Join 3,561 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

We Should Ban Publishing Alleged Rape Victims' Names
December 20, 2010 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Could we not publish the names of alleged rape victims?

In this thread, the names of two rape victims are posted on MetaFilter. It turns out that people are using these names to post threats against the alleged rape victims across the internet, especially on Twitter.

I think we ought to have a policy regarding the publication of the names of alleged rape victims. Many newspapers have such a policy in place.

Regardless of your position on the whole wikileaks mess, I think it best that a policy of not publishing the names of alleged rape victims be established.

I think the comments should be deleted, or edited to take the names out. I also think people should self-police on these issues. Furthermore, many US states have laws against the behavior (most have been declared overbroad, but being careful is important.)

A search of one of the accusers' names comes up with over 30 comments using her name. I think we can not be a part of this.
posted by Ironmouth to Etiquette/Policy at 8:47 AM (269 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

Not that I disagree, but you did it yourself when quoting one of those comments to ask that people not do this.
posted by Gator at 8:50 AM on December 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Absolutely in agreement. Mefites should know better. (Granted, so should the entire mainstream media. But this could start here.)
posted by NoraReed at 8:51 AM on December 20, 2010


the names are already out there in the news media - and it seems to me the only effect of not publishing here is to make people feel better about themselves, not to hide the names so the women will feel better

also, they have been accused of having political and intelligence community ties - how could people find this out if no one published the names?

in a case involving international politics and scandal, it simply isn't realistic and could have negative effects on our knowing what intelligence agencies are up to
posted by pyramid termite at 8:52 AM on December 20, 2010 [11 favorites]


Agreed!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:53 AM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


The incremental harm from publishing names that are already out there is not great, no. But a rule that distinguishes between people who have already seen their names published, and people who haven't, would, if widely adopted, create an incentive for some people to spread the names of rape victims. As we don't want that, and we don't want to allow completely anonymous rape victim's names to be published, and we certainly don't want there to be a grey area that can be exploited maliciously, we should have a ban on publishing all names of rape victims.
posted by topynate at 8:57 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm with Ironmouth on this. It's an easy, bright-line rule to follow, and it makes buckets and buckets of sense.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 8:58 AM on December 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


Without bringing Ironmouth's comment history into this, suffice it to say, I find this petition entirely disingenuous.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:58 AM on December 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Not that I disagree, but you did it yourself when quoting one of those comments to ask that people not do this.

Yeah, I noticed that in the search. Delete mine too!
posted by Ironmouth at 8:59 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


You are not precisely the most dispassionate person on MetaFilter when it comes to Wikileaks. Some people might suspect that you were not suggesting this out of compassion so much as you were trying to control the conversation in a fashion advantageous to your position.

One of those people would be me.
posted by adipocere at 8:59 AM on December 20, 2010 [24 favorites]


Absolutely agreed. The fact that some harm has already been done doesn't make it OK for us to join in.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:00 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I dunno, seems like this cat's been out of the bag for months, at least in Europe. I tend to favor not using the names, fwiw, but have an honest question: How do folks feel about linking to sites that have published the names? There are a host of vehemently/obnoxiously (take your pick) pro-Assange sites that are collecting information they say proves the charges are nonsense, but that also routinely use the accusers' names. Should linking those be discouraged as well? That would eliminate a chunk of the debate, which would be a problem if what we're interested in is thoughtful discussion of the various arguments.
posted by mediareport at 9:01 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Without bringing Ironmouth's comment history into this, suffice it to say, I find this petition entirely disingenuous.

Use your words. If you have something to say, say it, don't be coy.
posted by nomadicink at 9:04 AM on December 20, 2010 [19 favorites]


many US states have laws against the behavior

Really? Many US states have laws against publishing names of victims of crimes in Europe?
posted by mediareport at 9:04 AM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Some people might suspect that you were not suggesting this out of compassion so much as you were trying to control the conversation in a fashion advantageous to your position.

So what? That has nothing to do with the quality of the argument. Either we adopt the standard of not using the name of alleged rape victims or we don't.

I have to say that I'm not 100% sure, because I think the not publishing of alleged rape victim names may be an antiquated rule from days when rape was closely tied with shame, and that singling alleged rape victims out in this manner may not be the best course of action. I don't know. It would be nice if this thread could discuss the idea without becoming Assange-thread 80.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:05 AM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you have something to say, say it, don't be coy.

I've been lectured about quoting from someone's comment history.

Links available by request.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:06 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


and it seems to me the only effect of not publishing here is to make people feel better about themselves, not to hide the names so the women will feel better

I don't think the issue is the women's feelings so much as their safety.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:07 AM on December 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Metafilter is not a newspaper. The names have been publicly known for a while. This is pointless grandstanding.

And whether people are actually posting threats on twitter or not — no actual threats are linked to you in the post you linked, which only asserts thirdhand that threats have been made in very vague terms — they certainly would be able to post such threats whether the names are posted on Metafilter or not.
posted by enn at 9:08 AM on December 20, 2010 [12 favorites]


For those who choose to focus on the poster rather then the content I think this question is worth debating and I would encourage a debate on the merits of the idea as if it was presented without baggage. Or else we could easily get into a recursive, "well you're trying to steer the conversation by calling so-and-so's integrity into question, no you are no you are...."

On topic, I think in general not posting names of alleged victims, unless there is a reasonable expectation that they are ok with it" is a worthy idea. I also think, "well it's already been done elsewhere/everywhere" is a weak defense of the practice, and akin to defense by mob behavior.
posted by edgeways at 9:09 AM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


edgeways, what about the question of linking to sites that routinely use the names?
posted by mediareport at 9:11 AM on December 20, 2010


I think the not publishing of alleged rape victim names may be an antiquated rule from days when rape was closely tied with shame

Not to nitpick, but it still very much is.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:11 AM on December 20, 2010 [18 favorites]


Joe Beese: Without bringing Ironmouth's comment history into this, suffice it to say, I find this petition entirely disingenuous.

So I take it that you disagree with the proposal?
posted by Anything at 9:11 AM on December 20, 2010


I'm going to say I am tired of the "Use your words" statements. It's coy and condescending.

In almost every case I was to come back with "Get a modicum of reading comprehension."

It's almost always blindingly obvious what is being said. In the event that you truly are ignorant about something then ask for clarification. Words were used. Sorry they went over your head.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:12 AM on December 20, 2010 [21 favorites]


So I take it that you disagree with the proposal?

I disagree with the context in which it is being presented.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:13 AM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


To be fair, the name of the accused (innocent until proven guilty) should also be redacted.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:14 AM on December 20, 2010 [33 favorites]


Good, does that mean we can stop fucking talking about him then?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:16 AM on December 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Good, does that mean we can stop fucking talking about him then?

Good news, friend! You can stop talking about him any time you like! You have the power!
posted by enn at 9:16 AM on December 20, 2010 [15 favorites]


edgeways, what about the question of linking to sites that routinely use the names?

Yeah, that is a harder question, which essentially boils down to: how many iterations away is ok?

Personally, I would hope that such a direct link would be a high to very high quality link, and not something that is just rehashing the quickly tiring debate on Assange's sainthood/spawn-of-satan shouting match debate. In essence, something that might stay, but would be scrutinized pretty closely.
posted by edgeways at 9:19 AM on December 20, 2010


Really? Many US states have laws against publishing names of victims of crimes in Europe?

Yes, I was going to ask this too. I'm not really in favour of using the alleged victim's real names, but this strikes me as an odd statement. Also shouldn't we keep the name of the accused out of the conversation too? I believe that's the law somewhere-or-other.
posted by ob at 9:19 AM on December 20, 2010


Good news, friend! You can stop talking about him any time you like! You have the power!

Good, good, but can I not be Heart this time?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:21 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I also think, "well it's already been done elsewhere/everywhere" is a weak defense of the practice, and akin to defense by mob behavior.

I don't really agree in this case - the fact that it's already been done means that the standard practice of not identifying victims of sexual assault becomes meaningless. By not naming them on one of countless sites when their names are readily available by way of Google, I'm not really seeing what is actually accomplished. It's not mob behavior, it's believing that imposing this policy amounts to pretending that the information isn't part of the public consciousness when it very much is.

I do understand that perhaps it's more about the principle of the thing, which is fine - it's just that the principle of the thing would require the deletion of comments which would then break up the conversation of which they were a part - and this would be fine if something were to be achieved by so doing, but in this case I'm seeing no gain except on a level of principle, and some practical loss. It would also have to extend to - as someone mentioned above - a moratorium on linking to sites which use the names. I don't know how practical that would be.

As far as future cases where the names aren't widely known, I fully agree that Metafilter shouldn't be the site to break those names.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:22 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


what about the question of linking to sites that routinely use the names?

That's sort of grey, isn't it? I'd argue that you can link all you want but the bright line should be defined as 'don't type the person/people's identities into the comment box.'

The names of rape victims--unless they've opted to make themselves public--can probably remain unsaid without any harm in the loss of discourse, as a general but not complete rule. It's tricky with something like the Elizabeth Smart case where she was raped and everyone knows it and it's become sort of publicly discussed in contravention of what might normally happen with a rape victim case. So, a bright line could be drawn and exceptions made (and discussed and argued over), as is totally usual in this community.

oh and cjorgensen, I had no idea what Joe Beese was talking about and found it very annoying that he was being coy. What adipocere said made perfect sense and was a perfectly valid criticism; what Joe Beese said was neither.
posted by librarylis at 9:23 AM on December 20, 2010


I agree and would like to add there is a certain dark irony of telling someone "you did it yourself" as the first comment in a MeTa thread about protecting rape victims.
posted by SassHat at 9:23 AM on December 20, 2010


ironmouth: Regardless of your position on the whole wikileaks mess, I think it best that a policy of not publishing the names of alleged rape victims be established.

I think as a matter of course, we should make an effort to protect rape victims (alleged and non) from harassment and shaming. That seems to me to be the only civilized thing to do.

mediareport: " edgeways, what about the question of linking to sites that routinely use the names?"

We mostly have free will here. We're all adults, and are responsible for our own behavior. If debating a point requires linking to or discussing information that might lead to someone being harassed, then I would hope each of us would take that into consideration. I don't think an official policy is required for that to happen. But for obvious reasons, I wouldn't be against one.
posted by zarq at 9:24 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


If any folks want relatively thoughtful stuff related to the rape charges and progressives, I put a couple of decent links in a comment buried near the bottom of the original thread. Worth mentioning again here.
posted by mediareport at 9:24 AM on December 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's almost always blindingly obvious what is being said.

I think most of the time, it's more as a way to indicate that someone's method of communication presents too much emotion and too little information. So, if someone posts something that presents a very clear position ("THIS IS WRONG!!!") but then fails to present actual reasons to support that position ("This is wrong because it sucks, geez, what suckitude"), "use your words" is an appropriate response. It's a reference to how adults respond to children who are clearly upset about something but aren't explaining what.
posted by meese at 9:29 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


five fresh fish: "To be fair, the name of the accused (innocent until proven guilty) should also be redacted."

Completely agree. But not in this case.

Perhaps if Mr. Assange's lawyers weren't so obviously trying his case in the media, that would be relevant. But since they are, presumably at his directive or approval, then it shouldn't apply.
posted by zarq at 9:29 AM on December 20, 2010


"use your words" is an appropriate response. It's a reference to how adults respond to children

I don't see how both of those things can be true at the same time.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:33 AM on December 20, 2010 [17 favorites]


Interesting. The only two people whose comments have mentioned the two women by name in that thread are jeffburdges, who lives in France, and Ironmouth.

Does that change anything for anyone?
posted by mediareport at 9:34 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


zarq: "Perhaps if Mr. Assange's lawyers weren't so obviously trying his case in the media, that would be relevant. But since they are, presumably at his directive or approval, then it shouldn't apply."

OK, one of these links plays "We wish you a merry Christmas" and I don't appreciate that.
posted by boo_radley at 9:35 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


It does?

Sorry. I don't ever have the sound activated on my computer at work.
posted by zarq at 9:37 AM on December 20, 2010


I don't really agree in this case - the fact that it's already been done means that the standard practice of not identifying victims of sexual assault becomes meaningless. By not naming them on one of countless sites when their names are readily available by way of Google, I'm not really seeing what is actually accomplished. It's not mob behavior, it's believing that imposing this policy amounts to pretending that the information isn't part of the public consciousness when it very much is.

Is that not just a chain of responsibility avoiding? Site 1 names the names, so site 2 says, well since they are named already and it is not my fault so I can do it too. Site 3 says hey a few sites already have done this so it must be ok, site 4 sees it is now becoming public knowledge, site 5 says it's all over the internet now and not to name the names is just pretending the names are not out there.... and so on. I would think ethical behavior is not doing things when they are easy to do, but doing things that are correct despite no one else doing it.

I don't know these ladies names. Yes, I know (now) I can find them out pretty easy, but we do not have to be part of the dissemination of this information. We can choose not to be. Just because some action is widespread does not make it good practice.
posted by edgeways at 9:37 AM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think this is a good default for us to adopt in general. Consideration should also be given to whether the alleged perpetrators name is used.

In this specific case though it seems pointless.

Re: "use your words"

It is rude and condescending when using this towards an adult, not to mention hypocritical when lecturing on the tone of a response. Don't expect a good reaction.
posted by stp123 at 9:37 AM on December 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


Yes, I know (now) I can find them out pretty easy, but we do not have to be part of the dissemination of this information.

You're missing the point. Once the names become widely publicized and available to anyone who can access Google, our refraining from repeating them here stops being a practical step with an actual effect on the privacy of the alleged victims and becomes nothing more than an exercise in self-congratulation. "Not being part of it" doesn't help the accusers in any way; it's just something we do to make ourselves feel better.
posted by enn at 9:41 AM on December 20, 2010


I don't see how both of those things can be true at the same time.

Sorry, I should be clear: I didn't mean "appropriate" as in "acceptable for conversation." I just meant "appropriate" as in "expressing an understandable point." Whether or not "use your words" should ever be seen as an acceptable comment in Metafilter is something I have mixed feelings about.
posted by meese at 9:42 AM on December 20, 2010


"Not being part of it" doesn't help the accusers in any way; it's just something we do to make ourselves feel better.

Depending on one's own system of ethics, there's something to be said for doing the right thing even if there are no benefits to doing so.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:47 AM on December 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


Interesting. The only two people whose comments have mentioned the two women by name in that thread are jeffburdges, who lives in France, and Ironmouth.

Does that change anything for anyone?


Actually, I was starting an email to cortex just to delete those two, when I decided to do a search and saw one victim's name mentioned 30+ times. I realized it had been going along for a while, and was likely to continue. So I figured a post would be better. There are multiple threads with the names in them.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:47 AM on December 20, 2010


I've been lectured about quoting from someone's comment history.

Links available by request.


If there's a rule against quoting from someone's comment history, then this doesn't seem to be a great response to that rule. I actually think directly and openly quoting history is better than making shadowy statements about the sekrit truf. Either say what you're going to say, or follow the rule and say nothing.
posted by prefpara at 9:52 AM on December 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


This is ridiculous as the names are already common knowledge. Any redacting here is pointless and in my opinion is an attempt by Ironmouth to further poison the well as far as this debate is concerned.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:52 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's almost always blindingly obvious what is being said.

True, it was Joe Beese being passive aggressive, attempting to cast aspersions without explicitly saying them because he's had his hands smacked for doing that, but he still attempts to do it.

If he has a problem with IronMouth bringing up the issue in this thread, he should just say so and why. He doesn't have to go trawling through IronMouth's comment history to make his point, he could actually write a few sentences indicating what the problem is, it's not hard.
posted by nomadicink at 9:52 AM on December 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Depending on one's own system of ethics, there's something to be said for doing the right thing even if there are no benefits to doing so.

Fine — no one is saying you have to use the women's names if you don't want to. But when you're asking for other people's comments to be deleted, I don't think "it's the right thing under my abstract moral code even though it provides no benefit to the world" is a very compelling argument.
posted by enn at 9:53 AM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess we could do this, but it seems to me it would have absolutely no consequences for anybody except us. Do we really need another "bright" line that only we can see?
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:55 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Once the names become widely publicized and available to anyone who can access Google, our refraining from repeating them here stops being a practical step with an actual effect on the privacy of the alleged victims and becomes nothing more than an exercise in self-congratulation. "Not being part of it" doesn't help the accusers in any way; it's just something we do to make ourselves feel better.

