Wikileaks, Censorship, and Free Speech

How free should speech be?

How free is too free?

I am generally against censorship--especially the kind practiced on the Internet--and as such get a bunch of mailings from free-speech organizations. Lately, a lot of them have been all, 'support Julian Assange!'

The thing, though, is....

I don't know if this makes me a hypocrite. For some, I'm sure it will; others may be delighted to hear my renouncing of hippietastic principles. (For the record, I finally got around to Haight and Ashbury. I wanted to get a megaphone and scream 'get a job, you damn hippies!' at the top of the hill.)

So I'm all for individual expression. Even a Nazi can go out there and make a speech...provided all the non-haters out there are allowed to counter-argue afterwards.

However, the matter of states and national security is a different thing. Let's be clear: I am, and always have been, a realist when it comes to policy. The 'War and the Nation State' class I took with John Mearsheimer was basically a giant vindication of everything I believed in, ever.

I firmly believe that the new balance of power is predicated by economic strength. Thus, it doesn't matter if the U.S. has the most nuclear warheads if it doesn't have the budget to operate them (though if the Republicans have their way, it seems like that'll be the only thing we'll be able to afford...). And, even during the invasion of Tibet, we couldn't afford to openly "refudiate" China's actions because the economic dependency was already taking hold (the book is "Buddha's Warriors: the story of the CIA-backed Tibetan freedom fighters, the Chinese invasion, and the ultimate fall of Tibet" and it is on Booklist V)....

Anyway, the point is you don't go around being "transparent" to either open or covert enemies. Consider, in the case of open war, the fate of anyone who leaked our military strategy to the enemy country. That is straight-up treason, because it directly opposes the best interests of not only the state but the people itself.

In this case, there's more of a grey area because a) as a journalist, the compulsion to share information--especially with the Internet as an available medium--holds sway (I just started reading 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,' and its commentary on journalism is the most interesting bit so far...that and the Swedes' rather fascinating notions about sex), and b) why isn't the guy who leaked this info in the first place taking more of the rap?

Anyway, it still holds that just because you have all this information, you don't post all of it online. Much as I hate the shitty job it does, the role of the media is to present its interpretations of information. Original information should be shared by its creator.


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