[email protected] comes out in support of rape culture
ADMIN: Following legal discussions with legal representatives of Ecotricity, we are publishing this statement: “Ecotricity’s tweet regarding Julian Assange on 5 February 2016 mistakenly gave the impression that Ecotricity appeared to support rape culture, which it does not. Ecotricity were unaware of the legal circumstances of Julian Assange’s various court appearances in the UK or that he had not claimed to fear extradition to the US in his appeal to the Supreme Court.”
We're not entirely sure when ecotricity - an energy company - became experts in international criminal law but they've certainly come out in support of rape culture by suggesting that men who are under investigation for sexual assault should be allowed to dictate the parameters of the investigation AND international law.
I suppose in the current economic climate all corporations need to diversify. We await with bated breath N-Power's diversification into training competitive figure skaters.
UPDATE: We have emailed ecotricity raising our concerns about this tweet. We will add their response to this post if and when we receive it.
RESPONSE TO EMAIL FROM ECOTRICITY:
The tweet very clearly relates to efforts by the USA to extradite Mr Assange from Sweden to the US, it also very clearly does not take a position on the merits of the allegations themselves.
We don't believe he is hiding from these allegations as Mr Assange has made it clear he would willingly go to Sweden to face the allegations, if Sweden guaranteed they would not extradite him to the US. Please be assured that is the point of the tweet. We believe it is very clear.
Our original email:
This tweet was posted on your official twitter feed on Friday February 5. We would like assurances that this tweet does not represent company policy on allegations of rape and sexual assault. If supporting an accused rapist who is hiding in an embassy in an attempt to wait out the statute of limitations on a serious criminal investigation is company policy, then it should be the subject of an official statement so that customers can make an informed decision whether or not they will continue to support your company. If this is not official policy, then a public apology and a donation to a rape crisis service would be an appropriate response.
ACTIVISM: Ecotricity's contact details are here for those who would like to express their displeasure.
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I note your twitter and Facebook comments in support of Julian Assange, a man accused of the very serious crime of rape who has evaded attempts at prosecution.
I was aware, through media reporting, that Dale Vince appears to regard the upbringing of children to be the uncompensated burden of women alone for which men need take no financial responsibility, and in relation to which women are not entitled to seek legal redress. However, I regarded this private sexism, however distasteful, as irrelevant to my position as a consumer of ecotricity products. However, when the company publicly endorses Julian Assange, it crosses a line – this is no longer the private sexist opinions or actions of employees, directors or your public relations department. As a company you publicly endorse the position that men accused of rape should not have to cooperate with normal legal processes.
I am beyond disappointed with this position. I was an ‘early adopter’ of ecotricty and have also encouraged many friends and family members to switch over the years, also name-checking the company when doing tours of my house as part of Cambridge Carbon Footprint openecohomes, and the SuperHomes open day. I find that you are the most effective of the green energy companies. However, if the endorsement of Assange by ecotricity is not removed and replaced by a statement that this was a mistake, I will be changing my electricity supply to another of the green energy providers, and explaining in the most far-reaching way I can manage why I have taken this action.”
I like the ecotricity business model, because they build a lot of new renewables, unlike many other green suppliers (who simply buy green but don’t build new). However, I’ve been looking at alternatives – and LoCO2’s 100% Green package is both cheaper and also reinvests in new renewables production. Given the response you’ve had, I’m not sure it’s worth me waiting for a reply from Ecotricity.
And now they’ve got back to me. Which means I’m going to switch. Think I might go to LoCO2 or perhaps Green Energy UK.
“Thankyou for your email. Apologies for the delay in getting back to you.
We sometimes post stuff on social media that has little to do with renewable energy… Orang-utans, Hen Harriers and Veganism are a few recent examples. What do we support as a company? In addition to supporting renewable energy, action on climate change and room for nature, we also support …
.. in this case, freedom of speech, legal protection for whistleblowers, protection of political dissidents from persecution and human rights abuses – and this post was directly in relation to efforts by America to extradite Julian Assange on allegations of espionage and was made on the day that the UN Working Group made a decision on his Arbitrary Detention (in the BBC link).
We deliberately did not make a judgement or comment on the specific allegations he faces in Sweden. However the post was in relation to justice for all parties and of course we support Assange being questioned on the allegations of rape. And to be clear, we do not support ‘victim blaming’ or ‘rape culture’ both of which are among the accusations that have been made as a result of the social media posts.
Here is some interesting reading by people and organisations who specialise in investigating and exposing human rights abuses, such as journalist Jonathan Cook: http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/2987076/lies_about_assange_and_un_human_rights_jurists_imperil_us_all.html
And Dinah PoKempner from Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/02/05/assange-following-rules-or-flouting-them
We hope this helps explain more about where we are coming from.
