Apparently there are people who are both passionately concerned about the fate of Julian Assange and completely unfamiliar with the reason he wound up playing the house guest from Hell.
Just kidding. There are people who are passionately interested in pretending his legal problems were sparked by his journalism rather than the fact that he was accused of sexual assault in Sweden and skipped bail in Britain.
31 August: Swedish police question Assange about two separate allegations – one of rape and one of molestation – which he denies.
18 November: An international arrest warrant is issued so Assange can be questioned on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion.
7 December: Assange presents himself to police in London and is remanded in custody after a hearing.
16 December: He is later granted conditional bail at the high court, bankrolled by his supporters who pay £240,000.
2 November: Assange loses an appeal to extradite him to Sweden; a judge denies it would violate his human rights.
19 June: Assange enters the Ecuadorian embassy in London, requesting political asylum. Scotland Yard confirms he is subject to arrest for breaching his bail conditions.
It’s also possible that some people have suddenly decided that being a journalist affords one absolute immunity against any and all forms of legal prosecution. That would be even weirder, but it isn’t outside the realm of the possible.
What’s really happening is that Assange’s fans, like Assange himself, think certain people should be exempt from negative consequences and those people just happen to be white men.
The day that the arrest warrant was announced, Assange sent me a message with a smiley-face emoticon. “I’m in my element,” he told me. “Battles with governments come easy. Battles with treacherous women are another matter.” It was our first conversation about the investigation in Sweden, and I asked him what the case was about. “It perplexed me to begin with,” he said. “I understand where they’re at now, though.” He spoke of Sweden’s “very, very poor judicial system,” weakened by external political meddling, careerism, and a culture of “crazed radical feminist ideology.” More important, though, the case was a matter of international politics. “Sweden is a U.S. satrapy,” he said.
Refrain from skipping bail? Outrage.
Follow rules set by the people offering you asylum? Yep, outrage.
It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Assange is in custody today because he’s just another spoiled, self-aggrandizing bro who thinks he’s exempt from the rules.
It’s almost impossible to escape the conclusion that society’s toxic love affair with the Bad Boy — here played by the M33r13 H4xx0r winking and tipping a grey cowboy hat as he outwits The Man — will in the end obscure Assange’s goals and accomplishments. And that should be a tragedy to anyone who really cares about his work.