Sympathy for the Devil: A Short Note on Wikileaks, Terrorism, and the State of Liberalism

I have been living in London for two months now. Over the past week, two interesting things happened here. First, Muamar Qadaffi, an autocratic ruler, and a man whose messengers were convicted in court for killing British civilians, was welcome (via satellite) as a guest speaker at the London School of Economics, where the moderator referred to him as "the brother leader". The university, to be clear, is partly funded by the British tax payer. 

A few days later, Julian Assange was arrested due to allegations of "sexual crimes", later found out to be alleged misconduct under an exotic Swedish law that prohibits condom-less sex. Such allegations don't normally get a person on the Interpol's "most wanted" list and trigger an arrest in a foreign country. Clearly, the arrest was driven by pressure from various governments and interested parties.

I was happy to take part in the discussion with Qadaffi (while cringing at the way in which he was introduced). I don't, however, understand the justification for arresting Mr. Assange, who facilitated (and perhaps, encouraged) the publication of leaked military and diplomatic documents. Unlike the various officers and bureaucrats who made the information available to Mr. Assange, willingly or through negligence, the man himself - to my knowledge - has done nothing more than make the information publicly available, and possibly encourage others to do the same. 

Would not a traditional newspaper do the same, if exposed to this type of data? Luckily, this is not a hypothetical question: a variety of major newspapers did publish a lot of the data that was provided to them by Assange.

Is this what Liberalism boils down to? Nurturing our enemies in the name of political correctness and "free speech" and arbitrarily arresting those among us who facilitate the exposure of a variety of lies and power-deals between the governments and corporations that strive to manage our lives? 

Note: The views and observations expressed on this web site are published for the sake of public discussion and do not represent my personal opinion or the opinion of my companies, clients, and/or employers. If you would like to get my opinion on anything, ask me.

This page contains a single entry by Dror Poleg published on December 9, 2010 7:36 PM.

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