News is breaking that Julian Assange of Wikileaks has been charged[* see below] with rape and molestation by Swedish prosecuting authorities.
The timing and nature of this news seems somewhat convenient for the US government.
But we must be careful not to jump to the conclusion that it must be a smear.
There is reportedly a charge, and not just an allegation.
And there is presumably a complainant, or someone in respect of whom there is evidence behind the charge which has been made.
For us to assume too easily that the allegation "must" be false would thereby be to disbelieve the complainant or to deny that evidence.
It may even be to brand the complainant as a "liar" on the basis of our own prejudices and political values.
The better response to this emerging news is not to jettison our liberal value of taking allegations of rape seriously and treating the alleged victim with appropriate respect.
Instead, due process should be followed.
If it is a smear, then that will become apparent as the evidence is presented and tested.
And if it is not a smear, then we have not discredited the complainant or the evidence in advance.
The defendant should now have the presumption of innocence until proved guilty; and during this process, assumptions about culpability and credibility, either of the defendant or the alleged victim, should not be too readily made by the rest of us.
Any rape allegation should be taken seriously and properly investigated and, if appropriate, prosecuted with due process.
And that includes this one.
*"The charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing." - Julian Assange
This was the only quote from someone directly involved I had when I posted the breaking story. I recall that CNN also used the word "charge" when I linked to it.
It now appears that Assange was wrong in using the word "charge" himself and that the word warrant was correct.
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