Friday, December 17, 2010

WE HAVE SOME POINTS, by Silvana and Gayle

Silvana and I, as feminists, current and future lawyers, respectively, and rape victims, have some points.  Not everyone has gone there with these, but too many people have.

1. Challenging extradition does not make someone guilty.  Fighting charges does not make someone guilty.  It implies absolutely nothing.  Julian Assange fighting his extradition TELLS US NOTHING ABOUT HIS GUILT OR INNOCENCE.  This is how the criminal justice system works.  You fight extralegal and illegal actions by states.  You hold states to the rule of law. 

2. Stop conflating challenging state prosecutorial actions and the state criminal justice machine with challenging rape survivors stories.  These are not even close to the same.  To challenge charges or state legal action is not undermining victims' assertions.  This thinking  would undermine EVERYONE'S DEFENSEIt would mean no person could raise a defense without being accused of questioning the victim.  As the people who often end up at the defense table are disproportionately people of color and the poor in this country, having been disproportionately targeted by the criminal justice system,  this is REALLY PROBLEMATIC.

3. Our chat conversation said it best:

silvana:  i dont even know what to make of sady's last post
"It is very, very low. Because Michael Moore’s actions indicate that rape survivors just don’t mean as much to Michael Moore as Julian Assange getting bail. They just don’t. He has assigned a demonstrable, monetary value to these two causes, and as far as we know, Assange is worth $20,000 and providing necessary aid to sexual assault survivors is worth $0."
i find this to be shit
 me:  i find this to be UTTER SHIT
there are no zero sum games like that in life
 silvana:  moore doesn't have any obligation to give any money to anyone
 silvana:  As far as the world knows, going out for french food is worth $100 to silvana, and helping rape survivors is worth $0
i am so mad
 me:  i just went out for dinner and paid for pizza.  I VALUE PIZZA MORE THAN RAPE PREVENTION.
i love our examples
written at the same time
 silvana:  hahahahhaha
 silvana:  and starving children
and people who have been the victims of landmines
 me:  and rape epidemics in the congo!
or liberia!
 silvana:  and women held as sexual slaves in thailand
 me:  sady doyle gave $50 for rape survivors.  why does sady doyle hate starving african babies?

4. It is possible both that Julian Assange did what he is alleged to have done, and also that the prosecution and potential extradition is politically motivated. If other alleged rapists are not being threatened with extradition to Sweden based on rape charges, and Assange is, that makes this a political prosecution because of his status as a political figure. That is problematic. It is relevant how other people are treated, because it's an issue of justice. We can protest, and question, the politically motivated treatment of Assange as a target for extradition without suggesting that the accusers are liars. Nuance, people. Come on.


  1. Sady did not suggest that the prosecution wasn't politically motivated. What's your point?

  2. Show me where we claimed Sady said it wasn't politically motivated. What's YOUR point?

    Also, we have four points. We numbered them.

  3. I guess I just understood the blog post to be a response to her Twitter campaign. In particular, the statement, "Nuance, people. Come on."

    One thing I will note about this post, though, is that your use of legal expertise, while I'm sure it's on point, obscures the larger issue Sady Doyle was trying to underline in her campaign: people like Olbermann, Moore, and Naomi Wolf were trying to undermine the women who charged/wanted to charge Assange with rape. This is a problem in our society. It is. Them doing that contributes to the problem.

  4. Lisa, we have four points. Yes, we thought they were on, point, too. They are our points. Any extrapolation and understanding of what we meant is your own. We were very clear.

    The legality of what is going on here is not the sideshow. It is the show. And as (one of us future) lawyers, we find some of the conversations about Assange and the charges going into some very dangerous places. We were addressing that.

  5. I guess I disagree then. The legality of it all is not "the show". Or, it's not the only show; it's not the most important show; it's just an aspect. And, trying to make it centre stage obscures the larger issue being discussed: "people like Olbermann, Moore, and Naomi Wolf were trying to undermine the women who charged/wanted to charge Assange with rape. This is a problem in our society. It is. Them doing that contributes to the problem."

