Sargon seems to think that if someone is invited to speak on campus then they will be addressing students as part of their lectures or seminars, or at least at open events that will attract large audiences of curious minds. This is the gloss that Louise Richardson gives it when she says that: “…universities should be places where students confront views they find “objectionable” and learn to argue down opposing views rather than ban them.”
In reality, speakers will be invited to address small audiences of like-minded individuals. Firebrand preacher A, for example, will be invited by, say, the Islamic Society to talk to members of that society about the evils of homosexuality or somesuch. This meeting will be closed, officially or unofficially, to non members. Radical feminist B will be invited to speak at a meeting only for radical feminists and, of course, potential recruits. Mad Marxist C will be invited to speak at the Marxist society at a meeting only for fellow travellers – and potential recruits.
Students in general will not be confronted by the extreme ideas preached by A, B and C because they will not be at the talks given by these preachers; and in many cases will never be given the opportunity to attend: see “no white cis-males.” Richardson is only making the case for “exposure to opposing views” to avoid the tricky position of being seen to ban mostly Muslims from speaking at the university.
Sargon suggests that there is no harm in allowing these radicals to speak because they do not represent the majority opinion of their audiences. In an attempt to show this he provides a survey carried out by the Toronto Sun that asks readers: “What do you think of Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana’s views?” and gives only three options:
(1) They are hogwash
(2) He wants to control women
(3) He has a point
Of course the majority of the Toronto Sun readers think his views are hogwash! They are hardly his target audience. The purpose of printing his letter was to share it with a audience of readers who will consider it to be hogwash aimed at controlling women. But if Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana went to speak at a university his audience would not be readers of the Toronto Sun. He would, of course, be addressing a group of people far more open to accepting his ideas; and with very little chance of meeting with any dissent from his audience.
Sargon has failed to take into account why speakers are invited to speak/preach and who is sending out the invitations. The Philosophy Society may invite a current academic to discuss some ideas taken from a project on which they are currently working; the rugby club might invite a ex-International player to discuss his exploits on the field; and the Islamic Society might invite Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana to speak on the need for women in Western countries to dress more conservatively to avoid provoking rape. Who is going to be in the audience listening to the philosopher? Philosophy students. Who is in the audience listening to the rubgy player? rugby fans. Who is in the audience listening to Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana? A wide-selection of students, from various backgrounds interested in confronting a view they find objectionable and in learning how to argue against this view that they oppose – of course not!
And why are speakers invited to address audiences on campus? In the case of the Philosophy Society it is for the mutual benefit of the speaker and the audience. The speaker gets feedback on his or her current project and the audience get to hear about current work in the field in which they are interested. For the rubgy club, the audience get to hear stories from one of their heroes and the hero gets paid. What do the political and religious societies get from their speakers and what do these speakers get from turning up? By and large, the speakers normally have some agenda or something to promote and the audience, who are mostly activists of some sort or another, get offered a new cause to get behind. The point of joining these societies is to meet like-minded individuals with whom a person can develop and nurture their beliefs.
Sargon has swallowed the line about extremist speakers on campus being an opportunity for students to confront and challenge opposing views because he wants to avoid the subject of censorhip and propaganda and anything that might disturb his liberal “sharing of ideas” fantasy.
In the previous post we looked at the sources Sargon of Akkad provided to support his claims about Sweden’s “rape culture.” His argument is that the rape laws in Sweden are not exceptionally draconian. The reason Sargon is making this claim – one made regularly by many feminist activists – is that he wants to say that the far greater number of reported rapes in Sweden is not due to any of the following:
That Sweden records acts of rape instead of cases of rape
That Sweden uses a far broader definition of rape than other countries
That in Sweden prosecutors not police investigate rape reports
That the law was updated in Sweden with the aim of decreasing the percentage of unreported rapes, or in other words raise the number of reported rapes
The increased willingness of people to report rape
Instead, he wants to suggest that far higher number of reports of rape in Sweden is due to an increase in the number of rapes committed. However, all the sources Sargon provides actually suggest that all the factors listed above are the cause of Sweden’s far higher report figures.
We saw that almost all of Sargon’s sources originated from feminist activist sources. They want to argue that while Sweden is a step in the right direction, as far as they are concerned, the updated laws don’t do enough and other countries are lagging behind. The Amnesty International document, cited by Sargon, speculated that although the dramatically increased rape reports in Sweden are largely due to the change in how reports are investigated and recorded there may also have been an increase in the number of rapes committed. Sargon took this speculation that there may be more rapes committed in recent years and ran with it.
My aim was not to critique the information contained within Sargon’s sources but Sargon’s use of the sources he cites to support his argument. We saw that none of sources supplied supported his claim that the rape laws in Sweden are not excessively draconian. We also saw that many of the sources cited to support Sargon’s argument actually contradicted what he was attempting to show. Finally, we saw that Sargon’s biggest error was to ignore a factor pointed out in most of his sources: police procedure and how rape reports are investigated. Click here to see the analysis of Sargon’s sources.
Perpetrators of rape in Sweden
In the previous post we were looking at reporters of rape now let’s turn to Sargon’s sources about the perpetrators of rape in Sweden. Like before, we’ll go source-by-source.
Sargon claims that BRÅ reported that 77% of rapes were committed by non-native immigrants. The source he provides is a scanned PDF of the original document. Unfortunately, this document is in Swedish however there is a brief section in English at the back. Nevermind, let’s check the stats.
