Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

So Julian Assange is a Pervert – Who Cares?

The character assassination of Julian Assange has taken some strange twists in recent days.  In the latest from Gawker, we learn of Assange’s creepy email (and limited real-world) stalking:

Julian Assange, the founder of the world’s most notorious secret-sharing operation, has some embarrassing documents in his own past. We’ve obtained a series of emails detailing his stalkery courtship of a teenager in his pre-Wikileaks days.

Although the emails are wholly irrelevant to the WikiLeaks story, there is something morbidly fascinating about reading them.  Perhaps it’s because they contain such literary gems as:

A man feels that which is soft, warm and yielding in his arms must also be in other circumstances.  But like Maugham’s Mirriam you are hard above the neck; voice salted and manner typical of your class when not trying to impress…  You pulled a tiny pedal off my world just when I thought you were to add one but all around in the meadow, where I shall again dance and skip and sing till some fool girl should brush my wing.

Julian.

And then, also from Gawker, we learn of Assange’s Narcissistic self-image, as demonstrated in his awkward online dating profile:  

It certainly demonstrates the self-mythologizing Assange prefers, casting himself as an enigmatic, globe-trotting nerdy sex god…  And he boasts that he is currently “directing a consuming, dangerous human rights project which is, as you might expect, male dominated.”  …

Anyway, take a look. Did you know Julian Assange has “Asian teengirl stalkers?” (What is it with nerds and Asian girls?) One line proves oddly prophetic, if you consider Assange’s recent alleged predatory behavior: “I am DANGER, ACHTUNG, and ??????????????!”

Of course, these bizarre revelations come in the context of a slew of other allegations and defamations.  He was first accused of rape, then sexual molestation.  He’s been called a megalomaniac, a criminal and a terrorist, and many of these slanders have come from lofty sources.

But does any of it matter?  Perhaps Assange is a pervert and a rapist.  Maybe the accusations of molestation are true.  Maybe he has stalked hordes of young girls – perhaps some of them were even Asian.  Maybe he founded WikiLeaks for purely selfish reasons, and maybe all of the documents released thus far have been shared not in the interest of freedom but merely to propel himself into the international spotlight.  All of the above could very well be true, but the veracity of these accusations does not bear any relevance to the principles at stake in the war for information freedom that WikiLeaks has sparked.

Such ad hominem attacks are designed to distract the masses from the issues that are truly important.  Assange’s character has nothing to do with the agenda that WikiLeaks has, intentionally or not, set out to fulfill.  And to extend this even further, it should also be recognized that WikiLeaks itself is also irrelevant to the debate.  WikiLeaks is a flawed organization, comprised of flawed human beings who inevitably allow their personal biases and defects to influence the actions of the organization.  Such is to be expected.

But the real debate lies not in the integrity of the WikiLeaks entity, nor in the honesty or moral decency (or lack thereof) of its founder, Julian Assange.  The fundamental question is one that relates to the core of what it means to be free, and what it means to have a genuine democracy.  And that question is:  Is there a role for secrecy in a true democracy?  Should governments be able to hide certain actions from the people whom they are meant to represent?

As I’ve stated here and elsewhere, I contend that genuine democracy is not possible without total government transparency.  People cannot hold their government accountable if they do not know what actions that government has taken.  And if we look at the historical record, we quickly realize that secrecy is almost always employed to shield unethical behavior from the eyes of the public.  The Gulf of Tonkin incident is but one obvious – and monumental – example that comes to mind, but there are countless others.

In such a debate, the burden of proof lies with those who argue that secrecy is necessary, since it is they who are impinging on our freedom.  I challenge any proponent of government secrecy to identify one single circumstance in the history of our nation – or any other nation in the modern era – in which secrecy was absolutely imperative, lest the nation itself – or a significant number of lives – would have faced utter destruction.

And bear in mind that it must also be proven that this incident was not itself predicated on secrecy – that is, would that situation have existed in the first place if total government transparency had existed all along?  Since secrecy is generally employed in times of war, and wars are virtually always based on lies and deception, it seems highly probable that no such examples exist.

I suspect this is one challenge that will remain unanswered.

