In dealing with the crime of rape, has ideology trumped reason? The accusations of two Swedish women against Wiki-leaker Julian Assange have been greeted with much derision and skepticism from both Left and Right. Now held by authorities in London as he tries to keep from being extradited to Sweden, Assange is crying foul. And in the confusion-befogged societal atmosphere now surrounding the issue of rape, he seems to have found a lot of friends.
“The nature of these charges has revived questions about where the law should draw the line between bad behavior and criminal acts,” writes Cathy Young in Thursday’s Real Clear Politics, “and whether the feminist rethinking of rape has made it easy for any man to be targeted.”
Though both alleged rapes began consensually, the women in question claim that after a point they became assaults. “The triviality of the offenses,” says Young, “is compounded by the women’s un-victim-like behavior afterward.” One woman had sex with Assange again, then actually threw him a party, while the other fixed him breakfast. “It was only when the women learned of his two-timing that they went to the police – initially intending to force him to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases.”
To spokesmen for the Right, like Glenn Beck, as well as to professional feminists on the Left such as Naomi Wolf, Assange is guilty mainly of being a cad, and of having done nothing worse than hurting the purported victims’ feelings. The Left has built Assange up as a crusader for freedom of speech – largely because of his willingness to damage U.S. and other western nations’ security (always a winning cause for them). Many on the Right, meanwhile, have a reflexive dislike of anything that smacks, to them, of feminism. This rare harmony between polar opposites may seem, to casual observers, like a group hug for Julian Assange.
Indeed, laws in Sweden regarding rape have resulted in a very slender conviction rate. The whole Assange mess should serve to remind Americans why we must not look to Europe to enlighten us on matters of politics or law. Nor are the two accusers very sympathetic. But the likability of either the accuser or the accused cannot be taken as the defining factor in any society that cares about justice. And if every court case is seen strictly as a battle in the war between Left and Right, then political gamesmanship has been allowed to completely curtail our commitment to law and order.