Revisiting the Handmaid’s Tale: Dogmatic feminism

The kid is reading The Handmaid’s Tale for English.  Yeah, wrap your head around that.  When I was a child, the raciest stuff we ever got to read was Tess of the D’Urbervilles where “weeping in the Chase”  and Hester Prynne letting down her glossy black hair in the woods was about as close as we were ever going to get to any insinuation of unchaste behavior.

I thought this would be a good time to revisit The Handmaid’s Tale with an eye to understanding whether feminism has devolved into dogmatic feminism.  I also like to refer to this as “red tent” feminism.  I consider myself a feminist but one who basis her feminism on a very Mary Wollstonecraft sensibility.  Feminism is a philosophy that asserts that all humans are equal and that women are no less endowed by nature to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness than men and that there should be only one criteria for denying women anything they aspire to- individual ability.  Since science is beginning to show that women have equal mental capacity in the sciences and math and other intellectual pursuits, the only limitations on females to achieve what they want is physical.  And the only area where they lack in physical strength is in the upper body.  That pretty much leaves them out of professional football leagues, certain weight classes in boxing, wrestling and weight lifting and not a whole lot else.  If a woman is still interested in firefighting or combat or something else, let her train and develop those physical traits that will let her compete. There may be other subtle physical differences but nothing that can’t be overcome.  We’ve already seen that women are quite capable astronauts and pilots, political leaders and business people.  Let’s just cut the crap with the artificial barriers already, ok?

I don’t believe in a society that treats women as some kind of special physical being is good and I don’t want to live in that world.  In other words, I don’t think men envy us for our baby making ability.  That’s just wishful bullshit.  Are you kidding me?  If men could gestate fetuses in a box, a la Monty Python, they would.  Your ability to bear children is a curiosity and a necessity but not something they would ever wish on themselves.  So, if you are a woman hoping to retreat into some “red tent” community of women where you can all celebrate your menstruation and hope that the rest of the world will recognize and honor your superiority because you are able to give life, dream on.  Ain’t never going to happen.  If anything, The Handmaid’s Tale reinforces the notion that childbearing is not a noble endeavor and separate is not equal. (Note that I said childbearing, not parenthood.  And in the modern world, BOTH sexes can and should be good parents) The women who are conscripted into the Handmaid class may be re-educated to believe that they are in an honorable profession but the rest of the world still sees them as concubines.  So, think it over ladies.  If you want to focus all of the world’s attention on what is between your legs and not your ears, separate yourselves and worship your childbearing above all else.  What can be seen as a gift can be coerced when the need arises.  Then it’s not a gift anymore and you as a person cease to exist.

Margaret Atwood has said that her idea of The Handmaid’s Tale was in part generated by the feminist anti-pornography movement that sprang up in the wake of the initial waves of feminism.  In this scenario, it is the anti-pornography feminists who collaborate with the religious right. The feminists have become dogmatic, fail to discriminate degrees of infraction, and react to pornography with public burnings of the material.  Like the Aghanis who gave control of their country to the Taliban, these dogmatic feminists may have sanctioned the religious backlash in order to restore order and control over violent behavior.  As one of the “Aunts” says in the movie, “There is more than one kind of freedom.  In the days of anarchy, it was ‘freedom to’.  Now, you’re being given ‘freedom from’. Don’t underrate it”.  In the Aunts, we see the merging of the dogmatic feminist with the religious right and an inability to think outside a rigid box in a way that respects individual agency and personal maturity. It’s easier and safer if everyone just follows the rules and stays within the rigid box society constructs for them. What is particularly disturbing is that we can see some real world examples of this kind of mindset recently that should scare the living sh&* out of us.

For example, remember the Anthony Weiner affair?  Do you remember the commenters here (you might even have been one yourself) who indignantly insisted that the recipient of the pictures was a victim whose eyes were violated and who was the target of an online rape?  Let’s just put aside the idea that you can be raped online, is this even reasonable?  But what does it say about the power of our American culture when a whole blogosphere of women can be prompted to turn on themselves, to assert that the recipient of the text “didn’t ask for it” that she was a victim of a sexual pervert, as if looking at an erect penis was something our innocent eyes shouldn’t see?  WE have “self-control”.  Men have lustful desires.  It’s very Handmaid.  We reinforce the idea of slut shaming when we circle the wagons around the alleged victim of an online rape, protecting her from accusations of participation instead of laughing it off.  It was a digital picture for god’s sakes.  It can not hurt you.  And besides, what if what she had written to him *had* seemed like an invitation?  What’s wrong with that?  Are women not allowed to be provocative?  Do you see where I’m going with this?

