Friday, August 17, 2012

Keeping up with the Jones on equality, rape allegations and international relations

This is a niche blog (most recently obsessed almost exclusively with the Local Government Pension Scheme).

However, like all trade union activists, I live in the wider world too. Just occasionally I feel driven to express some opinions.

Right now I want to express my support for what my comrade Owen Jones has to say about the case of Julian Assange (

In a disappointing echo of the political "campism" of the Cold War there are those on the left who appear to reason that, because Julian Assange is hated by the USA we must support the argument that he need not face allegations of rape in Sweden (a country not noticeably more compliant with the wishes of the Americans than the UK).

Let's be clear. The Government of the United States of America has been, throughout my lifetime, the greatest threat to humanity on the planet. Wars fought and inspired by this greatest of imperial powers have led to countless murders - and rapes.

Julian Assange did humanity a great service in founding Wikileaks. The (more courageous) leaker, Bradley Manning did another great service. They earned the emnity of the US Government and that entitles them to support and solidarity.

But no one is entitled to impunity, least of all when accused of hate crime (in this case rape). Being a heroic opponent of the most powerful imperialist power in human history does not entitle a man to insert his penis into another person (without a condom) regardless of their stated wishes.

And if an allegation is made, in a country governed by the rule of law (even if it is a capitalist country) then due process must take place. This point is reinforced, for socialists, by the vital importance of proper investigation of every allegation of rape, which is vital to confronting the prevalence of sexual violence by men against women.

The Government and people of Ecuador are entitled to respect for their sovereignty and could probably do without patronising attacks ( - I have no idea whether Ecuador is a more or less safe place to be a woman than the UK, but we shouldn't throw stones from our glass house, even at other glass houses).

However, respect for Ecuador also does not require a belief that Julian Assange does not have to answer to the allegation that he violated the bodies of other human beings by imposing himself upon them, in ways to which they did not consent.

Whilst not as gargantuan villians as the United States of America, the Metropolitan Police have certainly done many appalling things in my time and I have attended countless protests against this (all too often outside Brixton Police Station). If, however, Julian Assange steps back on British soil and they arrest him then that will be right and just.

Magna Carta established the principle that the King is not above the law. Neither is the King of Wikileaks.

Socialists who argue that allegations of rape should not be dealt with properly because of the identity of the alleged assailant have no understanding of equality.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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