  6. And, with regards to point 3: this is weak. Are we really comparing buying ourselves dinner with paying someone's bail? 'cause it's not the same thing.

  7. This post-from-the-past from Silvana is incredibly important, I think, and gets at the heart of our second point above.

  8. Thank you so much for this. I am also a fan of Doyle's who is disappointed with some aspects of her campaign to shame Michael Moore. I had my own run-in with her, but was quickly branded a rape apologist and subsequently shamed on her blog. My interaction with Doyle is discussed here:

    A few other points I've noticed:

    -Doyle, Jezebel and others have compared Assange to Polanski, and by extension Assange's supporters to Polanski's. This is unfair. Polanski is a fugitive child rapist. Assange has been accused (not charged) with a crime.

    -Doyle believes Assange is guilty, but faults Moore for believing in his innocence. Isn't Moore also entitled to his opinion?

    -Doyle mocks Olbermann for policing his Twitter feed, while comment moderation on her own blog is just as vigilantly policed.

    -Doyle claims that Moore and Olbermann are "leaking" the name of an accuser and can be held responsible if she is harmed. Does she also extend this criticism to the Huffington Post, Jezebel, CBS News, and the accuser herself, who is currently tweeting about the case?

    I don't think Sadie is playing fair. And I think there's a better discussion then #mooreandme to be having around Wikileaks, and the issues it raises for feminists and the left.

  9. Matt, I haven't seen the comparisons of Assange supporters to Polanski supporters, as I refuse to engage with this bullshit right now, but if this is happening, GOD that makes my blood boil.

    Also, there is no law that we as lay people believe that people are innocent until proven guilty. That is a rule UNDER THE LAW. And fuck, OJ Simpson was proven innocent, and we all still think he's guilty. But considering that 1. We all know and acknowledge this is politically motivated, and 2. No one has seen the full charge sheet, I personally am choosing to suspend judgment. But I also haven't turned this whole thing very personal.

    It's not a fair charge to conflate Olbermann shutting down his twitter feed and Sady policing her comments. Sady tries to maintain a safe space on her blog, which is EXCEEDINGLY HARD TO DO when you write about rape and such on a feminist blog and you are a lady. Believe me, I know.

    It's also not fair to me to read this entire post as a critique of Sady. Silvana and I have concerns with how lots of people are understanding and interpreting this whole brouhaha. And there should be a follow up today, if I can get around to it. Our main concern is the way people are conflating challenging state authority with challenging rape victims. It was Sweden that filed an extradition request, not the rape victims. And it will be Sweden that presses charges, not the rape victims. It is "The State" or "The People vs. ______", not "The Victim vs. The Accused." People are forgetting that here, and as lawyers, that worries us.

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  11. Robert, I am scared you are going to be a lawyer with me. Also, we are not being context-be-damned. We are trying to out this back IN to context.

    It's kinda weird you don't see fighting extradition as part of the legal fight against the state criminal justice machine. Have you not taken international law? States do scary, extralegal shit all the time when it comes to extradition. It should be fought. Every time. Every state must be held to the rule of law. And that's what fighting extradition ensures.

    Sady, actually, has said that she believes him to be guilty. But, see, and this is FURTHER worrisome to me - this isn't just about Sady. This has gotten WAY too personal. Other people have ALSO said some intensely scary things. Also, my guess is Robert, that you are not interested in going into public interest law, or public defending. And I guess this, because this is where Silvana and I are coming from. We see the state machine run over the oppressed all the time. The state machine is not clean, it is not on the side of the feminists, it is a tool of oppression. And that is the much larger context we are trying to put this in. We are concerned about people conflating challenging the state with challenging victims. This is a bad place to go.

    I at no point discussed Assange's guilt or innocence. And I am NOT saying he shouldn't be prosecuted. Show me where your #4 is in my argument. It's become AMAZING what people have read into this post. We are questioning the conversations being had over law, criminal justice, and state power. I am fully aware that there are rape allegations at the heart of this. But that doesn't change the conversation. It makes it very personal for some people, but it still doesn't make it ok to conflate challenging extradition with guilt. You know what a lot of people have done in THIS country in doing what could be considered "avoiding prosecution"? They've earned us Constitutional rights like to not be beaten by the police, to not have our false testimony coerced. We want people to challenge the state. The state has all the power. And we shouldn't trust it.

