Tuesday, August 21, 2012


You know, in the interest of fairness I wanted to take a minute and remind everyone that the Neanderthals on the right are by no means the only ones willing to claim that there are varying degrees of rape -- that some rape is really rape while other rape is, I don't know, like a warm bath on a cool autumn evening.

There are those on the left just as comfortable engaging in inexcusable and repulsive semantics when it comes time to defend someone they happen to think is serving the greater good.

To wit, Michael Moore, who, along with the equally offensive Oliver Stone, penned a long-winded op-ed in yesterday's New York Times that once again attempted to cast the rape case against the almost farcically pious Julian Assange as a conspiracy to quash free speech.

Adrian Chen over at Gawker shows Moore, Stone and their ilk the appropriate respect.

"That Assange is holed up in the embassy after seeking asylum in Ecuador to avoid two-year-old Swedish rape and sexual molestation accusations, not a U.S. government investigation, proved no obstacle: His supporters are now seized by one of their periodic spasms of delusional op-ed writing, blogging and tweeting in the hopes of throwing up a screen of bullshit thick enough to hide the fact that this is a very straightforward case of a dude allegedly being a sex creep...

Julian Assange's sex crimes case has nothing to do with free speech, or Wikileaks. Swedish prosecutors are not handling this case differently because it's Julian Assange. In fact slavish supporters like Michael Moore and Oliver Stone are the ones holding Assange to a different standard, one where it's OK to bend and break international law to aid an accused rapist's flight from justice, as long as he embarrassed the U.S. government once. "

By the way, the opening line of the op-ed, in which Moore and Stone immediately assert their hallowed cultural position as filmmakers, sounds far too much like another recent case of a bunch of pompous members of the self-appointed liberal intelligentsia rushing in to defend an Important Man from the ignorant heathens unjustly gathering at his doorstep and calling him a rapist.


JohnF said...

I read the Gawker piece. The comments immediately turned into a "when did Gawker become a mouthpiece for the Republican Party?" clusterfuck.

Is it really THAT impossible to believe Assange could be guilty? Even his own defense team makes it sound like there was rape.

Benjamin said...

One obvious difference, Chez - neither Stone nor Moore can set government policy. Rep. Akin is running for a Senate seat, and Reps. Ryan and Akin both sponsored Personhood bills in the House which were two steps away from becoming LAW. The GOP is adopting as an official part of their platform the abolition of abortion with no exceptions.

Michael Moore can bloviate all he wants, he's a pedantic prick (and I wonder sometimes at people who decry him one moment and lionize him the next, depending on which side of his gigantic ass he's speaking out of). The Peanut Gallery of the Left is totally capable of batshittery, absolutely. But I wouldn't go so far as to say there's any sort of equivalency here linking the leaders of the left and their erstwhile cheerleaders in the same way that the ass is wagging the dog over in the GOP.

pee ess - these are among the most opaque captchas in all of captchadom.

QuickBrownFox said...

Why this rubbish false equivalency?

Have Michael Moore or Oliver Stone recently run for/are planning to run for office? Find me a Democrat politician espousing such drivel.

Eric said...

Isn't there a profound difference between:

1) A statement that women have natural defenses against being impregnated during rape;

2) A statement that unproven rape allegations are part of some kind of global conspiracy to silence the accused;

3) A statement that a person should not be sentenced for a sex offense to which he freely plead guilty to because his artistic work supposedly outweighs any harms that he may have caused forty years ago by the criminal acts he plead to and by his subsequent flight from justice;

4) A statement that a specific person could not possibly be guilty of an alleged rape he denies committing because of his social or political status?

I think there's a false equivalency in comparing any and all of these things, actually. Statement number one is a blanket claim with no factual basis that attempts to slut shame rape victims by implying that victims who become pregnant weren't really raped. Statement number two is paranoid and concerns a number of unproven assertions and speculation, whether we're talking about what someone really did or didn't do (on the one side), or whether we're talking about the alleged motives of prosecutors and investigators (on the other). Statement three involves the declarant overlooking inconvenient facts and engaging in special pleading and asking for special treatment. Number four is elitist claptrap and involves a kind of appeal to accomplishment along with other fallacies.

