Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Keith Olbermann: "I am Not a Rape Apologist"

So yes, Keith Olbermann had a chit chit with Michael Moore the other night and Moore described Julian Assange's sexual assault charges in a very incredible, not at all good way! Now it's war, reasonably—spearheaded by Awl pal Sady Doyle on behalf of, you know, women who press rape charges and are met with scorn, suspicion and undermining—with Olbermann totally unwilling to understand why people are upset.

.@KeithOlbermann You have 166,512 followers. You exposed the names of rape accusers & lied about those women to all of them. Rape apologism.Thu Dec 16 05:08:53 via web

@KeithOlbermann if your position is "none of us knows" why did you allow @mmflint, unchallenged, to call the accusations "a bunch of hooey"?Thu Dec 16 06:37:14 via web

This will go on today.

In any event, Julian Assange's bail was granted and then denied by a higher court:

In dismissing the appeal by prosecutors, the judge said he also accepted arguments by the prosecution that many of those who were posting bail for Mr. Assange were doing so because they supported WikiLeaks and might regard “absconding as a right and justified act” to keep the beleaguered Web site running.

44 Comments / Post A Comment

Abe Sauer (#148)

Oh, here is some background. Add Holocaust denial to this shit stew.

KarenUhOh (#19)

It's comforting to know that, in the midst of this acutely discomfiting–no, agonizing–situation, Keith Olbermann can maintain focus on his reputation.

Smitros (#5,315)

Given that it's the only thing rape apologist Keith Olbermann does focus on, he should be pretty good at it by now.

barnhouse (#1,326)

I don't condone Moore's rhetoric but there's no question that many many people would tell lies, and would pay others to tell lies, to put Assange in jail.

IBentMyWookie (#133)


melis (#1,854)

I see what you did there.

Daniel Sargeant (#7,340)

So then you get to question four and it's this gut-punch of perfect emotion that encapsulates your thoughts on all this better than you ever could have.

conklin (#364)

Is it really so hard to let him go back to Sweden to face those charges, and save all the moral outrage (and legal defense money) for his inevitable extradition to the US? This doesn't even seem to require much nuance. Christ, everyone is terrible.

KarenUhOh (#19)

Exactly. While screamers conflate these scenarios–and who the hell knows if the Sweden charges are trumped up or not? For better or worse, that's why you have courts–there are two SEPARATE matters at play here.

It's entirely possible to deplore a rapist–if that's what he is–but defend him against extradition for some kind of miasmic "treason" charge in the U.S., masquerading as some kind of espionage rap?

barnhouse (#1,326)

@conklin @KUO just a question (I don't have strong convictions about this one way or the other, though I DO have strong convictions about accusing an Australian of "treason" to the US), supposing the rape charges are trumped-up and they are just looking for a way to lynch the guy. Will the Swedish courts play fair?

KarenUhOh (#19)

hi bh,

I know bupkus about Swedish courts. How they handle the sexual assault charges is their business. I suspect, though, that the strong arm of the U.S. will push the extradition, and we're a hard friend to say No to.

The interesting question, which may be what you've asked, and I'm just figuring it out, is: does a dismissal of the rape rap mean they cut the guy loose, on the premise he shouldn't have been there in the first place? Again, I don't know how they handle it over there, but I suspect it's, if you're here for one proceeding, you're here for any and all comers who have legal business with you.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@KUO not sure yet but I strongly suspect you are right. It's like they're the ones who are going to be holding him down. It won't help, either, because Wikileaks is not just one guy, and Openleaks is launching any minute. Meanwhile Bradley Manning is in solitary confinement 23 hours/day and will probably go to jail for about forever.

barnhouse (#1,326)

Hwa? His inevitable extradition to the US?! On what grounds? Unless they can prove he went out of his way to get Manning's information (and it in no way appears that he did,} there are no grounds.

conklin (#364)

Is there some awful history of Swedish injustice that I'm unaware of? As far as I can tell, the belief that something is amiss predicated entirely on:

(a) powerful people don't like Assange
(b) ladies ALWAYS be accusing bros of rape

Which isn't much, even by conspiracy theory standards. And I can see why people get "shrill" about (b).

As for his "inevitable extradition" that was some very dry sarcasm. At least the "inevitable" part. I don't think it's impossible he ends up in a US court. And I share your strong convictions about trying him for treason in the US.