    I recognize how personal this is for people, because it is a rape charge. I do. I get that there are a lot of asshole rape apologists out there giving people a hard time. But I'm not one of them. Silvana and I are trying to have a nuanced discussion about this. And it is no accident that when we both started reading about this movement, a big "WHITE PRIVILEGE" flag started waving in our heads. We couldn't divorce this absolute faith in the criminal justice system from white privilege. And that's something to talk about.

    We are not addressing legal issues like the statutory law. We are addressing larger legal issues like the place of the state machine in justice. I know a lot of law people are very literal. But maybe you need to read our post again. We didn't mention Moore, or Olbermann. I have already written a post about rape apology in this case. And all we did was make fun of Sady's assertion about Moore giving his money, and the false equivalencies there. Also, we think we are funny.

    Dude, I really actually hope now that I've re-read your comment you don't go into public interest law. We need people way better than you.

  12. I'm not knowledgeable enough about law to give any kind of legally sound response but I do think from a simply logical perspective it is odd to agree that these accusations are to some extent politically motivated but then assert if Assange is extradited he'll get a fair trial. Given a right wing politician has successfully pushed to get the investigation re-started why wont there be similar pressure for the "right" judge to hear the case, the "right" verdict to be found and the "right" sentence to be given?

    In this sense the guilt or innocence of Assange becomes less relevant. Whether he did or didn't do what he is accused of, it is deeply questionable that a trial will examine the facts in anything like a fair manner.

    Thus the political nature of the case has rendered justice for either Assange if he is innocent or his victims if he is not very difficult to achieve.

  13. Ugh, I am feeling horrible and gross about the whole fiasco. :(


    1. I had a knee-jerk reaction to the campaign, which was to remember needing the services of rape crisis centres in the past and knowing that I hadn't sent any money to any centre in a while, so, yay, donating!

    2. I really appreciate Sady's writing, both in general and on how people are talking about Assange. This makes me prone to giving her an uncritical benefit of the doubt, which, hmm.

    3. Wait a second, holy shit, we aren't actually talking about the media discourse around the allegations any more? and we are actually suggesting that Assange is guilty on the basis of his exercising his damn rights? because that is fucking backwards.

    4. arrrrrgggghhhh

    5. Last night at about 2am my SO and I came home from a party and I was in a flap about what I might have accidentally been insinuating, and what people I respect were insinuating oh god I hope it was an accident that is undoable, because, fuck. I glanced at twitter and saw this post and was relieved that people in the know wanted to have this discussion. (I can't really because I know about, like, modal logic and the unity of propositions, not lawyering.) Was instructed to have a cup of tea and receive a backrub and go to sleep.

    6. Clear-headed though slightly hung over this morning. I really like your point #4 because it is more nuanced than other nuanced announcements about it that I've read. People (me included) tend not to acknowledge that it is problematic to prosecute someone for political reasons even if he is accused of raping someone. My gut instinct is to think that the political stuff doesn't matter at all because anyone accused of rape should be dealt with according to whatever the laws are. But on reflection: that is a pretty stupid instinct! There is not only one issue here!

    7. Thank you for linking to Silvana's old post. It is excellent and very important to read today in particular.

    tl;dr: white liberal knee-jerk reactions lead to discomfort and remorse! FILM AT 11

  14. i'm not educated enough in these matters and have refrained from posting in other places because of the backlash from feminists. just wanted to say i enjoyed your discussion of your views & applaud your stance of waiting for as much info as possible before passing final judgements. both sides are entitled to opinions, but both accuser & accussee are "innocent until proven guilty".
    btw, after reading naomi wolf's and others' views that politicizing this rape charge trivialized proven victims, i thought they meant sweden (& other countries) should pay more attention to all rape charges, not that sweden should drop the investigation.

