Amanda Marcotte writes:
When Julian Assange, the editor of WikiLeaks, was targeted for arrest by Interpol in late November, the right-wing British tabloid the Daily Mail was first on the scene with a widely linked but error-ridden article about the charges. The Daily Mail characterized Sweden’s rape laws as those of a radical feminist dystopia, where men can be thrown in jail for consensual sex that doesn’t involve a condom, and the police file rape charges on behalf of women upset that a phone call didn’t follow a one-night stand.
The falsehoods quickly spread in part because many liberals invested in protecting WikiLeaks were eager to find ways to discredit the allegations, even if that meant characterizing the female accusers as hysterics and liars. Michael Moore went on Keith Olbermann’s show and claimed, falsely, that Sweden would charge a man for sexual assault for consensual sex involving an accidentally broken condom. Feminist writer Naomi Wolf mocked the accusers, claiming that Assange’s “crime” was merely dating multiple women at once.
In the initial days after Assange’s arrest, when there was little solid information beyond the tabloids about what exactly the Swedish government may charge him with, some of the reaction was perhaps understandable. To a degree, even Slate’s DoubleX podcast repeated the Daily Mail’s misinformation. But as of Dec. 17, there has been no excuse. At that point, the Guardian obtained the depositions taken by Swedish police from the alleged victims. In these documents, one of the women alleges that Assange behaved threateningly with her and held her down to prevent her from reaching for a condom. He did end up wearing one, but she thinks he ripped it and deliberately ejaculated inside her. He also later rubbed up against her with his pants off, she says, against her will. The other alleged victim claims that she struggled with Assange over the condom all night, had consensual sex with him when he finally put it on, and then woke up later in the night to find Assange having sex with her, without her consent and without a condom. In my personal and professional experience with rape, these kinds of allegations are both credible and common. It’s a bad idea to forget that, even when the alleged bad guy is a leftist hero.