with a minor criminal history is probably not going to feel the same way.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Why do everyone seem to look past that the problem with Assanges possible extradiction to Sweden is the wrongful use of a European Arrest Warrant in order to question a suspect who is not even being charged with anything yet?

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