5 responses to “So Julian Assange is a Pervert – Who Cares?

  1. Ed January 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    American Civil War:
    1. If secret Union war plans had been exposed to the South, that would have cost Union lives.
    2. Did secrets cause the American Civil War? The south was openly pro-slavery. The north was openly anti-spread-of-slavery. Slavery was not a secret. No secrets there.

    Bam.

    P.S. I am quite curious as to who is entitled to keep secrets, in your opinion. Are individuals entitled to keep secrets? Is Wikileaks entitled to keep secrets? How large must an organization be before it is no longer entitled to keep secrets?

    P.P.S. So you’re saying that secrets cause war? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, so please provide. I suspect this challenge is one that will remain unanswered.

    P.P.P.S. I don’t disagree that openness as a rule is good. But it is incredibly naive to think that openness all the time in all things is always good. Please note you are the one who brought up “TOTAL government transparency”, so don’t try to say I’m attacking a straw man.

    • Andrew January 7, 2011 at 9:09 pm

      Thanks for the comment.

      At first glance the Civil War does seem like a good example for the need for government secrecy. However, I think it fails to pass the challenge I initially proposed. For one thing, secrecy in this case protected American lives but also destroyed American lives. It seems arbitrary to value Union lives over Confederate lives – they all were/are Americans, right?

      I would also suggest that there was undoubtedly a role for secrecy in the build-up to the war. To suggest that the Civil War was caused by slavery is a gross oversimplification, and one that even most high school history text books no longer propagate. The reasons for the war were vast and complex, and the issue of slavery played but one role – a significant role, perhaps, but by no means the only one. But history suggests that there is always an element of manipulation behind the scenes of every war – politicians interested in expanding their power, business entities seeking access to certain markets or resources. It’s impossible to know at this late date how great of a role secrecy (that is, manipulation) played in the run up to the Civil War, but it’s almost a certainty that there was some.

      Finally, I’m not sure that the Civil War should even have been fought. This is a tricky issue, because the Civil War did lead to the abolishment of slavery. However, fighting over “the union” was hardly worth fighting and dying for – it might have been wiser to just let the South secede. Slavery would have been abolished within a relatively short time-frame anyway, just as it was in most of the world.

      However, I will concede that I should have qualified my challenge, as I did in a later post (Biden Speaks out Against WikiLeaks: find an example in the modern era in which secrecy was absolutely essential, and the situation cannot itself have arisen due to secrecy/manipulation.

      P.S. – You are attacking a straw man here, as I did say that I support “total government transparency.” This means that any action taken by a government entity or representative, in the name of the American people, cannot be kept secret. If a person/entity is acting on my behalf as a citizen, I have every right to know precisely what he/she/it says and does. Whatever that person does when off the job is their own business.

      P.P.S. Yes, I’m saying that secrets cause war. It is definitely not an extraordinary claim, since history demonstrates it time and time again. I already cited the Gulf of Tonkin incident as an example of secrecy/manipulation causing the Vietnam War. I will add to that the secrets/manipulation that lead up to the current Iraq War. If the American people had know that they were being lied to about the “evidence” of WMD, they never would have supported the war – and, in fact, DIDN’T support the war, as evidenced by unprecedented nationwide protests in the days before the invasion.

      Government secrecy also contributed to the Afghanistan War, as the events of 9/11 likely would not have transpired without some level of secrecy/deception. This is not to imply a conspiracy, but rather to suggest that certain actions taken by the U.S. government, in varying shades of secrecy, provoked the attacks. For example, the U.S. destruction of the Iraqi water sanitization system in the first Gulf War, secret at the time, followed by devastating sanctions, directly caused the deaths of some 500,000 Iraqi children. U.S. support of Israel, to a large extent shielded from public scrutiny, also helped motivate the attacks.

      P.P.P.S. See above. I never once suggested that “openness all the time in all things is always good.” I stated that a democratic government, acting on behalf of the public, cannot keep anything secret from its constituency – otherwise, it ceases to be democratic.

  2. Anonymous March 4, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    I care

  3. Anonymous November 19, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    What a load of shit.

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