It's possible that they all share one quality: there's some douchebaggery involved with all of the claims, yes. But to get to the real point, I don't think numbers one and two involve "inexcusable and repulsive semantics" at all: I think Todd Akin really does believe that women who are raped can't get pregnant and therefore a woman who claims she needs an abortion because she was raped is a liar and no "rape or incest" exception to an abortion ban can be justifiable, and I think Oliver Stone and Michael Moore really are paranoiacs who think that the investigation of Julian Assange is a byzantine international plot to discredit him and shut down Wikileaks by either marginalizing him and/or running him to ground somewhere that will extradite him to the United States where he can be indefinitely locked up pending prosecution for something-or-other.

So there's something else the apples and oranges have in common, I guess: they're fruit. Akin, Moore and Stone are all saying what they really think.

One other thing I might clarify before I go: I don't think the douchebags on the right are saying that some rape is really rape while other rape is something else. I think it's worse than that: I think they're saying there's only one kind of rape at all. I.e. there are rape victims and there are sluts who lie about being raped. Oh, and I suppose they would say there are also victims of incest who have special bundles of joy from God.

Personally, as much as I loathe defenses of Roman Polanski, I think there's a whole 'nother nadir of vileness you have to descend to to get where Akin is coming from. Polanski's advocates may argue whether Polanski really committed rape or just pleaded to a related charge to avoid being tried and convicted for rape, but I don't think they deny the existence of rape to the extent Akin does.

Chez said...

Sorry if I come off as terse, Benjamin, but Cesca decided to jump on me about the same thing over on Facebook -- drawing the dreaded false equivalence. Except that I didn't -- not by a long shot. Of course there's a huge difference between guys like Akin and Ryan, who directly affect policy, and an idiot like Moore who only thinks he does. My point was simply that, in the interest of intellectual honesty and a desire to not be the hypocrites I often accuse the right of, I want to at least try to point out when the sometime icons of the left and center-left do something really awful that we see being done on the right and which we label inexcusable. There's no equivalence here -- just a desire not to let ANYONE get away with saying something disgusting about rape.

Chez said...

Rubbish false equivalency. I know, QBF. God fucking forbid I attempt to hold everyone to the same standard, regardless of whether he can create policy or simply be allowed to inexplicably write for the New York Times.

JohnF said...

Michael Moore and Oliver Stone are not politicians and they cannot enact legislation, this is true. But what I think some of you are missing is that there are a lot of leftists out there who wish there were Democratic politicians who thought like Moore and Stone do. You won't find a credible Democratic politician who returns Oliver Stone's calls, but I'm sure Jane Hamsher wishes that politician existed.

I think that's the point Chez was making.

The scary thing about these Republican creeps is not that they exist, because there's crazy people all over the place. What's scary is that they were elected by actual human beings.

Mart said...

Being discovered as a two timing scumball does not necessarily make one a rapist. Agree this should be addressed in court, not in opinion pieces. I believe Assange said he would go to court if promised he would not have a connecting flight to the USA afterwards.


Julian Assange (JA), the head of Wikileaks, arrived in Sweden in August and stayed by invitation at the flat of the first complainant for a week, save for the night of 16th-17th August in which he stayed by invitation at the flat of the second complainant. On 20th August these complainants, who had the previous day discovered that he had slept with each of them, went to the police and a prosecutor formulated an offence of rape (in the case of the second complainant) and lesser offences of sexual assault (in the case of the first complainant).

Benjamin said...

One of your most admirable traits, Herr Pazienza, is that you are among the most rigorously intellectually honest people I've come into contact with. On twitter you called me out on my "Zimmerman racism" assumption due to a lack of factual knowledge (and listening to your show with Bob and the chaotic After Party (which is improving weekly, I might add) which follows in its wake, I'm coming to understand your reluctance to tag ANYONE with the "racist" moniker much better now) and I have to admit you were spot-on correct about it. I assumed nearly everything I had mentally assigned to the fact column, and that was simple intellectual laziness. You seem to try, as much as humanly possible (and I sometimes think perhaps you go too far in this regard), to live your life solely on a factual basis.