Head of Public Relations”
Here’s my exchange with them on Assange:
I am a long-standing Ecotricity customer but will shortly be closing my account unless you reverse your decision to adopt a pro-Julian Assange position. It is questionable in any case for an energy company to take political positions, but particularly where you are defending the position of a man wanted for questioning about rape allegations in a European country. You have said in answer to concerns that you make no comment on the allegations but believe the only reason Mr Assange is hiding in the Ecuadorean Embassy is to avoid the prospect of extradition to the US. There is no evidence that Sweden would do so, any more than the UK did, and it betrays at best naivety about the motives of somebody who is seeking to evade questioning for one of the most serious crimes there is: rape. You seem to want special treatment for Mr Assange as a company and I will not be alone in feeling that I no longer wish to contribute to the profits of an organisation who seeks to publicly defend the right of a man accused of rape to face questioning. Please reply.
We’d like to see Mr Assange face questioning and any charges as soon as possible. It’s not fair on the other parties involved to have this going on to the stage where statutes of limitations are expiring. It doesn’t seem likely that he will be going to Sweden for questioning, so hopefully the agreement to question him in the embassy will turn into action, or that matters proceed with him in abstentia. This is one of the things that the UN Working Group were critical of.
I can assure you that this matter has triggered many further internal discussions about the kind of public positions we should take and how to communicate them.
Just to be clear, we believe there are no circumstances in which anyone should be able to avoid facing up to allegations of rape.
Thanks for this.
You say “it doesn’t seem likely that he will be going to Sweden for questioning” . That is because he doesn’t want to face rape charges. If you don’t believe there are any circumstances in which anyone should be able to avoid facing up to allegations of rape, then why are you using your corporate presence to communicate with thousands of customers that he has some sort of case for doing precisely that? If you or I were wanted for questioning for rape, we would be expected to submit to questioning. Instead Mr Assange has come up with an excuse which Ecotricity appears to take at face value and endorse.
If you mean what you say in this email, then the company need to retract the statements you have made which appear to seek special treatment for a fugitive from justice for rape offences.
I can only assume that you think that customers who want to use green electricity must also endorse this view of Julian Assange. I can assure you that a great many people I know are appalled by his behaviour. The reason his alleged victims won’t get justice is because he has used a political pretext to claim asylum. Many people find the UN Working Group conclusions nonsensical, including the British Government who, unlike Mr Assange, you seem keen to take a pop at. Victims of sexual violence and rape are also likely to be shocked by the position you are taking.
Could you let me know whether you plan to take action on retracting these statements? I am genuinely appalled by the extraordinary way in which you are taking the side of a man wanted for questioning for rape who seeks to evade justice.
Will you retract your statement urging special treatment for a man wanted for questioning for rape?
I’m sorry, I’m not able to remove the post but I will be adding a further statement today I believe.
Look forward to it. Think it’s unsustainable position and is likely to become more well known. I am utterly shocked by it to be honest.
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Ecotricity We tweeted (and shared on here) a link to a BBC story on Julian Assange last Friday with the comment “if only Sweden had promised not to extradite him to the US, this could have been over a long time ago.”
We didn’t expect that to be controversial, but it was to some people and it’s clear that our position has been misinterpreted and in some cases severely misrepresented – we’d like to clear that up.
We believe that Julian Assange should face questioning by the Swedish Authorities regarding the sexual assault allegations made against him in that country, and if charges follow we believe he should face those charges – there is no question of that.
At the same time we believe he is right to seek to avoid falling into the hands of the US legal system, for his work at Wikileaks.
Unfortunately these issues have become entangled.
Julian Assange faces the very real threat of extradition to the US if he travels to Sweden for questioning, he has sought assurances that this would not happen, to no avail and sought to have the interview in London – to no avail.
We believe that he has a right to political asylum to protect himself from those that would persecute him for his role at Wikileaks – this has nothing to do with the allegations made against him in Sweden – which we believe he should face. The problem is he can’t currently do both.
Looking back at our original post we may have appeared to treat this issue lightly with our comment (it merits more than that) and we could have been more clear on our stance – to anyone offended due to a genuine misunderstanding of our position we apologise and we hope our position is now clear. We respect the positions and opinions of other people on this issue and ask simply for the same.
Interesting how they put the blame on readers misunderstanding of their position. I think there is no misunderstanding. Stuart Brennan (Ecotricity PR head) is part of a nasty misogynist club taking a ‘bros before hos’ position in solidarity with Assange. He forget that not everyone who buys from Ecotricity belong to that club, or want to. There may be a bit of public back-pedalling (very light, about a quarter turn), but it’s for show. The first tweet, and subsequent defences of it, show their true colours nailed to the mast for all to see.
I also wonder why Paul-of-Ecotricity is ‘not able’ to remove the post. It’s not difficult to delete posts on Facebook (or indeed twitter), so ‘not able’ is actually a decision not to remove the posts.
[…] first raised our concerns about Ecotricity's tweets in support of Julian Assange here. It's worth pointing out that these "responses", which demonstrate a complete refusal to recognise […]