Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Julian Assange Rape Case

This is a follow-on to my discussion of anarchy and heinous crimes. Rape is certainly a heinous crime, and as I have expressed support for Julian Assange in the past, I think I need to do what I can to show that I do not condone either rape or fornication. And, of course, there is the question of the relationship between the rape charges and the leaks that put Mr. Assange's name in the public eye.

While I would not want my daughters to date the likes of Julian Assange, I would not hesitate to have him as an overnight house guest. From what I can tell about the situation, he is no stranger to casual sex, but if it is true that the women he is accused of raping were seen with him afterwards in cordial settings, I have a hard time believing he actually forced himself on them. If he didn't force himself on them, he is still sexually immoral, but not all sexual immorality is rape. I have no fear that the females in my family would engage in consensual sex with him, nor do I fear that he would rape any of them.

I believe that a woman has the right to say no to sex at any time. The bedroom scene from A Man and a Woman comes to mind: they're in bed naked (this was the early 1960s, so we only saw their heads and his bare shoulders, but I think the inference is reasonable) and he's on top of her and she says no. That's her right, or more properly, once she says no, he has no right to proceed with intercourse.

Again, I don't think the guys I want my daughters with need anything from them they can't get from six feet away until they've committed their lives to them, and a woman who is willingly naked in bed with a man she's not married to has already given away far too much, but I don't regard "temporary insanity due to arousal" as a legitimate reason for a man to force himself on an unwilling woman. So even if Mr. Assange climbed into bed with reasonable basis for assuming that those women were OK with him having unprotected intercourse with them, if they said at the last split second that they wanted him to use a condom or the deal was off and he went ahead unsheathed, then he has committed rape.

Let's assume the worst, that the understanding when these women went to bed with him was that he would use a condom but he forced himself on them. Now what?

As Gary North has written, the primary concern for those dealing with crimes should be the welfare of past and likely future victims of crimes. The best solution will, of course, exact restitution from the perpetrator to his victims, which include the victim of the crime itself and those involved in resolving the situation. The paragon of such a situation is the resolution of a theft by the thief paying back what he stole to the victim, plus compensation for the victim's lost time at work, damage to property, etc., as well as payment to those who tracked down the perpetrator, heard the trial, and supervised the payment of restitution.

Rape, and especially date rape, is unlike theft in that one does not damage a tangible object in the same way as one does when one, say, steals a car, sells it in pieces, and spends the money, so it is difficult to assign a monetary or other physical value to the damage. (If the victim becomes pregnant or sustains cuts, rips, or bruises, these are clearly matters of paternity and battery and should be treated as such.) But clearly the woman has been violated: how does one measure the extent of the violation?

This question cannot be answered by any government court. There are so many variables that writing, let alone passing, a law that would cover all of them would be all but impossible. To take one reasonable example: if the man says at dinner that he doesn't like condoms but the woman, unbeknownst to the man, is distracted at the moment by a passing thought and the statement doesn't register, and she is the one who offers the wine after they get to her apartment, and it isn't until after fifteen minutes of foreplay that she remembers to ask him to put on the condom, but by then he has assumed that her lack of reaction at dinner means that their sex is to be unprotected and .... How can any legislature write that down or any jury sort it out? (Good grief—who would want to?)

So how does such a victim get justice? For that matter, how does the perpetrator get justice by not being treated the same as someone who climbs in the window and rapes total strangers?

Again, only anarchism provides the answer. The victim and the perpetrator agree on an arbitrator (an individual or a group), whose decision will be final. Such an arbitrator would be known to both parties and trusted because of his ability to ask the right questions and make fair decisions. Refusal by either party to engage in arbitration or to abide by the terms of the settlement would result in that party being considered an outlaw and therefore liable to attack with impunity by the other.

As such a system came into being, people would band together with those of like minds, so both parties would likely have what Stefan Molyneux calls dispute resolution organizations (DROs) to arrange the arbitration, and the "trial" would more likely be a discussion between the organizations the parties belonged to, with the parties called on to provide their views of the facts of the case. The victim's DRO would be working to see that its customer was compensated for her hardships and would likely also provide suggestions or directives for changes in her lifestyle so she not be victimized again in the future. The perpetrator's DRO, after compensating the victim, would definitely protect its other customers by making sure that the perpetrator did not repeat his misdeed, perhaps even to the point of declaring him an outlaw and canceling his membership in the organization, thus leaving him open to execution by the victim's DRO.

To be brief, I don't know what the result of this trial under anarchism would be, but a greater mind than mine—and I'm sorry, but I don't know whose it was—has said that when the process is good, the result will be also. The means is an end in itself. Just means will yield just ends. Otherwise we are left with doing evil in the hopes that good will result, which violates a clear teaching of scripture (Ro 3:8).

The elephant in the room of the Assange case is, of course, that the women did not come forward with their accusations until after Mr. Assange was wanted by Uncle Sam for the Wikileaks. Are the women really acting on their own, or are they Uncle Sam's agents, willing or otherwise? Is this part of a plot to land Mr. Assange in the same kind of torture cell that Bradley Manning now occupies?

I don't know, but my guess is that if Mr. Assange is sent to Sweden to face rape charges, he will be incarcerated there, and once incarcerated he will be extradited to the US and tortured. I could be wrong—one could say that the British are more likely to extradite him than the Swedes—but I see the British role—and I believe the whole thing is a stage play—as that of the neutral party keeping the factions from coming to blows, at least for now. I expect them eventually to hand him over to the US directly, or if not, to the Swedes.

How much more believable the whole thing would be if an independent arbitrator, agreed to by both parties in the rape case, were to hear the arguments on both sides and render a decision. Mr. Assange could stay in Britain, the women could stay in Sweden, the hearings could take place using encrypted video conferencing software, and once the decision came down, we would find out for sure what the parties were made of by their willingness to abide by it.

As it is, the rape case is inextricable from the leaks case, and in the latter we have a small organization facing the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. And while that empire has found itself unable in the past to defeat small organizations like the Viet Cong, al-Qaeda, and numerous drug cartels, it has certainly managed to spill a lot of innocent blood in its futile attempts to do so. This does not bode well for anyone's future.

When it comes to bloodshed, nobody does it better than the state. If you want the antithesis of bloodshed, look to the antithesis of the state.

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