In that spirit, may I suggest that if you want to draw parallels between the left and the right, which I think is a fantastic idea, do so on an equal level. For example, it seems to me that a better person to compare Michael Moore to would be Glenn Beck : big wig, not in government, both hailed and reviled by his own side depending on whether or not the particular bit of vomitized flying fuckery from the peculiar matriculations of his internal crazy is palatable on any given day. Fucking hell I'd pay cash dollars to those two clowns in a cage match. I don't know who we pair Stone up with, but I wouldn't mind seeing him fight to the death with, oh say Meatloaf. Comedy gold, man.

However, and this is QBF's point, there simply isn't anyone in a position of actual, legislative leadership in the Democratic Party who can be categorically shown to be as batshit crazy as their equivalent from the Republican party, and that goes all the way to the top. You know this to be true, hell we all do. If we're going to be rigorous about it, let's make sure we're doing it right. I'm all in for calling out hypocrisy everywhere, and goodness knows the Democratic Party isn't a bastion of sanity and purity, but when comparing to the Republicans, let's compare apples to apples. Because at the end of the day, I'm a LOT less concerned with what some jagoff wrote for a newspaper than I am with what an elected official of the state does, and says he/she wants to do, with their power. Hold them both to the same standard, yes; point to them as equal transgressors, no.

Cesca is right about this, however - we on the left tend to beat ourselves up long before the Right has a chance to do so. I'm not saying introspection isn't worth doing, since if we don't police ourselves we become just like them - but I think there's a difference between policing your actions to make sure you aren't falling prey to the hubristic assumption that everything you are doing is correct, and automatically doubting everything you do on the off chance you might not somehow be 100% correct.

There, I think I've stolen pretty much from everyone else's comments. I have no original material of my own.

Eric said...

Nah, don't be too hard on yourself. I think the issue is holding everyone to the right standard. Oliver Stone is a hack, Michael Moore is a once-decent guy who's been breathing his fumes so long he's become a moron, that French philosopher who specializes in apologizing for Roman Polanski is a douchetard, Roman Polanski himself is an unbelievably brilliant director who unfortunately happens to be a child molester and sexual predator, that other French guy we're talking about (whose name I'm too lazy to try to spell correctly right now) is probably a rapist in spite of a few circumstantial problems with his accuser that might impede a successful prosecution, and Todd Akin is a first class evil misogynistic asshole.

We can still point fingers and spit, we just need to keep the whole taxonomy straight because we're all smart folks who aspire to something resembling integrity, right?

Anonymous said...

I'm not defending Todd Akin. Hell...the mindset he has to even think up that statement warrants chemical castration in some circles.

But like Chez is attempting to point out, idiocy is not a GOP monopoly. Case in point Cynthia McKinney.

This is a Representative that claimed the National Guard murdered 5,000 African Americans and dumped them in swamps following Katrina. Nothing helps a natural disaster like throwing racial tensions into the mix.

JohnF said...

I think another difference is that these crazies don't seem to stick around in the Democrat party for too long. Who's heard anything from Cynthia McKinney lately?
Whereas if you're that crazy in the Republican party, you're a big fucking hero.

Alexander Johannesen said...

