There's a famous video from China in which an angry motorist, delayed by a suicidal man on a bridge, scales the bridge and pushes the man off it onto an air cushion provided by waiting firemen.
If Julian Assange is the man sitting on the bridge, then I think I've reached the point of becoming the angry passer-by itching to push him off it. Tempting though the idea of running into the Ecuadorean Embassy and hitting the fire alarm may be though I'm afraid we're condemned to see the whole ghastly drama play out at a snail's pace. If he's not going to come out I hope the world quietly forgets about him and he ends up mouldering away in the embassy, slowly eroding his welcome. He thrives on publicity and there are too many idiots on all sides who are only too willing to give it to him.
I get it that Wikileaks took a pop at the Big Evil United States and they'll do anything to get Assange. I also get it that a rape allegation is a very serious thing indeed and he needs to be brought to account for it. I don't need people endlessly turning it into a feminist issue, a press freedom issue or any number of other damn issues. The point at which Assange was one of the Good Guys has long passed, and the British government have really screwed up on the scale at which they seem to have a particular expertise.
Personally I think the rape allegation has something of an air of convenience about it for the governments involved and I'm sure an extradition case wouldn't proceed at such lightning speed if it wasn't of interest to a superpower. And the circumstances of the alleged crime are such that they are always going to attract controversy. But for someone who knew himself to be of interest to that superpower Assange has shown himself to be at best a complete idiot for putting himself in such a situation.
Rape as an allegation seems to occupy a uniquely triggering and confusing position. On the feminist side it's a trigger word that trumps all others, thrown around like confetti as way of aligning disparate views and shutting down inconvenient arguments. I take the view that using it in this way cheapens the word, it's crying wolf.
And on the male side there is a lot of genuine confusion about rape. I'm talking about date rape in the mould of the Assange allegations here, I don't think anybody would be confused about the actions of a sex attacker, instead we're in the territory of drunken liaisons and morning-after-the-night-before regrets. This leaves a lot of blokes bewildered and angry, and when blokes get angry they have a tendency to say stupid things. The news this morning contains several politicians who've waded in where angels fear to tread, for instance.
Shame really, it's a very simple piece of self-preservation for blokes. Whether you are on the side that sees it as a wicked trap or the one for whom it's sexual predation there's a simple rule of thumb. It's not about whether either party is drunk or awake, or in the charming language of another age which base you go to. And though sometimes behaviour can go beyond the foolhardy it's not about whether someone was obviously gagging for it or otherwise. It's much simpler than that, a three letter word. Do both parties say "yes"?
Not a difficult word to elicit, and something you'd think Assange would have had the sense to do. But sense seems to have departed that particular case long ago, doesn't it.