My colleagues, Barrett Wilson and Ali Taghva, published a piece last Sunday titled, “Julian Assange: troll or truth teller?” It followed the piece I filed a few days before, and tackles a variation of a question I posed: “ Is Julian Assange a hero or a villain?” They take a much more pro-Assange stance than I do. They defend him against the charge that he’s not a real journalist, and take the establishment media to task for hypocrisy. They also celebrate Assange’s efforts to shed light on the state’s national security apparatus.
I agree that some of the joviality about his arrest is maddening when one recognizes the media’s flip-flopping on Assange. They were quite happy with his and Chelsea Manning’s efforts to “expose” American actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. They then had a change of heart when he sabotaged their agenda by helping to shatter Hillary Clinton’s electoral chances in 2016. These turnarounds aren’t only visible in liberals, either. Conservatives like Sean Hannity went from denouncing Assange as an anti-American agitator to hailing him as a mutineer acting against the liberal establishment. It’s obvious that people are willing to turn their backs on their professed principles if it serves their narrative and agenda. As I explained in my first piece, this is also true of Assange.
Four people are in custody after they were charged by the police after allegedly kidnapping a teenager in downtown Toronto, sexually assaulting her, and then forcing her to work as a sex slave, according to CP24.
The teenage victim was 17 at the time of her kidnapping. They kidnapped the girl by offering her free drugs and alcohol, after which they transported her to Hamilton where she was sexually assaulted.
After this incident, she was introduced to a woman who publicly advertised her prostitution on numerous, dodgy websites. The girl was forced to have sex with various people and was unable to retain any of the money she made.
The entire ordeal lasted a little longer than four days, during which she was deprived of sleep, assaulted, and force-fed drugs. Fortunately, the teenager was able to escape, and she contacted the police soon after.
The four suspects, 35-year-old Charlton Sealy, 36-year-old Shabaka Reid, and 27-year-old Deanna Passera, and 37-year-old Troy Thornhillare facing numerous charges: sexual assault, trafficking in persons under 18 and making child pornography.
#MeToo had rules. At least we thought so. Culturally, societally, politically, we all tried to learn them, to internalize them, to understand just what types of incidents could get a person ejected from their life, tossed out of their social group, ostracized from friends, unemployable, unpersoned. The rules seemed almost clear—until suddenly those who seem to be in charge of them don’t even follow their own logic anymore.
Katie Hill had an affair with a junior staffer, another woman, who feels that she was victimized. By the rules of #MeToo, that would dictate that Hill loses it all, right? Only somehow, it’s being spun the other way, by the same publications that brought us diatribes against Al Franken. Hill, it turns out, can also claim victim status at the hands of her ex, who was the one who released the information about the affair. In her resignation speech, Hill echoed Franken’s sentiments, that it seems absurd that she should be resigning when a guy like Trump is in the White House.
To recap: the wronged party is not the spouse, not the junior staffer, but the powerful person at the center of it. While it is true that Hill was the victim of revenge porn, and that is not acceptable, the same principle did not apply to Anthony Weiner or Joe Barton. It does not immunize her from her own wrongdoing.
“The squad” of freshmen congresswomen supported her during her recent tribulation. Nancy Pelosi, and other senior members of Congress, apparently wished that “Hill had been more careful in transmitting her private photos.”
Hill was given far more leeway in terms of the vocal and press lashing that other members of Congress who have found themselves exposed for sexual misconduct have faced. It turns out that she is being supported, not harassed and harangued. A staffer for Rep Sylvia Garcia (D-TX 29th), said, “A lot of the show of support was done intimately and privately with Hill, out of respect for her. … People didn’t want to be adding to the noise. We didn’t want to make press out of the pain and suffering she’s been through. She had private images published without her consent that have caused incredible pain.” Weiner did too, but no one had any sympathy for him at all.