The table shows the estimated figures regarding reports of various type of crime. Not crimes committed as Sargon claims.
The first set of numbers is the percentage of immigrants, the second is the children of immigrant and the third is Swedes. The report defines immigrants as anyone registered in Sweden but born in another country. The children of immigrants are those born in Sweden but with at least one parent born in another country. The stats do not distinguish between immigrants, a Christian from Germany, a Jew from France, Hindu from India or Muslim from Iran would all raise the immigrant percentage for any crime committed. If they married a Swede and had a child, and this child went on to commit a crime they would figure in the middle column. However, later during the analyis of the figures they distinguish immigrants by Nordic and non-Nordic.
The first category is Mord och dråp (inkl, försök) in English: Murder and manslaughter (including attempted). We can see the figures are: 30% immigrants, 10% immigrant children and 58% Swedes.
The next two categories are the figures for assaults against women. The first are reports of women being assaulted by strangers and the second is for women assaulted by acquaintances. The asterisk by both of these entries means that these figures refer to only assaults that occurred outside of the home. We see Swedish perpetrators account for 64% and 68%.
The next two categories are for assaults against men with similar percentages. Then there are the statistics for crimes against liberty and peace with similar stats to the above.
Now we come to the rape reports (highlighted in blue). We see that 38% of reported rapes are committed by immigrants compared to 39% of Swedes.
The next category is for other sexual offenses: 79% committed by Swedes.
Sargon cited this source to support his claim that “77% of rapes were committed by non-native immigrants” but his source does not support this figure at all. The actual figure is 38%
Let’s look at the analysis of the figures in the report:
Immigrants from Norway and Denmark were registered for crimes twice that of the equivalent proportion of Swedes. Finns were registered for more than twice. Now let’s look at immigrants from South-East Asia:
Immigrants from South East Asia display three times less crime participation.
All crime and serious crimes (rape, murder and manslaughter)
The report stats that 80% of all crimes in the 90s were committed by Swedes. However, they point out the disproportion in the statistics when it comes to serious crimes. Immigrants are over-represented for these crimes. This does not mean more immigrants committed these crimes than Swedes but that the percentages among immigrant are higher for rape than for, say, theft from a motor vehicle: 38% compared to 12%.
16% of registered crimes in 1993 were committed by immigrants. These immigrants are both Nordic and non-Nordic; the crime percentages for Danes and Norwegians were twice that of Swedes. And Finns represented more than twice. Immigrants from South-East Asia committed three times less crimes. However, when immigrants did commit crimes there was a disproportionate about of serious crime (rape, murder, manslaughter) compare to less serious crimes committed. Second-generation immigrants committed a much lower percentage of crimes compare to their parents.
Sargon’s figure of 77% of rapes committed by immigrants is not supported anywhere in this source. Not even close.
Let’s look at Sargon’s next source. It is taken from the website of Swedish tabloid Dagbladet. To get an idea of the credibility of this source, on the day after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Dagbladet’s front page story was a piece about children and swearing. The website is published by Aller Media, a publisher of women’s magazines in the Nordic countries.
The Dagbladet article states that there were 41 assault rapes reported in Olso in 3 years, all of which were perpertrated by non-Western immigrants. The report does not say that 90% of the victims were native Norwegian women. This does not mean that this statistic is false only that it is not in the source Sargon provided. The victims are not mentioned at all other than to say they were women. Dagbladet doesn’t say how many rapists committed these rapes. Therefore we don’t know from this source whether, say, 3 non-Western rapists (assumed male) raped on averaged one women a month each for three years or 10 men who raped four women each over a three year period. Just four men were arrested, so we don’t know how many men were involved.
Dagbladet’s source was from Olso Police Violence and Sexual Section, Hanne Kristin Rodhe who is now a public speaker and crime fiction writer. I found some more details on NRK.no
In 2009 there were 21 reported assault rapes in Oslo, almost double the number from the previous year, which was 11. Of the 21 women, 17 weere reported as looking Nordic; in 2008, 9 of the 11 women looked Nordic. This supports Sargon’s figure of 90% of the victims being native Norwegian women. Four men were arrested for these crimes and were all non-Western; the men not arrested were also described by the victims as of non-Western appearance. Below, I have included an English translation of Rohde’s comment on the men.
So we do not know how many rapists there were in this three year rape spree. But we be surprised if each rapist only raped one women. Something we do know that the rape rate is falling. In 2014 rape overall (all kinds of rape as defined by Norwegian law) is down 20% from the previous year and numbered 77 in total. Crime itself was down by 9.2%. If Muslims were responsible for an increase in rapes we would expect, as the number of Muslim immigrants increases, the crime figures to rise not fall.
Sargon’s sources were not wrong but they were not very reliable. He could have put a bit more effort in to find better ones. He mis-cited the 90% of victims being Nordic women but this statistic was true nevertheless. What is concerning however is Sargon’s obvious scaremongering. In other videos about scaremongering in Britain, the US and Canada, Sargon has been rightly critical but here when he wants argue for the existence of a “rape culture” he doesn’t seem to mind a bit of scaremongering. These rapes were terrible and each instance was a horrific crime. In no way do I want to downplay the seriousness for the individuals involved however the fact remains that very few men were involved. Just a handful of rapists could have been responsible for these terrible crimes. Can we say that the actions of these men represent a rape culture? If there were, say, 20 football hooligans who together, over a three year period in Oslo, carried out 41 acts of hooliganism would we be justified in saying Olso has a culture of hooliganism? Of course not.