IBentMyWookie (#133)

I'm not trying to make a Whoopi-style "rape-rape" argument. Were this a matter of non-consensual sex, then of course I could see the outrage over names being revealed, as well as the relevance of citing statistics attesting to the non-reportage of cases and the low conviction rates. But there is nothing to suggest a lack of consent in these cases and to use language and imagery that evokes scenes of women being held down and penetrated against their will is both disingenous and wrong-headed. That's simply not what the complainants are alleging. Moreover, this bullshit about this being activism? Christ in heaven. You want to do something about crimes against women not being taken seriously, about convicted rapists being granted parole, about non-reportage of rapes? THEN FUCKING DO SOMETHING. Creating a hashtag is slightly more useful than painting your toenails, except that the latter looks fucking adorable and the former means you're a twat of the highest order.

So holding someone down and penetration while someone is asleep is "consensual," got it.

saythatscool (#101)

@Butterscotch: I don't want to start a shitstorm here but to date absolutely nobody can tell me how the mechanics of that second accuser's story work. The allegations specifically are hat he was "having sex with a second woman, Miss W, on August 17 without a condom while she was asleep."

No explanation that she woke up or how she realized afterward he had penetrated her while she was asleep. Despite the indictment being dozens of pages, that's the only detail given about the second incident.
So doesn't that strike you as a little odd?

@stc: If you woke up with somebody's dick inside you, would you call that rape?

saythatscool (#101)

@Butterscotch: It depends on the situation, see my example above. Still though, where do you see that part of Ms. W's story where she alleges that she woke up with Assange's penis in her?
My point is, how did she know? That's something prosecutors put into an indictment to demonstrate to the public (and here the world) that they have a good faith claim of the law being broken.

@stc: I'm just offering a commonsense interpretation, I haven't seem the documents presented to the court. If that's all there was, then you definitely have a valid point.

kpants (#719)

Non-consensual sex is rape. And there is more a disingenous suggestion of a lack of consent. These are the actual allegations from Swedish authorities:

"Gemma Lindfield, representing the Swedish authorities, told the court he was wanted in connection with four allegations.
The first complainant, a Miss A, said she was the victim of 'unlawful coercion' on the night of 14 August in Stockholm. The court heard Assange was alleged to have 'forcefully' held her arms and used his bodyweight to hold her down. The second charge alleged he 'sexually molested' her by having sex without using a condom, when it was her 'express wish' that one should be used.
A third charge claimed Assange 'deliberately molested' Miss A on 18 August.
A fourth charge, relating to a Miss W, alleged that on 17 August, he 'improperly exploited' the fact she was asleep to have sex with her without a condom."

IBentMyWookie (#133)

And then she took him out for breakfast the next morning. The various reports just don't add up, which is not to say that it's impossible that a crime occurred; rather that it's too early to label skeptics of these claims as "apologists"

kpants (#719)

They are not being labeled apologists for being skeptical – withholding judgment because innocence until proven guilty is still a valued practice. What many of those being critical of Moore, et al, are suggesting is that one can be skeptical without either misrepresenting or vocally being ignorant of the actual allegations. Moore, et al, could also have drawn attention to the sudden intensity and urgency of the Interpol search, questioned its motivations, yet still have withheld his flippantly negative public judgments on the motivations of the complainants or the validity of the charges. But that is not what happened, which is the kernel of the twitter hashtag campaign.

saythatscool (#101)

@kpants: "Non-consensual sex is rape" That's simply not true.

In some states, it is NOT illegal for a spouse to engage in sexual intercourse with the other spouse WITHOUT consent.

This distinguishes from sexual encounters between those who are not married where sex without consent is illegal.

An example would be where one partner was too drunk to legally consent. If the parties were not married, this would technically be sex without consent and thus illegal.

If they were married, the sexual contact must be AGAINST consent not merely without it. Consent is implied in intoxicated cases between married people. But if you aren’t married to your partner, and they are too drunk to consent, then it's rape (or sexual assault).

In Sweden, the statutory definition of rape agrees with the ethical definition.

saythatscool (#101)

@Butter: You are probably right about Sweden (I don't know what their laws are). But I find this case utterly bizarre. And I'm not sure if Assange will be found guilty or not, but I agree with Karen that you have to let the court resolve it and fight each issue separately. Right now, it seem to me that the court will probably extradite him. Who knows if he'll be around to oblige though?

barnhouse (#1,326)

@conklin oh, okay. Well though, the (a) factor in this case is beyond compelling. I don't know about you, but I've been waiting for a takedown of Assange from the moment Wikileaks published the Collateral Murder video.

NinetyNine (#98)

He should hurry up and make a movie about the Holocaust. Then he can move to France indefinitely.

keisertroll (#1,117)

Was that a reference to Roman Polanski or Jerry Lewis?

Matt (#26)

Or make a movie about Scarlett Johansson having a career.