The thing is, and yeah, we hate to be those people, but we can so easily imagine the reverse scenario. Here it is: a dashing young first-term congressman has an affair with a staffer years younger. He takes drugs, advertises his sexual availability on dating apps, and drags his wife into a threesome with the junior staffer. When the marriage breaks up—perhaps as a result of this kind of rampant infidelity, after all, they weren’t openly poly or ethically non-monogamous—the wife releases the dirt on the congressman to the world. She wants people to know just what kind of guy this is, how he is a liar and a cheater, a womanizer, and abuser, unfit to be in Congress. What then? Why she’s a hero, of course, and he’s a villainous letch.
Haven’t we heard this story before? Why is it so different now? Is Hill really a victim of her own sexual dalliances? Are we to believe that a woman who is strong enough to run and win a congressional campaign is so easy to bully? Perhaps we’re looking at it all wrong, readers, perhaps we don’t truly understand the nature of abuse or something, but what we do understand, what is perfectly clear, is that we’re supposed to believe all women, even when she is the abuser. We’re supposed to imagine that there is some substantive difference in how the rules are to be applied to men and women in the same deleterious circumstances.
Now, we’re the first to admit that the rules are stupid. That this game of pointing fingers and shaming people is nonsensical and barbaric is not something we doubt. But if there are going to be rules that we are all expected to play by, ought they not be, well, adhered to?
If #MeToo is meant to be the new standard that we all must bow down to, and it’s a given that men and women are equal, then we must apply the rules fairly, and everyone who has a complicated sexual relationship that leads to grievances must be punished. Or, maybe, just maybe, we could do away with this nonsense and start to see the human beings for what they are: flawed, complicated, and capable of cruelty and kindness.
#MeToo may have been an effective corrective in some situations, but it should never have risen to the level of an era. As it stands now, we are living through a “cultural context where common vengeance writes the law,” and the hypocrisy is destroying us. If the rules don’t apply the same way for everyone, perhaps the rules are the problem.
Former Bridgewater police chief John Collyer has been found guilty of sexual exploitation involving a 17-year-old girl.
Collyer was found guilty on October 24 by Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Mona Lynch. She also convicted Collyer of sexual assault, issuing a conditional stay as there is a rule against multiple convictions for a single criminal act.
The 26-year old veteran had denied the accusation and pleaded not guilty. He was originally suspended in May 2017 after “the independent police watchdog charged him with one count of sexual assault and two counts of sexual exploitation,” reports CBC. Before that, he had been put on administrative leave in August 2016 after Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team began their investigation of the alleged assault.
The complainant testified that Collyer had asked her inappropriate questions in May 2016 while he drove before putting his hand between her legs and sexually assaulting her.
“I think it shows the courage and the bravery that the complainant and her family had to actually come forward and see this through,” Crown attorney Roland Levesque said.
“They’re in a very small community where they’re confronting one of the persons in that community who has a very high office and has a great, great deal of power.”
Collyer will be officially sentenced on March 4, 2020. He will remain free on various conditions until then.
Vancouver Police have issued a warning over the release of 46-year-old Trevor Leonard Smith.
Police say that Smith has just been re-released from jail after federal offences and that he is at high-risk for committing sexual abuse, again. Police say that he is especially known for sexual violence against children.
Smith was previously convicted of sexual assault, possession of child pornography, accessing child pornography, assault causing bodily harm, and failure of comply with a court order, police wrote in a news release.
Smith is described as a Caucasian male, about 5’10” and 170 pounds, with grey hair and blue eyes. He has also gone by the surnames Landry and Williams.
According to police, Smith must abide by the following court orders:
- Keep the peace and be of good behaviour;
- Report to a probation officer;
- Reside at a place approved by a probation officer;
- Remain in British Columbia;
- Advise a probation officer of relationships and friendships with females;
- Not to consume or possess any controlled substances;
- No contact, directly or indirectly, with anyone under 16 years old;
- Not to attend any public park, school ground, recreational centre, skating rink or public swimming pool, public swimming area, community centre, playground, or any other place where a person under 16 years old is reasonable or expected to be present;
- Not to use or possess a computer or access the internet, except with prior permission of a probation officer;
- Not to possess or access any data encryption, electronic storage device, or computer software without written permission of a probation officer.
If anyone sees or knows of Smith violating any of these conditions, even slightly, police have asked that they immediately call 9-1-1.