This whole WikiLeaks/Assange outrage and adoration mess is really starting to become intolerably unclear. Firstly, I acknowledge that as Assange is the front man of the organisation, it is difficult to separate the politics of attacking him vs. attacking the organisation. This is only the start of the problem however.
On Assange’s alleged rape situation, it’s important to separate a few things out from each other. Of utmost concern to me is the fact that this whole furore is playing right into the hands of people who like to stereotype rape victims as women who make things up to exact some kind of twisted revenge on men they decided they should never have spent any time with in the first place. Rape apologists should have no place in our society and it is so damaging to have these kinds of attitudes front and centre of the current discussion surrounding this issue. A lot who are supporting Assange seem to be doing so at the expense of respect for judicial process and for the women who have accused him of rape. These are matters first for the police, and then for the Swedish judicial system to decide upon, not the media and a screaming pack of Assange fan-boys (and girls). Having said that, the Interpol response is quite amazing – I’m not aware of any previous Interpol red notices for a single rape allegation before; the world would be a very different and more respectful place if violence and abuse of women was always taken so seriously in every other instance. It does make one ask questions about the political motivations for the actions of Interpol. However, and importantly, this should be kept well separate from any discussion of Assange’s guilt or innocence, the validity of charging someone with rape when they engage in sex which was consented to with a condom without upholding that promise, and whether or not Assange should be extradited, all of which have merged into the one very messy, very one-eyed discussion. Of course, all of these things are related, but they are necessarily separate issues. Further, Assange, as any other accused in any other criminal trial, should be given a fair, unbiased hearing.
ALL of these things are also different from the issue of whether or not what WikiLeaks has done in publishing the Cable Gate documents is illegal, and whether or not this is moral. It should also be stressed that law and morality, whilst not mutually exclusive, are very different things and we should not confuse the two. While I am not a fan at all of Assange personally, I can see value of having an organisation stand up for freedom of speech and take a stand against government corruption and secrecy. It is vitally important that these two things, Assange the personality, and WikiLeaks can stand separate from each other so that we may value what WikiLeaks has given us, whilst also preserving fundamental concepts of justice and process.
I shall leave my response re: the Australian Government response to WikiLeaks for another time, it is too long-winded to include here.