How to be a better houseguest than Julian Assange

How to be a better houseguest than Julian Assange

Tabatha Southey: Double-check to make sure you have all your belongings before you leave. Did you leave a book in the bedside table, socks on the floor, feces on the walls? Please check.

by

Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates court on April 11, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

At long last on Thursday morning, after a seven-year stay at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian Assange has left the building. In the words of Lenín Moreno, Ecuador’s president since 2017, the country’s patience had “reached its limit.” In a video statement justifying the decision to revoke Mr. Assange’s diplomatic asylum status, Mr. Moreno sited the “discourteous and aggressive behavior of Mr. Julian Assange.” Mr. Assange is now in British custody, having been taken from the embassy and arrested for breaching bail by seeking political refuge at the Embassy in 2012.

Mr. Assange had been released on bail after surrendering to U.K. police after Sweden issued an international arrest warrant for him over separate allegations of sexual molestation and rape. Opting out of facing those charges—claiming that that he was innocent and that facing justice in Sweden would only lead to him being taken to the United States to face further charges regarding his role in publishing secret American documents—he opted in the Ecuadorian Embassy instead, and the rest is drama.

RELATED: How Julian Assange became election fodder in Ecuador

His time there was one long sequence of inevitably leaked bad house-guesting, and within hours of Mr. Assange leaving his adopted abode, the U.S. officially revealed an indictment against him for the charge of “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.” This charge concerns the translucent Australian’s role in attempting to help Chelsea Manning crack a password in order to access classified Pentagon files, which WikiLeaks eventually published.

More charges may well follow, possibly before the “He’s gone and cannot smear anything on our walls ever again!” party at the Ecuadorian embassy wraps up. But in the hope that this was all some misunderstanding between Julian and his former roommates, I have taken the liberty of updating the Emily Post Institute’s Golden Rules for Houseguests. Here are my Obvious Rules for Houseguests, and I Mean You, Julian Assange.

DOs

  • Make your visit short and sweet. Generally keep your visit to no more than three nights. Seven years is right out. I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but random women in your life shouldn’t have had to cut your hair for you, as they do in this New Yorker profile, and this brilliant London Review of Books piece, and in this documentary, so we can’t take anything for granted can we? Look, here’s some information I’ve freed for you, Julian: barbers.
  • Bring your own toiletries. Leave the distortion equipment at home. Also, leave your hosts’ security cameras alone.
  • Make your bed. Tidy your room. Wipe up any rings in the tub, shaving cream residue in the basin, hair on any object or surface, or dirt on soap. However, if the alternative is going to be you walking around sporting your Robinson-Crusoe-after-a-bad-breakup look, people might just accept a few whiskers in the sink and, given reports that a former friend of yours said of you that “unless the people around him force him into the shower, he might not change his clothes for days,” any evidence that you even know where the soap is may well be a welcome surprise.
  • Help out, especially in the kitchen and not in the internal affairs of the most powerful nation on Earth.
  • Show your hosts that you’re enjoying yourself. One good way to show this is to not sue them for “violating [your] fundamental rights” because they took away your Wi-Fi privileges. There is no International Convention on the Rights of Julian Assange to Play Overwatch and Show All You Scrubs His Epic 1v6 Genji Skills Oh My God Where Are Julian Assange’s Heals This Mercy is the Worst!
  • Offer to pitch in for groceries if you are staying more than two or three nights. After the first three years of hiding from Swedish rape charges in your host’s embassy, I recommend that you open a restaurant, earn it a minimum of three Michelin stars, comp the entire embassy staff every night and also head back to Sweden to face those rape charges.
  • Double-check to make sure you have all your belongings before you leave. Did you leave a book in the bedside table, socks on the floor, feces on the walls? Check. And if you have to check that last one, check yourself.
  • Bring or send a gift, or treat your host to a night out. If you have decided that it is not in your best interests to leave, consider giving them the gift of you cleaning up after your own cat and not riding your scooter in the hallway.
  • Send a handwritten thank-you note following your visit even though you have called your stay “six years of unlawful, politicized detention without charge.” Maybe include a short explanation about, okay, sure, the United States didn’t need to employ a complex ruse to get you extradited from the U.K., a nation with which it famously enjoys a special relationship. So, maybe all that stuff about a sophisticated secret sexpot Swedish plot seems a bit silly now, but you really didn’t want to have to face that rape charge. Or that sexual molestation charge. Or the unlawful coercion charge for that matter. Even though you insist that you have texts that 100-per-cent clear you, which you’d think would get a man scootering right up to the stand.
  • Dance like nobody’s watching, smear feces on the wall like everyone is watching.

DON’Ts

  • Ask to bring your pet. If you must travel with your pet, inquire about a good kennel in the area or offer to stay in a hotel. This also gives your host an opening to invite your pet to stay if they wish. Don’t even hint about having Nigel Farage over, nobody wants Nigel Farage over. Consider extending an invitation to a giant, sentient and racist botulism bacteria instead. The potentially fatal food-borne illness will be much more welcome at a the dinner table.
  • Worry about accepting an invitation from someone else during your visit without first checking with your host. They’ve already made it pretty clear they’re happy to have you go elsewhere. That “Don’t Let the Door Hit You On The Way Out, You Bearded Loon” sign they put up recently might be a hint.
  • Use more than your share of hot water. Actually you know what, if that’s what it takes, go ahead and do that. In fact, I’ll put the kettle on.
  • Snoop through the security files of an embassy. It’s creepy.
  • Smear feces all over the wall. I know I keep saying this, but apparently you really need the lesson.
  • Be a person who, in style, demeanor and level of consideration and concern expressed for others, makes any kind of person who says you’ve been smearing feces on the wall seem credible.
  • Leave yelling nonsense, sporting performative facial hair and then bring a copy of Gore Vidal: History of the National Security State to court, obviously positioning it so the press and audience can read the title. You’re in court, hoping to meet justice, not on a subway, hoping to meet cute college girls. Did you really think Judge Michael Snow was going to stop part way through calling your claim that you didn’t have a fair trial “laughable” and you “a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests” and glance up at you coyly and say “Oh, hey … whatcha reading?” Oh, yes, I bet you did. I forgot who I was talking to.

MORE BY TABATHA SOUTHEY: