Julian Assange, first martyr of the Internet?
It certainly looks that way. The founder of WikiLeaks, the man who embarrassed heads of state around the world by leaking thousands of messages written by U.S. diplomats, has been arrested and is cooling his heels in a London jail without bail, waiting to find out if he will be extradited for having sex in Sweden.
Yep, you read that right. The more you read about the alleged sexual molestation case against the 39-year-old Aussie, the more you have to wonder if he’s being set up for tattling on the world.
Accounts in Newsweek, The Daily Mail, AOL News, etc., make it clear he’s not being held on rape charges, but something called “sex by surprise,” and one of the women allegedly surprised by sex bought breakfast after the alleged surprise.
In Sweden, where casual sex is a sacred institution, second only to IKEA.
Meanwhile, my counterparts in the media, champions of freedom of expression all, are joining the mob to lynch Assange for spilling U.S. diplomatic secrets. It’s his fault the nations of the world are engaging in skullduggery that can’t bear the light of day.
Everyone forgets the Internet changes everything. They forget the original leak came from a disgruntled “intelligence” officer, who was able to steal all this confidential information by downloading it. No need to sneak around like Maxwell Smart with cameras shaped like cigarette lighters.
Pte. 1st Class Bradley Manning, 23, was allegedly engaging in the kind of cyber-leaking characteristic of the Internet generation. If it’s digital, no secret is safe. U.S. diplomats, a bunch of geezers lulled by a completely unjustified sense of false security, felt free to send each other sizzling secrets via email. And now they’re blaming Julian Assange. Manning could have just as easily leaked the information to The Smoking Gun, for example, and we could be running after those guys with torches and pitchforks.
Assange, a relatively old geek at 39, gets the new Borg Mind. Resistance is futile. WikiLeaks has distributed the Mother of All Secret Files to 100,000 co-conspirators in cyberspace, and if he goes down, he sends them all an encryption key, and that’s it for secrets.
I don’t know what’s going to happen. I do know we’re finally going to learn that privacy is an analog thing. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but if you believe that those who hold the secrets hold the power, maybe you should hold a candlelight vigil for Julian Assange.
He’s going to need it.
Paul Sullivan is a Vancouver-based journalist and owner of Sullivan Media Consulting; firstname.lastname@example.org.