Ok, how about Julian Assange.  The stories the alleged rape victims reported in Sweden have come into question.  I’ve always considered the charges to be a very, very broad definition of the word “rape”.  If that was rape, just about everyone has experienced it.  And then I start to wonder, what about the women who claim to be on the pill who deliberately get pregnant against the wishes of their male counterparts.  Please, do not tell me it doesn’t happen.  We all know that it does.  Isn’t that also a form of rape?  It’s not violent but it sure isn’t consensual, is it?  But whatever.  I was very surprised to see the number of women who immediately and without question took the side of the accusers.  I have no idea what the Swedish court system would do, it’s really in their bailiwick.  But I was disturbed at how women once again assumed that the accusers were victims, as if they were completely without any sexual agency whatsoever.  The did not *own* their sexuality.   It is part of a pattern that looks at women as asexual passive beings upon which men impose their aggressive sexual lusts.  Is that the way women want themselves to be seen?  Or is it merely convenient because lust is not a desirable female trait in our culture?

Feminists on the left need to be careful that they aren’t used as political tools through accusations of rape and other sexual taboos.  If you are conditioned to have a knee jerk response to any accusation of sexual misconduct by men towards women no matter how innocuous or tangential it is to their official duties, you can be used as a tool of mob justice to take out your potential allies.  Condemnation is one of the only political powers women have and to do this against men based on unproven or trivial accusations is the equivalent of a digital particicution.

I was relieved to see the feminist community rally briefly around Sandra Fluke.  But even more enraged that anyone could stick a slut label on any woman these days.  I really thought we had banished that word forever but here it was again, raising its ugly head.  And then I saw a youtube lecture on Tolkien from a speaker from Baylor University who in the middle of his lecture made a comment about a co-ed in a tight sweater with a caption that said “goats they do nibble”.  “Did she know she was going to be a slut when she put on that shirt?”, he said to an auditorium of college students.  So, the word is back in business.

And that’s the way the women in The Handmaid’s Tale saw the Handmaids.  They were sluts whose sole purpose in life was sex.  It didn’t matter if they didn’t enjoy it.  Young, fertile women are tramps, whores and sluts. The were literally the scarlet women. That seems to be the way we are going as well.

A new area for the anti-sex “feminists” is in the area of New Atheism.  Most of us are familiar now with Elevatorgate, the controversy that sprang up when Rebecca Watson took an invitation from an unknown guy in an elevator as a prelude to rape and exploitation.  To say she overreacted is an understatement.  In my college days, we would have assessed the safety of the situation and determined whether we were interested or not.  If not, we would have politely declined, arranged to meet for coffee the next morning and gotten off at our floor.  But not so with Rebecca.  Apparently, all the guy was interested in was her vagina.  It sounds a bit like what our 50′s era parents would have been told. “He’s only interested in getting what he wants and then dumping you”. But maybe he would have been just interested in talking.  Or talking and a little light snogging.  If there was anything else intended, you could always say no and leave.  Most people will let you leave.  There really aren’t that many rapists around.  Truly.  But so what if Rebecca had gone all “paradise by the dashboard light”?  So what??  That’s her right.  It’s not seduction if its mutual.

In the Handmaid’s Tale, pleasurable sex is a crime against the state.  It is an act of willful defiance.  And to be defiant is to be free.  So, is Rebecca Watson a free person?  Or is her relatively recent feminist conditioning taking away her freedom to be a sexual being?

Or, is she using her public chastity as a bludgeon against men because we have focussed so much of our attention on our nether regions that women have lost ground in the intellectual sphere?  Is the only way for women to assert power in this society to use sex as a weapon?  It *is* the only place where women have made some progress.  Sexual harassment is almost universally forbidden in this country.  Men can get hammered with a sexual harassment suit like nobody’s business so they are extraordinarily cautious in the public sphere about avoiding it.  That means that real discrimination has gone underground and takes more subtle and insidious ways to exert itself.  We’re all familiar with the performance evaluation by behavioral criterion that has taken down women great and small.  The cultural stereotypes of passive, compliant, pleasant and obedient women as being the most desirable to work with has also crippled them and made it very difficult for them to break the glass ceiling.

Anyway, that’s my little stream of thought ponderings that have been running through my head this morning.  I won’t even go through how much the Duggar family lives the life of The Handmaid’s Tale.  It’s almost like they used the book as a supplementary bible. They’re into an extreme form of patriarchalism, worship childbearing, are fanatical about forbidding any enticement to lustful thoughts, and they don’t educate their daughters very well.  Just like the handmaids in the movies, the children travel in pairs with each one accountable for the behavior of the other, always ready and willing to betray a trust and intimacy. All that’s missing are the color coordinated clothing.  They may look a happy in front of the camera and maybe some of them have the constitution for it.  But for the ones who don’t, it must be a living hell.  Religious women who worship the Duggars should read Atwood’s book (or reread it).  We do NOT want to live in a world like this because no one would have a minute’s peace.  There would always be rebellions, terrorism, violations, executions.  It would be like the Taliban mixed with the Department of Homeland Security against all of the lefties who have become sudden fans of the 2nd amendment.  Not my cup of tea.

So, comments anyone?  Fire away!

If you haven’t read the book, you can find it here at amazon.

Here’s the movie version on YouTube.  It’s got German subtitles but is in English otherwise.