I don't think that's true. There are many things that are easily found on the internet that particular communities might choose not to foster. Framing that choice as self-congratulatory only makes sense if you're against the policy in the first place. We might choose not to add rape victims names to threads because we choose to recognize that there is a history of intimidating victims of sexual violence, especially when that violence has been perpetrated by the powerful. Even if others do not agree with that, or do not choose to govern their actions accordingly, we might think it the more respectful and wise course to follow our own ethics in this matter.
posted by OmieWise at 9:57 AM on December 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


it's the right thing under my abstract moral code even though it provides no benefit to the world

But you aren't arguing about whether or not it provides value to the world, you're assuming it doesn't. I think you're wrong.
posted by OmieWise at 9:58 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've been lectured about quoting from someone's comment history.

So you're just maligning somebody's motives in broad strokes, then? Do you think that is more okay?

Let's just not mention the names. On the scale of good and bad, it seems certain that not mentioning is going to be a better good.

And Assange's name ishould be mentioned because he's a global figure. Arguably, if H. Clinton were accusing somebody of rape, that would be news too.
posted by angrycat at 9:58 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are multiple threads with the names in them.

Yeah and multiple newspapers around the world with the names in them, too. Should Australian MeFites have their comments deleted if they want to talk here about what's in their morning paper?

Your anger and frustration at the Wikileaks story is understandable, and has been very clear over the last few months, but you didn't really think this part through at all.
posted by mediareport at 9:59 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


As far as future cases where the names aren't widely known, I fully agree that Metafilter shouldn't be the site to break those names. --- I agree with this. And if you think it's wrong to post their names when they are well known, then you should avoid doing it. That said, I don't think we need another reason to have comments deleted. If the information is readily available and out there, it's up to the authorities to protect the victims, not for us to hide our eyes from their mistake of divulging the information.
posted by crunchland at 9:59 AM on December 20, 2010


prefpara: " If there's a rule against quoting from someone's comment history, then this doesn't seem to be a great response to that rule. I actually think directly and openly quoting history is better than making shadowy statements about the sekrit truf. Either say what you're going to say, or follow the rule and say nothing."

It is essentially impossible to quote user history openly in MeTa anymore. Doing so invokes a negative response. My growing impression of the policy is that it invites people to act out, without fear that they'll be called out. Which kinda sucks.
posted by zarq at 10:00 AM on December 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


You're missing the point. Once the names become widely publicized and available to anyone who can access Google, our refraining from repeating them here stops being a practical step with an actual effect on the privacy of the alleged victims and becomes nothing more than an exercise in self-congratulation. "Not being part of it" doesn't help the accusers in any way; it's just something we do to make ourselves feel better

enn, I DO get your point, I hear what you are saying, and notwithstanding the uncharitable ascribing of my intentions, I understand what you are saying and it is not without merit.
Perhaps the way we are seeing the question is different, I see it as a direct question of "Doing X is questionable, should we avoid doing X, even though doing X in this instance is commonplace"?

I think there are things we can do or not do, that are done not because they are going to help people per se, but because it is the right thing to do even when everyone else is doing it. From your response I gather you believe this type of behavior is worthless and you feel some amount of contempt for it. That is fine. I can not speak for others but I don't get any measure of self-pleasure from going against the grain. It does not make me "feel better" to call for some amount of self control, indeed the question could be asked, if the information is so widely available why do we need to keep spreading it?
posted by edgeways at 10:00 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


There are many things that are easily found on the internet that particular communities might choose not to foster.

Yes, but the reason that people choose not to publish the names of rape victims is to prevent their becoming known. It's not the same reason people choose not to publish goatse, or whatever. That reason becomes moot once the names are known.

Do all of you who think this is a good idea think we should delete comments that name Elizabeth Smart? Surely there is some point at which this just becomes futile.
posted by enn at 10:00 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fine — no one is saying you have to use the women's names if you don't want to. But when you're asking for other people's comments to be deleted, I don't think "it's the right thing under my abstract moral code even though it provides no benefit to the world" is a very compelling argument.

Well, sure, I'd agree with that. I didn't start this thread, and I'm not arguing for deleting other peoples' comments. I think I would personally advocate that we each attempt to be mindful of the moral weight of our comments here, in particular with regard to the publishing of alleged victims' names.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:03 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, but the reason that people choose not to publish the names of rape victims is to prevent their becoming known.

No, the reason not to publish the names of rape victims is to help prevent and slow the historical problem of victims of sexual crimes being derided and intimidated for reporting said crimes. I disagree with your binary picture in which the names are either known or not, which determines whether they should be further mentioned or not. The more available the names are, the more available they are, and the more likely to feed into bad behavior. This is why I think it matters less what the decision of the world (internet) is, and more what the decision of the community is with respect to the ethics of the situation.
posted by OmieWise at 10:09 AM on December 20, 2010 [19 favorites]


Do all of you who think this is a good idea think we should delete comments that name Elizabeth Smart? Surely there is some point at which this just becomes futile.

Elizabeth Smart isn't an alleged rape victim anymore. He's been convicted, so she's an actual one.
posted by scalefree at 10:09 AM on December 20, 2010


The more available the names are, the more available they are, and the more likely to feed into bad behavior.

Well, I guess this is the assumption on which we disagree. I think people who are going to do so are perfectly capable of deriding and intimidating Assange's accusers whether they have Googled their names or not.
posted by enn at 10:11 AM on December 20, 2010


i'll use my words

ironmouth is trying to use our sensitivity towards rape victims to shut down the argument that assauge has been set up, one that he finds inconvenient to confront

furthermore, it's quite possible that the system has created these charges in order to twist liberal sensibilities and beliefs against themselves - that the system has gone so far to publicly persecute him when a similar defendant would not have his name publicized or be extradited or be made to put up such a large amount of bail increases my suspicions

it's pure black propaganda that's being practiced here - and ironmouth would like us not to be able to point that out, because it goes against his political agenda
posted by pyramid termite at 10:12 AM on December 20, 2010 [11 favorites]


I disagree with your binary picture in which the names are either known or not, which determines whether they should be further mentioned or not.

Following along your non-binary trail, there comes a point where the names are so widely known that insisting on a small enclave where they're not mentioned starts to look rather binarily silly.
posted by mediareport at 10:12 AM on December 20, 2010


Is that not just a chain of responsibility avoiding?

No, I don't believe so. Or more to the point, if it is, it's not a chain in which this site plays a meaningful part. Again, if it were somehow involved in the breaking of a story then I would agree.

Media outlets' practice of not publishing the names of sexual assault victims is a good practice, and one which exists for a reason. I don't believe that reason is as compelling here as there is nothing to protect.

Now, to be clear, I'm all for demonstrating that it is wrong to publicize the names of the women, or for anyone (here or otherwise) to go out of their way to include them. But instituting a sitewide policy as was being proposed in the OP would be disruptive to the operation of the site and achieve nothing practical. I understand the principle but taking pains to redact widely-available information just seems silly to me.

But I also think that how widely-available the information is plays a critical role in this. If it's something being reported in multiple mainstream media outlets then I don't see a point in redacting it. If it's something only known to a handful of determined 4channers and you've caught wind of it somehow then I see that as different.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:14 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Mefites should know better."

Honestly, the idea never crossed my mind. But now I'll think twice!

Who leaked the names?
posted by Eideteker at 10:14 AM on December 20, 2010


it's pure black propaganda that's being practiced here - and ironmouth would like us not to be able to point that out, because it goes against his political agenda

This argument has nothing to do with the topic of the thread.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:18 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm going to say I am tired of the "Use your words" statements. It's coy and condescending.

Huh, I honestly thought that was invented by jessamyn in some MetaTalk thread where the poster was being coy, then adopted as an in-joke. Now that I know where it comes from, it does indeed seem pretty patronising.

I'm about to Google the other strange, in-jokey, slightly annoying, I've-only-ever-seen-them-on-MetaFilter terms, like 'schmoopy', 'GRAR' and 'fighty' - am I in for a shock?!
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 10:22 AM on December 20, 2010


Without bringing Joe Beese's comment history into this, suffice it to say, I find this petition entirely disingenuous.

I am actually in favor of quoting comment history in MeTa if there is a valid point to be made. By 'valid' I mean not distorting the context or asserting a pattern based on tiny sample sizes. The alternative is this sort of mealy-mouthed 'I'm not saying xxxx is a yyyy, but zzzz' bullshit.

That said, this whole thread was sort of doomed from the get-go. This is one case where it would have been better to provide links or stats including the self-mention so as to avoid accusations of bad faith. My own call would be it's too late (to keep names in a rape case confidential) now for this story, do it in future for others.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:24 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


This argument has nothing to do with the topic of the thread.

it has everything to do with it - in fact, there wouldn't be a thread if it wasn't for this
posted by pyramid termite at 10:26 AM on December 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


In general, not posting the names of those who have made rape allegations (before those have been brought to trail), is a good policy. In this case, the situation is a little different. I wouldn't use the names myself and I don't think anyone needs to (Miss A and Miss W work just fine), but deleting all of these comments at this point isn't great either.

I think there are a few points to consider:

1) My understanding is that Assange would also be entitled to anonymity at this stage under Swedish law. It would be ridiculous to insist that we can't post his name, so I'm not sure all this talk of bright lines is applicable here. We are already past one bright line, so where we place the next one is somewhat arbitrary.

2) Miss A is commenting publicly on the case through Twitter. If she isn't trying to maintain anonymity, then I don't think we need to make a stand on this issue. Both Miss A and Miss W have (publicly, I think, but someone please correct me if I am wrong) hired a lawyer to represent their interests in this case. They aren't trying to remain anonymous.

3) As far as I know, no one here is posting the names with malicious intent. The fact that someone, somewhere has threatened Miss A and Miss W isn't really germane here, because the names are already publicly available. Smearing commenters here with fault for threats made by others elsewhere is not reasonable.

4) Ironmouth has been a vociferous attacker of Assange and Wikileaks. I don't appreciate his approach in the Wikileaks threads and think it lowers the level of discourse there, but he is entitled to argue how he likes. In that context, though, it is very hard to believe this post, coming after this has been going on for quite some time, isn't just a cheap way to bludgeon his opponents and rules-lawyer to discredit them.
posted by ssg at 10:30 AM on December 20, 2010 [17 favorites]


I think we ought to have a policy regarding the publication of the names of alleged rape victims. Many newspapers have such a policy in place.

We are not a newspaper, and we generally do not have specific hardline policies for stuff like this so much as general guidelines about what people should or should not do on the site.

That said, I think the idea of not willfully injecting the names of folks involved in rape allegations is a good one, and I'd guess most folks generally agree with that to some extent. As a sort of adjunct to the general expectation we have that folks don't e.g. post HERE'S HIS NAME AND ADDRESS, GO GET HIM type stuff or bring identifying details from someone's non-google-index mefi profile page into google-indexed threads, it's a pretty reasonable thought. If there's a situation where someone has, willfully or not, essentially outed an alleged rapist or rape victim, flag it or drop us an email and we'll certainly take a look.

I think the comments should be deleted, or edited to take the names out.

This is an unreasonable and unrealistic request in this case. We are not going to go through and edit or delete a bunch of people's comments after the fact, something that would be highly unorthodox by normal mefi policy and practice, in service of a moot point. Right or wrong, this is international news, not something over which mefi has any kind of sway, and the practical ends in this case do not justify the suggested means.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:34 AM on December 20, 2010 [11 favorites]


it has everything to do with it - in fact, there wouldn't be a thread if it wasn't for this

Maybe, maybe not, but dismissing the legitimate question raised because of the motives of the poster is not discussing the question.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:47 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would just like to apologize for linking a New Zealand newspaper and referencing Australian MeFites. I'll take my punishment now.
posted by mediareport at 10:48 AM on December 20, 2010


can we not print the names of alleged rapists? because they're, ya know, alleged.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 10:53 AM on December 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think MeFi needs a bright-line policy on this in general, just as we have policies on other things.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:56 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


pyramid terminte, speaking only for myself, I think that it's possible that these women were let's say molested in some way and that these allegations are not some black ops propaganda machine

I can understand that if you are 100% certain that these women are agents of U.S. black somethinorother, you'd think that nobody has any obligation to shield them

but if you are not 100% certain, it seems that you could at least see the possible merits of this discussion
posted by angrycat at 10:57 AM on December 20, 2010


Do all of you who think this is a good idea think we should delete comments that name Elizabeth Smart? Surely there is some point at which this just becomes futile.

Elizabeth Smart isn't an alleged rape victim anymore. He's been convicted, so she's an actual one.


Having no agenda either way, but just to clarify the point of this thread and the gist of this conversation: Does the conviction of a rapist mean that it's okay to post the victim's name, or should it still not be okay? (And if the latter, maybe this thread is mis-titled?)
posted by coolguymichael at 11:00 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Having no agenda either way, but just to clarify the point of this thread and the gist of this conversation: Does the conviction of a rapist mean that it's okay to post the victim's name, or should it still not be okay?

I think it is up to the victim how public he or she wants to be. Elizabeth Smart has chosen to be public about her experiences, with many high-profile interviews. The people who alleged sexual assault by Assange have not chosen to share their names to anyone except law enforcement officials, as I understand it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:13 AM on December 20, 2010


Elizabeth Smart has chosen to be public about her experiences, with many high-profile interviews.

Sure, but she was already being named on MetaFilter long before she gave any interviews to anyone, and she never really had a choice about her name entering the public discourse.
posted by enn at 11:20 AM on December 20, 2010


but if you are not 100% certain, it seems that you could at least see the possible merits of this discussion

i would argue that the governments involved have handled this thing in such a manner that the victims have been harmed more than helped - even if the accusations are 100% true

they are being used and used badly by people who aren't really after justice for them at all

this is dirty tricks anyway you look at it - and when it involves people at this level of international intrigue and skulduggery, i say that our right to know what our governments are up to overrides the merit of shielding the names of alleged victims

it is not an ordinary case and needs not to be treated like one
posted by pyramid termite at 11:23 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The behavior that worries me is when it seems people are gratuitously using the a rape victim's full name, repeatedly, in places where it would be sufficient to say "the victim" or "the alleged victim" (multiple times in the same sentence? probably not necessary to use the full name each time).

Presumably, people who do this are doing it to ensure that the victim's name is as well publicized and googleable as possible. I don't know their motivation beyond that, but it seems obvious to me that the better publicized a victim's name is, the more likely that they will be harassed online or possibly stalked, or worse, in real life.

I've seen this a lot with respect to a number of different rape cases over the years in various places on the internet, and I noticed it at least once in an Assange thread here on Metafilter. And to me that is an ugly enough thing to do for us to just say that we, as Metafilter, want no part in behavior of that sort and so in the future our policy is against publicizing rape victim's names.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:25 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


multiple times in the same sentence? probably not necessary to use the full name each time

People are doing this on Metafilter? Can you provide a link, please?
posted by enn at 11:26 AM on December 20, 2010


There are two technical details that first any case we'd even discuss on mefi will involve famus or significant people, that differs from an ordinary news paper that'll report merely that a rape occured, and second deletions might inspire larger sites like reddit, /b/, etc. to more agressively post the names all over. In this case, the evidence collected from various sites suggests the women were initially involved in leaking Assange's name.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:33 AM on December 20, 2010


Sure, but she was already being named on MetaFilter long before she gave any interviews to anyone, and she never really had a choice about her name entering the public discourse.

Some of that was taken out of her hands by her parents, who chose to be very public about her identity. I mean, she was a kidnapping victim as well as a victim of rape, and that does make a difference--her parents provided her name/description/pictures to the public as part of addressing the kidnapping angle.

But the thing is that I think there needs to be a policy, and it needs to be based on the determinations of mat and jess and cortex and pb and vacapinta, in whatever way they generally work to create policies.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:38 AM on December 20, 2010


You can have a significant person attack an insignificant person. the only reason why the alleged victims are significant outside of the identity their alleged attacker is if allegations regarding them being agents of the U.S. are true

so what i'm saying is, again, it seems defensible only if the alleged victims are in fact agents of the dark side, and we have no proof of that
posted by angrycat at 11:41 AM on December 20, 2010


I think it is a good idea in general not to publish the names of rape victims (alleged or not) or alleged rapists. In this specific instance, however, every news outlet on the internet has public named-and-shamed both the alleged victims and alleged rapist. It is important that this policy is symmetrical - if we are to protect the accusers (which we should) we must also protect the accused (innocent until otherwise is proven and all that).

