(I apologise for interrupting with something completely unrelated to comics, but I want to post this somewhere, and here seems the easiest place. Normal ‘Magic Pen’ posting will resume tomorrow!)
As the war on Wikileaks heats up to fever pitch, this has become an issue far greater than the nuanced specifics of the Cablegate leak and whether you think its release was flawed or its contents trivial.
Think back to the Pentagon Papers and ask yourself: would you like to have cooperated with Nixon’s attempts to suppress, persecute and harass Daniel Ellsberg, Neil Sheehan and the Washington Post? Or would you have taken a stand on principle?
The nature of the two leaks are, of course, very different; but make no mistake: this is that kind of once-in-a-generation moral challenge. As attempts to crush Wikileaks move beyond the reasonable and into the extralegal and Orwellian, this is becoming a profound moral crisis for free speech, journalism and democracy.
Frankly, I no longer care whether you find Julian Assange annoying and arrogant or how you feel about Gaddafi’s buxom nurse. The issues at stake now are far more significant and the outcome of this crisis will shape the environment for journalism, whistleblowers, the internet, free speech and democracy for a long time to come. In that, at least, there is a clear and striking parallel with the events surrounding the release of the Pentagon Papers and its aftermath.
So please: think about how your actions today might look in twenty years time, and please – for the sake of whatever ideals and principles first led you to consider journalism – take this crisis SERIOUSLY!
(And while I’m on the subject, please remember that Julian Assange is not the only person being persecuted over this. Remember Pfc Bradley Manning? If anyone’s the Daniel Ellsberg in all this, it’s Manning, who is currently in military prison, being kept in isolation and facing over 50 years imprisonment – all for trying to do the right thing. A few more stories about him wouldn’t go amiss…)