And here’s an interesting discussion about The Problem with Dogmatic Feminism and supplementary discussions part 1 and part 2 from Ask An Atheist.  I like the way the hosts go through the issue step by step in a thoughtful manner.  I wouldn’t have been so diplomatic.  The bottom line, as I see it, is that the dogmatic feminists are undermining their own cause.  Instead of reinforcing their equality and insisting on things that would really change the dynamics at a New Atheist convention by demanding at least 1/3 female representation of speakers and a progressive stack during discussions, they are alienating even the more sympathetic men in the movement by considering all interactions between males and females as invitations to seduction and abuse.

The New Atheist movement is having to confront this issue early and I hope they take some time to get to the bottom of it and define what feminism in a post religious world should be. (And by post religious, I mean in the present context where state and church are intertwined. The goal should be a secular culture where the religious can do what they want in private.  That is what I mean by post-religious) They also need to be careful because this is an issue that the religious could use against them to split the New Atheist movement.  In other words, they need to find a way to get through to the Rebecca Watsons to carefully examine what they are doing so they don’t cause unnecessary tension at their gatherings and inadvertently reinforce cultural and religiously based cultural stereotypes.  I know that’s not what Rebecca thinks she is doing but by reducing every woman at a meeting as a potential victim and every man as a potential rapist, that’s what she is doing. I wouldn’t want to be a new female convert to New Atheism, go to a convention and have all the men avoid me and instantly think I was a neurotic pain in the ass just because the Rebecca Watsons got there first and took all the spontaneity out of the event.  She’s not doing women any favors.

And here’s some insight on rapid social change brought on by stressful environments, her is Atwood herself speaking to Bill Moyers:

Getting justice for Assange without cheapening rape allegations

If I were the Swedish women who filed rape allegations against Julian Assange, I would be positively livid that the Swedish government didn’t do all that was humanly possible to make sure he stood trial in Sweden, was convicted in Sweden and spent all of the jail time that was coming to him in Sweden.

The fact that the Swedes are not guaranteeing that Julian Assange will not be turned over to (fall into the hands of, intercepted on the way, captured by a separate entity and turned over to, you imagine the permutations, use your imagination) the US once he is extradited to Sweden tells me everything I need to know about how seriously Sweden is taking the accusations of rape.

All you hyperventilating “feminists” who are screaming for Assange to be strung up by his balls even though nothing has been proven yet, should be outraged that Sweden is not absolutely committed to bringing Assange to trial in Sweden.

An accusation does not mean the guy is guilty.  Yeah, yeah, I know what you *feel* based on what you’ve read but you’ve only heard one side of the story.  It was a similar attitude that drove people over the edge in the Casey Anthony trial.  They just *feel* she’s guilty of murder.  Without evidence, they couldn’t convict her of a damn thing.  Maybe she did something, maybe she didn’t.  Anger and truthiness doesn’t make it OK to convict someone without a trial no matter how much you sympathize with the victims.  It is precisely the reason why we have due process and all that shit that the US threw out the window after 9/11.  Lynch mobs are unacceptable.  Innocent people can be hurt.  Oh, sure, to some of you, you just know that he did it because you automatically identify with the accusers.  But that’s not the way the law works.

If Sweden wants a trial for rape, if it considers the allegations to be serious and wants justice for the victims, it’s pretty easy to agree not to send him to the US.  If he turns out to not be guilty, offer him asylum in Sweden.  How hard is this??  What does the US have to do with a rape in Sweden?  The answer is- nothing.  The US wants to do to him what we do to other people who we want to punish without actually having to go through the bother of having a trial and presenting evidence.  I guarantee you that if Assange comes to the US, he’ll be treated like an enemy combatant, stuck in a jail indefinitely and never come to trial because his “crime” concerns state secrets that can’t be presented in court.  To be honest, none of us are safe from that kind of treatment.  It started under Bush but it got worse under Obama.  It’s yet one more reason why I will NEVER vote for Obama.  He violates every American standard of justice that I believe in.

I’m sure that it’s in the best interests of the US to whip up a frenzy over a rape and make it look like he has to answer to US, but such is not the case.  The issue is being deliberately confused so that even if Assange is found to have done nothing in Sweden, deep sixxing him in a US jail is going to look acceptable because he now looks like a rapist.  But that’s not justice.  If the Swedes want to try him for rape, let them try him for rape.  If the US wants to try him for accepting classified information, let them apply for extradition based on that.  But let’s not haul his ass off to jail in the US based on a crime that may or may not have happened in Sweden.

Apparently, this is how the Ecuadorans see the situation as well.

The fact that Sweden isn’t moving heaven and earth to guarantee that justice for the alleged rape victims happens in Sweden tells me everything I need to know about how whistleblowers will be treated in the future.  They’ll be accused of bestiality or pedophilia or rape.  And the disgust that will be provoked in the audience will be enough to make the whistleblower look bad no matter what they did.  The practice will become so common that it will become positively Soviet and people around the world will roll their eyes when another rape allegation comes out against a person who has gone afoul of the political system.