@kt: plus ça change…

MichelleDean (#7,041)

A propos various strains of discussion above: I think the issue here is not so much whether Assange is guilty or innocent of these charges, which NO ONE ON THE INTERNET KNOWS FOR SURE, and more about the media narrative that's developed around them. Said narrative is that these charges are clearly spurious and the women involved are automatically suspect because they've accused a guy who is doing something that a lot of people support. Logically speaking, that position doesn't hold much water. And I think a lot of commentators, Moore et Olbermann included, could be doing a lot better job of voicing their very legitimate concerns about pressure on Interpol to pursue here while separating them from dismissively speculating on the (very hazily reported) particulars of the accusations.

barnhouse (#1,326)

It's kind of opposite, I reckon; the accusers are suspect not because they are charging the popular Assange, but because the Man has been calling for Assange's head for months, and now Assange is suddenly and conveniently accused of a serious crime that has the additional benefit, to the Man, of destroying his character if he is convicted. I hasten to add, I don't know a thing about the legitimacy or otherwise of the charges. I'm just tracing the media skepticism, which is understandable.

MichelleDean (#7,041)

I don't think the media skepticism of the charges is understandable, on whatever grounds it may be based. No one seems to know enough about the facts to pronounce intelligently. I think media skepticism of the zeal of the prosecution is understandable. But that is a different issue, and one people are not doing a very good job of slicing correctly.

conklin (#364)

I think some people might be intentionally fuzzying up the distinction you make because "Prevent Julian Assange from being pursued more aggressively than the typical accused rapist!" would perhaps be the least-sympathetic social justice campaign ever.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@conklin much agreed. Do you really suppose for two seconds that such a rumpus would have been made by the Swedish authorities over a regular Australian guy now in England and facing charges like these? I suspect no way; a question well worth posing to a Swedish lawyer or two.

Leon (#6,596)

I think i'm seeing a lot of this awful attitude I used to have as a teenager in all of this stuff…there is something about being a dude (and yes, I mean 'person with a cock') who is hell-bent on saving the world which I think is often accompanied by a strong dose of paternalism / misogyny. I don't know why, but I feel like, as I've gotten more mellow, I realize that there is, while no reason they have to be shared, this common cluster of traits where people who should be nice, smart dudes end up being intelligent pricks who don't listen, and they are trying to do the right thing but oh my gosh in what a horrible way, and they are clique-ish and hate everyone who is not just with them and….basically, I think a lot of hardcore JA supporters are like, stereotypical image of 'frat boys', except they hate frats, and instead of plastic cups of flat beer they are drinking the kool-aid at Castro Che Omega House.

saythatscool (#101)

Well said.

carpetblogger (#306)

Leon Saint-Jean is becoming my favorite +5000 commenter.

Matt Cornell (#8,797)

Doyle's #mooreandme campaign is a good corrective to the rape apologist rhetoric surrounding the Assange allegations. But Doyle herself goes far beyond this, asserting that Assange is 92% likely to be a rapist. This too, isn't very helpful. More here:

barnhouse (#1,326)

Holy mackerel.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

I actually said somewhere that I would "eat my hat" if the charges against Assange were true. That was before I found out that the charges were something like a year old. So, wow, split reevaluation time: on the one hand, there is now every reason to treat these accusations and the accusers with respect; on the other hand, after a year of considering the charges not worth pursuing, suddenly the dude is PUBLIC ENEMY OF SWEDISH LADIES NUMBER ONE.

I think there is a lot of misdirected ire at the accusers from people (ok, let's be honest: men, mostly) who, like me, thought the accusations suddenly popped up out of nowhere. The idea that if you piss off the wrong person you might be wrongly accused of rape is a pretty goddamn terrifying scenario! But the timeline makes it pretty clear that this is VERY unlikely to be the case.

What IS so likely that you might as well consider it a certainty is that these accusations have been caught up in an attempt by authorities to deal with someone that threatens them. And having such an intensely personal issue turned into a worldwide news story to make you a stranger's political tool is also FUCKING TERRIFYING.

So, to put this as simply as possible: all ire should be directed at the authorities, who are TERRIFYING to EVERYBODY.

Matt Cornell (#8,797)

The charges aren't "a year old." The events in dispute happened in August of this year.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@DoctorDisaster Please compare these two articles by Mark Hosenball, a veteran reporter who has been covering the Wikileaks story for many moons. "Is Wikileaks Too Full of Itself?", from Newsweek, August 2010;

"Swedish women did not want Assange charged", Reuters, December 8, 2010.

So. In short, I completely agree with your concluding sentence, there.

Post a Comment