Dave Winer on Gender Relations

I honestly don’t know what it is about New Media Douchebags that compels them to comment on shit that they have no business pontificating about (ok, I lie. I know exactly what compels them). Nonetheless, they seem incapable of refraining. Today I noticed that one of my favorite know-nothing loudmouths, Dave “Get Off My Lawn” Winer, decided to bless us with his powerful wisdom regarding the accusations of rape being leveled against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. I’m not of a mind to debate the ethics of WikiLeaks, and I’m certainly not qualified to discuss matters of Swedish jurisprudence. If reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is any indicator, Swedish law is fundamentally weird. However, Dave’s disjointed and facile comments need addressing.

We begin with one of the standard New Media Douchebag calls to action:

On Twitter I see random messages making broad statements about men re the rape charges against Julian Assange. I think we’re going into dangerous territory, and there’s a good chance we’re being manipulated, and before it goes too far, I want to try to moderate it, and talk about what we know and what we don’t know.

Oh thank Jove that we have Dave Winer to show us the light. I’d hate to veer into “dangerous territory.” Dave proceeds with a list of barely connected comments, so for expediency’s sake I’ll address them one by one.

As far as I know there aren’t any charges against Julian Assange, in Sweden or elsewhere.

Well thanks for clearing that up for us Dave. I’m sure of you just send a message to the British courts they’ll get this sorted out with a quickness. Now, as for me, I’m far too lazy to go looking up if Mr. Assange has actually been charged with a crime in Sweden. What I do know, however, is that the Swedish government issued an arrest warrant for him. Good enough for me.

What I’ve read in the Guardian about the charges sound to me like he might not be a very nice person. But where I come from, that is not a crime — nor is it in Sweden, which seems like a fair country.

Hermes’ toe-jam Dave! Are there charges or not‽ But Dave’s right about one thing, being a prick isn’t a crime. Which is a good thing for me I guess.

Rape is awful. But I think it’s almost as awful to falsely accuse someone of rape, because that’s going to radically change an innocent person’s life, for the worse. And it’s so easy to do, it’s one person’s word against another’s.

Urgh, here we go. If there’s one thing that Dave is chock-a-block full of, it’s white male privilege and moral equivalency. Yes Dave, it’s horrible when someone is falsely accused of rape. You know what’s infinitely worse though, SOMEONE BEING RAPED!!!

Some people use these issues as a way of saying sexist things about men. General statements that indict a whole gender, or a big chunk of one (like “men in tech,” for example). I’m sure they don’t think every man is guilty, and if you stop them and say that, they claim that isn’t what they’re saying. But if you simply flip the genders, and make broad sweeping negative statements about women, I guess they wouldn’t have any trouble seeing the sexism.

Ah, one of my favorite gambits. Make the generalization that “some people” are making generalizations about a group in order to invalidate the actual specific accusations. Of course, since Dave didn’t bother to actually cite any of these so called generalizations, there ain’t much else to say here.

I agree with and support feminism. The line I won’t cross is condemning men in the cause of feminism. Nor would I support it the other way. If you want to speak up for your gender, or my gender — great! But not if you’re going to go negative on the other guys.

I support feminism, now get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich.” Ok, it’s not that bad, but pretty fucking close. This right here is the classic cry of rich white male privilege: “I’m all for you having the same opportunities as me, but let’s not talk about the historical and cultural baggage that makes that nigh impossible.” Again though, Dave can’t be arsed to provide any examples of women making sweeping man-hating generalizations, so it’s a bit difficult to know what he’s on about here.

One rule I try to remember: We create each other. My mother was a woman. So was yours. Your father was a man. Mine too. We learned their values, like it or not. I am who I am not solely because I am a man, but also because I am my mother’s son, and my grandmothers’ grandson. And the student of all the women teachers I had (most of them were women). And I am also the product of every relationship I’ve had. It’s a big mixed bag of genders that form whole people. If you want to find the cause of something, it’s never as simple as one gender doing it to the other.

This twaddle isn’t even worth my time.

Let’s be smart. What do you think the chances are that the charges against Assange, coming in the middle of a political shitstorm, from a country whose Prime Minister is closely tied to the US government, are exactly what they seem to be? Suppose it were men making charges against a woman, in similar circumstances? Would your bullshit detector be a little more alarmed? It shouldn’t be, if you’re not being sexist.

Diablo! Dave’s prose here is so tortured (peep that double-negative at the end yo) that it’s almost impossible to parse this. I suppose he’s playing the conspiracy card. Sadly, I’ve seen this meme played out far too often in the nerd commentary on this matter; sometimes going so far as to accuse Mr. Assange’s accusers of being CIA plants.

Look, the bottom line is this. Is Julian Assange being targeted for, let’s call it “enhanced prosecution,” due to his activities with WikiLeaks? Probably. But that happens all the time. To go from there into conspiracyville is gratuitous.

Let’s seek balance. I’m not going to stand up and say the charges are bullshit. But I’m not going to say they’re not. In the US, the country I come from, the standard is “innocent until proven guilty.” It doesn’t say “except if you’re a man charged with rape.” I like that standard a lot. Why don’t we stay there until there’s a verdict?

So tell us then Dave, if you’re not going to stand up and take a side on this, then why did you subject the world to this ill-thought-out insult to gender relations. Oh, that’s right, you’re a New Media Douchebag and expecting you to keep your yap shut on an issue that is vaguely related to technology is like expecting a chimp not to fling its own poo.

One more thing. This all should be kept separate from the work that WikiLeaks is doing. Please.

Then the point of you writing this was what again? Thought so.

Updated to add a link to a very thorough of the “conspiracy” claims regarding Assange’s arrest here.