The argument falls on an age old argument against privacy – that if you have nothing to hide, why should you be worried about privacy. Unfortunately for feminist politician for the Centre Party Annika Qarlsson, that argument didn’t quite come out like that. Instead, while trying to make that argument, she ended up suggesting that people who support the Pirate Party and their privacy online are probably rapists. Not surprisingly, her blog posting didn’t go over too well with the Swedish internet community.
Swedish news site, The Local discussed the issue, but if you want a link to a Google translation to the posting that sparked the controversy, you can read it here.
In the posting, Qarlsson suggested that a statistic shows that young men are more likely to be rapists. She then notes that a large number of Pirate Party supporters who are concerned about privacy are young men. She then made the unfortunate connection that there might be a connection there. Notably absent was the difference between privacy online and offline. About 162 comments later, she apologized for being unclear with her comment (Google Translation) and said that both men and women would be upset if their privacy was violated.
For a number of users, there were still tensions even after the apology though. One user wrote, “apology not accepted, you do not express yourself like that. As Joppa wrote “You are a disgrace to the Center Party and I hope that this leads to your position in doubt.”
“It counts as defamation with what you wrote, but some but thanks for your post soon so than men go and defame groups and then apologize for it and still get away with it.” The user added.
Another user wrote, “I think you should get a serious think about what you want to do with your life. It is not responsible to seize on a Parliamentary seat when you have such severe psychological problems that you have. Resign. Take a break. You hurt not only your party but the entire faith in democracy which, despite everything, still exist in this country.”
“So you accuse not Piratpartiet, but you still accusing the young men? We, young men take not away from rape? Or how should I interpret your post?” A third user writes.
What makes this a strange conflict that it’s pitting two groups against each other who sometimes fight for similar human rights. Both feminists and file-sharers don’t want to be targeted by malicious activity. Qarlsson does admit herself that women would find it equally distasteful to having their privacy violated. Surely women would find it just as troubling to finding their internet connections cut off based on baseless accusations. Still, what this is more likely to be was an incident where one particular individual making a comment that didn’t seem to be completely thought through – consequently receiving a backlash as a result given her status.