Freedom of Speech

Lady Liberty in danger. Power corrupts. Freedom of Press (and speech) is of utmost importance for a democracy. On Wikileaks and Naomi Wolf, ‘The End of America’.

 

Naomi Wolf wrote her book ‘The End of America’ in 2007. It is a pamphlet on liberty. The writer warns civilians living in democratic countries, especially the US, for rising suppression by their own governments. In 2007 the US was under the Bush legislation.

‘The big picture reveals that ten classic pressures – pressures that have been used in various times and places in the past to close down pluralistic societies – were set in motion by the Bush administration to close down our own open society.’ Wolf thus states in the introduction.

The ten steps she writes about are:

  • Invoke an external & internal threat
  • Establish secret prisons
  • Develop a paramilitary force
  • Surveil ordinary citizens
  • Infiltrate citizens’ groups
  • Arbitrarily detain and release citizens
  • Target key individuals
  • Restrict the press
  • Cast criticism as ‘espionage’ and dissent as ‘treason’
  • Subvert the rule of law

Now take a look at recent events.

The Western world is burdened under fear of terrorist attacks and Muslim expansionism (external threat). This fear causes uptight security measures, mainly targeting ordinary people.

The Netherlands is said to have secret prisons to detain asylum seekers.

The Angst is fed on daily basis by politicians crying out loud one liners on Islam atrocity, thus trying to convince the public of the necessity of laws restricting every civilians’ freedom.

The restrictions are very well known to all of us, and we have grown used to some of them, so most people don’t care anymore: identification requirements, also for kids as young as 14 – body search at airports – fingerprints taken at city hall  – camera surveillance in public spaces … (Surveil ordinary civilians)

This was already the case when Naomi Wolf wrote her book, three years ago. And, I presume, it was one of the reasons why she wrote it. She urges civilians to protect democracy – freedom – we are so used to that we take it for granted, Wolf says.

Now Lady Liberty took one more blow, and a severe one: on freedom of press.

Western governments are not often seen this united, as they seem to be now, on silencing Wikileaks. The organisation is being black-sheeped in a classical way, accused of putting lives in danger by opening the big black book of international diplomacy. Congressmen/women, politicians and global leaders, when speaking of Wikileaks use the words ‘treason’ and ‘criminal’. There have been several attempts by governments to shut the site down and to cut of financial resources. (Restrict the press)

Its’ founder Julian Assange, is hunt down and put in prison. Yes, for a reason, a good reason if it is true, he is being accused of rape, a severe offence, for which anyone ought to be punished. But, have you ever witnessed a chase on a rapist as well coordinated, international, as this one? Doesn’t it at least make one think there are other motives to catch him? Officials have called in public for his assassination. The West put out a fatwa. (Target key figures)

The most astonishing part is, so far, nobody, except for the former minister of development of the Netherlands – Bert Koenders – has stated that the Wikileaks information is false, untrue.  Koenders, rather mildly, speaks of a misinterpretation by the Americans, on his willingness to use development funds for political use.

Is Wikileaks in her right then? This is another hard to answer question. What do we know about Wikileaks? Who, except Julian Assange, is behind it? Wikileaks prides itself no innocent lives have been endangered by their info torrents. It publishes the sources together with the news, so readers can make up their own mind. Well-known and prestigious newspapers share the content. The Guardian, the New York Times, Der Spiegel, El Pais and Le Monde are not the least of the Western papers. They have a long tradition of well-founded journalism. So far Wikileaks seems to have the right on her side.

But the organisation, which has become powerful through the information they obtain and the access they have to a very very large audience, needs to restrain itself too.

What is the use of revealing locations vital to the US, except if you want to show your muscles? ‘Look, we know everything about you and we’ll spread the info around,’ they seem to say. Threatening to publish explosive information if anything happens to Julian Assange isn’t quite nice either. It is blackmail. Either you publish, because you think people have a right to know, or you don’t.

Conclusion:

We need to reread Naomi Wolfs’ book and thoroughly watch who we are following, voting for, what laws we accept and which we dismiss in the name of Lady Liberty. To what extend do we let security imprison freedom?

We have to formulate our own ethics and live by them. Wikileaks succeeded in putting the finger on a weak spot: Democracy today is not as democratic as most think. Power corrupts, therefore those in power need to be accountable for their actions. That is one of the main reasons why freedom of press (and speech) is so damn important.

Only minutes after finishing this article, The Guardian tweets:

‘US Senator Joe Lieberman suggests New York Times could be investigated’. For the whole article, see pdf. WikiLeaks_ US Senator Joe Lieberman suggests New York Times could be investigated | World news | guardian.co.uk

What more needs to be said???

By Caro Sicking, nonfiXe, December 7, 2010

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