However, MetaFilter is not a news site. What we tend to do here is link to news sites, and then discuss the contents. As such, the onus is by and large on news media outlets not to release the names. Would it suddenly be unacceptable to link to the Guardian because the publish the name of an alleged rapist (or rape victim)? Obviously, don't take the sentence with the names for the FPP pull-quote, but at the same time, this is site doesn't provide content per se. It's a difficult question: if we can link to the Guardian, can we not discuss the contents of the linked article? Can we not discuss on MetaFilter certain cases merely because the names are part of the mainstream reporting on them? Essentially this boils down to whether we have to police this policy vis-a-vis the news media we link - if we do, then we cannot reference (links being a form of reference) names. If we do not, it seems arbitrary to say that you can link to the names, but not mention them in any other way.
posted by Dysk at 11:45 AM on December 20, 2010


"Alleged victims," especially in this case.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:49 AM on December 20, 2010


I think there needs to be a policy, and it needs to be based on the determinations of mat and jess and cortex and pb and vacapinta

cortex and I have been talking about this today and we're both feeling the same general way. We think people should err on the side of not using the names of rape victims. However there's not a bright line we feel comfortable using about either deleting any post which uses a rape victim's name [newspaper pullquote? people not knowing they're a rape victim? rape victim using their own name in some way and quoting them? high profile rape victim like Elizabeth Smart where everyone is using their name.]. If we feel that people are injecting someone's name into a discussion in what we feel is bad faith we will talk to them about it.

We will also not go back and retroactively edit a thread, the most recent one or other historical ones, to adhere to a policy that hasn't really been in place.

I know that people will not all be happy about this, but it's one of those things that is manageable in either a print situation or in a one-person blog with moderated comments situation and is, to our thinking, not possible here. There are too many "what ifs" and too many hot button aspects of every rape thread we already have to add another bright line prohibition. People should err on the side of not using rape victim's names, but we'll only intervene if we think people are doing it in a malicious way.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:51 AM on December 20, 2010 [12 favorites]


Oh, and my two cents worth is that once the alleged victims names become public information, to the extent they are bandied about in news articles, it seems somewhat arcane for MeFi to have a policy that pretends this isn't so.

I'm all for encouraging each other to be sensitive to the plight of victims of horrendous crimes like rape, but I draw a bright line at censorship.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:55 AM on December 20, 2010


Could we not publish the names of alleged rape victims?

This suggestion bothers me because Metafilter is not a newspaper; it is not "publishing" things, but rather, there are discussions here whether different people make contributions. YOU (Ironmouth) are free to refrain from "publishing" the names in your own contributions to the site; other people, who feel differently, should be free to use the names as they see fit. Attempting to impose your preferences on OTHER people's contributions seems a bit out of line. They are alleged victims, just as Assange is an alleged rapist. You haven't hesitated to use his name in your own contributions.
posted by jayder at 12:00 PM on December 20, 2010


whether different people make contributions

should read "where different people make contributions"
posted by jayder at 12:00 PM on December 20, 2010


Should this be up for further moderator discussion, in terms of whether there is actually going to be a policy, I'd argue that any change shouldn't be retroactive. It makes no sense to go back and edit comments that were made when there was no policy on the subject.

I tend to fall in the "This is one of those things where people really need to exercise some self-restraint" camp, rather than the "prohibit this" camp, in general, and on this issue as well.
posted by bardophile at 12:15 PM on December 20, 2010


I don't think Ironmouth was trying to shut down any discussion - not mentioning the alleged rape victim's names would not have affected the debate at all in any of the threads I've seen. Indeed, the specific comment that led Ironmouth to make this thread would not have lost any of its meaning if the names were removed and replaced with something vaguer.

On the other hand, that comment (that Ironmouth) first objected to was directly discussing two major newspaper articles that do mention the names. So it would have seemed kindof natural to just mention them in that context.

Anyway the mods hath spoken but thats my 2 pence worth.
posted by memebake at 12:17 PM on December 20, 2010


Ironmouth: “I think the comments should be deleted, or edited to take the names out.”

cortex: “This is an unreasonable and unrealistic request in this case. We are not going to go through and edit or delete a bunch of people's comments after the fact, something that would be highly unorthodox by normal mefi policy and practice, in service of a moot point. Right or wrong, this is international news, not something over which mefi has any kind of sway, and the practical ends in this case do not justify the suggested means.”

jessamyn: “People should err on the side of not using rape victim's names, but we'll only intervene if we think people are doing it in a malicious way.”

With respect, I disagree with the judgment that this comment isn't naming these women in a malicious way. Maybe I'm bringing unfair bias into this – I remember seeing at least one pretty offensively sexist comment by jeffburges in ask get deleted a while back – but I base this conclusion largely on his last comment here:

jeffburdges: “There are two technical details that first any case we'd even discuss on mefi will involve famus or significant people, that differs from an ordinary news paper that'll report merely that a rape occured, and second deletions might inspire larger sites like reddit, /b/, etc. to more agressively post the names all over. In this case, the evidence collected from various sites suggests the women were initially involved in leaking Assange's name.”

... so apparently naming the women was okay because (a) they're famous anyway (?) and (b) if we don't post these names, then other sites might post them even more (?). Most tellingly, jeffburdges points out that they did it first by leaking Assange's name, so somehow it's okay to plaster their names all over, merely as a sort of turnabout kind of thing.

I don't know; I kind of feel a bit uneasy about this all around. I don't think it's an easy case, but honestly the way that that discussion was going made me a little uneasy there.
posted by koeselitz at 12:19 PM on December 20, 2010


With respect, I disagree with the judgment that this comment isn't naming these women in a malicious way.

With respect, we're not retroactively analyzing any of the previously made comments. enn had asked if people saw that sort of behavior here and I was waiting to see if people had indicated any places where this is happening.

so apparently naming the women was okay because

You know, I dislike this game. If you're questioning a decision that we've made and you're saying you think it was wrong in a specific case, maybe just ask us instead of this sort of "Oh so THIS is okay then?!" sort of callout. We haven't read every comment in every thread. We rely on people flagging, using the comment form or talking to us about this sort of thing. As of now no one has flagged the jeffburdges comment, or emailed us about it, and this is the first mention I've seen of it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:38 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the person's name and background is newsworthy and relevant and already all over the internet, so this MeTa is pointless.
posted by empath at 12:40 PM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


The names of Assange and the two alleged victims were reported in the Swedish media, which evidently normally follows a strict policy of not reporting the names of alleged victims or perpetrators of any crimes, not just rape. The two alleged victims evidently outed themselves by giving statements to the media. I don't know whether they actually consented to their names being used along with their stories. The leaking of Assange's name was definitely involuntary and seems to have come from someone in the police department. Some Swedish MeFites seemed pretty shocked by this when it happened.

(Yes, I know it's ironic that Assange's lawyer is complaining that information about his client's alleged wrongdoings was leaked to the media and that there is an ongoing investigation into how this happened.)

But, yeah, the cat's pretty much out of the bag now. Some media outlets and some MeFites have been referring to the alleged victims by their initials, A. and W. I wish more MeFites followed this convention, but I'm not in favor of deleting any comments simply because they contain the names of the two alleged victims.

I feel really sorry for W., who seems to be a really ordinary Swedish woman, and not a public figure at all before this happened, and who is the only woman Assange is actually accused of having raped. She's unlikely to have the resources to deal with the harassment she's being now subjected to.

However, I don't think any post or comment on MeFi has encouraged this kind of harassment. I don't think anything we do or don't do on MetaFilter will curtail that kind of harassment.
posted by nangar at 12:40 PM on December 20, 2010


Assange Accuser Breaks Silence on Twitter
Anna Ardin has spoken publicly, to the entire internet, under her own name, about this case. Regardless of your opinion of any of the principal figures here, I can't see any defensible reason for redacting her name when talking about the case. As a matter of fact, it seems kind of condescending to her to demand that her name not be mentioned, for her dignity and protection, when there is no evidence that she wants that, and in fact there is substantial evidence to the contrary.

As a general rule, of course people should not "out" alleged rape victims in a thread when those alleged victims have not publicly spoken out about the allegations - I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a MeFi user with a different opinion on that.
posted by chaff at 12:49 PM on December 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Five fresh fish: To be fair, the name of the accused (innocent until proven guilty) should also be redacted.

This is a very good point, and emphasises that there isn't a bright line here. Although Assange's name shouldn't have been leaked, it would be ludicrous for us to not mention the case against him, given that its a huge global story right now and Assange himself is holding daily press conferences about it.
posted by memebake at 1:23 PM on December 20, 2010


To be fair, the name of the accused (innocent until proven guilty) should also be redacted.

That would contradict the narrative being pushed here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:25 PM on December 20, 2010


Is the problem naming the accusers or the public campaign against them. Is it necessary to name them to have the discussion about the validity of their charges.
posted by humanfont at 2:17 PM on December 20, 2010


I don't think Ironmouth was trying to shut down any discussion

No he was and is trying to poison the well plain and simple. Shitty tactic, pointless meta. As if mefites habitually post the names of rape victims outing them to the public; please give me a break.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:24 PM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


As a general rule, of course people should not "out" alleged rape victims in a thread when those alleged victims have not publicly spoken out about the allegations - I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a MeFi user with a different opinion on that.

I dislike this bright-line rule. Because a victim has spoken publicly, it is apparently okay in your eyes to splash her name all over the place, even though you know or should know that she is a target of harassment. I had not known her name before her comment. I have no motivation to harass her, but why make her a bigger target than she already is?

This feels not cool at all to me.
posted by angrycat at 2:25 PM on December 20, 2010


aelfwine evenstar, you live in a fuckin' glass house, man
posted by angrycat at 2:26 PM on December 20, 2010


before *your* comment. Your comment, not hers.
posted by angrycat at 2:27 PM on December 20, 2010


The only reason I know these women's names is because of MetaFilter. I saw one of them some days ago and the thread under discussion showed me the other name. I have been keeping up with the story and talking about it with people here in Iceland but the only place I've seen or heard them named is MetaFilter. It may seem to people who are very actively following the case that their names are common knowledge, but that is not the case (especially in the case of the less talked about of the two). Not publicly naming rape victims, alleged or otherwise, is a simple ethical rule and the decent thing to do.
posted by Kattullus at 2:27 PM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do we have a long history of publishing rape victim's names? If the Assange case is the only time this has been an issue, then I think we don't need a rule. In this particular case, I'd say that the cat was out of the bag long before we started discussing it. If we can't have a discussion about what are undoubtedly publicly available facts on Mefi, we might as well throw in the towel, we can change the name of the site to Little Blue Footballs or something.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:29 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


you live in a fuckin' glass house, man

Life in a Glass House

Once again, I'm in trouble with my only friend
She is papering the window panes
She is putting on a smile
Living in a glass house

Once again, packed like frozen food and battery hens
Think of all the starving millions
Don't talk politics and don't throw stones
Your royal highnesses

Well of course I'd like to sit around and chat
Well of course I'd like to stay and chew the fat
Well of course I'd like to sit around and chat
But someone's listening in.

Once again, we are hungry for a lynching
That's a strange mistake to make
You should turn the other cheek
Living in a glass house

Well of course I'd like to sit around and chat
Well of course I'd like to stay and chew the fat
Well of course I'd like to sit around and chat
But someone's listening in.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:33 PM on December 20, 2010


angrycat, let me be clearer: No, I do not think that just because an alleged victim's name got mentioned somewhere, that it is then acceptable to "splash their name all over the place".

This is, in my opinion, a different situation. This person has voluntarily made herself a public figure in relation to these events by publicly writing (or micro-blogging or whatever) about the events under her own name. I feel that once a person has done that, then it is legitimate to mention that person by name in further discussion of those events, and as I said I think it's a little disrespectful to attempt to shield a person from a public discussion in which they have voluntarily placed themselves.

I think it's a bit of a stretch to interpret my previous comment as advocating the public "splashing" of any crime victim's name anywhere and everywhere as soon as you see that person's name reported once somewhere on the internet. Those are two very different stances and I think you know that.
posted by chaff at 2:39 PM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


The only reason I know these women's names is because of MetaFilter.

The only reason I know these women's names is because of this MetaTalk thread.
posted by grouse at 2:46 PM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


chaff, I was responding to your specific act of publishing her name. you, and you alone, gave me this information. so i guess i'm saying -- why contribute to the badness, as you seemed to be doing with your post
posted by angrycat at 2:53 PM on December 20, 2010


The reasonable response here seems to be increased scrutiny of comments or posts that mention alleged rape victim names. While I generally agree with the newspaper name embargo, it doesn't seem feasible here and is a little bit, well, provincial.
posted by klangklangston at 2:59 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only reason I know these women's names is because of MetaFilter.

The only reason I know these women's names is because of this MetaTalk thread.


Well, I've known one of the victim's names since August, when ValleyWag cited a Swedish article that named her days after the alleged event. Presumably it became "OK" for a Swedish paper to do so after charges were dropped the first time. It's been nearly four months since this person was identified. I don't think it's reasonable to insist that her name not show up here. I think it is a good think that most posters seem to have avoided using it, but it's not surprising that it came up nonetheless.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:05 PM on December 20, 2010


OK, I guess I don't have a response to that angrycat, other than that which I've already said, which is that I consider the person a public figure by her own choice, who has deliberately associated her name with the case publicly, and putting a taboo on her name is as silly as demanding any other voluntarily public figure's name be redacted based on how you feel about them.

Having said that, I'll bow out of this thread, and if the mods want to delete my original comment so nobody else has to accidentally come across that person's name in this thread, I won't protest the deletion.
posted by chaff at 3:12 PM on December 20, 2010


No he was and is trying to poison the well plain and simple. Shitty tactic, pointless meta.

I feel slightly dirty going here, but... Ironmouth has used disingenuous tactics to forward his arguments before.
posted by Chuckles at 3:21 PM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


jessamyn: “You know, I dislike this game. If you're questioning a decision that we've made and you're saying you think it was wrong in a specific case, maybe just ask us instead of this sort of "Oh so THIS is okay then?!" sort of callout.”

Absolutely. Sorry if my comment sounded snotty – it totally wasn't meant to. I really shouldn't have made assumptions about what cortex meant above.

“We haven't read every comment in every thread. We rely on people flagging, using the comment form or talking to us about this sort of thing. As of now no one has flagged the jeffburdges comment, or emailed us about it, and this is the first mention I've seen of it.”

I'm certain I flagged it – I remember, because I flagged the Ironmouth comment that quotes it as well. I'm thinking I sort of misunderstood this thread, or maybe just identified it too much with a comment I happened to be looking at – the Ironmouth comment that I flagged is linked in the first comment here, but that doesn't mean this whole callout is about that one comment (it certainly isn't). I'm not trying to be a bother here or call into question mod judgment in any way, though I can see how it might have seemed that way. I'll let it go now. Sorry.
posted by koeselitz at 3:24 PM on December 20, 2010


I'd agree that one person's fame does not immeditely translate over to the other angrycat, well obviously. Almost any rape case mefi discusses will get messy for one or both though, one more reason for the mods to guard their discression.

In this case, all the moral ambiguities about all parties are easily resolved, if not by the early leaks by the victims, then by the international intrigue aspect, etc. Btw, Claus Borgström is a way more interesting figure if your looking for American influence, imho.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:28 PM on December 20, 2010


nanger : W. was actually the only one of the three who successfully erased her internet profile before her identity became well known, that's why we rarely talk about her. A. had her tweets & such mirrored elsewhere so people actually saw her take em down, that's why we talk about her all the time. There was one linked story claiming W. likely got spy-like help for this, which sounded like total bullocks, but there ya go.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:37 PM on December 20, 2010


>>[irrelevant crap about wikileaks]

I'm just some n00b who barely knows how to use The Google, and I barely know what the wikileaks controversy even is because it's the most uninteresting thing to happen to the world in 2010, but come on -- who cares if Ironmouth has some ulterior motive.

Chiming in that there's no good reason to name an alleged rape victim in a forum like this. I think it's interesting that a lot of courts have that policy with their judicial opinions -- yes, maybe you can sleuth out an identity somewhere else, but there's no need to make it easier than it has to be.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:16 PM on December 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


the Ironmouth comment that I flagged is linked in the first comment here, but that doesn't mean this whole callout is about that one comment (it certainly isn't). I'm not trying to be a bother here or call into question mod judgment in any way, though I can see how it might have seemed that way. I'll let it go now. Sorry.

My comment should have been flagged. I should have redacted those names.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:22 PM on December 20, 2010


The only reason I know these women's names is because of MetaFilter.

The Sydney Morning Herald published not only the alleged victims' names, but also their photos. I assume they were not alone in doing so.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:14 PM on December 20, 2010


^...come on -- who cares if Ironmouth has some ulterior motive.

Chiming in that there's no good reason to name an alleged rape victim in a forum like this. I think it's interesting that a lot of courts have that policy with their judicial opinions -- yes, maybe you can sleuth out an identity somewhere else, but there's no need to make it easier than it has to be.


I also have zip zippity zip zero nada invested in the Assange thread(s), and I am with J. Wilson, here.
posted by gingerest at 5:54 PM on December 20, 2010


This entire Wikileads shitshow has really brought out the worst in a lot of people.
posted by proj at 6:35 PM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I agree that we shouldn't be doing it, and based on the sensitivities for so many other less important things here, I can't believe it is even being discussed. And I REALLY can't believe the mods are balking because it would be too hard.

Use your words

Can we stop this please? It is really rude. Infantilizing your opponent is no better than whatever they did.
posted by gjc at 6:57 PM on December 20, 2010


You guys (sic) know that if we actually debate this issue The Man has won, right? Because this is totally a black-white issue, and the end (INFORMATION WANTS TO BE FREE!111!!) justifies the means, so why all the hand-wringing over alleged victims of sexual assault?

STOP DISRUPTING MY NEATLY RENDERED NARRATIVE!

*deep breath*

Metafilter: Stop disrupting my neatly rendered narrative.

This is like BoyZone (TM) meets Neuromancer über-fans meets Penthouse Forum contributors/readers. This will, as we used to say, not endwell.

It is like watching a MeFi trainwreck in slowmotion, only more predictably so. Keep it up. Amusing to no end. Only it is sad. Did I mention predictable? Yeeeaaaaah.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:14 PM on December 20, 2010


Put differently: yes, I know Hitler was (according to some sources) a vegetarian. If you find this interesting and/or relevant to a discussion of the ethics of meat consumption you are doing it wrong. But, whatever. Get your HAXOR boner on while on the clock for some IT conglomerate because God (or Julian) knows we all need a crutch.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:19 PM on December 20, 2010


...AND A PARTRIIIIIDGE IN A PEAR TREEEEEEE...
posted by Gator at 7:21 PM on December 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


because God (or Julian) knows we all need a crutch.

Or a source of steady income. Happy holidaze! (For realz: love you all, even the insufferable ones, myself included, obviously.)
posted by joe lisboa at 7:23 PM on December 20, 2010


Rich. Ironmouth enters the debate and merciliessly slags Julian Assange by name, accuses him of lying, of criminal activities against the United States, of "tottering", associates his actions with child porn and then, in some warped sense of piety complains on this forum about naming alleged victims (leaving out the"alleged" in his main post) while, as has been repeatedly pointed out, naming those alleged victims in his post to the original thread. Is there not a limit as to the hubris one poster is allowed?
posted by Neiltupper at 7:43 PM on December 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


We pretty much don't have any hubris-specific guidelines, no. I'd like it if Ironmouth (along with a few other people) could dial it back some on the vociferousness with which wikileaks-related threads get latched onto, but, well, I'd like a lot of things.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:48 PM on December 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


No one named anyone. When you use the word naming in this way you imply people are disseminating someone's identity that is not already well know. What people did was reference already widely available information. No one is suggesting that outing rape victims is a good thing. No one is suggesting we make it a habit of outing rape victims alleged or no. What people are suggesting is that given these names are already widely available on the various intertubes it is ridiculous to start redacting them here out of some overactive sense of political correctness.

Meanwhile there is not one wikileaks thread open that is dedicated to discussing the actual leaks. And due to wiki-fatigue any thread started for this purpose would most likely be D.O.A. Everyone needs to take a lesson in how media manipulation works because in the case of wikileaks we have an excellent example. U.S. government +1, Wikileaks 0. Well played really.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:27 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here is the approximate amount of sleep I will lose over rich white men having their fee-fees hurt via MeFi comments: -------0------.

But good luck with that.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:29 PM on December 20, 2010


Jl are you drunk?
posted by empath at 8:35 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


>>The Sydney Morning Herald published not only the alleged victims' names, but also their photos. I assume they were not alone in doing so.

I don't read the Sydney Morning Herald. I do read MetaFilter.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:35 PM on December 20, 2010


Should we list every single outlet that published the names so you can tell us which you don't read? By the time the huffington post publishes it, the cat is well out of the bag.
posted by empath at 8:43 PM on December 20, 2010


Yes please. The list of publications I don't read is quite extensive.

This is actually true: I would not have seen the names of any of these rape victims were it not for Metafilter.

Yes, if I wanted that information I could have found it somewhere, but there's a difference between providing it here for people to run into (and it, I think, having no value) and leaving it out there to be sleuthed out.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:52 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


No one named anyone. When you use the word naming in this way you imply people are disseminating someone's identity that is not already well know.

It's the same slick rhetorical game played when Assange turned himself in to answer allegations, and the press spun it as if the "manhunt" was over, despite there being no charges filed. "Use your words", indeed.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:53 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't read the Sydney Morning Herald. I do read MetaFilter.

That was just an example of an old school newspaper, which normally crosses all the Ts & dots all the Is on things like not reporting suicides, not disclosing names of juvenile offenders or victims, and so on.

For a generally responsible news outlet like that to go so far as to publish photos of the alleged victims, it's safe to say that the cat was already not just out of the bag, it had packed itself a backpack & trekked all the way to Nepal and was already climbing Mt Everest while being filmed by David Attenborough & the BBC for an instant live global 3D telecast.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:59 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


You two are funny.
posted by Artw at 9:00 PM on December 20, 2010


I'm continuously grateful that cortex and jessamyn do the heavy lifting on moderating Metafilter and not a lot of other members, and I hope they continue to do that job and any subsequent additions or replacements are of similar outlook. Being generally reluctant to name alleged rape victims if they have not made themselves public figures is a good impulse and should be encouraged. To attempt to make it site policy to enforce such a thing is an awful idea, as are most ideas which attempt to enforce social norms with tighter and tighter moderation.

It's like gentrification. People see a cool place to live with a lot of culture and flavor which appeals to them, so they move there. But, hey, there's a couple things that could be better and sometimes the music is a little loud and strange and there's these folks with customs which are just a little too abrasive and, oh, wouldn't it be a little bit better if it was a bit blander and more this or that. And soon you've got a Starbucks on every corner and it's just like every other damn place in the country.

Moderation and, particularly, deleting of comments is the nuclear option. Metafilter didn't become what it is by using a blunt instrument but instead mostly uses social pressure. Let's not become like every other damn place on the web.

Oh, and Ironmouth should be ashamed for using people's good intentions on a difficult matter in an attempt to bludgeon his opponents in a political debate into silence. Shameful.
posted by Justinian at 9:51 PM on December 20, 2010 [12 favorites]


Oh, and Ironmouth should be ashamed

I think it's pretty clear he has none, shame that is.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:13 PM on December 20, 2010


Was that comment necessary?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:16 PM on December 20, 2010


What this meta necessary?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:18 PM on December 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile there is not one wikileaks thread open that is dedicated to discussing the actual leaks. And due to wiki-fatigue any thread started for this purpose would most likely be D.O.A. Everyone needs to take a lesson in how media manipulation works because in the case of wikileaks we have an excellent example. U.S. government +1, Wikileaks 0. Well played really.

Joe Beese is a sleeper agent.

The first response is that it isn't the job of MetaFilter to cover everything on the web, especially something that's been done to death. We've been talking about Wikileaks for over two years, and there are currently 13 open threads that mention Wikileaks. Thirteen. Wiki-fatigue is pretty fucking justified, especially since newsfilter is rarely the best of MetaFilter, and because contentious newsfilter is even less likely to be the best of MetaFilter.

So knock off your whining, stop pretending that we're all in the thrall of some evil conspiracy, and stop trying to make MetaFilter worse.
posted by klangklangston at 12:15 AM on December 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


deleting of comments is the nuclear option

I think its a possibility that the deletion of a comment on a website and a nuclear explosion are slightly different.
posted by sgt.serenity at 12:24 AM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think its a possibility that the deletion of a comment on a website and a nuclear explosion are slightly different.

I think it is a possibility that you are forgetting that the Internet if serious business.
posted by clearly at 1:52 AM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Doing the right thing shouldn't depend on whether other outlets have already done the wrong thing.
posted by gjc at 2:52 AM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


An admirable sentiment. Incidentally, I look forward to the day that America might apply that kind of reasoning to its own policies.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:12 AM on December 21, 2010


Iron Posturing.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 3:35 AM on December 21, 2010


UbuRoivas: For a generally responsible news outlet like that to go so far as to publish photos of the alleged victims, it's safe to say that the cat was already not just out of the bag, it had packed itself a backpack & trekked all the way to Nepal and was already climbing Mt Everest while being filmed by David Attenborough & the BBC for an instant live global 3D telecast.

If you search on Google you'll see that while one of names has a tenth of the hits of the other one. I still think that neither should be mentioned by name on MetaFilter, but if the argument is that it's okay to mention their names because they're public figures already,* that argument is a lot stronger for one of the two.


* Whether someone is or isn't a public figure is a nebulous matter. Being the accuser in a sexual assault case isn't. Not naming alleged victims in open cases is a fairly clear cut matter, figuring out who does or doesn't count as a public figure isn't.
posted by Kattullus at 5:05 AM on December 21, 2010


I don't get the claim that Ironmouth is trying to 'poison the well' here. He didn't say 'you published the name of the alleged victims therefore all your arguments are invalid'. He just said 'dont publish the names of the alleged victims'. He wasn't bludgeoning anyone into silence. He was very clear in at the top of this meta about what he was asking for, and he didn't use it to attack anyone. I understand why we're not going to, but if we did go and redact the names in all the threads it wouldn't affect the arguments made one bit.

This was a good meta to bring up, given that those names do crop up quite a lot across the 5 wikileaks threads, and now we've had a discussion about it. Good.
posted by memebake at 5:36 AM on December 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


The first response is that it isn't the job of MetaFilter to cover everything on the web, especially something that's been done to death. We've been talking about Wikileaks for over two years, and there are currently 13 open threads that mention Wikileaks. Thirteen. Wiki-fatigue is pretty fucking justified, especially since newsfilter is rarely the best of MetaFilter, and because contentious newsfilter is even less likely to be the best of MetaFilter.

I never said wiki-fatigue wasn't justified and I don't think there is some conspiracy on metafilter. I was going to make a wikimegapost about the leaks but thought better about it and asked the mods. Cortex said wait a while and although I think it would be nice to have a space to talk about the actual leaks instead of the Assange drama I agree with him that wikifatigue would probably make the thread less successful than if posted a few weeks down the road. It's not like the leaks are going anywhere. I was merely commenting on the situation not making a judgement about it. So all your bluster is kinda of entertaining.

So knock off your whining, stop pretending that we're all in the thrall of some evil conspiracy, and stop trying to make MetaFilter worse.

Somebody didn't get their grapenuts this morning...hope you have a nice day.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:42 AM on December 21, 2010


Oh, and Ironmouth should be ashamed for using people's good intentions on a difficult matter in an attempt to bludgeon his opponents in a political debate into silence. Shameful.

This is me not hurling f-bombs and other stuff all over the place.

1) The impugning other people's motives -- describing their deep hidden motivations that you believe you can discern -- when it comes to analyzing their argument, is both shameful and repugnant

2) Dismissing the concerns of potential rape victims because you think you can peer into the deepest hearts of men and women is shameful and repugnant
posted by angrycat at 7:58 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


also, and please correct me if I'm wrong, but only one of the women has outed herself, yes? are most people just ignoring that fact because some news outlets released ALL the names?

my news sources are PBS and NPR. I did not hear of their names on these outlets. And I have NPR on all the time.
posted by angrycat at 8:00 AM on December 21, 2010


The point of not mentioning rape victims names isn't to protect YOU from having to hear them, it's to protect THEM from having to deal with the negative repercussions of coming forward. Like it or not, their names were published by multiple newspapers and are all over the internet. There is nothing left to protect them from at this point. Whether you personally heard them from anywhere else but Metafilter is completely irrelevant.
posted by empath at 8:06 AM on December 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yes, empath, I did have that one all figured it out, but thank you for the explanation.

I apparently didn't make myself clear: There are a number of full-throated defenders of Assange on this site, and a number of people were speculating that the women made up the charges.

Let's say I'm one of those people; maybe I'm an outlier in that even though I'm so enthused, I don't hunt down every article about Assange. Maybe it's because I listen to NPR; there's probably some cross-over between NPR listeners and Assange supporters.

And I love Assange and I hate these women who have made up stories so as to sink my hero. I see one of their names. And then I inflict harassment.

This is my train of logic. Is this clear empath, or do I need to break it down in further small steps for you?
posted by angrycat at 8:13 AM on December 21, 2010


empath: The point of not mentioning rape victims names isn't to protect YOU from having to hear them, it's to protect THEM from having to deal with the negative repercussions of coming forward.

It is also to make other victims feel safe in coming forward.
posted by Kattullus at 8:15 AM on December 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


and what Kattullus said.

also, I am not arguing for the deletion of comments. i am only arguing in support of what I understand to be the mods position, which is that people exercise sensitivity going forward. I really don't see any negative effects flowing from using initials, say, instead of proper names, in such a situation.
posted by angrycat at 8:18 AM on December 21, 2010


1. the names don't need to be named here; it brings nothing positive to the discussion.

2. Ironmouth is suspect, in my mind at least, at not having entirely noble intentions in choosing to raise the point. Or, more to the point, noble as his intentions may be, my perception of them as such is undermined by the rather stridently anti-Assange tone he has chosen to adopt in much of the wikileaks related discussions around here.

3. This is probably funny. (WARNING: commercial attached)
posted by philip-random at 8:29 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


All disagreements with IronMouth about WikiLeaks aside, I think there's a good principle at play: minimizing harm to alleged victims even when there are active, pubic discussions about them. I agree wholeheartedly with that, and I think that releasing the names of alleged rape victims is problematic in a culture where there can be strong backlash.

The problem (at least in my opinion) is that MetaFilter is not the NYT, as many have noted. By the time many major stories are discussed here, the news has been broken. The purpose of keeping alleged rape victims' names secret is to protect them, not to protect the delicate sensibilities of readers or MeFi commenters. Several people here said they wouldn't have known the victims' names without reading the MeFi thread, but that only means that they didn't bother reading the articles in the first place.

I made a choice not to do anything that could disseminate private information about the alleged victims in the WikiLeaks case at one point in one of the earlier threads. Someone on the web dug up their phone numbers and home addresses and published them, specifically for the purpose of intimidating them. I mentioned it, as a way of illustrating the ugliness of te pushback the accusations were getting, but I didn't repeat the information in the thread and I didn't link to the site in question. I don't have any qualms about using the names of the alleged victims, though. Some people might think that it's a slippery slope issue, but I think it's less clear.

My concern is that if we adopt a proscriptive "you may not type the name of an alleged rape victim" rule even after the information has become widely publicized we're only furthering the stigmatization that already exists around said victims. That troubles me.
posted by verb at 8:30 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, one of the differences in the two examples I mention is that names, when multiple parties are involved in a discussion, can be critical for conversational coherence. Developing an elaborate "Alleged Victim 1, Alleged Victim 2, Accused 3" nomenclature could help, but it's a bit silly to pretend that conversations about people can be easily had without names or labels of some sort.