Sargon’s next source to support the claim that 90% of men sentenced for rape in Stavanger were non-Native comes from right-wing blogger Nina Hjerpset-Østlie. Writing for the controversial Document.no (the controversy is largely due to the fact that it is rightwing and has an association with Anders Brevik). She says that over three years there were 19 men convicted of rape: 3 Norwegians, a Pole, 10 Africans and 5 Asians. Three men, the natives, make up more that 15% of the whole so the figure of 90% can not be correct. Since Islam is under focus, if we lump in the Pole with the Norwegians that makes the breakdown: 4 European to 15 African and Asians; bringing the figures to around 79% non-European. If you’re wondering why we assume the Pole is not a Muslim, why are we assuming the Africans and Asians are Muslim?
Sargon’s 90% claim is wrong but not a huge way out. The small number of men involved presents the same difficulties as in the Oslo case discussed above.
Following through Hjerpset-Østlie’s cited sources we end up back at NRK.no below I have put an English translation.
Note: We can see from the report that seven of the cases were for assault rapes. This is significant because the focus of the Olso cases was on assault rapes alone. It is also worth noting that while Sargon’s focus is on rape culture and Islam the largest group of non-Natives were Africans and then Asians. None of the reports mention the religion of the Africans (or the Asians) are they from Islamic African countries or not? We don’t know.
Let’s look at the next couple of sources Sargon has provided:
The first source is familiar to us, the Amnesty campaign document. A minor quibble first, Sargon gives the page number as 8 but on the document it is page 4. The Adobe viewer, if you read it on your computer, counts the cover of document as page 1 which is probably the cause of the confusion. Sargon goes onto say “this is very unsual and not for reasons you might expect.” I would expect the reason for the increase to be due to the reforms that have been undertaken in Norway that have led to this rise. Sure enough, this is what Sargon’s source says, on the same page.
The next source, 80% of rapes in the US, is a link to the website of RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, the largest anti-sexual assault organisation in the US) and they have cited their figures as coming from the US Dept. of Justice. There is nothing wrong with Sargon’s source nor his point that 80% of rapes in the US are perpetrated by someone known to the victim.
Sargon’s next link is to a government produced report in PDF format entitled An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales. He also provides a screenshot of a graph from page 16 (would have been nice if he’d put the page number himself). A slight quibble is that he cites this report concerning England and Wales as referring to “the UK.” The UK is not just England and Wales but Scotland and Northern Ireland as well. Sargon has been a bit sloppy but it doesn’t detract too much from his point. However, as with the page numbering error above it does indicate that Sargon is rushing his research. This will always be a concern for someone like Sargon who puts out an enormous amount of content almost on a daily basis.
The next link is simply to illustrate the feminist meme of “you’re more likely to be raped by someone you know” and is to Cosmopolitan. No issues here.
In the next source Sargon makes a huge error.
Sargon claims that 63% of rapes in Sweden are committed by a total stranger. This is absolutely incorrect. The figures that he is looking at and has cited are those for all sexual offenses. This includes all lessor offenses such as indecent exposure, unwanted sexual comments, and so on. It is hardly surprising that people are going to report being flashed at or cat-called by a complete stranger than by their husband or boyfriend. Similarly, if someone is patted on the backside by their partner whilst travelling on the train they are hardly likely to report this incident as a sexual offense. But if a stranger touches them, or they believe he has, then a report might be well be made. In fact, in Sweden it is more likely to than elsewhere because – as Sargon’s own source makes clear – since 2005 people are more willing to report sexual offenses.
What Sargon says next is outrageous:
First he says that it is a “particularly unsual situation” but we already know this. Everybody knows that Sweden is an unusual situation. Sargon wants to pretend that Sweden is not that unusual, that it does not have especially draconian rape laws and how they gather their statistics has little or no effect on the number of reported rapes. Everyone, including the sources he cites, claims otherwise. For good measure I’ll offer an academic article that also suggests otherwise. It’s from The European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research entitled Crime Statistics as Constructs: The Case of Swedish Rape Statistics in which the author, using Swedish rape statistics as a focus, describes the way in which different factors affect official crime statistics produced at the national level.
Sargon then says that “it is very difficult not to come to the conclusion that this is being caused by the high number of Muslim men […] committing violent rapes against [women].” But he has offered no evidence for this. He hasn’t provided any sources that show either a high number of men have committed rape or that the ones that did are Muslims. This is pure speculation Sargon’s part. The resources he has just cited are not focused on “violent rapes” and make no mention of the religion of those being reported.
Remember, our interest here is on:
The quality of Sargon’s sources
Sargon’s interpretation of his sources
And, the use to which he puts his sources
Sargon sounds every bit as hysterical as the SJWs he usually criticises. Which is unsurprising since he, like them, is arguing for the existence of a “rape culture” (albeit for different ends). And speaking of SJWs let’s look at Sargon’s next source: GreenNet
GreenNet is a not-for-profit ethical collective […] geared to the needs of activist organisations and individuals working for social change […] GreenNet designs and hosts web sites for organisations whose work is consistent with our mission, which is to work with movements for peace, economic and social justice. Source: gn.apc.org
These environmentally friendly SJWs are Sargon’s source for “Sweden’s terrible conviction rates” for reported rapes. However, this source is just a second-hand account of the Amnesty report already cited by Sargon. As mentioned in my previous post, because Sargon publishes multiple links to the same sources via second and third-hand accounts he runs the risk of accusations that he’s attempting to inflate the number of sources he has actually used.
