Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rape, Anonymity, and All Things Inbetween

Okay unless you have been actively avoiding it I'm sure by now you are familiar with Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, and the two rape accusations against him. When it comes to rape charges one of the things that quickly becomes a hot topic is anonymity.

With the way things are now when someone is accused of rape people pretty much bend over backwards in most cases in order to keep the alleged victim's identity secret while at the same turning the life of the accused into an open book. In fact often times when the identity of the accused does come to light people will often react quite negatively.

Will it would seem that in this case the identities and contact information of Assange's accusers has been made public (and to answer your question no I didn't provide a link in order add to the spread of the info, I added because I refuse to make this one of those posts where I go on and on about something that got from somewhere and cop out by not providing a link to where I'm coming from).

I'm a bit mixed on this.

I'll be the first to say that given the stigma that rape carries I find it to be pretty unfair that as soon as an allegation is made the life of the accused becomes fair game while even in the event that allegation is false the identity of the accuser is still a tightly guarded secret (meaning that the criminal is free to strike again, funny how people seem to not notice that when its the other way around). But I don't think that tit for tat is the way to go.

Its true that once the identity of the accused is known people will likely go after them. Calling them names, threatening them, and otherwise trying to shame them and pass judgment on them. Its also true that this happens to the accused as well. However when that happens people try to take that "Oh well they're a rapist fuck them and their feelings. They deserve what they get." (And I'll be getting back to that "They deserve what they get." part in the future.)

Should those women be investigated and have their stories run through with the proverbial fine toothed comb? Hell yes because the stakes are pretty high when talking about rape. You're talking about the rest of the life of the accused or the accuser or both. In this particular case you could be talking about either Assange getting put away for something he didn't do (*) or two women who had a terrible crime committed against them never getting justice. Those are high stakes on both sides. And when the stakes are so high a balance needs to be made where the accuser and the accused both get their fair shot at justice.

(In my efforts to keep the rape allegations and WikiLeaks business separate there will be no discussion of WikiLeaks here. They are two separate events and one should have no bearing on the other. If you want to talk about the rape allegations have at it. If you're dead set on talking about WikiLeaks you are more than welcome to do so here.)

* - Warning. There will be no derailing claiming that false accusations don't harm the accused or that there is no incentive to make a false accusation. There is proof of it and frankly I think the only way you can miss it if you intentionally ignore it.