There's a lot of other information -- home phones and home addresses in the post I found, for example -- that is utterly unnecessary and only serves to intimidate or punish.
posted by verb at 8:33 AM on December 21, 2010

Let's say I'm one of those people; maybe I'm an outlier in that even though I'm so enthused, I don't hunt down every article about Assange. Maybe it's because I listen to NPR; there's probably some cross-over between NPR listeners and Assange supporters.
In the MeFi threads in question, it's worth noting that posters who believe Assange is A Bad Guy based on his role in WikiLeaks have already posted his five year old dating site profiles, google caches of his blog posts, email accounts of his awkward attempts at picking up a woman several years ago, and so on.

The problem with the WikiLeaks arc in particular is that many people have judged both the alleged victims and the alleged perpetrator of a crime based almost entirely on their opinions about WikiLeaks. In some cases, that takes the form of page-long diatribes about the alleged perpetrator's disregard for human life. In others, it takes the form of "Well, isn't that interesting" links to blog posts about revenge by the alleged victims.

Both are ugly, but neither (in my opinion) are related to the issue of using the names of alleged victims and perpetrators when we discuss current events or other issues. That question -- should we use proper names -- is one that would be important and, in my opinion, far less contentious if the most active posters on both sides of the WikiLeaks thread weren't the ones making their cases.
posted by verb at 8:48 AM on December 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Four! Four comments in a row, now!
posted by verb at 8:48 AM on December 21, 2010


To clarify, I'm not arguing for official censorship in terms of overall site policy as, for many of the reasons already stated in this thread, I can see such a policy having some fairly negative fallout. One-case-at-a-time is the way to do it, driven by concerns raised by community members as they note them (and flag them). In other words, let's trust that our mods, when provided with a "head's up", will do the right thing (whatever that happens to be in the given situation).

And if we disagree with their call, we can take it to META.
posted by philip-random at 8:49 AM on December 21, 2010


This is my train of logic.

Your logic is horrible. No one is claiming we should out Rape victims. No one on metafilter thinks that this is a good idea. The names are already in the public domain and therefore it is inconsequential what happens on metafilter. Should mefites in the future name alleged rape vicitims who are not already known to be alleged rape victims? No. No one is claiming that this should be the case.

The impugning other people's motives -- describing their deep hidden motivations that you believe you can discern -- when it comes to analyzing their argument, is both shameful and repugnant

You mean like questioning people for typing an alleged rape victim's name into the comment box of metafilter when said alleged rape victim's name has already been smeared all over most major media outlets. As far as questioning Ironmouth's motives I don't think that given his posting history and his comments regarding wikileaks it's that much of a stretch.

Dismissing the concerns of potential rape victims because you think you can peer into the deepest hearts of men and women is shameful and repugnant

But I thought you just said that "describing their deep hidden motivations that you believe you can discern" is "shameful and repugnant". I think you need to learn to be more consistent in your argumentation. No one here is "dismissing the concerns of potential rape victims". What people are doing, as empath and many others have noted, is pointing out the fact that the alleged victims names are already widely available in the public domain. So unless you think that metafilter is riddled with abusive internet stalkers who are just waiting for a fellow mefite to slip up and post a potential rape victims name so they can engage in abusive behavior I don't really see what your point is.

Just to clarify. Rape victims alleged or no should not be outed on metafilter, and doing so maliciously would I hope precipitate cortex's +5 banhammer of smiting. As far as the alleged rape victims in the Assange case are concerned I don't think gratuitously splashing their names around the site is a good idea but a few factual mentions in relation to the case are immaterial in my opinion.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:50 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


And I love Assange and I hate these women who have made up stories so as to sink my hero. I see one of their names. And then I inflict harassment.

In your absurd scenario, they would have already found those names long before reaching metafilter.
posted by empath at 9:00 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I think it best that a policy of not publishing the names of alleged rape victims be established."

Similar to cortex I could totally get on board with this if we applied it for all victims and alleged perpetrators. I even think it would make metafilter a better place by eliminating some of the "OMG! FOO allegedly did BAR; that hypocrite" posts that seem to garner so much attention and invariably consume disproportionate mod resources.

"many US states have laws against the behavior"

Unless you think that Metafilter is breaking the law this is a moo point and appeal to authority. Many States have laws against Sodomy, gay marriage, providing unrestricted abortion services, and other foolish things. Some of those laws are even immoral.

I really wish I could understand why this story has such legs here. J. Wilson summed up my opinion on all the controversy over wikileaks by calling it "the most uninteresting thing to happen to the world in 2010, ". I really hope something else comes along next year to bump this off the headlines. I'd even prefer a couple more rounds of Palin for President; at least that is funny.
posted by Mitheral at 9:10 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just coming back here.

I've been called a lot of names of late here, bootlicker, for example, been told that I do not care that children are dying and a lot of other stuff. But that is fine. It isn't nice, but I'm an adult and I have things to say and I expect that some people are going to disagree, and sometimes not so nicely.

But these two people, who we don't know and have never met have gone to the police and said that someone committed sexual misconduct against them. They aren't here. They can't defend themselves. If you look at Reddit, for example you see lots of threads directly about one of the alleged victims. And people, as well known as Michael Moore are describing the accusations as "a bunch of hooey" on national TV shows. People are so upset that they are pounding Keith Olbermann's twitter account as part of a #MooreandMe twitter thing. I don't think we should do anything that might help anyone behave incorrectly towards these women.

No matter what, these women are facing an incredible amount of pressure, just because they made these allegations. I really don't think that's right and I don't think we should be adding to it by including their names. Its fine to link to whomever that says they are CIA plants and whatnot. But naming is shaming and these women are getting it in bucketloads. We can talk about all the allegations against these women without using their names.

None of us know a damn thing about what happened there. I just think we ought to let the Swedish authorities take care of the case. Obviously, people should be held accountable for public statements, but we don't need to be naming the alleged victims.

If only one person finds the name of these alleged victims through our site and then says hateful things about them to them, or makes threats that make other rape victims feel bad, then we have not done our job--we have done wrong.

More importantly, past this case, what are we going to do about the future. Because this isn't the first time a beloved figure has been accused of sexual misconduct. Other figures will also face such accusations in the future. And when the defenders of those people name the alleged victims on MeFi, they are going to point back to what was done here and say--you allowed it here. So I think we need to be careful. And I think what we ought to do is say this--people should voluntarily not name the alleged victims of sexual assault on MetaFilter. Not just this time, every time. I don't think that's crazy, I don't think that's asking too much.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:12 AM on December 21, 2010


empath and aelfwine, your arguments assume that as long as x number of media outlets release the names, then everybody knows the names

you are both arguing from a fallacy, demonstrated by the fact that myself and others in the thread learned the names of one of the women from this metatalk thread

by the by, the exposure of assange's dating profile made me uncomfortable too. especially gawker's email between assange and a woman he dated. that's not good. however, there's not actionable information there -- i.e., people can point and laugh, but assange isn't a vulnerable target (outside the realm of some international attempt to get him) the way the women are (assuming they're not CIA agents or whatever)
posted by angrycat at 9:15 AM on December 21, 2010


people can point and laugh, but assange isn't a vulnerable target

Did you mean to say this? You surely couldn't have meant this.
posted by empath at 9:17 AM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


If only one person finds the name of these alleged victims through our site and then says hateful things about them to them, or makes threats that make other rape victims feel bad, then

...they are an awful fucking person. A person whose ability to find the names of these women is so thoroughly not dependent in this specific, unusual, international-news-level case on those names having appeared on metafilter, of all places, that returning to the point for the sake of some kind of "WE HAVE FAILED" fantasy scenario makes for a very poor argument.

That's regardless of the merit of the general principle, which, again, I pretty much agree with as do folks in general here.

More importantly, past this case, what are we going to do about the future.

I've done my best to answer this question. So has Jessamyn. If you are looking for an answer other than what we offered, maybe address specifically what we've said and tell us what about it you disagree with and what alternative approach you believe is workable and why.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:19 AM on December 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


also, i was an active skeptical voice in the Assange threads (skeptical in that I think some aspects of his Wikileaks venture are not good). The whole "these women are plants" came up there, and I was cheesed about it, and thus have developed a position on it.

my articulations here are not prefaced with a desire to slag off Assange, and followed by an evil laughter a la "muah-ha ha"
posted by angrycat at 9:21 AM on December 21, 2010


empath, try reading, then commenting.
posted by angrycat at 9:22 AM on December 21, 2010


cortex, the more that I think about it, the more I think it's not just the problems associated with stating the names, but it was a number of comments that dismissed the allegations on the basis of nothing but speculation.

Thus, the women become bad people who have done a very bad thing. And here are their names.

I don't think I'm making a point that goes to mod behavior in the future, as I agree with your policy going forward. I guess I am wondering if you do not see something problematic with the sort of gestalt of the current case, where you have people dismissing claims of sexual harassment and other people making their names more well-known than they were before.
posted by angrycat at 9:34 AM on December 21, 2010


I've done my best to answer this question. So has Jessamyn. If you are looking for an answer other than what we offered, maybe address specifically what we've said and tell us what about it you disagree with and what alternative approach you believe is workable and why.

Sorry, I just came back and started scrolling from the bottom of the thread and reacted to one of the first things I saw.

Let's see:

cortex and I have been talking about this today and we're both feeling the same general way. We think people should err on the side of not using the names of rape victims. However there's not a bright line we feel comfortable using about either deleting any post which uses a rape victim's name [newspaper pullquote? people not knowing they're a rape victim? rape victim using their own name in some way and quoting them? high profile rape victim like Elizabeth Smart where everyone is using their name.]. If we feel that people are injecting someone's name into a discussion in what we feel is bad faith we will talk to them about it.

Well, I think this is about 99% of what I think is good. Its going to be hard, especially in cases like Ms. Smart, where the case starts out as something other than a sexual assault matter, and gets known by that name. But I agree that the mods can't really enforce a "policy" and that it has got to be up to individual users not to use the names. Although I would in this case, think that it is a better thing to go back and edit posts, I think that's the least of our worries.

Mind you, I originally just wanted to take care of this with an E-mail message, but then when I did a search I realized the names were all over the threads. Obviously this is a bigger problem with wikileaks, with the whole "random wikileaks post generator" you guys installed. But as there are going to be a lot more threads on this to come, I agree that people should not use the names directly. If you have the evidence that the alleged victims are CIA/Illuminati/Kang and Kodos plants, then I think discretion would say, link to it without using the names directly.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:34 AM on December 21, 2010


I agree it is wrong to link to Assange's dating profile or any of that. Although some defenders also linked to some sort of mission statement from a deleted blog entry as well. But that is not the same as cheesy personal data like his dating profile. It is wrong for people to argue that Assange is violating people's privacy by just publishing all of this and then to turn around and skim the wayback machine for stuff on him.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:37 AM on December 21, 2010


I guess I am wondering if you do not see something problematic with the sort of gestalt of the current case, where you have people dismissing claims of sexual harassment and other people making their names more well-known than they were before.

I want to be clear that I'm not trying to be dismissive here, but: I see something problematic with all kinds of discussions, on metafilter and elsewhere, and that in and of itself is more of a thing where I spend a couple minutes despairing about humanity for failing to live up to my perfect-world standards and then get back to the business of trying to change the things I can and accept the things I can't and parse the distinction between the two.

I think the current case is a total clusterfuck, essentially; I would love it if no one was heedlessly dismissive of sexual harassment claims, and I would love it if there was never a reason to look critically or skeptically at the sociopolitical context in which those claims become news, and I would love it most of all if regardless of what has already happened people could do a good job of stepping back, taking a deep breath, and treating with each other in a mode of mutual respect and effortful understanding even when they disagree powerfully about matters close to their hearts.

I don't have a simple answer or uncomplicated feelings about the question of how all of this wikileaks stuff has played out on metafilter. I disagree with a lot of what people have said, and that's fine; I've disagreed with how folks have said both stuff I agree with and stuff I disagree with, and to some extent that's a mod thing where it's my job to address the outlier bits of how-ness and try to keep people from going off the deep end in one respect or another. But me thinking stuff is problematic is not, generally speaking, a mod issue by itself except where it intersects directly with the established guidelines of the site.

If you're asking something more specific, I can try and address it, but me seeing something problematic in how people address one or another contentious topic is pretty much a description of my average day on the job so I'm not sure exactly what you're asking.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:55 AM on December 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


There is context to everything, including one's own personal posting history here. But most of us don't pay as much attention to the vendettas and gripes that go back and forth between members here. From where I sit, there are four or five posters in this thread that, regardless of the merits of their own history, are coming across as completely shrill assholes.

I agree that "use your words" has condescending connotations when directed at adults (I use it often towards my speech-delayed four year old). On the other hand, innuendo left lying about for the most die-hard grudge keepers to follow is exclusionary rhetoric that tends to freeze out the less avid participants. Even now I don't know what the ulterior motive attributed to Ironmouth is. Even now I don't know what has the most fighty MeFites in here so exercised. Please chill out, or at the very least, put your grudges into entertaining sentences that articulately spell out what you're fighting about, so that I can better follow along. Thanks!
posted by norm at 10:42 AM on December 21, 2010


None of us know a damn thing about what happened there. I just think we ought to let the Swedish authorities take care of the case.

ORLY?

>...that this idiot with dyed hair, who thinks it a good idea to just document dump stolen classified documents, is arrested for continuing to have sex with a woman after she asked him to stop.

So I guess you will retract this statement and others naming Assange as a rapist? He wasn't arrested for "continuing to have sex with a woman after she asked him to stop", he was arrested because he is wanted for questioning. In fact he hasn't even been charged with anything as of yet. I guess when you disagree with someone's political views it's ok to label them a rapist without having all the facts.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:04 AM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Even now I don't know what the ulterior motive attributed to Ironmouth is.

Ironmouth was taking on all comers (from an anti-Wikileaks position) in a thread a while back, and for all I know is, still is (I gave up on the thread). That's about as much info I can offer as to "motive" here.

If only one person

This phrase and its variants ("if we can save just one child" etc) generally precedes a sentence that justifies a half-baked (at best) argument. If I were GOD, I'd ban it outright, add it to the Commandments or whatever. It's sloppy emotionalism and Jehovah would never stand for it.

My personal involvement with it goes back to high school in the 70s when it was used to justify random locker searches (for drugs etc), one of which led directly to a friend being suspended for a week or two. Not because he had any drugs etc in his locker, but because he refused the search (he was concerned about the embarrassment inherent in having it revealed that he had a couple of PENTHOUSES stashed away).

"If these random, unwarranted searches can save just one child from a life of drug addiction, then they will have been worth it." I believe that's how I heard it put.

The friend in question went on to develop (in his early adult years) a pretty devastating cocaine habit.
posted by philip-random at 11:09 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess when you disagree with someone's political views it's ok to label them a rapist without having all the facts.

Again, having a reasonable discussion with people about the tricky parts of dealing with situations like this goes better if you don't play the "I guess by YOUR logic, it's okay to rape people as long as..." hyperbole. Good faith discussions with people with opposing viewpoints go better if you try to understand what they're saying and don't tell them what they are saying in snarky needling ways. This is an extention of the "use your words" request which is only used, by me, when I feel that people are deliberately being coy/vague to the detriment of other people being able to talk to them about things. If you don't feel like talking about things, stay out of MetaTalk, please.

I, too, do not know the backstory in why some people think Ironmouth made this post in bad faith, but discussion here clearly shows that some people have strong opinions on both sides of this issue, so it's probably a good thing to talk about here.

As cortex said, most of our job involves making decisions about tricky issues and while I don't think it's fair to say that we don't want a strong policy on not naming victims because it's too hard for us, I think it's more fair to say that we can't conceive of a strong policy on not naming rape victims that would be enforceable in any real way because of some of the complications we outlined above. That said, if we see people doing it in a way that seems to be a name-and-shame attempt, we'll take that seriously and deal with it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:14 AM on December 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


thanks, cortex, I hear and understand where you're coming from

As for Ironmouth's ulterior motive, I suppose I would have his ulterior motive status if a) I had remained in the wikileaks threads and b) Started a metatalk about something in said thread. In that, I had dissenting opinions (i.e. Julian Assange is not that great of a dude) and was fighting mightily, hopefully not horribly so, with several of the pro-Assange group, many of whom have contributed to this thread.

