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Assange's rape charges (grabbing the third rail)
By Dave Winer on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at 8:36 AM.

A picture named hippieVan.gifOn Twitter I see random messages making broad statements about men re the rape charges against Julian Assange. I think we're going into dangerous territory, and there's a good chance we're being manipulated, and before it goes too far, I want to try to moderate it, and talk about what we know and what we don't know. permalink

1. As far as I know there aren't any charges against Julian Assange, in Sweden or elsewhere. permalink

2. What I've read in the Guardian about the charges sound to me like he might not be a very nice person. But where I come from, that is not a crime -- nor is it in Sweden, which seems like a fair country. permalink

3. Rape is awful. But I think it's almost as awful to falsely accuse someone of rape, because that's going to radically change an innocent person's life, for the worse. And it's so easy to do, it's one person's word against another's. permalink

4. Some people use these issues as a way of saying sexist things about men. General statements that indict a whole gender, or a big chunk of one (like "men in tech," for example). I'm sure they don't think every man is guilty, and if you stop them and say that, they claim that isn't what they're saying. But if you simply flip the genders, and make broad sweeping negative statements about women, I guess they wouldn't have any trouble seeing the sexism.  permalink

5. I agree with and support feminism. The line I won't cross is condemning men in the cause of feminism. Nor would I support it the other way. If you want to speak up for your gender, or my gender -- great! But not if you're going to go negative on the other guys. permalink

6. One rule I try to remember: We create each other. My mother was a woman. So was yours. Your father was a man. Mine too. We learned their values, like it or not. I am who I am not solely because I am a man, but also because I am my mother's son, and my grandmothers' grandson. And the student of all the women teachers I had (most of them were women). And I am also the product of every relationship I've had. It's a big mixed bag of genders that form whole people. If you want to find the cause of something, it's never as simple as one gender doing it to the other.  permalink

7. Let's be smart. What do you think the chances are that the charges against Assange, coming in the middle of a political shitstorm, from a country whose Prime Minister is closely tied to the US government, are exactly what they seem to be? Suppose it were men making charges against a woman, in similar circumstances? Would your bullshit detector be a little more alarmed? It shouldn't be, if you're not being sexist. permalink

8. Let's seek balance. I'm not going to stand up and say the charges are bullshit. But I'm not going to say they're not. In the US, the country I come from, the standard is "innocent until proven guilty." It doesn't say "except if you're a man charged with rape." I like that standard a lot. Why don't we stay there until there's a verdict? permalink

9. One more thing. This all should be kept separate from the work that WikiLeaks is doing. Please. permalink

I closed comments for this thread. I know I'm touching grabbing the third rail. If you have something to say about this, put it on your blog or tweet it or tell a friend. I look for charged issues like this one to explore, because these are the places where the greatest growth is available. permalink

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