Why is it that anytime sex is mentioned, Americans freak out?
I normally love and agree with you and what you write - including harsh critique and flailing proverbial arms - but this one is not one of them. The insanity of US politics on both sides of your false dichotomy aside, the question here isn't about rape charges in Sweden, no one's defending that. I'm quite confident that Assange wouldn't have a problem with going to Sweden and deal with this the proper way if it wasn't for the fact that the US most probably would have him extradited from Sweden. No, it isn't even a "probably", it's a "definitly"; Sweden has a bad track record with bowing to the US authorities or powerful corporations no matter what the law of the local country might be. That's what the whole issue really is.
Assange should not be - and I dare say, aren't - protected from rape charges. He's being protected from the US's idiotic stance on Assange's actions as unlawful in the eyes of the US for something that is legal elsewhere, and no one trusts the Swedes not to extradite (and rightly so; they're shitting their proverbial pants).
Is it unjust for a woman in Sweden who has her case open? Is it unjust for Assange to be sent to Sweden for something he might have done and then directly to the US for something else entirly that isn't illegal where he was at whatever time? Yes, on both.
This is not about fucking mincing semantics in definitions of rape (although if you follow the Swedish drama with a pinch more than news headlines, you'd raise a few eyebrows, I'm sure); it's about international politics and diplomacy, and the bullying position (again) of a big country with lots of power who didn't like what someone did, even if it was legal where that person was at the time.
The case could be split in two;
1) The rape charges in Sweden.
2) Extradition to the US.
No one is defending Assange to the former. No one is saying there was no rape, nor that there definitly was one. No one thinks that the first shouldn't be dealt with, to the law of where it's happened. No one wants to overlook the first, in fact, I dare say, everybody - including Assange himself - would like justice to take its cause. No one likes the unknown of the first, and want to see it through. No one is defining rape in any way to stop the first from being dealt with.
We're all concerned about the second. If the US - and all its citizens - cared about the justice of the first part, then fucking pull back the warrant on Assange; only then would justice actually happen, for both the victim in Sweden *and* Assange. In fact, I'm sure most of us would hail in Assange on his ass to the Swedes in a blink if we knew that justice indeed did stand a chance. But as it stands, that's not the case. *grumble*

Benjamin said...

Ah yes, Cynthia McKinney. She's an interesting cat. Her district is right next door to mine here in lamentably Hillbillical Georgia. IIRC she introduced articles of impeachment against Bush and Cheney, and gave those guys unmitigated hell over 9/11.

The idea that racial tensions weren't already in the mix WRT the absolutely fucking circus the Bush Administration made over Katrina's aftermath I find laughable - blaming McKinney for them absurd.

I don't say this to defend her weirdness, but look at her legislative goals and accomplishments and you'll find a lot of agitating on behalf of a LOT of people who really fucking needed it. Maybe it's just me, but I'll take that any day over Rapey McMisogynistPants.

Anonymous said...

Benjamin- Well you say that because you agree with some of her politics. Its easier to "stomach" nuts when you can rationalize some part of their platform. Everyone on the political spectrum does this. And I wasn't saying that racial tensions were not heated before, during, and after Katrina. But McKinney was doing the same exact thing as the "I'm not sure Obama is an American" assholes by giving credence to conspiracy and fears for political gain. She basically added gas to a fire for votes in her district. It was irresponsible.

Claude Weaver said...


Why is it when Americans talk about sex, some know-it-all European has to butt in and brag about how much more "mature" they are in the subject?

Sure, we do still have some puritanical holdovers. And the far right isn't doing any favors. But please stop trying to act like you are superior.

Fact of the matter is, Assange and Polanski are not embattled victims of a corrupt system. They tried to game the system, somebody didn't fall for it, and they ran. The only reason they are even in the positions they are in now is because they had the money and influence to go to a non-extradition area. If it was Jean-Claude Bumblefuque having done these things, nobody would give a shit about him.

Again, if the US really wanted Assange, they would have him. The warrant was put up because, regardless of how you feel about the information Assange posted, HE STILL POSTED CLASSIFIED INFO ON THE INTERNET. They can't just say "oh, you got us this time, ya rapscallion. Have a nice day!" The warrant is a placeholder to show the US does not approve of what he did, and they can't really rescind it, because that would give the impression that you can steal all the classified info you want, but as long as another country wants you for far worse, we won't touch you. You really think that the US wouldn't understand that Sweeden would want its pound of flesh first? Assange is using the warrant as a convenient excuse to avoid these other crimes.

Here is the thing that gets me about Assange, and by extension Polanski and Paterno: for guys who are so revered as role models (and in the case of Assange and Paterno, near-deified as the arbiters of truth and honor in a cynical world), these guys sure went through a lot of trouble and deceit to avoid being judged on some pretty nasty crimes. I would think that if these guys were as stand-up and honest as people make them out to be, they would stand trial ad show they had no fear of what would be brought against them, because they were in the right.