But I stopped participating because a) I got busy at work and b) Whhhhhyyyyy
posted by angrycat at 11:26 AM on December 21, 2010


There's been an awful lot of speculation on the issue, most of which generated more heat than light. But I do think that The Guardian's coverage has been even handed and reasonable. They choose not to name the women, and if it's good enough for them...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:32 AM on December 21, 2010


This is one of the more disingenuous MeTa threads I've seen in a while.
posted by graventy at 11:35 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

cortex, the more that I think about it, the more I think it's not just the problems associated with stating the names, but it was a number of comments that dismissed the allegations on the basis of nothing but speculation.

Thus, the women become bad people who have done a very bad thing. And here are their names.
Angrycat, I saw a lot of the opposite on the MeFi threads in question. In the first several days before any information got out, and it was just a vague "Guy who pissed off several nation states charged with two counts of rape and wanted by police -- WTF?" many people found it very easy to jump to conspiracy theories and dismissal of the faceless accusers. There was lots of speculation that there weren't any REAL accusers, that they would turn out to be some people Assange had barely met, etc. When more information came out, I saw a lot of that tone down. There were real people with real lives involved in this, not just some vague charge floating around in a foreign nation's legal system.

Some people still carry the "See? She once blogged about X, she's out to get him!" torch but frankly the progression you describe: "Someone did something BAD! Here is her name!" is something I have not seen on MetaFilter. If you can point out some examples of it, as opposed to a vague sense that using a name secretly indicates that motivation, it would probably help me understand where you're coming from a bit more.
posted by verb at 11:39 AM on December 21, 2010


verb, I guess I was using words that I understand vaguely like gestalt to get at what I felt perceive as a sub-population of metafilter that is angry at the women, in that they are operating under the assumption that the women are lying. When you have that subset, when identifying information re: the alleged victims is introduced, you have a nasty brew which can a) prove more opportunities for harassment of the women b) intimidate past/current/future victims from coming forward.

To the extent I implied that people on metafilter were saying, She's bad, here she is, let's get her, I apologize.

And the examples of outright hostility towards the women (e.g., a discussion that one of the women had written a treatise about something suspicious during her college days and this was an indicator of her complicity with the U.S.) occurred early on. They may have stopped after I bowed out, because, damn, I have enough irritation in my life.
posted by angrycat at 11:47 AM on December 21, 2010


And the examples of outright hostility towards the women (e.g., a discussion that one of the women had written a treatise about something suspicious during her college days and this was an indicator of her complicity with the U.S.) occurred early on. They may have stopped after I bowed out, because, damn, I have enough irritation in my life.

That's totally understandable, and I've bowed out of a number of recent threads for the same reason. I'm pretty sure that you might consider me one of the "pro-Assange" contingent, and I know that I've been pretty disgusted by the willingness of a lot of people to embrace all the stereotypical rape dismissal schticks because they support WikiLeaks.

I just see that problem as a separate one that we need to figure out separate from "is it okay to use victims' names in a non-inciting way if those names are already widely distributed public knowledge." Making a WikiLeaks-tailored rule around that question seems like a mistake.
posted by verb at 11:53 AM on December 21, 2010


verb. agreed that this is a case that would make for some bad law
posted by angrycat at 11:58 AM on December 21, 2010


I've been pretty disgusted by the willingness of a lot of people to embrace all the stereotypical rape dismissal schticks because they support WikiLeaks.

Can someone link to some examples of this because I thought the mods did a pretty decent job of deleting those types of comments pretty quickly. My impression, and it may be from a biased reading, is that most pro-Assange mefites have not been dismissive of the alleged victims so much as suspicious of the timing and way the case has been handled.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:58 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


AElfwine, I'm referring to the net as a whole in regards to the rape charges. I mean, Naomi Wolfe of all people wrote an op-ed basically dismissing the charges as "the dating police strike again." Some of that has occurred here on MeFi -- I don't know what's been cleaned up (I checked out a couple days ago and haven't revisited), but there's been a lot of "That doesn't make sense, she had a party with him just days later!" and "Why didn't she talk to the police right away if it was so bad?" and so on.

I totally don't see any tone of "Let's go make them PAY!" to the stuff that's going on; what little of that there was actually seemed to vanish on MeFi once names came out. There's still a lot of attempts to discredit them, and the (now debunked) idea that one of the victims "wrote a guide to getting revenge on men" has been brought up several times in almost every thread.

I don't see these things as harassments or attacks on the victims any more than taking potshots at Assange for being a rapist in-thread constitutes 'harassment' or attacks, and I don't see any evidence that anyone in the thread was angry enough to go out and take matters into their own hands. Angry enough to keep posting in the thread, maybe. Angry enough to take it to MeFi, maybe.
posted by verb at 12:06 PM on December 21, 2010


"(e.g., a discussion that one of the women had written a treatise about something suspicious during her college days and this was an indicator of her complicity with the U.S.) "

This thing keeps making my eyes pop — she didn't write a treatise or manifesto on how to get legal revenge on a man, she translated a blog post that was already up about it. That folks keep trying to turn it into a J'accuse! moment really annoys me.

And the problem with suspicions for conversation is that they're ultimately an argument from ignorance — we don't know what's going on, you can be relatively dubious, but there's nowhere to go from there except accusing other people of being too credulous. That's it, that's the end with the information we have now. And that's not much of a conversation.
posted by klangklangston at 12:07 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm referring to the net as a whole in regards to the rape charges.

Ahhh ok.

And the problem with suspicions for conversation is that they're ultimately an argument from ignorance...and that's not much of a conversation.

Agreed, for both sides of the issue.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:12 PM on December 21, 2010


So a lot of people have said that they aren't arguing for a sitewide blanket ban but instead for the mods to, on a case by case basis, look critically at anyone naming non-public victims of crimes like rape. Isn't that pretty much exactly what goes on now and what cortex and jessamyn have said they're going to do in the future? It appears that folks are arguing strenuously and passionately for exactly the status quo.

There is, I guess, no particularly barrier to fighting anyway but it does seem a little unfortunate.
posted by Justinian at 12:12 PM on December 21, 2010


"Agreed, for both sides of the issue."

Oh, totally. One of the big reasons why I hate Wikileaks-filter is that there's really not very much actual news there, and a lot of WELL FUCK YOU because everyone spins it out from their own biases. This really, really magnified by the repeated "Well, then, I guess you also believe X" bullshit. It's like you can literally see someone stuffing straw into effigies.
posted by klangklangston at 12:17 PM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


One of the big reasons why I hate Wikileaks-filter is that there's really not very much actual news there

There might be if we could actually discuss the leaks themselves for once, instead of turning the thread into a big "IS JULIAN ASSANGE A RAPIST HITLER, Y/N" circus.
posted by dialetheia at 1:23 PM on December 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


The fact that we can't discuss the leaks themselves is a clear "win" for those they implicate. Correct or not, the Assange-is-a-rapist strategy is proving very effective.

Again, my fave political cartoon of the past few weeks.
posted by philip-random at 2:14 PM on December 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Correct or not, the Assange-is-a-rapist strategy is proving very effective.

While I do agree with this, the repetition of this sentiment begins to sound a bit like 'Gee I wish people would just stop talking about sexual assault.'
posted by shakespeherian at 2:17 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Correct or not, the Assange-is-a-rapist strategy is proving very effective.

Do you honestly not see how loaded it is to use the word "strategy" here?
posted by proj at 2:25 PM on December 21, 2010


It's a question of context, I think, and I'll quote myself here:

We're supposed to view one man's alleged sexual transgressions (disreputable and downright criminal though they may be) as analogous to the transgressions of the blunt, remorseless states and corporations and vile individuals that are seeking to not just drag him down but eviscerate him, destroy him absolutely!?!?

And then I realize I didn't really get it right. THEY don't want us to think that Assange's alleged crimes are analogous to theirs. THEY want us to completely dismiss all the Wikileaks information in the shadow of this one man's alleged criminality.

I mean, at some point you have to stand back and allow the notion to land that two rapes do not negate war crimes that have caused the death, torture, RAPE etc of thousands. And the degree to which we tear each other apart discussing these two rapes is the degree to which we let THEM get away with it.
posted by philip-random at 2:29 PM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


'Gee I wish people would just stop talking about sexual assault.'

Well, there have been about 10,000 comments on this particular instance of sexual assault over the last couple of weeks, maybe we've talked about this one enough at this point? At least until, you know, charges are actually filed and there's some new information to discuss. As it stands, I think everybody who wants to weigh in on this has probably done so.

Do you honestly not see how loaded it is to use the word "strategy" here?

I assumed he meant the media strategy, which has, indeed, been extraordinarily effective at shifting focus away from the leaks themselves. Now wait, what were we talking about again?
posted by dialetheia at 2:32 PM on December 21, 2010


I'm not the sharpest crayon in the box, but even my mind can contemplate war crimes and the possibility of Assange as a rapist on a single day, within the same hour, even
posted by angrycat at 2:33 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess that, at least as far as Metafilter goes, it isn't the entire internet, or indeed the entire sociopolitical conversation. If there have been 10,000 comments about this particular alleged sexual assault, that's either because people were talking in threads that were about alleged sexual assault, or because people derailed conversations about something else. I agree that conversations about Wikileaks and the information released should not be derailed to discuss the particulars and allegations in the life of one of Wikileaks' employees; however, the fact that people discuss such things in threads about those things seems fairly predictable and not really interesting to me one way or the other.

I understand the frustration that the larger national and international media conversation seems to be focused on something tangential to Wikileaks rather than something central to Wikileaks, but applying that frustration to the conversation on Metafilter is sort of a non sequitur, in my opinion.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:39 PM on December 21, 2010


applying that frustration to the conversation on Metafilter is sort of a non sequitur, in my opinion

There are several here who are complicit in these entirely tangential rape-derails, focusing on allegations to the exclusion of the actual content in the leaks. Whether this is deliberate or not can only be guessed on a per-user basis, but it is entirely relevant to Metafilter and a discussion about what the boundaries of discussion have been and should or could be.

Frustration with rape-derails is quite relevant, to the extent that those are, made in a deliberate fashion or not, a successful element of the campaign of misinformation intended to undermine and distract from the truth of the revelations contained in these leaks.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:03 PM on December 21, 2010


The Dec 7 and 14th threads are about the rape charges, Blazecock, so I assume that you are talking about threads other than that. Otherwise your comment about rape-derails is a head-scratcher.
posted by angrycat at 3:09 PM on December 21, 2010


Yeah, I was just going to mention that. The derail frustration can go both ways: first that discussion of leaked government secrets turns into a referendum on rape, second that discussion of a high-profile rape case turns into a referendum on leaked government secrets.

"This accusation is probably false, because WikiLeaks" and "Yeah, leaks, but look, he's a rapist" are both very frustrating directions for any conversation to go in.
posted by verb at 3:12 PM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Frustration with rape-derails is quite relevant

I wholeheartedly agree. I guess what I'm saying-- and bear in mind that I haven't been following these threads too closely-- is that it seems like a lot of folks are protesting the discussion of the alleged sexual assault in threads about the alleged sexual assault and saying that that discussion is distracting from the issue of the contents of the leaks, and I don't think that's relevant. If, on the other hand, people are attempting to discuss the alleged sexual assault in threads that are dedicated to discussing the contents of the leaks, then I agree that that constitutes a derail and I join you in your frustration. I have seen the former; I haven't seen the latter. Again, however, I haven't followed any of the relevant threads closely, so I am not attempting to assert that the latter has not occurred.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:12 PM on December 21, 2010


Well, since we only get one wikileaks post every several-ish days (and I am truly thankful for that!), it really does tend to crowd out discussion of the leaks themselves when the designated "wikileaks post of the day" is actually focused on other issues (the rape allegations two weeks in a row, the Anonymous DDOS campaign, etc). I guess I am just hoping that the next post that is allowed to stand is focused more on the new information in the leaks, since the last discussion on that specific subject happened nearly a month ago and a bunch of new leaks have been released since then.

If updates about the leaks are supposed to go into the month-old thread, then I certainly don't know why we needed a second thread about the rape allegations a week after the first one.
posted by dialetheia at 3:15 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't either, and I'm not defending the posting habits of the entire Metafilter community. However, a derail is a derail.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:19 PM on December 21, 2010


The reason to abstain from naming possible rape victims (unless it is impossible to discuss something coherently without doing so) has little to do with whether their names are in the public domain or not. It has more to do with sensitivity to local readers (ie, your fellow mefites) who may have a problem with the fact that someone is discussed like a criminal for having made such a charge.

There is no objective standard to rely on here, which precludes a simple bright line rule. Rape is a very emotive subject, and many people think society handles it badly - it puts too little emphasis on such a serious crime, or it puts too much emphasis on what is not quite such a serious crime, or whatever. Almost nobody feels it is handled just right as things are. These opinions stem from the fact that almost everyone has sex, almost everyone has had both negative and positive personal (not necessarily sexual) experiences at different times, and negative personal experiences are often the product of mutual misunderstanding. Often, criminality in a rape case is not question of whether sexual contact occurred, but whether it took place in bad faith. Since misunderstanding can yield unintentional but similarly unpleasant outcomes as acts in bad faith, the potential for dispute, deceit and despair is painfully obvious.

The problem with having discussions about subjective disputes is that there's no way to really resolve them other than subjectively, and disagreement leads to accusations of people arguing in bad faith, and that rapidly spirals down into 'only a rapist/false accuser of rape could say such a thing, which makes you a latent criminal at best.' The argument in this case - that rape is not usually investigated vigorously enough, which casts doubt on the integrity of this investigation - is one that comes up frequently in meta-discussions of sex crimes where someone wants to question the motives of the prosecution. Sometimes it's justified, but that doesn't usually leave anyone feeling any better: it just demonstrates the inevitability of skepticism, with the unpleasant implication that any of us ever find ourselves involved in such a situation, in any capacity, our truthful and sincere statements will meet some skeptical disbelief right when we are at our most vulnerable.

Repeatedly using a complainant's name in this context is pretty unpleasant for anyone who has ever had to or could imagine filing a complaint of sexual assault. It is these people to whom one owes a degree of sensitivity, rather than the person in the news. Except to the extent that their actual identity matters, it's probably better to refer to the people involved as Ms A, Mr B, Mrs C etc. I also think it's better to avoid information-free speculation; for example, where the nature of the charges and the provisions of Swedish law are obscure, it doesn't advance the discussion to take some speculation from a blog or news story and treat it as fact pending more data (as went on for several days where nobody was too clear on these topics).

Similarly, statements about people's motivations (whether a mefite's, Julian Assange, a Swedish prosecutor or the US government) are rarely very reliable. 'X must be because Y' is bullshit. If you think there's a high probability that Y caused X, based on similar examples, then fine - a lot of the time, the simple and obvious explanation is the correct one and your suspicions will be validated sooner or later. But people are far too fond of pronouncing their opinions as matters of fact. Even the Pope thinks long and hard before doing that; frankly, the more breezily self-assured someone's statements about anything more contentious than what they had for breakfast, the less credibility I am willing to grant them.

Here's a thought exercise, for anyone who is absolutely confident of their position: suppose Assange was a woman, and had filed a sexual assault complaint of some kind as a private person, saying it was unrelated to her WL activities. The accused person, an American perhaps, says he has no idea what the problem is, they just had consensual sex but then Juliet Assange went all paranoid, while others suggest that the complaint is just a delaying tactic to gain some sort of legal victim status and the protection of the Swedish government. A fairly similar situation, in other words, except that a good many people would find themselves arguing entirely opposite positions from those that they hold now. If you can imagine the ramifications of such an example and see the differences, can you really be so certain that your speculations about the real situation are the unassailable truth? Do you really have all the information required to draw such firm conclusions, or are you just restating your feelings in the language of fact?


There might be if we could actually discuss the leaks themselves for once, instead of turning the thread into a big "IS JULIAN ASSANGE A RAPIST HITLER, Y/N" circus.

I would like that too, but two consistent pattern seems to have emerged, neither of which is conducive to polite discussion:

#1
A: This cablegram is remarkably interesting in a good/bad way.
B: GRAR irresponsibility + speculation = futility
A: But that should be public I think.
B: YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH

#2
A: OMGWTF I read it in a cablegram GRAR
B: But everyone knows that already, why so shocked? <>
A: YOU SUPPORT EVIL
B: UNICORN

These are mirror images of each other to some extent. Skeptics of Assange and upholders of the system point to the fact that conflicting interests exist and discretion is sometimes preferable to having a fist fight: at the extreme, this ends up with the argument that people should stop reading the papers lest they be exposed to Things We Are Not Meant To Know Or We Would Have A Security Clearance Already. On the other side are people who think the government is always bad and are determined to draw the worst possible conclusions from every possible data point: at this opposite extreme, anyone who has any decision power whatsoever is either a megafascist or one of the Sheeple.

