Assange rape apologism hits NZ

On 6 January Gordon Campbell posted an article to Scoop entitled Gordon Campbell Reviews the General Response to Wikileaks.

Which would’ve been great if he’d stuck to discussing Wikileaks, and not decided to play Arbiter of How Swedish Law Works using massively outdated, debunked information.*

In the other incident, consent is reportedly not the issue – it is whether the act involved unprotected sex, which is a (minor) offence under Swedish law.


Detracting comments were made.  Detracting comments were mysteriously not published.  Ms Enid Tak-Entity commented on Maia’s post on the issue:

I wrote to Gordon providing the same information and he replied saying that he would be addressing this issue (though I’m not sure in what fashion).

Well, now we know.  Campbell has a new post up today which … well … I guess it clears things up, at least.

Many thanks to Tze Ming Mok for correcting my original précis … I’ve held off replying to Tze Ming until seeing the gist of Assange’s defence.


“Thanks everyone, I published outdated debunked information which feeds into a narrative of women as lying liars who lie and are also sluts, and that was bad, mmkay, but I just, like, wanted to tell both sides of the story.”  Which would be a noble journalistic gesture if the story weren’t Gordon Campbell published fucking lies.  Which is only relevant to Assange’s defence in that they’re the ones who started those lies off in the first place.

Then he quotes Bianca Jagger, noted Swedish law expert or something, whose comment boils down to “these women are lying liars and I know because they didn’t act the way I think rape victims are obliged to act” which is of course not in any way Rape Culture 101.  It can’t be rape, she wasn’t screaming and crying.  It can’t be rape, she’s screaming and crying too much to know what she’s saying.  It can’t be rape, she didn’t leave him.  It can’t be rape, she’d had sex with him before.  It can’t be rape, because rape culture insists that rape does not actually ever happen.

Bianca Jagger was also one of the people who tweeted about the accusers’ “CIA ties”, which definitely establishes her as a source of good, balanced information on this case, if your definition of “balanced” includes using phrases like “honeypot trap”.

Then there’s a nice big chunk of Assange’s lawyers’ statement, all reproduced without comment (because obviously there’s no journalistic imperative to question such fine upstanding people with no evident vested interest in spinning this case in any particular direction) and then … boom, suddenly we’re into “Wikileaks is awesome and I love Wikileaks and they are, like, so totes important!”

And apparently, again, Campbell doesn’t seem to have the first fucking clue that maybe juxtaposing “Assange’s lawyers say these charges are totes wrong” with “Wikileaks is important and vital and awesome” might have some pretty fucking clear implications about Assange being key to Wikileaks’ work, Wikileak’s work being so important and Assange thus being so important that we need to focus on the real story, and of course the “these charges are only getting laid now because of Wikileaks”.

And you know, that last one I might have some sympathy with, if I’d seen anyone manage to bring it up without simultaneously saying “anyway the women were CIA honeytraps and didn’t act the right way and Assange couldn’t rape anyone he’s so hot right now”, or seen anyone bring it up without implying that we should just ignore the charges because a political motivation must mean they’re false, no further investigation required.

Yes, it is possible these charges are politically motivated.  It’s also possible that Assange is a fucking rapist.  It’s also certain that he’s got lawyers who have outright lied about the case, about the accusers, and about Swedish law (I guess I should be thankful Campbell hasn’t repeated the old “sex-by-surprise” “$715 fine” bullshit).

So maybe a credible NZ journalist could do us all the fucking favour of not just spreading their side of the story without comment.

Here’s the comment I’ve made in response at Scoop, which stunningly seemed to get published straight away:**

I am baffled by this, Gordon.  In the first place, when you have been responsible for publishing false information about the charges against Assange, it is really, really interesting that you decided to not correct that false information “until you saw the gist of Assange’s defence”.  Why?  What does Assange’s defence actually have to do with you as a journalist correcting misinformation?

Further, you’re still downplaying the nature of the charges by using references which put scare quotes around things like “”express wish”” and which do not spell out in full what the allegations are – which directly buys into a narrative about women being fickle, women being demanding, it not being “real” rape if a man just pressures, persists, and ignores a woman’s wishes.

The fact that you spend the bulk of this column on the defence, not the charges, and that you’re quoting Bianca Jagger, who happily publicised the names of the accusers, and that you continue to link this to the work of Wikileaks after arguing in your first column that the charges against Assange should not reflect on Wikileaks, all makes it fairly clear where your priorities are:  defending everyone’s favourite progressive hero of the hour because his work is so much more important than silly women’s desire to have their wishes and consent taken seriously.

Why not just go sign a Roman Polanski petition while you’re at it?

Gordon Campbell, I am disappoint.

Bonus demerit points: publishing the detracting comments on the first post after making your new “see see I’m a good journo but here’s his defence in glorious Technicolor!” post?  How courageous.

Related reading:  Maia’s post at The Hand Mirror


*Thanks to Maia and Tze Ming Mok for links in the comments of Campbell’s first post.

**I assume their filter auto-mods anything with links, which is of course wonderfully convenient when people are trying to provide evidence of your misinformation, and totally doesn’t in any way open up detractors to accusations of just being hysterical feeeeeemales with no proof threatening another Great White Male.


  1. Amanda

    Jesus Christ, he’s a few weeks too late to the #MooreandMe protest, ain’t he? Do people just put their heads inside their little helmets of of “I can’t hear anything! I can’t see anything!” and post shit that has already been protested and debunked ad nauseum?


    Maybe GC needs to go read Tigerbeatdown…

  2. reader

    “Then he quotes Bianca Jagger, noted Swedish law expert or something,..”

    I don’t know if you are being ironic, but Bianca Jagger is Mick Jagger’s ex – famous for that, and being very beautiful. When I saw GC has chosen to quote her, of all those who have investiagated and written about this…

    Well, says it all really.

    • reader

      Hope that wasn’t a sexist assumption – that Jagger’s celebrity status, rather than her work as an ambassador for human rights (which I just googled) is the reason for her profile on this issue.
      It sure isn’t because of her skills as an investiagative journalist.

      • QoT

        I don’t think so. Much as with all the celebrities, regardless of gender, who were held up as “experts” on the Polanski case – it’s a reflection of a culture which treats financial success or fame as some kind of yardstick for people’s intelligence or expertise on anything famous-person-related.

  3. lyndon

    For what it’s worth it was me approved that big pile of comments at once. I’m just back from my holiday and as far as I know that problem was neglect rather than conspiracy. (Gordon doesn’t do the actual running of the site though I think he get the comment notification emails.)

    I believe once someone’s had a comment approved they get let through automatically after that.

    • QoT

      Thanks for that clarification, lyndon. It’s just rather unfortunate that the result of this was to have comments reinforcing the misinformation published while detractors weren’t able to point out the errors on the site itself (I certainly don’t flatter myself as to having the same kind of reach as Scoop!)