The people who are being denied justice right now are the alleged victims and their credibility will always be questioned because Sweden wouldn’t pursue the alleged perpetrator to face justice in Sweden and only Sweden.  It is Sweden that is trivializing and cheapening allegations of rape.

Comments are closed for this post.  People are not thinking rationally because they are angry.  I’m not interested in debating irrational, angry people, just like I don’t want to argue with a foaming at the mouth nutcase that wants to string up Casey Anthony.

Get a grip.  You’re not helping rape victims.  And if there are any comment planters in the audience, go peddle your wares elsewhere.

The Brits get a bit heavy handed with the Ecuadorians over Assange

The British are attempting to strongarm the Ecuadorian embassy in London into handing over Julian Assange, who sought refuge there earlier this year to avoid extradition to Sweden.  The BBC reports that Assange fears he will be turned over to the Americans if he’s extradited to Sweden on allegations that he sexually assaulted two women.

Ecuador was prepared to announce his asylum status tomorrow.  The Ecuadorians are not pleased, saying “We are not a British colony”.  You can watch a livestream here but it’s not very robust.  New Livestream here.  Judging by the previous lifestream, expect the authorities to jam the signal.

So, speculation anyone?  Katiebird, Marsha and I have been tossing this one around and here’s what we’ve got:

1.) The Ecuadorians are pretending to be outraged.  Otherwise, why not just give Assange asylum and then announce it, and not the other way around?

2.) The diplomatic cables were a big nothing burger.  Assange must be sitting on something big to make everyone so desperate to get their hands on him.  AND, one wonders why the Ecuadorians would offer Assange this much asylum.  He had to have given them information they found valuable.

3.) How many embassies in the world offer known rapists sanctuary?  That’s right, none of them.  So, either he’s not a convicted rapist or there’s something else going on here that is preventing Assange from facing charges of sexual offenses in Sweden.  Sweden.  We’re not exactly talking Afghanistan here.  He’s not going to be stoned to death.  If convicted (of what, we don’t know yet), his stay in a Swedish jail wouldn’t be so bad. It certainly wouldn’t be worse than staying trapped in an Ecuadoran embassy indefinitely. So, it’s not Sweden he’s afraid of.

4.) Why do the US and Britain think it’s ok to throw people in jail, deny them their rights and use the state secrets acts to prevent them from going to trial?  Is it for the PR value?  Do they get more bang for their buck by making average citizens terrified to step outside the envelope?

5.) Marsha wonders if he hasn’t been smuggled out already. Update: It seems like the British police units think he’s still inside the embassy.

Any other ideas?

More Assange


Nick Davies of The Guardian:

Jagger also insists that she has a right to know who leaked the file to the Guardian and says that the leak was part of “an obvious effort to conduct a smear campaign” against Assange. Setting aside for a moment the head-splitting hypocrisy that a supporter of WikiLeaks wants to hunt down the source of a leak, there are two similar problems with this claim. First, Jagger has no idea who leaked that file (and made no attempt to find out). Second, if she did know, she would discover that the source had no intention of smearing Assange in any way.

I am not going to serve up that source’s identity to satisfy Jagger’s temper. A police file like that gets widely distributed. It happened to make its way quite legitimately into the hands of somebody I have come across in the past. This person has absolutely no connection with the Swedish prosecutor or the Swedish police or any other individual or organization with any kind of antipathy to Assange. The source passed it on, and I got it translated.

Assange’s UK lawyer tried very hard to persuade us to suppress the file. He argued that since Assange had been a source for our stories, we should ‘protect’ him. I reckon that that is an invitation to journalistic corruption, to hide information in order to curry favor with a source. We were right to publish.

Jagger calls this ‘trial by media’. I call it an attempt to inject some evidence into a global debate which has been fueled by speculation and misinformation. On August 21, when this story first broke, Assange used Twitter to spread the idea that the two women who had gone to the police were engaged in ‘dirty tricks’. His lawyer subsequently claimed that a ‘honeytrap’ had been sprung. Assange’s celebrity supporters have announced to the mass media that the allegations are ‘without foundation’, that ‘there is no prima facie evidence’. These statements have gone around the world. Millions of well-meaning people have been persuaded to believe them. The two women, who have been identified on the Internet, have had their reputations ruined by the claim that they cruelly colluded to destroy an innocent man. The Swedish police and prosecutors have been held up to ridicule as corrupt and/or incompetent partners in the plot.

Some people got their knickers twisted last week over alleged prosecutorial misconduct. Turns out there was none.

Yes, I am smirking.

Raw Story:

Middle Eastern leaders who’ve become friendly with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) could face severe retribution from their local populations if WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is killed or jailed for a lengthy amount of time.

That’s because, in a recent interview with Arabic news network Al Jazeera, Assange allegedly warned that he had a document which reveals the identities of officials who voluntarily cultivated relationships with the CIA.

“These officials are spies for the US in their countries,” he reportedly told the network.

