Photo by Espen Moe (espenmoe; Flickr CC)
It feels like an act of betrayal to bring it up, but for all you know, Julian Assange might be a rapist. No one knows, because he hasn't faced trial. That's the point of having a trial. Here's what his own lawyer said:
“[The complainant] was lying on her back and Assange was on top of her … [she] felt that Assange wanted to insert his penis into her vagina directly, which she did not want since he was not wearing a condom … she therefore tried to turn her hips and squeeze her legs together in order to avoid a penetration … [she] tried several times to reach for a condom, which Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs open and trying to penetrate her with his penis without using a condom. [She] says that she felt about to cry since she was held down and could not reach a condom and felt this could end badly.”
Obviously I'm not the first, or the most eloquent, person to point this out, but it's so depressing and sickening to see a popular leftist movement rallying around someone who might be a violent criminal, that you feel like it bears repeating.
Of course Assange has done good things. You might even say he's a hero. He helped make Wikileaks and uncovered a lot of US war crimes. That is good. But Wikileaks is still going even though he's been bunking in the Ecuadorean embassy for two months, and is now presumably waiting while they stitch together a mail bag big enough for him to be carried out in while the British police aren't looking. You might say he's betraying Wikileaks' own principles by taking shelter with a government that likes to deny its own people freedom of speech, but doesn't mind defending freedom of speech when it comes to internationally wanted rape suspects, but that's understandable. He's a desperate man who doesn't want to go to prison. Any port in a storm and all that.
But now for the Occupy movement to lend him its support just really takes the cake. It makes me feel extremely exasperated. One of the great things about Occupy – and the point of the Guy Fawkes mask thing – is that it has no leaders. It's been a hero-less movement, a real movement. Its "We are the 99 percent" slogan is as inclusive as it possibly can be – it's saying that we are all, even people with enough money for nice coffee and a modest DVD collection, being fucked every day of our lives by idiots who own 50 yachts and a polo club and despise us – and Occupy is all the stronger for it. For it now to start idolizing a very smug man who admits to forcing his penis into a woman who was asleep, well, really suggests the 99 percent have pretty low self-esteem. It's like Occupy has given up on humanity. Is Julian Assange really the best we've got? Really? Is he our hero? It's humiliating and desperate and sad.
To paraphrase Brecht's Life of Galileo:
"Pity the movement that has no heroes!"
"No. Pity the movement that needs heroes (who might be rapists)."
Occupy should be a LOT choosier.