Op-Ed: Using misogyny to defend WikiLeaks is as low as low gets

Posted Dec 10, 2010 by Michael Cosgrove
It is high time that the ongoing and viciously obscene campaign being led by WikiLeaks supporters against the two Swedish women who have accused Julian Assange of sexual misconduct was denounced. It is an organized and misogynist hate offensive.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assaunge
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assaunge
New Media Days/Peter Erichsen
The fight to combat police and court suspicions that women who complain of sexual assault are either lying, seeking revenge, seeking money, are prostitutes or “asked for it” by dressing provocatively has been going on for a long time, and attitudes have changed slowly as time goes by.
But although most citizens would agree with the principle of giving women a fair hearing, the principle seems to break down when it comes to allegations of sexual abuse leveled against people who are in the public eye. From Profumo to Clinton, Michael Jackson to Polanski, and now Julian Assange, there are many examples of the reputations of accusers being dragged through the mud by those who support the person who is being accused.
Supporters of WikiLeaks, however, are plumbing new depths of rumor and slanderous aggression, and their current campaign has managed to accuse the Swedish women who have accused Julian Assange of sexual misconduct of everything listed above and more. As The Guardian reports, there is a slew of hostile and misogynist writing and attacks on blogs across the Internet and the trend began as far back as August.
The women’s lawyer, Claes Borgström, who had his company website shut down by a hacking attack on Monday, says that the women are having “a very tough time.” That’s not surprising considering that their personal photographs have been put online, their CV’s and Twitter use have been exploited and Assange himself says that “the honeytrap has been sprung.”
And in one of the most unbelievable examples of lawyerly bad faith I have read about in a long time, his lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, implicitly backs the campaign by saying that “we are seeing increasingly on the Internet research into the backgrounds of both women that raises real questions about their credibility and the credibility of their claims.” She does add though, in an equally ludicrous and false manner, that “Now obviously rape allegations are to be taken incredibly, very, very seriously.” Nice of her to say so.
Her sentiments are echoed in article comment threads across the world, including on this site, and misogynist comment is rife. We all know where it is, we have all read it, and it’s time to put a stop to it.
Julian Assange may or may not face a judge in Sweden, and if he does, he may or may not be found guilty of charges that have not yet been clearly defined. If he is tried and found not guilty, it will be for one of two reasons, or both. The first is a lack of evidence, and the second is that it will have been demonstrated that the women were being dishonest.
That is what a justice system is there for. I don’t know what happened between Assange and his accusers, but I do know that Assange is, and should be considered by all as being, innocent until proved guilty. This implies that any campaign to drag his name through the mud as evidence that he is lying about the affair would be reprehensible.
Well the same goes for the vicious and unfounded rumors, innuendos, scurrilous jokes, accusations and lies that are circulating on the Internet about these two women from behind anonymous computer screens.
They are abhorrent. And they are misogynist.