“If I am killed or detained for a long time, there are 2,000 websites ready to publish the remaining files,” Assange was quoted as having said. “We have protected these websites through very safe passwords.”

Of course nobody has tried to kill him yet, and the only charges against him are the ones in Sweden, but any minute now . . .

Bill Weinberg:

The most blatantly irritating thing is abject demonization of the women who have made the charges of sexual abuse against Assange. In any other context, the summary dismissal of a woman’s rape accusations would be seen as utterly politically incorrect. But Assange gets away with anti-feminist rhetoric that would do Rush Limbaugh proud. In an interview now receiving widespread coverage in the British press (e.g. The Telegraph, Dec. 26), Assange says: “Sweden is the Saudi Arabia of feminism… I fell into a hornets’ nest of revolutionary feminism.” Assange added that one of the women who said she was assaulted took a “trophy photo” of him lying naked in her bed.

Excuse me while I get out the brain bleach.


Feminazis Framed Him


WikiLeaks founder baffled by sex assault claims

[...]

Mr Assange regards himself as a victim of radicalism. “Sweden is the Saudi Arabia of feminism,” he said. “I fell into a hornets’ nest of revolutionary feminism.”

See, that’s what happens when you let them bee-yotches learn to read. Next thing you know they want to vote and then it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to Sino-Peruvian lesbianism.

This part is just eeeewwwwww:

She says they had consensual sex but she woke up the next morning to find him having intercourse with her to which she had not consented.

When she asked him if he was wearing anything, he had allegedly said: “I am wearing you.”

Stay classy, Julian.

Meanwhile:

The founder of the WikiLeaks website, Julian Assange, has said he expects to earn more than £1m from book deals.

Assange, who achieved global notoriety after his whistleblower website began releasing more than a quarter of a million diplomatic cables, said he would use the money for legal costs.

The 39-year-old is fighting extradition to Sweden, where two women have accused him of sexual misconduct. He denies the allegations.

Since being released on bail earlier this month pending extradition proceedings, Assange has been living under virtual house arrest at Ellingham Hall, a Norfolk country mansion, from where he regularly gives media interviews.

He told the Sunday Times that he was forced to sign a deal worth more than £1m for his autobiography due to financial difficulties. “I don’t want to write this book, but I have to,” he said. “I have already spent £200,000 for legal costs and I need to defend myself and to keep WikiLeaks afloat.”

He says he is innocent and has nothing to hide but he spent ten days in jail and $200,000 just fighting extradition.

Riiiight.


Welcome to Sweden


Ask questions, get answers, remain skeptical

Julian Assange's temporary jail


Yesterday I asked some questions about WikiLeaks. Today I got a few answers.

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Now Making $86k/year

WikiLeaks’ main financial arm, the Germany-based Wau Holland Foundation says it has collected about 1 million Euro ($1.3 million) in donations in 2010, the year in which WikiLeaks exploded into public prominence thanks to its release of thousands of classified U.S. documents, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal.

Wau Holland is the primary but not sole financial provider for WikiLeaks, the Journal reports.

From those donations, Wau Holland has established a Greenpeace-like system of salary payments, as WikiLeaks attempts to legitimize its organization by moving away from purely volunteer-based work, the Journal reports. The move to make salaried employees allegedly comes after a year-long intense internal debate about whether to do so.

The main beneficiary has been founder Julian Assange, who has drawn 66,000 Euros (about $86,000) in salary thus far this year, the Journal reports. Wau Holland has paid a total of 100,000 Euros in salaries to the entire WikiLeaks staff, which means Assange is getting the lion’s share.

WikiLeaks will pay key personnel based on a salary structure developed by the environmental activist organization Greenpeace, the Journal reports. Under the structure, Greenpeace department heads are paid about 5,500 Euros in monthly salary, a Wau Holland spokesman said.

Among the many revelations from the Journal report are several indications that donations to WikiLeaks have dropped off significantly in the second half of the year.

By August, WikiLeaks had raised about 765,000 Euro, which means it has only raised about 235,000 Euro since then, the Journal reports.

Last summer, WikiLeaks said it operated on about 150,000 Euro a year. Now, however, the foundation says it has paid about 380,000 Euro in WikiLeaks expenses, with some invoices for the year still unprocessed. Some of that total is for hardware, Internet access and travel, a Wau Holland spokesman said. But a big factor in the leap is a recent decision to begin paying salaries to staff.

WikiLeaks had also allegedly promised to contribute half of the estimated $100,000 it will cost for the legal defense of Bradley Manning. Recently, however, a WikiLeaks spokesman said it would only donate around $20,000.

As of the writing of this report, it had still not contributed the funds. The Wau Holland Foundation is awaiting advice from its lawyers on whether the donation would be legal under German law, a spokesman told the Journal.

There is more detail at the Joe Moneybags Newsletter:

On the fundraising front, Mr. Assange in August said WikiLeaks had raised about $1 million (€763,000) since the beginning of 2010. He said the group got about half of its money from modest donations via its website, and the rest from “personal contacts,” including wealthy donors who give tens of thousands of dollars.

