The concerted attempt to demonize George Galloway over his comments on the rape allegations levelled at Julian Assange is reflective of something rotten in British cultural life. Nothing short of a lynching-by-media is being attempted by a range of commentators from right to left, to the point where there's no room left on the bandwagon.
George Galloway is not nor has he ever been an apologist for rape. He is not nor has he ever been a 'rape-denier'. He is however a firm opponent of what he and many others around the world consider bears all the hallmarks of the political and legal witchhunt of a man whose role with Wikileaks rocked and humiliated a US government that is now determined to take its revenge. Anyone who still doubts this need only consider the treatment meted out to Bradley Manning, accused of passing classified information to Wikileaks and is now facing 52 years in prison and who since his arrest in 2010 has had his human rights repeatedly violated.
The truth is that rape has become such a politically loaded issue in this country it is impossible to have an honest discussion about it without feeling like you're walking through a minefield of hysteria and semantic traps, designed to trip you up if you dare deviate from the path of an unwritten but no less rigid consensus, which is that any man accused of rape under any circumstances is guilty until proven innocent - with anyone who suggests it should be the other way round no better than a rapist him or herself. This occludes rather than enlightens the issue and is designed to place a curtain of censorship around it.
The allegations faced by Assange, which he denies and of which by law he remains innocent until proven guilty, are extremely serious. Any man accused of rape is disgraced by the very allegation. To be publicly accused of the offence, as Assange has been, leaves a stigma that no legal defence can hope to eradicate. Regardless of guilt or innocence, in this respect the allegations have already had a devastating effect on his reputation in the eyes of many who've commentated on the story since it broke, moving him from the status of someone being persecuted for political reasons to a rapist doing his utmost to avoid justice. If he is guilty of course he must face the consequences. But only a fool or a supporter of his extradition to the US would deny that he has a justified concern over going to Sweden to be questioned under the present circumstances. After all, does anyone really think that the Ecuadorian Government did not look into the case before granting Julian Assange asylum? Does anyone really believe that tiny Ecuador would defy the might of the United States and its junior partner Britain just for the hell of it?
The precise cause of the calumniation that has been attached to Galloway's intervention is the assertion that in his podcast he downplays rape by suggesting that if Assange initiated sex with one of the women involved while she was sleeping, on the morning after they'd already had consensual sex as is claimed, then it might be considered 'bad sexual etiquette' but it would not be rape as most people understand it.
How many men or women have initiated sex with a partner or sexual partner in the morning under those very circumstances? I would guess 99 percent, including most of those who are currently clambering for Galloway's head.
If any degree of coercion is involved of course it is rape, no doubt. If the other person involved withdraws their consent at any time then the man or woman who initiated sex must stop. On this there can be no equivocation. But Galloway did not dispute either of those red lines. His focus was on the fact that the woman involved in this particular instance went on to hold a party for Assange the night after the alleged rape took place, then the day after went out to dinner with him. Surely any reasonable person, with this mind, would allow for even a smidgeon of something suspicious over the way these allegations have come about? That George Galloway did so without in the eyes of his accusers giving sufficient room to the possibility that the allegations may be true, reflects not a dismissive attitude to rape, as is being inferred, but his understanding of the nature of the beast that Assange has provoked via Wikileaks and his own consistent opposition to that beast, which is otherwise known as Empire.
But this isn't really about Julian Assange. The focus that has been placed on George Galloway is a political campaign being conducted by on the one hand his many enemies within the liberal media who smell blood, and on the other those on the left who are determined to police the issue of rape, the context in which it can be discussed, to the point where men in general are expected to view their sexuality and natural sexual instinct as predatory, something to be ashamed of, something dirty and devious which marks them out as potential rapists.
As a man and as a rational human being I completely and utterly reject this. Rape is far too serious an issue to trivialise and reduce to the level of a stick to beat men with just by dint of them being men. By the same token false allegations of rape are equally too serious to be treated lightly.
George Galloway's crime is that he spoke the truth without fear or favour as he and many others see it. As history proves, 'In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act'.