Sargon wants to suggest that the low conviction rate for rapes compared to the high number of reports has something to do with a Swedish reluctance to prosecute Muslims. He refuses to accept what is obvious to everyone else; if you:
Increase the number of acts that are considered sexual assaults
With the expressed intention of increasing the number of reports
Then you will end up with a lot of reports of cases that will be very difficult to convict
For example: a man bumps into a woman on a crowded train, his crotch makes contact with her backside. Was it deliberate? She thinks so and gets off at the next stop to report the assault. We can easily imagine a situation in which she is mistaken and just as easily imagine one where she is correct. This will be a very difficult case to take to court.
A women buys her boyfriend a book on the Karma Sutra for his birthday and suggests trying out some of the positions later that night. Hours later he gives the book a quick read and tries out a few of the ones he can remember. She didn’t give her expressed consent to having her legs or arms held down but says nothing because she knows he’s trying his best. A few days later, she’s not so sure. She wonders if perhaps he was deliberately getting the positions wrong so he could have sex with her more roughly than she’d like. A week later they break up; and now she comes to think about it she’s definitely sure he pinned her arms down on purpose. She files a rape report and awaits her day in court. This will be a very difficult case to take to court.
A women overhears her husband talking to his friend about a movie he once saw in which a guy is woken up by his wife with oral sex. One day, she decides to give him a treat. Unfortunately, when he awakes he’s absolutely horrified and rushes off to file a rape report. This will be a very difficult case to take to court.
Below is an account from Cosmopolitan magazine in which a women wakes her boyfriend D. up with oral sex. If a man in Sweden, under the exact same circumstances and for the same reasons as those stated in the Cosmo piece, carefully pulled back the bed sheets and touched his girlfriend’s genitals while she was asleep he would be guilty of rape following the letter of the law. If his girlfriend reported him would we be greatly surprised if the case never made it to court? And if she didn’t report him would we be shocked at the unreporting of rape? Under the letter of the law in Sweden, a women can be raped – say if her husband wakes her up with oral sex – and enjoy it. Whatever she feels about her husband’s decision to wake her up in this way, pleased or pissed off, in Sweden it’s rape. Sargon does not think there is anything particularly unsual about the law in Sweden. The point is, the law in Sweden is designed to encourage rape reports not convictions. It doesn’t matter if most of the reports will never end up in court.
Sargon is trying to suggest that the “low conviction rates” for rapes is due to a politically correct reluctance to prosecute immigrants but in his own sources, in the cases of assault rape, the Swedes did exactly that. We’ve just been looking at cases in Olso and Stavenger in which the great majority of those convicted were non-Native. Rapes are difficult to prosecute when it comes down to one person’s word against another but in the case of stranger rape – especially if violence is involved – it is easier to get a conviction. Feminists who claim there is a rape culture deplore this fact because they believe that a women’s word is insufficient is proof of the existence of rape culture.
We don’t know this, we know that most rapes in Sweden are committed by people known to their victims. Sargon thinks he knows this because he has misread his sources and become confused. But Sargon has another problem. He wants to suggest that Swedes are reluctant to prosecute non-native rapists when in fact the opposite is true. When he talks of the “terrible conviction rate” what is actually referring to is the number of rape reports that end up with someone prosecuted, once the case is in court Sweden has the highest proportion of conviction rates. This statistic comes from an EU study with eleven European countries taking part. Professor Liz Kelly, who led the study talks about the conviction rates in a interview with Dagens Nyheter. This is a large circulation compact broadsheet daily newspaper in Sweden that self-identifies as liberal in the same sense of the word Sargon identifies with.
As we come to a close, I reiterate that the intention of these two posts is not to challenge any ideas about Muslim attitudes to women, or Islamification, or anything of the sort. My only interest is in Sargon’s use and misuse of sources to make claims about a rape culture in Sweden.
Sargon has attempted to show that Sweden does not have a excessively draconian attitude to rape. He has failed to do so. All his sources reveal the opposite
Sargon has provided sources that do not match the claims he is attempted to support
Sargon has misread and/or misinterpreted of his sources
Sargon has contradicted himself as well as his sources
Sargon has cited other people’s speculation as evidence
Sargon has relied too heavily on 2nd and 3rd hand sources
Sargon has used multiple sources that simply repeat while adding nothing information already cited by him from the original document
Sargon has relied heavily on radical feminist, SJW and far-right sources while ignoring sources from his own liberal (in the European sense) postion. This is because to make his case for a rape culture he must stray away from his intellectual home ground.
Let’s look at the final sources.
The first source, Sweden enjoys on the highest levels of gender equality, is from the official site of Sweden and it’s a good source. The second link about Swedish Islamic preachers, is to the Gladstone Institute, a rightwing pro-Israel think tank founded by it’s current president Nina Rosenwald. Rosenwald and her institute have been accused of Islamphobia and bias against Muslims; she is an staunchly zionist and is a recipient of the Louis Brandeis award given by the Zionist Organisation of America.
The article Sargon links to is written by Ingrid Calqvist, the editior-in-chief of the Swedish anti-Islamic website Dispatch International and author of several books in colaboration with Swedish medium Benny Rosenqvist about communicating with angels and the “other side.” Dispatch International is unfraid to enter territory usually occupied by the extreme right, for instance publishing an opinon piece on multiculturalism by Paul Weston of the British Freedom Party, a far-right “cultural nationalist” organisation. Calquvist’s article, linked to by Sargon, is basically a list of news stories about Muslims published by papers from the extreme right to the centre liberal. This source tells us nothing about Sargon’s argument, no-one doubts that there are extreme Islamics and that some of them have been pandered to by Western governments. Of the around 30 stories included in Calqvist’s list only 5 were related to rape or violence against women. This source does not support Sargon’s argument.
