Craig Murray, Naomi Wolf And Rape Anonymity

A cynic should never be surprised, but I was, once.

When I first read Craig Murray’s awful blog I was astonished at the vitriol within the comment boxes aimed at Julian Assange’s victims.

I suppose I expected an ex-diplomat to have more decency, commonsense and empathy, but it’s fairly apparent that it is no holds barred when it comes to Murray’s support of Assange. Murray goes into gruesome details (and no, I am not linking to his misogynist filth). The whole shooting match, questioning the victims statements, giving their names out, all of the grim details.

Murray takes sneering almost to Olympic levels, as only the English upper-class and Oxbridge types can do.

Louise McCudden in the Indy looks at some of the issues:

“Of course you have a right to legal retribution if your anonymity is violated but when a search for your name in Google brings up results like ‘Slut of the Year’, then what consolation is it?

Wolf’s reasoning for removing the right to anonymity, as she explained in a live chat with Mumsnet, is that granting anonymity to the victim implies it is he or she who has something to feel shame over, not the rapist. That’s fair. Indeed, being able to stand up say ‘stop’ with your own voice can be a powerful thing. Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s accuser waived her right to anonymity so she could do just that.

But Wolf’s solution seems to assume you can create the world you’d like to see by acting as if you already live in it. Nafissatou Diallo didn’t waive her right to anonymity in the Strauss-Khan case because anonymity itself was making the case difficult for her. Diallo had already been named in the French press. She says she had to give up her anonymity in order to adequately defend herself against counter-accusations and gossip. It’s that process of putting the alleged victim on trial, often for things which are irrelevant to the incident in question, which need fixing to end the shaming of victims, not the right to anonymity. “

Assange Apologists Don’t Like The Debate

Aside from old men, Galloway, Pilger and Benn there are some Julian Assange supporters that don’t like the type of debate, which his conduct has brought about.

One such is at the Loud mouth collective’s Don’t Call Me A Rape Apologist.

The arguments put forward are fairly feeble, involve special pleading and an almost Brendan O’Neill grasp of rape law.

I thought the comment by Rev Magdalen particularly good:

“Assange is the subject of a legal prosecution for allegations of rape. People judging the merits of the accusations based on what they’ve read on the internet are called “rape apologists” because making that judgement call means accepting the idea that public opinion, not a court, should determine the facts of the matter. That minimizes rape as a crime, as if it doesn’t need a court proceeding to assess.

Taking rape seriously means supporting the idea that every rape accusation should be heard in a court of law, not just have its details pored over by the public, as if it’s something anyone could judge from home by reading blogs and witness statements, without actually talking to the alleged victims or having forensic training. It means respecting that these allegations about Assange are being examined by a court and due process should go forward the same as for any such accusation, regardless of who is accused or what their defense team claims is the truth.

Assange may well be innocent. If you’re correct that the woman who’s allegedly his victim denies she was raped, he could call her to the stand and have her say so. What better way to prove the prosecution was biased and politically motivated? If he’d done that immediately, this whole matter would be nothing more than a tiny footnote by now, not the major issue causing speculation that the entire WikiLeaks organization will fail because its head refuses to step down to take care of his personal legal trouble.

As for asking for an advance guarantee against extradition to the USA for any and all possible future charges, Swedish law professors don’t agree it’s possible. Sweden’s government could veto any extradition to America after its courts have weighed in about it, but the government can’t say in advance that no matter what the courts decide, it is going to ignore them and make a predetermined decision, based on the identity of the accused. The central point of the rule of law (rather than rule by whim of a dictator) is that each case is judged on its merits, not on who the accused is.

Assange should take comfort that even if he’s charged with assisting Bradley Manning in hacking Army computers, Sweden would likely consider that a “political offense,” which its treaty explicitly exempts from extradition.

Assange And Sleeping People Cannot Consent

Vera Baird deals with the idiocy of men pronouncing on what they think is and isn’t rape, particularly in defence of Julian Assange:

“Sleeping people cannot consent and what reasonable person could think that they can?

What has been discussed is some presumption of ongoing consent from earlier consensual sex but that is untenable since nobody can tell from a sleeping person whether they do or do not want to repeat the experience.

None of this affects the consensual nature of the earlier sex. “

Wonderful reasoning, but I doubt that will convince the army of apologists and misogynists that excuse Assange’s conduct.

Not forgetting Ellie Cumbo On Brendan O’Neill’s Gallowayism contribution.

Ellie Cumbo On Brendan O’Neill’s Gallowayism

This is a lovely put down of the stupid contribution by Brendan O’Neill:

“Is the law a matter of fact or opinion? Today, Brendan O’ Neill followed George Galloway, John Pilger, and Tony Benn to become the latest non-lawyer to offer up his understanding of the law on rape. He’s also the latest to get it wrong, and he probably won’t be the last.

In absolute truth, the law on a particular issue at any given time can be fuzzy. Our legal system regularly relies on the higher courts to bring clarity where what exists is anything but: badly-written Acts of Parliament, a glut of past rulings recent and ancient, and a nebulous sense of how certain words and phrases would now be commonly understood. This is why controversial cases often appear to result in judges changing the law, when what they are seeking to do is just to tidy up an incomprehensible mess.

But O’Neill has fatally misunderstood what is meant by the word “intent” in context – despite the fact it is set out in the very Act of Parliament he quotes, the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Rape is made out where the accused “does not reasonable believe” the other person consents. In other words, if the accused truly believed that there was consent, but the court held that belief to be unreasonable (for example because it was based on what the complainant was wearing), the accused would still be found guilty. O’Neill’s statement that “the man must know that there is no consent… must not believe that consent is present, and therefore must know that it is absent” is, then, straightforwardly untrue.

As the CPS indicates in the publicly-available legal guidance that O’Neill appears not to have bothered reading, this was a major and quite deliberate Parliamentary change to the law that existed before 2003, under which an honest belief in consent, however unreasonable, negated the offence. But frankly, we don’t need to go all the way to the CPS for this: it is so settled a legal principle that a first-year law student could probably reel it off in an instant. “