Much of this money was donated to the WikiLeaks account at the Wau Holland Foundation, Mr. Fulda said.

That last sentence is the part that triggers my bullshit detector. That’s a huge loophole in this story.

This isn’t WikiLeaks opening it’s books. This is an organization that collects SOME of the donations to WikiLeaks and supposedly pays all their bills. Mr. Fulda may be 100% honest, but where did he get his information? How does he know how much money was donated via other avenues?

A couple other things bother me. WikiLeaks profile has skyrocketed since August, but their receipts have gone down? How much money has been contributed to Assange’s legal defense fund? Who controls it?

Who is paying Assange’s living expenses? He doesn’t seem to pay for anything, he gets his fan club to support him. According to the Guardian he was staying rent free at Woman #1′s apartment and he got Woman #2 to pay for movie and train tickets. He’s staying in a mansion on a 300 acre estate right now.

I remain skeptical.

One last note – just because I don’t trust WikiLeaks doesn’t mean I trust the government. It’s not either/or.

Progressives say that right-wingers are paranoid. I don’t think progressives are paranoid enough.



The Cult of Assange


Michael Lind at Salon:

An invisible, stateless, global Panopticon, manned by hidden zealots subjecting everyone in every country to potential surveillance and public humiliation, is a Foucaultian nightmare. Here is the creepy message sent to Wired magazine before a wave of criminal cyber-attacks launched by supporters of Assange:

We are the clear logic used to unveil wrongdoing. The general public, clouded by misleading information mostly by the media with a political agenda, fails to see and understand this wrongdoing. Because of this, those who do the wrongdoing escape unpunished. Anonymous is here to ensure punishment does not go unserved to those who deserve it.

The masked vigilante Batman could not have put it better, in a note to the citizens of Gotham City. This juvenile posturing is worthy of the Symbionese Liberation Army or Subcommandante Marcos or the Unabomber. Or Julian Assange in his online anarcho-libertarian manifesto, according to which all public and private organizations are authoritarian conspiracies — except, of course, for his own organization.

Like other illiberal sects, the cult of Assange rationalizes its contempt for law and ordinary politics by dismissing the “general public” as passive fools brainwashed by the “media with a political agenda.” So much for democracy.

As in other forms of anti-liberal thought, like anarchism and fascism and Marxism-Leninism and radical Islamism, the central idea of cyber-anarchism is that society must be saved by a self-appointed vanguard of vigilantes who themselves are above the law and whose motives are beyond question: “Anonymous is here to ensure punishment does not go unserved to those who deserve it.” So much for liberalism, which dreads arbitrary power, fears hero worship and assumes that charismatic rebels as well as bureaucratic authorities are likely to be fallible, biased and corrupt.

Cult-like political and intellectual movements can be identified by their nonfalsifiability. Cultists deflect criticism by defaming critics. If you criticize Freudianism, you must be sexually repressed. If you criticize Marxism, you must be bourgeois or brainwashed by the bourgeoisie. If you criticize WikiLeaks, as I have done, you must be an agent of the authoritarian “national security state” or its brainwashed dupe. According to Assange himself, Mastercard, PayPal and Visa, which have refused to process money for WikiLeaks, are “instruments of U.S. foreign policy.” By the logic of the cult, the two Swedish women who have accused Julian Assange of sexual abuse can only be part of a global conspiracy at the highest levels to bring him down. The Birthers and Birchers and Truthers now have company.

I’m not going to add anything. Res ipsa loquitur. Let me just repeat this one sentence:

If you criticize WikiLeaks, as I have done, you must be an agent of the authoritarian “national security state” or its brainwashed dupe.


Assange lashes out


The Christian Science Monitor:

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder compared to terrorists by Vice President Joe Biden, to Thomas Jefferson by the activist-journalist John Pilger, and to Martin Luther King by himself, went on the offensive today against, well, everyone.

In a series of interviews, he lashed out at the Guardian newspaper, one of his closest collaborators in the controlled release of the trove of US diplomatic cables that has infuriated Mr. Biden and many others in the US government. The Guardian and a few other news outlets were given the full data dump, while the number of cables provided to the public so far remains below 2,000.

Mr. Assange told The Times of London that two women who have accused him of rape in Sweden were probably motivated by a desire for revenge or money. He also told the BBC that he was fighting extradition to Sweden because he could expect “no natural justice” there.

[...]

Assange’s falling out with former allies may come as little surprise to many who have worked closely with him. Former WikiLeaks No. 2 Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who formerly went by the pseudonym Daniel Schmitt until breaking with the group earlier this year, has described Assange as “dictatorial” and has said he’s creating a rival group dedicated to releasing government secrets in a more open and transparent manner.

While plumbing Assange’s motivations has become a cottage industry for journalists and pundits, perhaps his most interesting comments published today were aimed at the Guardian. In an interview with the rival paper The Times, his primary complaint seemed to be that the paper had published a leak. About him.

