…only us ever-fallible humans. Innocent until proven guilty, but these quotes would seem to fit Assange’s character if accurate:
[Miss A’s] account to police, which Assange disputes, stated that he began stroking her leg as they drank tea, before he pulled off her clothes and snapped a necklace that she was wearing. According to her statement she “tried to put on some articles of clothing as it was going too quickly and uncomfortably but Assange ripped them off again”. Miss A told police that she didn’t want to go any further “but that it was too late to stop Assange as she had gone along with it so far”, and so she allowed him to undress her.
According to the statement, Miss A then realised he was trying to have unprotected sex with her. She told police that she had tried a number of times to reach for a condom but Assange had stopped her by holding her arms and pinning her legs. The statement records Miss A describing how Assange then released her arms and agreed to use a condom, but she told the police that at some stage Assange had “done something” with the condom that resulted in it becoming ripped, and ejaculated without withdrawing.
As for the second woman, Miss W,
The following day, Miss W phoned Assange and arranged to meet him late in the evening, according to her statement. The pair went back to her flat in Enkoping, near Stockholm. Miss W told police that though they started to have sex, Assange had not wanted to wear a condom, and she had moved away because she had not wanted unprotected sex. Assange had then lost interest, she said, and fallen asleep. However, during the night, they had both woken up and had sex at least once when “he agreed unwillingly to use a condom”.
Early the next morning, Miss W told police, she had gone to buy breakfast before getting back into bed and falling asleep beside Assange. She had awoken to find him having sex with her, she said, but when she asked whether he was wearing a condom he said no. “According to her statement, she said: ‘You better not have HIV’ and he answered: ‘Of course not,’ ” but “she couldn’t be bothered to tell him one more time because she had been going on about the condom all night. She had never had unprotected sex before.”
And again we see the fruitlessness of latching onto the hero of the day. Perhaps it’s unfair to extrapolate a violation of social barriers from Assange’s obvious disregard for electronic ones, but he has certainly come across as someone who feels the rules do not apply. At any rate, my point here is that the guilt or innocence of Assange in these sexual assault cases — though clearly significant at the individual level — has virtually nothing to do with the idea and implementation of Wikileaks as a whole. At this point Assange is basically a figurehead, and regardless of any particular canonization or demonization attempts that might be directed at him personally, the genie is out of the bottle as far as these online leaks go. It isn’t particularly difficult to set up a Wikileaks mirror, and it’s only a matter of time before other websites of the sort begin showing up.
Regardless of one’s feelings on the idea of online document dump sites like Wikileaks, focusing on Assange is pointless. The guy is a grandstander of the highest order and the cult of personality growing around him is deserving of scrutiny; true. But equally questionable is the idea that anything — whatsoever — that could potentially be done to him could eliminate the existence of Wikileaks and websites of its type. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. Assange is background noise — the longterm implications of the technology he has propagated is the issue.