People all over the interwebs are losing their fucking minds over the Julian Assange shit storm. Not too surprisingly, not one person in my unplugged life gives one tenth as much as the screeching banshees you'll find on twitter or tumblr. And because it's all driving me up the walls, I'm going to say my peace about it here and be done.
This is a tangled clusterfuck of misinformation and sensationalism, so I'm going to break it down as easily as I can.
1. It is very possible for Julian Assange to be a champion for freedom of information (or whatever you want to call it) and be a rapist at the same time. These things are not mutually exclusive. We like to say that sometimes good people do bad things and bad people are capable of good deeds, but the reality is there are no good or bad people. Making Assange a hero or a villain does nothing to further the conversation.
I think Wikileaks is good. I think rape is bad. See how that works?
2. It is possible to think Assange's arrest was politically motivated and still think rape is wrong. Not every person who brings up Wikileaks is a rape-apologist. People need to stop being so ridiculous. Was Assange's arrest political? Of course. If you don't think so, congratulations on being an idiot. The handling of this case by Swedish police has been a joke and people are right to question their motives.
3. A lot of people have pointed out how most people don't give a shit about rape, but the world came to a fucking halt for one man who hasn't even been formally charged with a crime. This is valid. The women reported the incident with police in August, when the assaults took place, but the case wasn't pursued until recently. Why? I don't see any reason why these questions don't deserve answers.
But even though Assange's arrest was politically motivated, it doesn't mean the charges (if they ever come about) should be dropped. Just because most people don't care about rape doesn't mean we shouldn't care about this one. What kind of fucked up logic is that anyways? "Most rapists are never charged with their crimes so this rapist shouldn't be charged either." Wow.
4. Even if the Swedish and British governments have arrested Assange under dubious circumstances, it doesn't mean the charges, or the women who claimed to have been molested and raped, are dubious as well. These two women should not be treated like shit or reduced to some caricature of jealous women scorned. They deserve better than that.
5. Having sex with someone while they're asleep is rape. It's not "surprise sex" or any other b.s. people have said. It's rape. Because, shockingly, you can't consent if you're unconscious. (And anyone who feels the need to bring up how many times this means they've been "raped" by their significant other really is a rape apologist. Or an idiot incapable of thinking complex thoughts and differentiating between two seemingly similar but very much different scenarios.)
6. When you get through all the muck, the real issue here is the fact Assange was arrested and detained without being charged with any crime. He was arrested on allegations. We can't ignore this fact. Assange is not Roman Polanski, for all the enraged people online would like us to think. Assange left Sweden with permission, offered to be questioned at the Swedish embassy in London, and voluntarily surrendered to police. And yet he was still denied bail.
It's important that we realize that these women should be not be victim-blamed but that it's also possible that Assange is not guilty. He hasn't even been charged with a crime yet and it's presumptuous for anyone to treat him like some heinous monster. Even if he is a rapist, it's silly for anyone to treat him like some heinous monster. Treating Assange like our savior or the Antichrist are both pointless and stupid.
For me, it would be more helpful if we were talking about the way most rapes are ignored or minimized in our society and our limited and narrow view of consent in America. We should also be talking about the way these governments are abusing their power with the help of Interpol and what it means for the rest of us. Everything else is just posturing.