I think the biggest thing obstructing a more sensible discussion at this point is the fact that it's become a daily drip of information with a few more factoids each day but not enough to take a definitive position one way or the other. We're up to day 23 or so now. If things keep moving at this rate then it's going to take a year to 15 months for it all to be revealed, and it would need any sort of conspiracy or propaganda or whatever you want to call it for people to lose interest.

First, just saying that the source of the story is WikiLeaks instantly convokes a debate about Assange/ Manning/ Should governments ever have secrets about anything, a debate which does not admit of a clear unambiguous conclusion and thus ends up going nowhere and putting people off - kind of like the way in which it's been hard to have an in-depth discussion about 9/11 because such discussions quickly degenerate into sub-arguments about the 2000 election and truthers and the morality of war. The insistence of the passionate in turning every such discussion into a referendum on whatever they consider to be the overridingly important meta-issue often gets in the way of substantive topics.

Second, there's a lot of trivia mixed in with the juicy stuff. Looking at newspaper coverage today I see an extremely interesting story about a California congressman, and an extremely vapid one about Anna Nicole Smith's celebrity status in the Bahamas...can't wait to see what sort of outrage that one will lead to. The serial nature of the revelations means that both stories get a headline and about the same superficial priority, devaluing truly important stories and elevating trivial or spurious ones.

Third, people who are not interested in Teh Drama surrounding the whole affair because there's so much heat and so little light are likely to stop paying attention to the content as a result, even though they might be quite interested in some of the revelations. The upshot is apathy towards matters of policy or politics, which are reduced to being mentioned just before the sports and weather reports. You know how sometimes newsworthy stuff is announced on a Friday afternoon, on the theory that it will get less attention while people are distracted with weekend activities? Wikileaks has ended up becoming its own news dump because people have a limited amount of energy and just can't get fully emotionally invested in a brand new scandal every day. If there's an endless supply of scandalous stories then after a while it just starts to feel like a soap opera, and the only way to really surprise them will be that it comes to an end one day, all the cables have been processed and reported on and there are no more left.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:26 PM on December 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Well, shakespeherian, characterizing "can we stop turning every thread into a big 'IS JULIAN ASSANGE A RAPIST HITLER, Y/N' circus" as "Gee I wish people would just stop talking about sexual assault" struck me as a rather uncharitable reading, especially given that at least half of the wikileaks-related threads we've had this month have been about the sexual assault allegations. The topic is in no danger of being ignored, believe me.

I think a big part of the issue here is that Julian Assange's personal troubles are being placed in the same topical category as the leaks themselves when deciding what's a double post and what isn't. I think this is the cause of most of this friction. If this wasn't set up as a zero-sum game between the leaks and the rape charges, the overall discussion might go more smoothly.

On preview: Anigbrowl, I completely agree. The whole "you can't handle the truth vs. leaking is treason" shitfight is definitely part of what I meant by "is Assange Hitler Y/N". It really saddens me to see what could have been an interesting discussion veer into a simplistic, reductive, binary argument between WIKILEAKS: GOOD and WIKILEAKS: BAD. Sigh; here's hoping the next post will go better.
posted by dialetheia at 3:41 PM on December 21, 2010


Although I previewed, I missed the disappearance of a line halfway down. On standard pointless argument #2 I'm quite often guilty of responding to someone's outrage (sincere or not) with a 'meh,' largely to the extent that they seem surprised to discover what I thought was blazingly obvious.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:51 PM on December 21, 2010


If this wasn't set up as a zero-sum game between the leaks and the rape charges, the overall discussion might go more smoothly.

I think it is sort of structural, no? Assange is asserting that he did nothing wrong and that the Swedish prosecution has something to do with his leaking activities. Or at least a lot of the supporters are calling the women CIA plants and discussing the prosecution in that context. At first, I was focusing only on the leaks. But once Assange started to get on the "political" angle for the prosecutions, the stuff just snowballed. He's said a lot of things he's trying to walk back now.

What this does is effectively merge the two stories--probably to the detriment of Wikileaks in the long term and certainly to the detriment of his two accusers and MeFi as a whole.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:51 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth, I don't disagree with that reading, but it would help if you could at least own up that you're one of the active participants in that muddling. Every thread about the Assange charges for over a month has featured you arguing that he's a bad man because of his handling of WikiLeaks, full stop.

I figure that you probably consider that a response to people asserting that he couldn't have raped anyone, because he does such good works with WikiLeaks, but the proper answer to that seems to be "People who do good things can do bad things too, and vice versa. The two don't have any bearing on each other."

Instead you've turned almost every thread into a long chain of attacks on Assange because you feel he is a publicity whore, doesn't care about foreign nationals, etc. You've posted false information about Assange's actions and WL's actions to back it up, even. That is just as unrelated to the rape charges as any WL related defense of Assange.

I'm not angry, and I don't want it to turn any more fighty here, but it's pretty hard to separate that history from this MeFi post.
posted by verb at 4:08 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it is sort of structural, no?

The two cases are certainly related, but the correspondence doesn't go both ways. There might be a a connection between the international community's anger at Assange for Wikileaks' activities the unusually strong response to these allegations and - but that doesn't necessarily mean that the allegations have anything at all to do with, say, Shell Oil's capture of the Nigerian government.
posted by dialetheia at 4:11 PM on December 21, 2010


(Point of clarification: I'm not suggesting that your motivations in posting this thread were nefarious, or that you're not actually concerned about protecting alleged rape victims.)
posted by verb at 4:12 PM on December 21, 2010


(d'oh - that should be "a connection between the international community's anger at Assange for Wikileaks' activities and the unusually strong response to these allegations")
posted by dialetheia at 4:12 PM on December 21, 2010


I understood what you meant, dialetheia.
posted by verb at 4:13 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth, I don't disagree with that reading, but it would help if you could at least own up that you're one of the active participants in that muddling. Every thread about the Assange charges for over a month has featured you arguing that he's a bad man because of his handling of WikiLeaks, full stop.

I'd have to look--I guess I think its less of a sin to do that than to contaminate the "whether wikileaks is good" posts with "rape" stuff. But it all has gotten muddled up--mainly because Assange and his attorneys are suggesting the prosecution is politically motivated, (well ok, today he said it was because the women were "in a tizzy" about stds), At first I thought that other people were making him look bad because of it. But lately, I think he's actively doing it to keep the details out of the media and to intimidate the Swedes (and the US, as he is saying there will be "retailation" if he is charged). I just think now he's sort of flailing around and we are flailing with him. You have to hand it to him--he seems to drive whatever narrative exists about him--even mine!

His latest interviews are pretty surreal, though. If I was his lawyer I would have told him to shut up about it a long time ago.

You've posted false information about Assange's actions and WL's actions to back it up, even.

don't think I did--why don't you drop details of these "false" allegations into the last thread about it on the Blue. These ladies had a lot of false information posted about them though. a lot.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:25 PM on December 21, 2010


I think a big part of the issue here is that Julian Assange's personal troubles are being placed in the same topical category as the leaks themselves when deciding what's a double post and what isn't. I think this is the cause of most of this friction. If this wasn't set up as a zero-sum game between the leaks and the rape charges, the overall discussion might go more smoothly.

I'd agree with this, as well. Frankly I'm not so sure why the fascination with Assange anyway, aside from his general Badass Bond Villain vibe. I mean, I get that people are like rah-rah freedom of information, but that's about Wikileaks the organization, the institution, and the idea, and focusing on Assange's travails, whether it be his detention, arrest, or (god forbid) his death, or whatever, even if those things are very much all the result of Giant Global Conspiracies, still seems somewhat beside the point of discussing the contents of the leaks. I don't know why we need more than one post on Assange's alleged sexual assault, but I also don't know why we need more than one post on the dude at all.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:26 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


don't think I did--why don't you drop details of these "false" allegations into the last thread about it on the Blue. These ladies had a lot of false information posted about them though. a lot.

A number of folks already have, in-thread, and it just turned fightier. And I definitely agree that the constant circulation of provably false information about the alleged victims is really ugly. I wasn't wanting to throw it in your face, just trying to point out that this cross-talk effect and the presupposition of bias/hero-worship/axe-grinding is something that I think all of us have been engaging in to some degree. It's hard to separate, and it's dangerous to assume someone's motivations.

His latest interviews are pretty surreal, though. If I was his lawyer I would have told him to shut up about it a long time ago.

Yeah, that's been very weird to watch.
posted by verb at 4:34 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


wait, I'm still unclear about the false allegations. what are they again? that's kind of a serious charge
posted by angrycat at 6:10 PM on December 21, 2010


Look, the real problem is that I've got a whole bunch of cabbage, would like to make some sort of soup I guess, and don't have any real recipes that work with what I've got, and I need to answer this quickly (before dinner).

Does Wikileaks have a recipe section?
posted by klangklangston at 6:44 PM on December 21, 2010


wait, I'm still unclear about the false allegations. what are they again? that's kind of a serious charge

One of the recurring charges made by Ironmouth was that WikiLeaks hadn't done any vetting or redacting of the diplomatic cables, that peoples' lives were in danger because of it, and that this demonstrated a callous disregard for life. This is demonstrably untrue, and it was noted a number of times in the thread. It got fighty, predictably, and turned into a meta-argument about statism vs. anarchism and sucking up to the man vs. collateral damage and bush lied people died obama zog zog.

I want to reiterate that I don't want this thread to turn into another version of the same argument. I was just pointing out that in the ebb and flow of the debate has included demonstrably false statements by both sides to bolster their "gut feel" about all of the players.
posted by verb at 7:23 PM on December 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


You have to hand it to him--he seems to drive whatever narrative exists about him--even mine!

You're doing it, yet again. Unbelievable.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:39 PM on December 21, 2010


verb. that argument might be wrong headed, but it's an argument, a strong of assertions, all of which have some support from major media outlets. And I don't mean Fox News or the New York Post.
posted by angrycat at 8:57 PM on December 21, 2010


Does Wikileaks have a recipe section?

i'm sure that neiman-marcus' cookie recipe will be showing up any day
posted by pyramid termite at 8:59 PM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon reiterates opinion - film at 11.

You can call it misinformation and you're entitled to that opinion; on the other hand Assange seems unable to resist courting controversy in interviews - remarks such as ‘people affiliated with our organization have already been assassinated,’ among other things. Absent any follow-up, this is at least as much pot-stirring as any suggestion of Ironmouth's that the indiscriminate release of information has put people at risk.

Lacking specific proof of that claim does not invalidate it, any more than the lack of specific proof about a the timing of allegations in Sweden invalidates suspicions that they're meant to undermine Assange's credibility. I am willing to entertain simultaneously the possibility that some of Assange's colleagues have faced danger or death; that his actions may have endangered other people; that he might be the subject of a smear campaign; and a variety of other possibilities. Conversely, postures of moral outrage designed to shut down any criticism of Assange are no more credible than postures of moral outrage designed to shut down any discussion of leaked material.

There's a transcript available, but it's worth listening to the rather long interview which ranges over a wide variety of topics. Discussion might be advanced if we were to consider Assange as more of a human being - with strengths and weaknesses, virtues and flaws - and less as the symbolic hero or villain to be shoehorned into whatever political narratives we have adopted to filter the complexities of our environment.
posted by anigbrowl at 8:59 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


verb. that argument might be wrong headed, but it's an argument, a strong of assertions, all of which have some support from major media outlets. And I don't mean Fox News or the New York Post.

I was very clear in the claims I was talking about -- "WikiLeaks hadn't done any vetting or redacting of the diplomatic cables, that peoples' lives were in danger because of it, and that this demonstrated a callous disregard for life." The first two are assertions of fact that are demonstrably untrue, given that all access to the cables is being filtered through major newspapers who are working to filter, vet, and redact life-threatening information from this document drop.

To say otherwise is a statement of incorrect fact. That is not an argument, it is a misconception to be corrected. Plain and simple. I'm not beating on Ironmouth here, I'm just saying that it lies in the same category as "One of Assange's accusers wrote an essay on how to get revenge on a man." Both have been used, in the same threads, as proof that one party or another is A Bad Person.
posted by verb at 9:13 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon reiterates opinion

The point of quoting Ironmouth is that he will not take any responsibility for his own boorish falsehoods — no "reiterated opinion" needed, sorry. Cables were vetted, and even the US government admits no one has been hurt by their release. These are plain facts. Still, Assange keeps making Ironmouth lie!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:29 PM on December 21, 2010


Blazecock, I'm honestly trying not to make this into a referendum on Ironmouth. I just wanted to note that this case has tempers flaring on pretty much every conceivable side, and that falsehoods have been spread, even in the face of correction, because they reinforced the narratives that people on all sides of the debate were arguing for. That doesn't mean squat for the rape accusations or for WikiLeaks, but it means a lot for our community here on MeFi.
posted by verb at 9:32 PM on December 21, 2010


Ironmouth: It isn't nice, but I'm an adult and I have things to say

This may not be nice: Get your own fucking blog.

Ironmouth: At first, I was focusing only on the leaks. But once Assange started to get on the "political" angle for the prosecutions, the stuff just snowballed. He's said a lot of things he's trying to walk back now.

What this does is effectively merge the two stories--probably to the detriment of Wikileaks in the long term and certainly to the detriment of his two accusers and MeFi as a whole.


No, you posting this MeTa has effectively merged these two stories. As others have pointed out above, this MeTa is disingenuous, and continuing to espouse your personal political beliefs is only furthering that sentiment. I'd also like to request you not assume that your beliefs are anything close to those of "MeFi as a whole."
posted by clearly at 10:34 PM on December 21, 2010


In this case 'lie' seems to be used as a synonym for 'refused to retract previous opinion that I believe to be wrong.'

A casual google search suggests that the last time Ironmouth positively asserted Wikileaks was releasing material un-redacted was on November 28/29th, which was the first & second day of this cablegate release and before it became obvious that it was going to be released in drip-feed form rather than all at once. It's undisputed that previous releases were unredacted and attracted criticism from NGOs such as Amnesty International on that basis. And while Ironmouth critiqued this latest release by the same standards rather than biding his time, insinuations or outirght accusations of spinning a competing narrative or being part of some black propaganda operation fall even farther short of honest debate. For that matter, the ongoing imprecations against the US government are increasingly at odds with Assange's continued residence and relative freedom in the UK. According to some people, he was supposed to be dead or in some super-secret prison by now. If it goes on long enough, experience suggests his strongest supporters will rebrand him as a sellout and dismiss the entire exercise as a disinformation ploy at the public's expense, complet with exhortations to WAKE UP SHEEPLE.

You'll have to grant me a skeptical smile at the repetition of the DoD's assertion that nobody has been endangered by the release. Given that the probable origin of the security breach (Pvt. Manning) is within the DoD, and that those repeating the DoD's all-clear most frequently normally wouldn't believe that part of the government if it suggested that water is wet, both the origin and perpetuation of that claim are just a little bit self-serving.

While the WL revelations obviously haven't led to any global massacres that we know about, to assume that everyone mentioned is entirely safe is asinine. People's identities can be concealed to some degree by the reporting diplomat, but can often be worked out by extrapolation. The less of a public figure they are, and the less wealthy and well-developed the country in which they are based, the less likely you are to hear about their actual identity or any sudden terminations of their career/life. I question, for example, the safety of whoever reported on poor security controls for laboratory-grade uranium in the Congo, or those smuggling samples of processed uranium from a putative secret nuclear facility in Burma. Equally, revelations about relatively recent IRA activity in Northern Ireland have probably led to sleepless nights for some informers over the last week.

That Assange's supporters are not aware of any such individual risks does not mean they don't exist. Indeed the list of things that people are not aware of seems to be inversely proportional to the degree of the outrage they express over the most uncontroversial matters (while overlooking a good deal of more interesting material, if what has been released so far is anything to go by). Like most complex matters, it's a mixed bag, and snap judgments about the long term historical good or ill say more about the ego of the person making them than they shed any light on the subject.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:03 AM on December 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


This may not be nice: Get your own fucking blog.
I think only Mathowie, Cortex and Jessamyn get to pull that particular move on anyone around here. While I don't grudge Julian Assange an active sex life, maintaining geopolitical gravitas may not be entirely compatible with the life of an international playboy.

