The following passage is from that liberal icon, The Nation. The idea is that now women reporting rape are automatically taken to be telling the truth, and the civil rights of the accused suffer as a result.
There is something about high profile cases, and perhaps she is trying to qualify her claim. If someone claimed Tom Cruise raped her, we’d all assume he did it? Maybe not so if he’s just your neighbor? (That doesn’t really make sense, I would have thought.)
If the Swedish claims against Assange had involved anything but sex, it’s unlikely that liberals, and even some self-described radicals, would be tiptoeing around this part of the story, either by asking “So I guess he’s a bad guy?” or by arguing “Of course he needs to answer for his crimes.” If it were anything but sex, we would insist on the presumption of innocence. We have instead gotten comfortable with presuming guilt and trusting in the dignified processes of law to guarantee fairness.
“Believe the victim” entered the lexicon decades ago for historically understandable reasons. Women had been denied their own due process, in a sense—their right to make a complaint and expect justice, not vilification or worse. They are still being denied and derided, as the idiot spewings of Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin illustrate. The mutation of basic rights into an imperative for belief, and of full citizens into victims, has not made women any safer, but its cultural manipulation—particularly in high-profile cases—has struck at the foundations of civil liberty in a way that may not have been anticipated.
For what it’s worth, I doubt that everyone believes Assange did sexually assault the two women in question. In any case, arresting someone means simply that there is good evidence of a crime. It isn’t a formal judgment of guilt. And I have certainly assume that those not consume by rage against him see the Swedish actions as heavily political.
Or have I missed out on a huge cultural shift? Are women claiming they’ve been raped automatically believed?