Julian Assange: A Case Study in Being Annoying

The guards in the Embassy of Ecuador in London were getting sick of the constant banging noise they’d been hearing from a former office in the building. The offending sound was that of a soccer ball being repeatedly kicked into a wall — an activity usually enjoyed by children between the ages of six and 12 who are either sulking or trying to aggravate an adult. The culprit in this case was not an obnoxious child, however, but rather a grown man — a 47-year-old Australian named Julian Assange.

Assange had been within the embassy’s walls for the past seven years without exception (I sometimes wonder about the logistics of this — don’t they have fire drills?), and for good reason — the only thing standing between him and extradition to two different countries on a range of charges was the asylum the Ecuadorian government granted him. Assange is best known for founding the website Wikileaks, which has wreaked havoc on the Church of Scientology, the Democratic National Committee, and the U.S. National Security Administration, among other groups. The site, a platform for leaking confidential documents often obtained by hacking, is controversial for its anarchic approach to government transparency.

In the U.S., Assange is under indictment for a laundry list of charges related to national security and privacy. In Sweden he faces two rape charges from 2010, and in England he was arrested for failure to surrender to the court to be extradited to Sweden. Clearly, Assange has done a lot to avoid getting caught, and as an evidently brilliant hacker and fugitive, one would think he’d be smart enough to be a gracious tenant to the generous Ecuadorean diplomats who gave him asylum for so long.

Yet, on Thursday, April 11, his intellect proved unable to prevail over a far more powerful character trait: being super annoying.

Illustration by Lee O’Dowd

The guards hated him. When a guard entered his room to tell him that he was bugging everyone and to stop kicking the soccer ball against his wall, he saw that Assange was not hygienically caring for his cat, known as Embassy Cat, which is ridiculous given that Assange stayed inside all day with probably not all that much else to do. If he had enough time to think of puns like “counter purr-veilance” for the cat’s Instagram page (@embassycat), he clearly had enough time to clean a litter box. He had a habit of skateboarding through the embassy hallways (how Colorado College of him!), which was apparently ruining the embassy floors. He was rude to the guards and didn’t shower often.

The embassy had imposed “house rules” on their unruly guest in a very official looking memo. It mandated that Assange clean his own bathroom, deal with Embassy Cat’s feces, take a shower every once in a while, and not involve himself in international affairs, especially Ecuador’s; he has beef with a former Ecuadorian presidential candidate. In the embassy, Assange had his own room (a former office) and could even have visitors, order pizza, and, best of all, not be extradited, so this really doesn’t seem like all that much to ask.

Yet in response, he decided to sue the embassy for “violating his fundamental rights and freedoms.” His similarly dramatic lawyer called the conditions a “prison regime,” perhaps forgetting that the embassy was, in fact, Assange’s alternative to actual prison. If everyone and their mom wants to charge you with a crime, maybe don’t sue the people giving you asylum because you’re 47 years old and won’t even clean your own room.

It was these etiquette offenses and not his large-scale hacking operations that finally got him evicted from the embassy last week and arrested by British officials. The president of Ecuador referred to him as a “spoiled brat” and an embassy spokesperson said of Embassy Cat, who has reportedly found a new home, “We are not a pet store, so we do not keep pets here.”

It’s not like this hasn’t happened before, either. Socrates was the worst — he annoyed everyone at his trial, which is why the Greeks made him drink hemlock. Martin Shkreli, known for inflating the price of EpiPens, buying the only copy of that Wu Tang album, and promising five grand to any Facebook follower who could get him some of Hillary Clinton’s hair, was subsequently sent back to prison for inciting an assault. Known idiot Roger Stone, who faces charges coincidentally associating him with Wikileaks, publicly Instagrammed a photo of his case’s judge with crosshairs next to her. He faces the threat of jail time as a result.

If being irritating to others is part of your personality, more power to you, but we probably won’t be friends. However, if being annoying is part of your personality and you’ve committed federal crimes, maybe take a hiatus from acting like a dick. Read up on some Emily Post’s etiquette, stay out of international affairs, and clean up after your cat. Otherwise, you will get locked up and no one will feel bad for you.

Georgia Grellier

Georgia Grellier

Georgia Grellier

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