Hell, if Mandela could sit in jail for decades for his beliefs (and make no mistake, Mandela was one of those "terrorist or freedom fighter" types before going to jail on trumped up charges), why can't the rich old white guys?

Benjamin said...

Well, yes, Anonymous 8:07, that's my point. A) I'll take our crazies over theirs, and B) as JohnF says, our crazies don't tend to stay in the party for long. McKinney's antisemitic (and pro-Islam) stance didn't do her any favors even here in GA. If you're in favor of the political process doing what it's theoretically supposed to do, then in McKinney's case it certainly did.

Amusingly, according to McKinney's Wikipedia entry, Sarasota, FL has given her the keys to the city and April 8 was named her day. Huzzah!

Alexander Johannesen said...

@calude: "Why is it when Americans talk about sex, some know-it-all European has to butt in and brag about how much more "mature" they are in the subject?"


If you can point to where I bragged about anything I might take your point more seriously. Instead you chose to make up shit, and I've got low tolerance for that kind of bullshit, so I'm out of here.

Anonymous said...

Chez, there is no real evidence whatsoever that Assange really raped someone or comitted any sexual crime. what? because his rubber broke during intercourse? how does someone do that on purpose? what you really hate him for is for releasing "classified" information about the way the USA wants to act as the sheriff of the world. so forget about it, man. it has been a long time since you guys could play that role. and the US never had the right to do so, and yet you always did. So yeah, most of us in the third world think that Julian Assange is a pretty great guy, and he did us a service in denouncing yet this other sordid side of US foreign policy (not that we didn't already know, it was just a reminder). so fuck the US. we already hate you enough, leave the guy alone. or if he is guilty of any sexual crime let him be judged for that, and not because of the fact that everybody else in the world, except the US, knew that the US was a totally corrupt, totalitarian and warmongering nation! so think about that.

Anonymous said...

why is your premise that Assange raped or sexually abused anybody? there is no evidence of that. none. whatsoever. so why?

Anonymous said...

don't get me wrong. i love the US. i lived in Chicago for 5 years. it's one of my favorite cities in the world. so get out of this middle-age bullshit and own up to the status as the greatest nation in the world.
and that is refering to all the "anonymous" comments above.

Claude Weaver said...


When people start off a post saying that Americans "freak out" anytime sex in mentioned, that is making the assumption that a) ALL Americans are the same, and b) you, being non-American, cannot freak out about it. I find that condescending.

You follow it up by dismissing an entire argument over that line, which to me shows your contempt and self-perceived superiority. So by all means, depart. Wouldn't want to bore you with my "freakout"."


So your argument is "Assange is a nice guy that said fuck you to the big bad US, so why should we care if he maybe raped somebody?"

I'm sorry, but does anyone else see the hypocrisy here? You want to call out the US government for its wrongdoings and hold them to task, but you make excuses and dismiss arguments against one guy who happens to do something you like?

Why do your moral outrage and demands for taking responsibility and meetings standards stop at his door? If this guy is supposed to be so damn honest and trustworthy that he can call out the United States on its shit (and be honest, not a lot of countries can do that with impunity), why can't he face the music as a righteous man?

You keep acting like this guy is a martyr, but he isn't. He hasn't had to sacrifice a damn thing for his big whoop-dee-doo revelation. Other people paid for it. I can at least get the defense of Manning, even if I don't agree with its degree. But Assange? Really?

Marc McKenzie said...

@Benjamin: "One obvious difference, Chez - neither Stone nor Moore can set government policy."

That's true, Benjamin, but Assange's defenders are not limited to these two. Over in the UK, George Galloway is one of Assange's biggest defenders and is a member of Parliament.

Chez isn't the only one to point out the equivalency between Akins and Assange's defenders. They've been doing that over at Harry's Place (http://hurryupharry.org/) and also showing that far from a being a beacon of truth and justice and transparency, Assange is, to put it mildly, a piece of shit.

@Claude Weaver: Well said.

And Chez, kudos to you for wading into this. You weren't the only one to do so, but it takes a lot of guts to point out that Assange isn't all he's cracked up to be.