Assange fans and the supercilious weasel

In my last post, I was drawing attention to the gulf which separates the core Wikileaks philosophy and its roots in computer hacking and the set of assumptions which have driven journalism for the last couple of centuries or so. It was this vast gap which struck me most forcibly when Wikileaks founder Julian Assange spoke London earlier this week.

I could not have looked for a better illustration of the distance between the two positions than the post-debate reaction of a couple of Assange’s fans. For Rixstep (“a constellation of programmers”), Assange is the Robin Hood who will help to dethrone the established media. It therefore follows that all that the established media write must be manipulative lies. Worse, as Rixstep wrote in a separate post, I’m defending “yesterday’s media” and don’t realise that its time is over. I am, “wittingly or not” an oppressor and part of a “power establishment”. (In real life, I’m a professor: see here).

A twitterer who enthusiastically agreed with Rixstep called me a “supercilious weasel” – I’m tempted to use that as the new name for this blog – and seemed very angry that some City University students didn’t think much of Julian Assange’s answers and had the temerity to say so. Naturally, they are dupes of The Establishment (me).

I rest my case.

A calmer reply to my first Assange post came from John Hinkle, who questioned my suggestion that Assange was indifferent to any harm which his disclosures might do. In the debate, Assange made the fair point that neither the US government or anyone else has yet been able to find anyone who has come to harm as a result of the release of the Afghan war logs. I was actually making a wider general point that Assange is resolutely unprepared to say that he is concerned about, let alone that he will take any action about, the effect that his bulk disclosures might have. That seems to be a brutal ends-justify-means calculation which could cause harm. Not “has”, but could.

When the full video of the Assange vs Aaronovitch debate goes up, I will of course post it here and you can judge for yourself.

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1 comment

  1. I personally felt pretty insulted reading some of the tweets regarding the debate from Assange fans.

    As a city student, I thought to call our line of questioning ‘idiotic’ (as one user did) was ridiculous; Assange was evasive on several points and seemed guilty of double standards on many others, particularly the idea that wikileaks now represents a power base of its own and must be fully accountable because of that. He simply failed to convince.

    I came at this expecting to be very impressed by the man and in fact had to side with David Aaronovitch by the end, not something I ever thought I’d find myself writing. My concluding view was that Wikileaks is vital, but needs to apply the same scrutiny to its own operation before claiming the moral high ground.