  15. It might be noted that the first name to be leaked -- illegally -- in this case was Assange's, and there is an investigation of that first leak going on in Sweden because it can be pinned down. There have been further selective leaks from the police and prosecutors, one as recent as yesterday; it will be interesting to see whether they are also investigated. The defence attorney can't speak of what he's seen, although he has said he's seen a good deal of exculpatory testimony, none of which gets leaked.

    Thank you for this post, for standing up for clarity of legal thought at a time when personal commitments and partisanship have taken over so much of the conversation. I agree with you that respecting the defence in this case matters to us all as a defence of the most basic principles and structures of democracy.

  16. Paul, you say this: "I'm not knowledgeable enough about law to give any kind of legally sound response but I do think from a simply logical perspective it is odd to agree that these accusations are to some extent politically motivated but then assert if Assange is extradited he'll get a fair trial."

    But I really don't see where you find in this blog post anything that says, 'if Assange is extradited, he'll get a fair trial." I certainly didn't read that anywhere. Maybe you should read it again. You might actually comprehend it this time.

    Because what I read says nothing about his guilt or innocence nor about whether or not he'd receive a fair trial. In fact, it seems to say that the call for his extradition is clearly politically motivated, which implies to me that he would be unlikely to get a fair trial. The author of this blog post, however, said nothing on the subject one way or another.

    Instead, she is pointing out that regardless of his innocence or guilt... and regardless of whether or not he would get a fair trial... that it is his RIGHT to fight the things being done to him if they are illegal.

    Seriously, if we condone that guilty people should not have the protection of the law, what we are really saying is that anytime we BELIEVE someone to be guilty, they should not have the protection of the law. That hurts the truly innocent more than anyone.

    People are acting like, either he's guilty... and therefore disregarding the law is fine as a tactic to get to him.... OR... they're acting like because the drive to arrest him is politically motivated, it means that his accusers are liars.

    Neither of these is good. I have been seeing both of these, and been disgusted with both. Just because the drive to arrest him is politically motivated does NOT automatically mean that the charge is false. People thinking this way is NOT A GOOD THING.

    Also, even if he IS guilty, disregarding the laws that protect us all to get to him only hurts our legal system in the long run. It only allows our government to go after whomever they want, disregarding the laws, because that person is a threat to things they want to keep silent. THIS IS ALSO NOT A GOOD THING.

    Gayle - Sorry I've been silent for a while. This is a wonderful post... many thanks to you and Silvana. It's one of the few things I've seen about the whole fiasco that I can actually agree with. My love to you both!

  17. Hey B. So I have been thinking about your comment, and it has like single-handedly restored my faith in humanity.

    I get the strong/knee-jerk reaction. I always think of "feminist fatique," where like one is always under attack, and then there is a perceived attack, and it MUST! BE MET! and there seems to be a chance to fight back and you TAKE IT OF COURSE YOU DO.

    And this is ok? Sort of. For a time. But what's really worrying me is that some Leading Internet Feminists have boiled this down to, to Silvana and I: 1. How dare you bring the above points to us when we've been up to our eyeballs in attacks for this the last couple of days; 2. It is your job as a feminist to get other feminists backs, seemingly no matter what; 3. You are either with us and supporting us or you are a rape apologist.

    Because, apparently bringing up issues about how the criminal justice system is a tool of oppression and there are some really scary things being said about state power (like, YAY) that will end up hurting those people who are most powerless is a really anti-feminist thing to do. OBVS.

    But no, really, this has been said (I just woke up, I can't deal with embedding):!/KateHarding/status/16007056062414848!/KateHarding/status/15999433640509440!/KateHarding/status/16005978776403968!/KateHarding/status/16006523075436544

    And then Kate Harding wrote an entire post that was essentially to Silvana, and managed to avoid all of our above points, and address non of her (and our) concerns.

    Sooooooo. After this encounter, I would like to thank you for your comment, because there are few people, and few people currently, who would have been as thoughtful about this as you. And, hey, I get feminism fatigue! But this has gone beyond that. And as a feminist, I know this is more than just about me. Getting Michael Moore to apologize or do anything doesn't actually help me. it doesn't help anyone. But blindly supporting a rape warrant that has been politically motivated, saying no one should challenge the state and if they do it implies guilt, and conflating bail with questioning the victims, this undermines justice for EVERYONE.