Perhaps it's this mulled wine, but Morrissey's tongue-in-cheek psychological deconstruction seems a good deal more astute than most of the virtual ink that has been spilled over the last few months.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:24 AM on December 22, 2010


While the WL revelations obviously haven't led to any global massacres that we know about, to assume that everyone mentioned is entirely safe is asinine.

The US government admits that no one has been hurt. So, at this point in time, it's safe to say that your assumption is wrong — and people should openly question why you repeat that unsubstantiated falsehood.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:40 AM on December 22, 2010


Of course, an intellect such as Morrissey's is able to offer an equally persuasive argument for an entirely different point of view.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:44 AM on December 22, 2010


Dear Blazecock,
that does not mean what you think it means. But I think people should indeed openly question my every utterance, and I actively encourage them to do so. I need the practice for my confirmation hearings, if nothing else.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:50 AM on December 22, 2010


I think only Mathowie, Cortex and Jessamyn get to pull that particular move on anyone around here.

Not really.
posted by harriet vane at 3:24 AM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Blazecock, you seem to have a very wide definition of the idea "lie" or "falsehood." And when I say different, I mean different from what I've learned on planet Earth.
posted by angrycat at 5:37 AM on December 22, 2010


sorry, tried to be clever pre coffee

Blazecock, your definition of falsehood still seems "position with which I strongly disagree." Shouting it down as a falsehood seems to be a very uncool move
posted by angrycat at 5:41 AM on December 22, 2010


also, here is a comment, not Ironmouth's, from the latest Assange thread:

Other Dangerous leaks:

-Cables summarizing depositions of Victims of Torture in Eritrea to US Embassy Staff names redacted but enough information to put them in danger (date of arrest, some personal details)
-Details of methods for protecting people from IED's in Iraq and Afghanistan, including details about technical jamming capabilities. (prior to Cablegate)
-Numerous cables regarding people working with the US Embassy to curtail corruption in Mozambique and Nigeria in particular.
-Diplomatic security information including specific responses to things like suspicious cars parked near embassies.

All of these things don't blow any whistle, don't show the US engaged in any criminal activity and likely simply endanger lives.

So Blazecock, is that person who made the comment a liar as well?
posted by angrycat at 5:50 AM on December 22, 2010


The US government admits that no one has been hurt. So, at this point in time, it's safe to say that your assumption is wrong — and people should openly question why you repeat that unsubstantiated falsehood.

That's not precisely what the US government is saying, no.

Going to repeat something I posted in another Wikileaks thread here:

Our own intelligence services don't know how the release might affect us long-term:
The Pentagon said Tuesday it would be "hard to quantify" the danger posed by the WikiLeaks release of secret documents but insisted the information would be used by US adversaries.



"If someone has been killed as a result, it's very tangible and very quantifiable," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan told reporters.



"But how do you quantify information that our adversaries have got about how we operate? How do you quantify some other damaging elements like learning how we gather information and intelligence, altering their behavior because of things that they've learned?" he said.



"We do know from various means that our adversaries are out there actively mining this for information."
There have been thousands of classified documents released regarding the wars we are waging in Iraq and Afghanistan. They describe a wide range of secret activities that took place from 2003 to 2010, including tips from and meetings between informants and US representatives. The informants are apparently named, which could theoretically put them at risk for targeted retribution from insurgent forces. They could also put American forces (civilian and military) at risk. The docs include assessments by US intelligence that Pakistan's intelligence service has planned and executed attacks in Afghanistan, and revealed further details about the delicate dance we have been engaged in with regard to Pakistan -- two revelations which could conceivably destabilize an already precarious region, or worse, destabilize relations between three nuclear powers: India, Pakistan, the US as well as all three countries' relations with Afghanistan.



Meanwhile, there's this from December 6th:
In the latest bombshell release from WikiLeaks is a massive list of infrastructure deemed ‘critical’ by the U.S. State Department. The list, which was compiled in 2009, outlines infrastructure “whose loss could critically impact the public health, economic security, and/or national and homeland security of the United States.” Critics of WikiLeaks has said the release could help terrorists by giving them a list of targets for future attacks.
This is all ground that has been covered thoroughly in other threads.

What's interesting about the document (not the one in the National Post link, which only lists Canadian sites, but the original at Wikileaks website) is it lists a ton of places that one wouldn't necessarily think of as vital to our national infrastructure/interests, located outside our borders. Mines, research facilities and many, many other places, throughout the world.




It would be pretty easy to compile a list of places within the US which could be considered important targets. And one would assume we're capable of defending any of them, because they're within our own borders. But that list includes places in countries where we can't establish a military presence, and can't necessarily assume that the host country can protect it adequately against a terrorist or concerted military attack. Such as Russia, for example.



To get to some of those countries, Al Queda (or any other terrorist organization,) wouldn't have to go very far. Yemen. Qatar. Saudi Arabia. Morocco.



Now they just may know a way to hurt us, tangibly, without leaving home.



I'm not much for alarmism or political fearmongering. But seeing that particular document flying across the net, being disseminated by the press concerns me.
posted by zarq at 7:23 AM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


graventy: This is one of the more disingenuous MeTa threads I've seen in a while.

This thread shouldn't really be about Ironmouth but a lot of it seems to be so I'll defend him again. His anti-Wikileaks/anti-Assange position is an entirely respectable position to take. Perhaps some feel he committed a few 'fouls' in the early Wikileaks threads. However we're now on thread 5 or 6 in the blue and in the latest thread all of his contributions have been interesting, relevant and civil (imho). Hence I think he created this meta in good faith and it frustrates me to see so many people giving him flack when at the moment he's contributing a lot to the discussion. This place would be very dull if we all agreed with each other; we all know that.
posted by memebake at 8:16 AM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Blazecock, you seem to have a very wide definition of the idea "lie" or "falsehood."

If you continually repeat a statement that is contradicted by known fact, then you're lying. So I think my definition as it applies to Ironmouth's "contributions" in WL threads and this Metatalk thread works just fine, thanks.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:08 AM on December 22, 2010


If people could not turn this MeTa thread into another referendum on Wikileaks, that would be terrific.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:10 AM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem is, it gets driven there (i.e. to a discussion of the Inherent Goodness or Badness of Wikileaks) when members say that Ironmouth is lying in threads that are the subject of this metatalk. People who disagree with the supporters of Assange are called liars for contesting his worth.

And then it's hard to refute that without getting into the particulars of the Wikileaks discussions. And I don't really want to go there, either, but people are calling Ironmouth a liar, disengenous, and in the Assange threads, a troll. I'm really tired of it. Do you folks who are doing this know how hysterical you sound when you do that?

Nothing discourages me more from the use of metafilter than this -- I don't know, vilification, of dissenting viewpoints.
posted by angrycat at 9:28 AM on December 22, 2010


If you continually repeat a statement that is contradicted by known fact, then you're lying

Was Galileo lying?
posted by philip-random at 9:59 AM on December 22, 2010


not trying to equate Ironmouth with Galileo, merely trying to point out that "known fact", like so many other aspects of culture etc, is ephemeral. For instance, when I was in high school (1970s) it was a "known fact" that male homosexuals had limp wrists, spoke with lisps and dressed in woman's clothing.
posted by philip-random at 10:38 AM on December 22, 2010


This thread improved enormously once anigbrowl started posting Morrissey videos.
posted by ob at 10:55 AM on December 22, 2010


Was Galileo lying?

I don't know, but I do know that Ironmouth has repeated falsehoods despite calls to cite his claims, not only in the Wikileaks thread, but in threads about healthcare reform, and other threads related to actions and activities by the current US government.

These have been claims which were not only unsubstantiated but contradicted by reality.

So I guess Galileo would be lying, if he had made statements contradicted by, for example, the New York Times, government officials who were on record, documents written and published by officials, etc.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:59 AM on December 22, 2010


Why can't you say you disagree with him? Don't you see how this poisons the discourse? I could refute you, but then I'd need to go into the tendrils of the Wiklleaks threads and we've been asked not to do that.

Blazecock Pileon, I understand you don't believe this, but you really do harm the discourse when you characterize your opponents thusly.
posted by angrycat at 11:07 AM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't call Ironmouth a liar. His commenting style is rather combative, and he's made a number of claims about Wikileaks that are demonstrably untrue (I called him on a few instances of this in one of the early threads), but my impression has been that he's just getting carried away by the strength of his own opposition to WL rather than deliberately trying to spread disinformation. That's why people are suspicious of his motives with this Meta post: he has an axe to grind. It makes those discussions frustrating. But honestly, you know, none of that behavior is terribly unusual for Metafilter or for Internet discussions generally.

As for the subject of this Meta, it's awful that the alleged rape victims in this case have been publicly identified and publicly vilified. Unfortunately, the cat is very much out of the bag. I don't see how redacting their names at this point does anyone any good. In the general case, I would certainly support the mods redacting or deleting comments where rape victims are outed, in accordance with their usual approach (responding to flags, evaluating case-by-case, etc.).
posted by twirlip at 11:11 AM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why can't you say you disagree with him?

You do not understand. This is not about opinion. Most of what he repeatedly claims on Metafilter has been verified to be completely and 100% untrue.

Don't you see how this poisons the discourse?

It poisons discourse to let deliberate dishonesty go unchallenged. If we can't call people on dishonesty, then there is no discourse to be had.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:23 AM on December 22, 2010


Perhaps for the holidays we can all agree to stop making ourselves the perpetual centers of attention for one bleeding day.
posted by proj at 11:44 AM on December 22, 2010


Why can't you say you disagree with him?

It's pretty obvious we disagree with him...on preview what Blaze said. He has made a habit of posting some facts to support his position which are not in fact true or at least not born out by the currently available record. There is never a retraction. When I am incorrect I own up to it and usually apologize for spreading false information.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:21 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


the cat is very much out of the bag. I don't see how redacting their names at this point does anyone any good.

As I was saying above, it's not so much to do with the anonymity or not of those people, but with sensitivity towards the feelings of readers here; referring to the complainants as 'Ms A,' 'Mr B' or whatever demonstrates a respect for the fact that these persons originally approached the police in confidence.

If one is discussing or disputing the merits of the complaint, then the identity of the person making it is not important. Citing a complainant by name suggests an intent to discuss the individual, rather than the particular assertion they made. Sometimes this is entirely appropriate, as with public figures who voluntarily solicit popular attention. Sometimes it isn't; defending against a charge of rape by impugning the character of the accuser used to be the norm in legal proceedings, but the nature of the crime and the intensity of modern media scrutiny have led to a re-evaluation of this approach - and many, including myself, feel privacy should also be available to criminal defendants under certain circumstances.

It is a kind of legal fiction; for someone who is seriously interested in a case, it's usually very easy to find out the actual identities of those who are not identified publicly - even by accident. The use of pseudonyms is not a requirement, but rather a matter of forbearance - it is more polite and considerate of others' dignity to do so, absent reasons to the contrary. I didn't take this original meta as a suggestion that anyone should censor their remarks or quotations, or avoid any discussion of a particular subject, but as an exhortation to consider whether repetition of details usually kept confidential (ie names) is necessary.

Just because a person's identity may be a matter of public knowledge, it does not follow that their dignity has to become a matter of public property. Nor do we have to regulate our own behavior by the standards of what everyone else is doing.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:14 PM on December 22, 2010


Citing a complainant by name suggests an intent to discuss the individual, rather than the particular assertion they made.

So then we're agreed that accusing someone of rape by name is in poor taste, for similar reasons, which calls the intention behind this thread into question.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:10 PM on December 22, 2010


BP, you've have one hundred percent lost me. Are you saying that to call Assange an alleged rapist is morally equivalent to name the alleged victims? I'm really not sure what you are saying. And if my guess at what you are saying is correct, than how does that implicate the intention in making this thread?
posted by angrycat at 6:53 PM on December 22, 2010


Just because a person's identity may be a matter of public knowledge, it does not follow that their dignity has to become a matter of public property. Nor do we have to regulate our own behavior by the standards of what everyone else is doing.

I fully agree, anigbrowl, and FWIW I avoid using the alleged victims' names myself. But contrary to your reading, the original Meta explicitly proposes deleting/redacting comments as a remedy; if it were merely an exhortation to be considerate, I wouldn't have objected. At this point, using the alleged victims' names doesn't cause any tangible incremental harm -- we're maxed out there, unfortunately -- and that's the test I would like the mods to use before deleting anything. When it's merely the principle of the thing, it should be left as a matter of personal conscience. That's not lowering our standards to the level of all the other assholes on the Internet; it's taking context into account when deciding how the site should be moderated.

I suspect I'm beating a dead horse here, so I'll stop now.
posted by twirlip at 8:12 PM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Are you saying that to call Assange an alleged rapist is morally equivalent to name the alleged victims? I'm really not sure what you are saying. And if my guess at what you are saying is correct, than how does that implicate the intention in making this thread?

Note that few are calling for the same level of protection for Assange — who is alleged, not charged, with criminal activities — so I am saying that the implications of this thread are one hundred percent clear and obvious, based on who started this thread, and who that person is in the context of his contributions to Metafilter about this specific subject, namely that there is a clear and obvious narrative intended by this thread to further his campaign of deliberate misinformation.

This is even more plainly obvious, given that Metafilter as a rule does not allow this sort of thing in the first place. We, as a community, do not tolerate publishing people's home addresses. We, as a community, do not tolerate pursuing off-site vendettas the way that 4chan or SA or other site communities might. So this thread was started as a means of concern trolling, at best, and a way to manipulate the opinions of others on the site, at worst.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:01 PM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Are you saying that to call Assange an alleged rapist is morally equivalent to name the alleged victims?

It's worse. An alleged rapist loses a lot more community standing, trust, respect, and job prospects than an alleged victim, at least in the West.

The more extreme example is in accusations of pedophilia. Alleged pedos usually lose everything long before their guilt is determined. Innocent people have killed themselves over it.

It really bothers me that so many people don't hesitate to tar and feather alleged perps, as if no alleged victim has ever been a liar—and especially so in this case, where an organization that routinely engages in wholly illegal black-op operations is involved.

IMO an alleged victim is treated a helluva lot better by the media and society than an alleged rapist.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:45 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know how punishments for false accusations of rape, compare to those given to an actual rapist? Because in my mind, a proven false accuser should receive an identical sentence to a rapist. The crime of rape is so heinous that I can't even fuckin' imagine what it's like to be falsely accused.
posted by gman at 4:16 AM on December 23, 2010


An alleged rapist loses a lot more community standing, trust, respect, and job prospects than an alleged victim, at least in the West.

cite?
posted by hydropsyche at 4:40 AM on December 23, 2010



IMO an alleged victim is treated a helluva lot better by the media and society than an alleged rapist.


Part of the idea re: keeping the names confidential is to encourage others to come forward.

I've said this before in another thread, and I kinda feel I'm goodwinning this thread by putting this here, but let me put it this way:

1) I was raped by a boyfriend shortly after we broke up
2) I prosecuted.
3) I lost, largely because it was a quasi date rape situation
4) His friends -- people I also knew, and in one case, a colleague -- didn't believe my accusations, and made this public

In the end it was pain, pain, pain, pain, pain. I imagine the guy went through pain too, although he was kind enough to let me know that he had made all sorts of friends at Rikers, so maybe not. His friends stood by him rockishly.

Anyway, that's where I'm coming from.
posted by angrycat at 7:14 AM on December 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


To add, which was my ultimate point, if I was raped by an acquaintance, unless I had good evidence (i.e., big old bruises or tears which shows clear assault) I would not prosecute. Nope, not going to put myself through that horrible experience again.

I'd probably go after the guy's car. Key it, go for the tires.

And sometimes that's what you get when you talk smack about rape victims.
posted by angrycat at 7:55 AM on December 23, 2010


Sorry, are you threatening to key my car?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:25 AM on December 23, 2010


There are some cars that are in badly need of a key-ing, but yours is not one of them, as far as I know.
posted by angrycat at 10:56 AM on December 23, 2010


Good. Also, it's better to use thermite. Place it over the engine block.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:39 PM on December 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


« Older "1 total comments"?...  |  Does anybody else suspect that... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments