For want of a condom

    So what, pray tell, is “sex by surprise?”The odyssey of WikiLeaks founder and global icon-villain Julian Assange gets juicier by the day. This guy is the ultimate Vanity Fair feature article – an elusive celebrity with high ideals and low-quality condoms, a hero to hundreds of cyber-dweebs who seem to believe that hacking into Amazon and Mastercard, and disrupting their customers’ business, will somehow further the noble cause of “transparency.”It’s arguably impossible to examine the Swedish sexual assault charges against Assange without filtering everything through an ideological prism, but let’s try anyway. A considered judgment should not hinge on whether one lauds or detests WikiLeaks. The Swedes happen to have very tough legal criteria for what constitutes nonconsensual sex, Swedish women report sexual assaults at a rate that exceeds any other European nation, and the prosecutors are entirely capable of enforcing those laws without entering into a dirty-tricks conspiracy with the U.S. government. (WikiLeaks’ defenders suspect that it’s all a conspiracy to entrap and railroad Assange.)Here’s a recap, for those of you who haven’t followed this saga. Suffice it to say that if Stieg Larsson was still alive, his next whodunit could have been titled The Girls Who Kicked Over The Guy With The Condom Issues.Assange is currently jailed without bail in Britain; Swedish prosecutors, having charged him with “rape, sexual molestation, and unlawful coercion,” seek to extradite him to Sweden, where the alleged offenses occurred while he was visiting there last August. The original allegations were dropped by one prosecutor, then revived by another.Apparently, while he was having sex with a new acquaintance (described in the prosecution document as Miss A), his condom broke. But he soldiered on, “forcefully” holding her down with his body weight, against her “express wish.” Three days later, he had sex with another new acquaintance (Miss W), this time coupling without a condom while his partner was asleep.   Miss W subsequently became worried that Assange might have given her a sexually-transmitted disease. She tried to locate him, but he had turned off his cell phone, apparently fearing that enemies might be tracking him. Miss W soon met Miss A – they had both attended Assange’s guest speech in Stockholm – and they compared notes. Miss W went to the cops, accompanied by Miss A, in the hopes that they could locate him and get him tested for STDs. Long story short, the police reports filed by Misses A and W convinced the current prosecutor that Assange ran afoul of Swedish law. Hence, the European arrest warrant.It would be ironic indeed if Assange is ultimately brought down not by U.S. espionage law – which appears to be trumped by First Amendment protections – but by his own alleged indifference to condoms. Feminists are a powerful lobbying force in Sweden. The laws don’t require any evidence or threat of violence; a guy can get prosecuted if he continues to engage in intercourse despite the woman’s withdrawal of consent (Miss A’s allegation), or if he lacks the woman’s express consent (the slumbering Miss W’s allegation).So what about the aforementioned term, “sex by surprise?” The phrase has been bouncing around the blogosphere for more than a week, ever since Assange’s London defense lawyer invoked it. He claimed that Assange was being hit with a sex-by-surprise rap, a minor Swedish offense punishable by a small fine. Turns out, the lawyer didn’t know what he was talking about. There is no such offense in the Sweden criminal code. But “sex by surprise” is indeed a Swedish slang phrase. Those who make light of rape use it as a synonym for rape.All told, the Swedish criminal case should be allowed to play out, with a minimum of ideological melodrama. But, naturally, that won’t happen. Assange’s acoloytes in the hacker community have already retaliated by cyber-stalking the Swedish prosecution office’s website, plus the lawyer who is representing the two women. The hackers have also reportedly talked about going after the women directly.Way to go, keyboard warriors! The “freedom of information” cause has already morphed into a global plot to mess with people’s personal finances. It’s revenge-of-the-nerds retaliation against those who dare to challenge Assange. (Hence, also, the cyber-attacks against Amazon, which has denied WikiLeaks any access to its computer services, and against, which has stopped processing donor contributions to WikiLeaks.)Who knows, maybe this is the first cosmic showdown between the cyber-anarchists and The Establishment. And to think that much of this could’ve been avoided if only Julian Assange had successfully sheathed himself. It reminds me of 17th-century proverb, For want of a nail, the shoe is lost; for want of a shoe, the horse is lost; for want of a horse, the rider is lost.Not even Stieg Larsson could’ve made this stuff up.

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