  18. This is the first post I've read focusing on the "rule of law" portion of the issue. You have good points, though I'm not as convinced as you that "rule of law" works.

    However, the feeling against Michael Moore is born of the way he scoffed at the accusations. It is a fact that political motivation and public stardom alter the ways that people are investigated and charged and prosecuted. It is the scoffing that ties the cases of Polanski and Assange. It is the scoffing that endangers survivors.

    I believe that you are focused on a different aspect of this situation (and of course, there are many). I believe that Sady Doyle has stepped beyond the expression of the simple anger engendered by Moore's words and manner. I believe that her "upset" will continue to be used against her.

    From your other post (, I also believe that you agree that people are wrong to assume they know more about the facts of the case than the investigators. This is what Michael Moore did that has upset me.

    Getting Michael Moore to apologize publicly will not change this situations, but it might provide a safety for the gun that a public voice can become. Perhaps people will be slower to jump in on little information if this one public figure states, with honest contrition, that his scoffing is not separate from the culture that wants to stop talking about rape, that wants rape accusations to be weapons to wield against enemies rather than taken on their own, one by one, and investigated and prosecuted when the investigation warrants.

    Maybe in that way it will help you. It will help everyone.

  19. While I have carefully tried to remain objective, I tend to think that there would be /some/ truth to these allegations. If the case were a complete fabrication, why not make it more cut-and-dry? That would make it easier to prosecute, w/ the bonus of demonising Assange further.
    Frankly, I think the case is real, but that the only reason it's being PURSUED is b/c of Assange's newfound notoriety, which has earned him some powerful enemies.
    I have great sympathy for Sady, who I think is probably too exhausted from the inane yet virulent attacks she is receiving to reply to any more balanced critiques.
    In the case of #mooreandme, I tend to focus more on the misinformation spread by the media than on Assange himself. At this point, his guilt or innocence is almost beside the point; what Sady is trying to effect is a change in the way rape accusations are handled by the press, and to try and make it easier for women who have been raped to come forward and name their attackers. I keep thinking of the Elizabeth Seeberg case in conjunction w/ this one; how she was bullied into silence, and eventually driven to suicide. It's a thorny issue, b/c yes, any time a prominent and powerful man is accused, there are going to be deeply political implications. That seems unavoidable. How can we guide women safely through the process, but still ensure that a fair trial is had by all?

  20. Dana: This is the first post I've read focusing on the "rule of law" portion of the issue. You have good points, though I'm not as convinced as you that "rule of law" works.

    I'm not as convinced as you are that Gayle is convinced that "rule of law" necessarily works. The way I read Point #1 in the post is as saying that having anything even approximating "rule of law" requires people to challenge the charges leveled against them.

    Extradition, for example, is one of the most invasive things a government can do to a person: they arrest you, lock you up, and then drag you halfway across the country (or halfway across the EU) for the express purpose of letting another government try you as a criminal. Clearly, this kind of rendition might be abused without rules in place. Each and every time a government wants to extradite someone, it should be held to those rules.

    If Assange weren't permitted to challenge his forcible removal from one part of the world to another (as Humberto Álvarez-Machaín wasn't), "rule of law" would be measurably eroded.

  21. jerkfacemcgee, YES. YES and YES. Also, the Alvarez-Machain mention is a beautiful thing :)

  22. Hi Gayle: I didn't say that I thought Assange was guilty. I've been careful not to say that, actually. I said, in response to many, many people saying that these women HAD to be lying and that women make false rape claims ALL THE TIME, that the rate of false rape claims was very low and that the FBI has it as consistently at around 8%. I said it flippantly, to someone (Matt) who I thought was being obnoxious and missing some points. But I never said that I thought Assange was guilty. I also looked back at some of my previous points -- made with what I thought was a spirit of saying that (GIVEN the low rate of false rape reports, given the low rate even of reported rapes) I tended to believe that a rape reported to the police was more likely to have happened than to be some ridiculous false scheme concocted for revenge -- and I realized that they came TOO CLOSE to saying that Assange was guilty, at which point I re-thought and retracted them on that basis.

    What I did say was that, WHETHER ASSANGE IS GUILTY OR NOT, endangering, harassing, and smearing women who report rape is misogynist and grounded in rape culture. What I did say was that, WHETHER ASSANGE IS GUILTY OR NOT, the way the media handled this case was blatantly wrong.

    As for the rest of it, the personal invective aimed at me, well: I'm sad. I'm sad that (if I'm recalling correctly, if you're the same "Gayle") you wrote me an e-mail saying that you'd started a new blog because you liked mine so much, I'm sorry I promoted that newborn and relatively readerless blog on Tiger Beatdown when it had very few posts and no comments, and I'm sorry that, now that you have readers and are receiving comments, you're trying to invite those comments by posting that I'm "UTTER SHIT" and shouting "FUCK YOU" at me. I wouldn't do that to you. I'm not sorry I helped you out, but I am sorry that it meant so little to you, and that you don't see me as a person deserving of basic respect.

    After all the fundraising, after dozens and hundreds of people donating, RAINN would appear to have raised around $14K. First I heard $10K, then I heard that someone had donated $2K on top of it, which I think means they have about $14K with the matching in place. That's a lot of money for them. That's a lot of people being able to call and deal with their rapes with qualified professionals.

    $14K. That's a big number. For helping survivors.

    Would you prefer that we didn't raise it?

    I mean, don't even answer that question. The last time I heard from you, it was a "FUCK YOU," so I'm just not sure you and I could ever have a conversation. Like I said: I'm not sorry I helped you out. I am sorry that my help ended up getting handed back to me in a blog post that read like this.

  23. I agree with points 1 and 2 that such conflations would be wrong. I have not seen examples of anyone making those conflations, but if they have, I agree they would be wrong.

    I assume that only point 3 is about Sady Doyle's argument and you are not making your other 3 points about her arguments at all--am I correct?

    I don't agree her argument is total bullshit or at all like the nonsequitor of accusing someone paying for their dinner of not caring about rape. The connection here is that Moore did make comments disparaging the women's claims and so he himself, not Sady Doyle, connected his defense of Assange with rape apologism. Asking him to donate to RAINN is asking for him to make a gesture that has both material and symbolic value because he IS a major influential voice on the left. It's a relevant request. Her request for an apology is also relevant in demonstrating the respect with which advocates of rape survivors should be treated. These goals are far from bullshit.

    I also disagree with your conclusions on point 4. The problem is that every rape charge needs to be prosecuted with the determination with which Assange is being pursued, and yet they are not. If it's unjust political prosecution that is the motive for these charges being treated with the legal seriousness they deserve, then we need to find a way to get other rape charges treated as if they mattered this much, because they do.

  24. "I really, really, do tend to believe that he raped those girls."

  25. Matt, I just went back and read your "#doyleandme" post and I quite liked it, except for one major bit:

    I guess I don't get what the problem is with believing, based on whatever evidence is publicly available, that someone is guilty of a crime. You are not on the jury. Sady is not on the jury. Hell, I don't even think they have juries in Sweden. Or Britain, for that matter. All the people who are talking about how "innocent until proven guilty" means IN A COURT OF LAW not IN THE MIND OF EACH AND EVERY PERSON, are right.

    There is nothing wrong or immoral or unethical about believing Julian Assange is guilty based on what you have read about him. But if you do, you have just a little problem: once you have done that, once you have made that judgment, however much it was subconscious or unconscious, one has to be honest about it. One can not then pretend that one is an unbiased observer with no stake in the outcome.

