to agree with Ron Paul (via Andrew Sullivan):
“In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, we are in big trouble,” – Ron Paul.
My sympathies are not entirely with Assange/Wikileaks, though, which is the context for the quote. After all, we know how leaks can be spun into something they aren’t.
On the other other hand, the sort of extralegal enforcement via corporate capitalist revenge being directed against Assange isn’t making the choice any easier. If there’s any truth to Greenwald’s reports, this creative new approach says to someone the establishment doesn’t like “we may not have anything we can pin on you but we can make it impossible for you to work in this town, where “this town” is the world. Watch out for this. Regardless of your sympathies or otherwise for Assange this sets a very dangerous precedent. It essentially creates a shadow legal system controlled by bankers where conviction and sentencing is in the hands of an oligarchy. I am not usually inclined to be paranoid but even if you are actually a banker if you can’t see the dangers in this one, I can’t imagine what you are thinking. There is no reason this couldn’t be scaled up, and in the end it is completely random whether whoever has their hands on this machine once it is in gear likes you and your friends or not.
I could imagine one of the Mayors Daley trying to pull a stunt like this, so Obama’s hand may be right on this thing in the Chicago tradition. It’s one thing to run a city on clout, though, another to play these games on a planetary scale. This is scary, and is enough to make me rethink my support for Obama.
I don’t have a lot of Tea Party buttons, but this pushes all of them, and hard.
Update: I agree completely with Clay Shirky. While I am somewhat sadly forced to admit that he is thinking about this and writing about it more clearly than I myself have done, I am happy to point to something that makes complete sense to me. Read his piece. Two key quotes from it:
I am conflicted about the right balance between the visibility … and the need for private speech among international actors. Here’s what I’m not conflicted about: When authorities can’t get what they want by working within the law, the right answer is not to work outside the law. The right answer is that they can’t get what they want.
If it’s OK for a democracy to just decide to run someone off the internet for doing something they wouldn’t prosecute a newspaper for doing, the idea of an internet that further democratizes the public sphere will have taken a mortal blow.