Sargon’s final source is from the BBC. His point is that in areas that don’t have many Muslims it may be tempting to think warnings about radical Islam are overblown.
The source that Sargon links to is a report on a report into the Rotherham child abuse scandal. The source does not actually show that the BBC specifically omits reference to the religion of the known perpetrators however it does show that the Rotherham Council staff that should have been protecting the children did so.
However, it is quickly apparent that the BBC makes no reference to Muslims or Islam on the page Sargon links to. A quick look at the related stories section reveals other pages on the website that also fail to mention religion (although Pakistani heritage is mentioned). Sargon’s point is not about people putting their heads in the sand when it comes to indentifyinggroups with abhorent attitudes toward rape and abuse of women but those who particularly who refuse to point the figure at Muslims.
To find out who is being convicted of sex offenses in the UK, Sargon can check the Law Pages website that will reveal the names, offenses and sentences of those who have stood trial. The religion is not mentioned but their names provide a clue.
Checking Sargon’s sources: CONCLUSION
Sargon’s two videos about what he sees as a genuine “rape culture” in Sweden is a move away from his usual offerings. It is to his credit that he posts his sources for all to see. Checking these sources we can see why he appears to have drifted into a new area: almost all of his sources come either from the extreme left or right. However, there is no need to start scaremongering about a rape culture when there clearly is not one. I’m not denying that some groups of people do have a culture of shared attitudes, customs and beliefs that result in them trivialising or normalising rape but there is no sign that there is any danger of European countries as whole adopting a “rape culture”. Sargon doesn’t think there is one in Britain, the US or Canada despite SJW arguments to the contrary but has changed his tune when it comes to Sweden. But none of his sources show that there is. More damning, is that many of his sources are misinterpreted because he has failed to look closely enough. It is, unfortunately, a case of sloppy work.
Sargon of Akkad has made a post on therationalists.org to show his sources concerning his follow up video about Sweden’s “rape culture”. In the first youtube video he blames Sweden’s “rape culture” on the rising number of Islamic immigrants. His first video can be seen on his youtube channel here. The reason Sargon is citing his sources is because he wants to show that rape culture exists in Sweden and because he has been somewhat criticised for this position (one usually adopted by feminist critics). The accusation against Sargon is that he is employing a double standard: denying the existence of rape culture in the UK, US and Canada (and elsewhere) when he’s arguing against SJWs but insisting there is one when talking about Islamic immigrants.
Grateful to Sargon for posting his sources, I have checked them all and will be sharing my findings here in this post. What I was surprised to find (well, not really given that these are sources to defend the idea of a rape culture) is that all Sargon’s sources come from feminist sources.
Many of his sources are second or third hand and all share the same original source. As we are going through them one-by-one I will be identifying the original sources. Sargon’s sources vary in quality from the totally unrealiable: personal blogs, anonymous posts paraphrasing radio shows, Huffington Post articles by feminist-fashion bloggers, etc. to much more reliable government statistics taken from their original websites. Sometimes the sources chosen by Sargon contradict each other or, when we read the entire documents, the sources cited to prove one particular point will also contain material contradicting his entire position.
Sargon posts quite a lot of different sources that all report information gleaned from the same place; a cynical person would say that is an attempt to inflate the apparant number of sources and hide the origin of some of the sources. I am not that cynical; I just don’t think Sargon has researched the topic very well and rushed to conclusions.
So, I’ll be checking each source, hyperlinked by Sargon in his article, one-by-one. Starting with…
Sweden is not in some way exceptional when it comes to encouraging rape victims to report crimes to the police. Every Western nation does this, with state funding in countries like Britain and Norway providing dozens of rape crisis centres and many feminist activists agitating on the subject.
These first two sources say nothing about the point at hand. The point is whether Sweden is some way exceptional when it comes to encouraging victims to report rape; Sargon says no but the two sources he provides are simply websites providing information about rape crisis centres. These sources alone tell us nothing about reporting rapes, and nothing about Sweden. It simply shows that there are State funded recourses in Britain and Norway.
The first link opens up a publication put out by Amnesty International. This is a very interesting document that merits a whole post to itself. But my aim to check Sargon’s sources against his claims not critique the sources themselves. It’s worth pointing for now that the Amnesty document is a activism piece with a appeal for donations at the bottom. The statistics footnoted often lead not to an original source, say a government report or academic study but a further comment. For example: after stating that the number of rapes reported in Finland has risen to more than 900 in 2008, the footnote reveals not the source of this statistic but the additional comment that sexual assaults have also risen. The purpose of the document is to campaign for more government involvement in the investigation and prosecution of rape cases in Scandinavia. Information is presented to paint the worse possible picture with statistics presented in an inconsistent manner. This makes it quite a hard document to pull information from. The intention of the author(s) is to persuade people to join and assist the cause not to present the bare facts. More on this later but first, we’ll take a look at Sargon’s other sources.
Let’s take a look at the next two sources in Sargon’s article (quoted above). The first, on the estimated 10-20% of reported rapes in Sweden, comes from an pseudonymous post on Liveleak. Whatever you’re feelings on the reliability of Liveleak, the post cited by Sargon is not a reliable source. The Liveleak article itself, is an interpretation of information taken from another source, Swedish Public Radio, that took it’s stats from BRÅ (The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention) but posted no actual reference. The source Sargon should have been checking and then citing is the original not the third-hand LiveLeak piece. It is curious that Sargon is using a third-hand account instead of going straight to the source – especially when he does cite BRÅ later in his article.
The next source, 20% of reported rapes in Norway, comes from a article written by Nick Jardine for Business Insider. His source is a 2011 New York Times article written by feminist journalist Katrin Bennhold. Jardine’s article is just a summary of Bennhold’s earlier piece, he adds no new information nor does he do anything other than accept her account at face value. Her main source for the 20% of unreported rapes in Norway comes from Tove Smaadahl, the general manager of the Secretariat of the Shelter Movement. This is an organsition steeped in “feminist ideology” (their words) and dedicted to ending the “sickness” they believe they can see in society that perpetuates the oppression of women.
Smaadahl, is a feminist campaigner and 2012 winner of the Norwegian Association of Women’s Rights Gina Krog Prize. Just because the stats come from a feminist organisation doesn’t automatically mean they are incorrect but the fact remains that these organisations have a interest in producing stats that support their narrative. Citing them certainly doesn’t help Sargon’s claim that he’s not just taking the feminist postion on “rape culture” and uncritically using it for his argument. A question mark hangs over Sargon’s decision to cite Jardine’s article as his source rather than Bennhold’s. The cynical interpretation would be that this was an accident to mask the true source.
The thrust of Bennhold’s NY Times article is: 80% of rapes go unreported in Norway because the majority of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim; these are hard to prove in court and for various reasons, it is suggested, the victims don’t report the crime. As always, it is difficult to know the percentage of unreported anything because, by their very definition, they go unreported. The statistics come from surveys carried out by organisations asking respondents if they have been raped but did not report it. Obviously, the final statistics published depend on who is asking the questions, who is asked, how the questions are worded and the answers are recorded, and how the conclusions are drawn. No matter, Sargon uses these sources to point out that reported rapes in Scandinavian countries are broadly similar: 20%
Again, I’m not examining the claims made in Sargon’s sources but looking to see who his sources of information are and how he has used this information.
Sargon’s sources: The Amnesty International report
After citing sources that claim unreported rapes in Norway and Sweden to both be around 20% Sargon goes on to say that the number of reported rapes in Norway is half that of rapes reported in Sweden:
The report is, of course, the Amnesty International one mentioned above. And in the report they do account for the greater number of reported rapes in Sweden. Briefly:
Norway only counts rape cases
Sweden counts acts of rape
In Norway the police investigate rape
In Sweden prosecutors investigate rape
There is a difference in the willingness to report rape
There is a difference is how those who report rape are treated
There is a difference in the definition of rape
The purpose of the Amnesty document (cited by Sargon) is to argue for a worldwide consensus on how rapes are reported, investigated, and prosecuted as well as how rape victims are treated. They don’t think that Sweden’s tough measures are sufficient.
Notwithstanding that Sargon has already cited sources that claim that unreported rapes in Norway (upper limit 20%) and unreported rapes in Sweden (upper limit 20%) are the same. He claims that the report states that the number of reported rapes in Norway is half that of Sweden. It does not. Here’s what the document does say:
The report says that in 2008 there were 949 reported rates in Norway while in the same year there were over 4000 reported in Sweden. However, they go on to qualify this statistic: in Norway they record cases of rape whereas in Sweden they report acts of rape. Remember that Sargon claimed in his article the report did not account for the difference in reported rapes.
The report also attributes the increase to the expanded legal definition of rape and the increased willingness to report rape. We need to be careful here not to assume that both the expanded legal definitions of rape and the willingness of victims to report rape are identical in both Norway and Sweden. Norwegians and Swedes may be more willing to report rape but the Swedes may be far more willing report rape then their Norwegian counterparts. The report offers no information on the difference, if any, of the willingness of people to report rape in Norway or Sweden.
There is something else of interest in the Anmesty document that might explain the difference between Norway and Sweden. In Sweden it is the prosecutor and not the police that leads the rape investigation. I will make no claims based on this information but point out that how rapes are investigated may play an important part in how many rapes are reported. I bring it up because Sargon has entirely overlooked police procedure in the two countries. This is strange because his source, the Amnesty document, makes a very big deal out of it.
The argument in the document is that reports of rape are higher in Norway and Sweden than in Denmark and Finland precisely because of the way that rapes are investigated and the resources on offer for those who report rape. In other words, how a country investigates rape impacts the number of rapes reported. Does this explain Sweden’s higher rate of reported rapes? The Amnesty document certainly thinks it does. Remember Sargon claimed that the report did not account for the difference in reported rapes between the two countries when if fact their account of the difference forms the main thrust of their demands. In short: Sweden treats reporters of rape better than Norway (but for Amnesty, a lot more could be done.)
Sargon is citing a document to support his argument that contradicts the point he is trying to make. I’m not interested, in this article, in how accurate or credible the report is but in how Sargon has used it as a source.
Does an increase in reports of rape mean there are more rapes?
Sargon finds this snippet from the Amnesty report very interesting:
Most important to note, however, is that despite all of these presumed reasons that rape reporting has increased, the report states:
It is not possible to exclude the possibility that the increase in reporting may reflect an actual increase in the number of rapes in Finland, Norway and Sweden. (Page 4/5)
The report does not refute the idea that more rapes occurring accounts for more rapes being reported.
Here, he has taken a guess by the author of the document – that perhaps the increase in reported rapes is due to the increase in the number of rapes – and used it to hint that there are indeed more rapes in Sweden. This isn’t citing evidence but citing speculation. This is unsurprising since both Sargon and author of the document are campaigning against “rape culture” albeit to make different points.
How excessively broad are Sweden’s rape laws?
Of course, the attempt to explain this come from the additional caveat that Sweden’s rape laws are incredibly broad compared to other Western nations and that explains the excessive number of reported rapes in Sweden.
We have already seen that by focusing on the number of reports of rape Sargon has ignored the impact of how rapes are investigated. Simply, if you are going to be treated better in Sweden and believe you have a better chance of a positive outcome you will be more likely to report a rape than in Norway. This has little to do with the letter of the law but how the laws are interpreted and acted upon.
He doesn’t allow for how the laws are interpreted, investigated and enforced (which would dramatically effect the number of reports) but what about the quality of his sources?
The first is a direct link to the Sexual Offences ACT 2003 posted on legislation.gov.uk nothing wrong with this source. The second however is a link to a PDF version of The General and Civil Penal Code put out by the Norwegian government, nothing wrong with his source (but a page number would have been nice). The crucial source, the Swedish one, however is a link to a personal blog. This blogger has published an article on the Swedish law as he interprets it. He does provides links to his sources but they are not helpful to people who don’t speak Swedish. The bit that Sargon quotes – the verbose summary of the law – is given a citation (on the personal blog) but it leads to an error page. None of this means that the information is incorrect but that it is unrealible.
The point that Sargon is trying to make is, helpfully, summarised by himself as:
Aside from being more verbose, this is almost identical to Norwegian rape laws and covers exactly the same circumstances. Any person who is unable to give informed consent to sexual intercourse or a comparable sexual act is treated as a victim of rape.
What he has given us in terms of sources is woefully inadequate. There just is not enough information here for us to go on. It is because it is the interpretation of the law and the enforcement of the law that will have the major effect on the number of reported rapes. Sargon needs to show that, for example, what Swedes consider to be “circumstances comparable to sexual intercourse” is the same thing as what Norwegians mean by “engaging in sexual acts.” Besides, he has already provided a source that makes this explicit, the Amnesty document.
Remember, Sargon needs to provide sources that support his claim that the increased number of reported rapes in Sweden is due to an increase in the number of rapes and not due to a difference in how rapes are reported, investigated, the expections of those who make reports and how all these information is collected and catalogued.
Sargon, in a nutshell, needs to show that Swedish rape laws are not particularly draconian and that there is no significant difference in how reports of rape are handled. He ignores the latter, so let’s look at the former.
The first source, 69 cases of rape, is a Wikipedia entry that clearly makes the point Sargon wants to ignore:
There have been several international comparisons made, placing Sweden at the top end of the number of reported rapes. However, police procedures and legal definitions vary widely across countries, which makes it difficult to compare rape statistics. For example, Sweden reformed its sex crime legislation and made the legal definition of rape much wider in 2005, which largely explains a significant increase in the number of reported rapes in the ten-year period of 2004-2013. The Swedish police also record each instance of sexual violence in every case separately, leading to an inflated number of cases compared to other countries. Additionally, the Swedish police have improved the handling of rape cases, in an effort to increase the number of crimes reported.
We see here the multiple cited sources that we cannot compare Swedish statistics with other countries because of:
Different police procedures
Widely varying legal definitions
Swedish police handling of rape cases designed to increase the number of reported crimes
The second source, 20,300 sexual offenses reported, comes from BRÅ (The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention) a good source but if we read the actual document they make it clear that:
It is important to note that sexual crimes include a wide array of offenses – everything from minor events, such as indecent exposure, to the very serious events, such as rape.
They also admit that there has been a decline in sexual assaults in recent years but this is because “developments are difficult to interpret.” These developments are presumably the newly difficult to navigate borders between sexual assault and rape in Sweden. But the point Sargon wants to make is that:
Rapes are not being conflated with less-severe sexual crimes being committed. They are distinct categories.
His third source for rape categories is Dominique Mosbergen writing for that bastion of truth The Huffington Post. Her article is about how the definition of rape differs from country to country. She cites a comment by George Galloway (of the far-left Respect Party) that Julian Assange would not be guilty of rape under British Law and how the leader of his Party, Salma Yaqoob “regretted and condemned” his comments. Mosbergen also cites former Conserative MP Louise Mensch who argues that Assange is guilty of rape in Sweden and ought to be considered so in Britain. Anyone, she says, who says otherwise is repellent.
Mosbergen points out in her article that Assange is guilty of third-degree rape in Sweden. Under UK law and almost everywhere else on Earth, Assange, if he is considered guilty of a crime, would be guilty of a “less-severe sexual crime” but in Sweden he is accused of rape. Sargon claims however that in Sweden: “Rapes are not being conflated with less-severe sexual crimes being committed.” What are these less serious crimes? More importantly – once we know what these crimes are – how do they compare with countries other than Sweden? The point is that Sargon wants to say that what is considered as rape in Sweden is not really that much different to what is considered and recorded as rape in similar countries but the source his cites says the exact opposite. Indeed, everyone says otherwise. Even Yaqoob and Mensch agree, their argument is that Britain should follow Sweden’s lead.
Sargon’s next source, a Huffington Post article by Karin Wasteson, is intended to show that Sweden’s rape laws do not “encapsulate every rape that occurs as it does not even include the concept of consent.” Wasteson, a journalist specialises in feminist fashion issues (see the headlines in the image below) argues in her pieces that while people outside of Sweden claim that the Swedish definition of rape is broader than anywhere else they ignore the fact that conviction rates and prison sentences for those convicted are one of the lowest in Europe. Note that Wasteson is not talking about the number of reported rapes or number of rapes which is what Sargon is talking about but the punishment and likelihood of punishment for those convicted of rape.
The issue of consent here is not about reporting rape but convicting rapists. Wasteson is concerned about the fact that, as she interprets it, under Swedish law a women who surrenders, or who can no longer struggle after being raped by first offender will not be considered to have been raped by anyone who comes after him. An important consideration for us is that Sargon has claimed that Norwegian and Swedish rape laws are almost identical but when we look at one of his posted sources on the laws in Norway that show that Norway does not have the same laws about consent:
The strangest source that Sargon cites in order to show that Swedish laws on rape are not all that draconian is the prosecutor in Assange’s rape case. What prosecutor is going to admit the case in which he or she is prosecuting rests on draconian laws? Imagine someone asked Sargon if the application of the laws in, say, North Korea were excessively harsh or severe and he replied: “no, according to the state prosecutors they are not.”
Sargon’s conclusion on Swedish rape laws and stats on rapes reported
Before moving onto looking at the perpetrators of rape in Sweden, Sargon sums up his position on Swedish rape laws:
Sargon has made several claims, some of them contradictory, and stated his sources. However, as we have seen, many of these sources are unrealiable. I have to say kudos for him, for stating his sources for all to see. For his statistics on reported rape his sources are:
An Amnesty International activism piece that says that Sweden’s higher figures are due to the fact that Swedish investigates rape claims differently to other Scandinavian countries. Their argument is not that Denmark, Finland and Norway need to catch up but that Sweden is not going far enough. However, the point is made that Swedish figures are much higher because of the way reported rapes are investigated.
Feminist Journalist Katrin Bennhold. Her article is based on information she got from feminist activist Tove Smaadahl. The thrust of Bennhold’s article is that 80% of rapes go unreported because the victims know their attacker and these rape cases are difficult to prove in court. Her concern, like Kate Wasteson is that Sweden is not doing enough to prosecute rape.
Feminist activist Tove Smaadahl. She is Bennhold’s source for rape statistics and interpretations. Smaadahl is a spokeswoman for an women’s organisation that self report being anchored in feminist ideology and see modern society as sick due to the oppression of women.
Sargon first provides sources to claim that reported rapes in both Norway and Sweden are similar: 20% of actual rapes. But then goes on to claim that Norway has half the number of reported rapes that Sweden. He can do this because the percentages are based on estimates; when he wants to say they are identical he can compare the upper limits but when he wants to show a different he compares the lower limit of Norway with the upper limit of Sweden.
He also claims that the source (Amnesty document) does not account for the different number of rapes reported in Norway and Sweden when in fact the whole report is about this difference.
The biggest difference – something Sargon completely overlooks – is how rapes are investigated and how reporters are treated in Sweden. According to the Amnesty report, Finland does the least for reporters of rape and has far fewer reported rapes than Sweden. Norway does more for those who report rape and has higher rates of reporting. Sweden does the most including having the prosecutors not the police investigate the reports and has the highest rate of reports.
All of the sources cited by Sargon make the same points:
You can not compare rape statistics by country
Sweden has the broadest definition of rape
Different police procedure in Sweden accounts for higher number of reported rapes
But Sargon refuses to take the word of his own sources and tries to claim that these factors do not make Swedish rape laws exceptional. To do this he cites even more feminist authors who want to show that there is an out of control rape culture in Sweden.
To be clear: Sargon’s claim is that the rape laws in Sweden are not draconian. So he cites feminist activists who believe that Swedish laws are not draconian enough
To prove his point he cites feminist LGBT activist writer Dominique Mosbergen. He wants to claim that Sweden categorises rapes into three orders of severity and not “everything is rape.” But these categories are all categories of rape and the focus of Mosbergen’s article is on feminist reaction to male politicians pointing out that Assange, accused of rape in Sweden, would not be accused of rape in Britain or the US. She is not saying that in Sweden Assange is not considered to have committed rape but that he is accused of rape.
In addition, in an attempt to show that Swedish rape laws are not that strict Sargon cites another feminist writer, Kate Wasteson whose article is about what she considers to be light sentences and low conviction rapes for accused rapists in Sweden. Sargon wants to use her article to say that the Swedish definition of rape is not excessively broad because it does not factor in consent (when other countries do) but Wasteson’s article is about punishments not reports. The feminist fashion writer says nothing about the exceptional nature (or not) of the definitions of rape in Sweden.
Summing up then…
Sargon is arguing for the existence of a rape culture in Sweden. Although he is doing this for different reasons than most feminist activists he is happy to use them as his source material. Despite all but the most radical feminist literature claiming it is not possible to compare Swedish rape stats with other countries Sargon wants to ignore the more reasonable evidence and go along with the activists. He plays down the huge differences in the way rape is defined and investigated in Sweden because his feminist sources tell him the difference is no big deal.
In PART 2 we’ll be looking at Sargon’s claims about the perpetrators of rape in Sweden.