    What I objected to, and what I continue to object to, is not that Sady or anyone else in #mooreandme has a personal belief that Assange is guilty. That's fine. It's when you make legal arguments, saying that the fact that someone is fighting extradition tends to suggest that they might be guilty, or at least weighs on the question of their innocence, as some kind of neutral fact, that gets me. If you want to argue that you think he's guilty because the accuser's stories sound believable to you, great. But don't argue it as a legal matter, because obviously, who would bother to put on a vigorous defense? I have seen tens of people talking about Assange "fighting extradition" as if it is a bad thing, as if he is trying to avoid responsibility in some untoward way, as if the honorable thing to do would be to just give up and submit to the Swedish authorities.

    It is not. This is his right, and it would be all of our rights if a country was trying to haul us off against our collective will.

    So, Matt, I think you're missing the point a little. You're in good company though, because almost everyone is.

  26. This post was refreshing to read and the whole Moore and Olbermann fiasco seemed petty and childish (even though I agreed with a lot of the concerns people raised). The idea that anyone who questions the way Assange has been treated is a rape apologist is deeply problematic.

  27. I will not be bullied into posting things on my own fucking blog. So's we're all aware.

  28. while it seems to have turned into a personal issue between you, silvana and SD i wanted to say i thought the structural critiques you made here re: feminist discourse around rape/feminist internet dicsourse (be silent or you are a rape apologist/hate rape victims, even if you are one) are very important and thought out. the fact those haven't been engaged with in lieu of a protracted tone argument are sad but perhaps telling regarding a certian inability or unwillingness to think above or beyond the criminal justice system and towards community based prevention/justice initiatives.
    this was my introduction to your blog and i hope you continue writing.

  29. Anonymous, thank you. There are no personal issues between all of us - like, I have NO IDEA what the fuck is going on. I am sitting here, shaking, and feeling bullied, and confused. I can tell you, I am seriously re-thinking the continuing to write thing. But I really appreciate your comment.

  30. Silvana-

    I never questioned Doyle's right to have an opinion about Assange's guilt. I certainly understand the difference between personal opinions of guilt and legal judgments of guilt. If my blog or my comments are at all unclear on this point, then that is my fault.

    I have only noted what you have-- that Doyle's private opinion is relevant to her remarks on the case, just as surely as Moore's and Wolf's beliefs in his innocence are to theirs. Confirmation bias is playing a powerful role on both sides of this debate.

    And again, I have not taken a position on Assange's guilt or innocence, though I have spoken out very clearly against the smearing of his accusers. Given the minefield before us, I think the only defensible public position on the rape accusations is agnosticism.


  31. Very well said, Matt. In the interest of that honesty, I will acknowledge that I have dueling biases here. I have a defense bias because I am a defense attorney (and I am a defense attorney because I passionately believe that the fewer people who fall into the CJ system, the better). I tend to, in general, believe that people accused of crimes are innocent and immediately look for holes in the story. At the same time, I have a victim bias in rape cases because I have experienced rape myself, and in fact experienced things very similar to what one of the Assange accusers did, and I know guys like that, and on and on.

    So, I don't know how those two biases play out. But they are there.

    I guess we still disagree, about whether having a public position on the rape accusations is defensible. I guess it depends on who you are. I think it's fine for Michael Moore too. I even think it was fine for him to say it was "hooey." What wasn't fine was lying about what the charges were to make them sound laughable. I guess the difference I see is in one's position. Sady is clearly a commentator type of journalist. Michael Moore is clearly a commentator type of journalist. I don't have any problem with them expressing their opinion, that's what they do. Keith Olbermann is different--he is a commentator masking as a newsman. So I think he has more of a responsibility to not take a public position, and as to KO, I agree with you.

  32. Sweet relief to see that other feminists have had concerns about this episode too. Thank you for stating those 4 points out loud.

    Keep writing.

  33. I'm late to this party, but I found this entire conversation, by everybody, very enjoyable. While this was going on it also annoyed me the way this whole situation played out. I'm no lawyer, but I think the justice systems have protections there for the innocent and in today's world, they matter a hell of a lot. I thank all the lawyers out there who do it for these reasons.....and here's hoping if I ever have the misfortune of needing a lawyer, I will find some like you guys. Thank you for an actual adult conversation of a very important topic, that is very rare and I thank all of you.....:)