Assange complained that confidential documents about his rape accusations were leaked to the Guardian, that the paper used the information “selectively,” and that it was published as part of an effort to convince a British judge not to grant him bail on Dec. 16.

“The leak of the police report to the Guardian was clearly designed to undermine my bail application,” Assange told The Times. “It was timed to come up on the desk of the judge that morning…. The leak was clearly designed to undermine my bail application … someone in authority clearly intended to keep Julian in prison,” he told the paper, referring to himself in the third person.

The Guardian, for its part, says no documents were leaked to it, though it was allowed to read some of the documents pertaining to his case. The paper says it only published a story with that information after his bail was granted Dec. 16. On his Twitter feed, the Guardian’s David Leigh, who leads the paper’s team combing through the 250,000 US embassy cables provided by Assange, dripped with sarcasm.

“The Guardian published too many leaks for Assange’s liking, it seems,” Mr. Leigh wrote. “So now he’s signed up ‘exclusively’ with Murdoch’s Times. Gosh.” Australian-American media titan Rupert Murdoch owns The Times.

Nick Davies, the Guardian reporter who first reached out to Assange over the summer and suggested he collaborate with established news outlets, also appears to have soured on Assange. “Assange finally admits ‘no evidence of honeytrap’ on Swedish sex claims but does not apologise for misleading the world,” he wrote, referring to sexual assault allegations leveled against Assange.

Jeebus, what a piece of work! This guy reminds me of Obama – fanatical followers and the more I learn about him the less I like.

Here’s another interview:

Continue reading

NYT concedes the case against Assange “less flawed” than his supporters have claimed (UPDATED)


Swedish Police Report Details Case Against Assange

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who was released from a British jail late last week, is facing a new challenge: the leak of a 68-page confidential Swedish police report that sheds new light on the allegations of sexual misconduct that led to Mr. Assange’s legal troubles.

[...]

But the details in the police report and dozens of interviews in recent months with people in Sweden linked to the case suggest that the Swedish case could be less flawed than Mr. Assange’s supporters have claimed. As for the prosecutors’ actions, interviews with legal experts suggest that it would not be abnormal for such a high-level case to move up the hierarchy of prosecutors, with disagreements over how to apply Sweden’s finely calibrated laws on sexual misconduct.

[...]

After the two women were interviewed at the police station, prosecutors issued an arrest warrant within hours. Mr. Assange said at the time he did not know who his accusers were. “Their identities have been made anonymous so even I have no idea who they are,” he said to the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.

The police report quotes lengthy passages from Mr. Assange’s interview with investigators, which occurred when he voluntarily submitted to questioning in Stockholm, before the prosecutors’ office allowed him to return to Britain. Throughout the interview, he insisted that he had committed no offenses in his sexual encounters with the two women, while declining in many instances to respond to detailed police questioning about sexual details. Speaking of his relationship with Ms. A, the report quoted him as saying that “I had no reason to suspect that I would be accused of something like this.” He added that the complaints made against him included “a number of false statements” and “a bunch of incredible lies.”

Mr. Assange’s suspicions of political interference in the case were confirmed, he has said in recent days, by the decision of the Swedish prosecutors to drop the initial arrest warrant, and to downgrade the investigation to one of “molestation,” a minor offense. Those decisions were reversed in late August when the chief state prosecutor, Marianne Ny, overruling a subordinate prosecutor in Stockholm, Eva Finne, restored the original allegations, saying that rape was the appropriate charge for the evidence on file with the prosecutors.

Legal experts in Sweden have said that the decision was not unusual given the success that the women’s movement in Sweden has had over the last 30 years in recasting Sweden’s criminal laws on sexual issues, making them extremely protective of women’s rights.

There is a lot more and everyone should read it. But for anyone who thinks extradition to Sweden is just a ploy to allow the United States to grab Assange, there is this story:

There is a consensus growing among US constitutional lawyers and others, while rehearsing all the problems attached to bringing a prosecution, that Assange will be indicted. But they doubt the chances of obtaining his extradition from Britain, and they think it will be harder still should he be sent to Sweden.

There is no “lynch mob” after Julian Assange. He is currently free on bail and staying in a mansion pending an extradition hearing. Assange, his team of lawyers and his supporters claim the case against him is a “bunch of hooey” but he sure isn’t eager to get into court and prove it.


UPDATE:

Lawyers cry foul over leak of Julian Assange sex-case papers

LAWYERS for Julian Assange have expressed anger about an alleged smear campaign against the Australian WikiLeaks founder.

Incriminating police files were published in the British newspaper that has used him as its source for hundreds of leaked US embassy cables.

In a move that surprised many of Mr Assange’s closest supporters on Saturday, The Guardian newspaper published previously unseen police documents that accused Mr Assange in graphic detail of sexually assaulting two Swedish women. One witness is said to have stated: “Not only had it been the world’s worst screw, it had also been violent.”

Bjorn Hurtig, Mr Assange’s Swedish lawyer, said he would lodge a formal complaint to the authorities and ask them to investigate how such sensitive police material leaked into the public domain. “It is with great concern that I hear about this because it puts Julian and his defence in a bad position,” he told a colleague.


Hey! We’re the only ones who can leak stuff to the media!

I guess somebody must have leaked the information. Leaks are good, right?



Anti-establishment hero or rapist?


The Guardian has more information on the allegations against Julian Assange:

The allegations centre on a 10-day period after Assange flew into Stockholm on Wednesday 11 August. One of the women, named in court as Miss A, told police that she had arranged Assange’s trip to Sweden, and let him stay in her flat because she was due to be away. She returned early, on Friday 13 August, after which the pair went for a meal and then returned to her flat.

Her account to police, which Assange disputes, stated that he began stroking her leg as they drank tea, before he pulled off her clothes and snapped a necklace that she was wearing. According to her statement she “tried to put on some articles of clothing as it was going too quickly and uncomfortably but Assange ripped them off again”. Miss A told police that she didn’t want to go any further “but that it was too late to stop Assange as she had gone along with it so far”, and so she allowed him to undress her.

According to the statement, Miss A then realised he was trying to have unprotected sex with her. She told police that she had tried a number of times to reach for a condom but Assange had stopped her by holding her arms and pinning her legs. The statement records Miss A describing how Assange then released her arms and agreed to use a condom, but she told the police that at some stage Assange had “done something” with the condom that resulted in it becoming ripped, and ejaculated without withdrawing.

[...]

The following day, Miss W phoned Assange and arranged to meet him late in the evening, according to her statement. The pair went back to her flat in Enkoping, near Stockholm. Miss W told police that though they started to have sex, Assange had not wanted to wear a condom, and she had moved away because she had not wanted unprotected sex. Assange had then lost interest, she said, and fallen asleep. However, during the night, they had both woken up and had sex at least once when “he agreed unwillingly to use a condom”.

Early the next morning, Miss W told police, she had gone to buy breakfast before getting back into bed and falling asleep beside Assange. She had awoken to find him having sex with her, she said, but when she asked whether he was wearing a condom he said no. “According to her statement, she said: ‘You better not have HIV’ and he answered: ‘Of course not,’ ” but “she couldn’t be bothered to tell him one more time because she had been going on about the condom all night. She had never had unprotected sex before.”

[...]

On Wednesday 18 August, according to police records, Miss A told Harold and a friend that Assange would not leave her flat and was sleeping in her bed, although she was not having sex with him and he spent most of the night sitting with his computer. Harold told police he had asked Assange why he was refusing to leave the flat and that Assange had said he was very surprised, because Miss A had not asked him to leave. Miss A says she spent Wednesday night on a mattress and then moved to a friend’s flat so she did not have to be near him. She told police that Assange had continued to make sexual advances to her every day after they slept together and on Wednesday 18 August had approached her, naked from the waist down, and rubbed himself against her.

There is a lot more. Regardless of whether you believe Assange is guilty or innocent you should read it all. But here is a money quote:

The co-ordinator of the WikiLeaks group in Stockholm, who is a close colleague of Assange and who also knows both women, told the Guardian: “This is a normal police investigation. Let the police find out what actually happened. Of course, the enemies of WikiLeaks may try to use this, but it begins with the two women and Julian. It is not the CIA sending a woman in a short skirt.”

For those of you who think this is a lynch mob, think again. The two women in this case have had their names, photographs, addresses, phone numbers and other personal information posted around the internet. They have been accused of being everything from vengeful sluts to spies. That is wrong.

The article explains the timing of a allegations against Assange – it was based on when the alleged sexual assaults occurred. A legal process has been initiated and while Assange remains innocent until proven guilty, he has thus far tried to avoid the law.

Yes, he did “turn himself in” when Interpol issued a warrant for his arrest. But he did so in England and he is fighting extradition to Sweden where the crimes allegedly occurred.

I have yet to hear a rational and reasonable argument for Assange to be fighting extradition. Sweden is hardly some puppet government that can be counted on to railroad Assange on CIA orders.

Generally the only reasons to fight extradition are a claim of wrong identity or the lack of jurisdiction. Neither of those apply here.

The other possibility is where the suspect has reason to fear persecution on account of their membership of a social group or political beliefs. I’m sure that is what Assange will claim.

But Assange doesn’t get to litigate the allegations from England. If the warrant is deemed valid he should be turned over to Swedish authorities.

And while Assange has been exercising his right to remain silent, his lawyers have been spreading misinformation about the case. “Sex by surprise” and sex without a condom are not crimes in Sweden. Sex without consent is a crime.

We should all be wishing for this matter to be resolved as soon as possible. The truth is what it is, and let the chips fall as they may.


NOTE:

The comments here and at other blogs on this issue have been getting overly heated.

While I tend to believe the stories of the two women in this case, that is just my opinion and others will surely disagree. But regardless of your opinions I am assuming all the regulars here are a people of good character and not dupes or rape apologists.

Feel free to disagree with me and each other, but please keep it polite and don’t make it personal.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 413 other followers