I know. Well, sometimes a vulgar word is the most accurate we have.
Our definition of journalism has yet to catch up with the cyber age, and freedom of speech does not distinguish among blogs, newspapers and dissidents. What ensures responsible use of First Amendment rights is ethics, not law. America allows journalists to act as information laundries, taking material that a private citizen was bound not to reveal by law, contract, or professional duty, and to re-define it to the world as what “the public has a right to know,” defined any way the particular journalist finds appealing.
Despite all the fulminating and condemnations by the likes of Mitch McConnell and Newt Gingrich on the Sunday talk shows, the U.S. can’t make Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a terrorist just by calling him one, nor can it fairly declare him a criminal for accepting the product of the unethical and often illegal acts of leakers, and making it public, just like the New York Times has done on many occasions…not under current laws. Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier who leaked many of the secret documents, is certainly a criminal. So was Daniel Ellsberg, who, to nobody’s surprise, is cheering Assange on and attacking his critics. . Assange, however, is not a criminal. He has not revealed any information that he accepted in trust while promising not to reveal it. He is no more a criminal than the New York Times, if the New York Times was published in Hell.
He is, however, an asshole. The term is variously defined as “one who behaves in an offensive, pompous manner,” “jerk,” “the worst kind of person,” “disgusting, loathesome, vile, distasteful, wrathful, belligerent,” “a thoroughly contemptible, detestable person.” Perfect. Assange has assumed a level of wisdom and competence that he does not possess, and used grand rationalizations to substitute his values, judgment and objectives for those of our elected government without due consideration of consequences to individuals, alliances, key diplomatic relationships, national security or anything else. He has sought to gain personal glory from this, while avoiding real accountability. And he has aided and abetted a criminal act by Bradley Manning and others, using the American ideal of freedom of speech as his accessory.
I would have been willing to leave Assange’s label within genteel limits, perhaps settling for my personal favorite, “jerk,” or perhaps “uber-jerk.” Assange’s latest move, however, attempting to extort the U.S. by threatening a massive new dump of information if he is arrested, clinched it. If Assange was really the champion for human kind he claims to be, and was willing to put lives and peace in jeopardy in pursuit of the ultimate good—transparent government—then he cannot make that ultimate good subordinate to his own interests. If his mega-dump is, in his narrow, deluded view, a boon to the world, then he has an obligation to dump it. If he knows it will do more damage than good, he has an obligation not to release it. Holding the information hostage to protect himself, however, shows that Assange really doesn’t care about the consequences to anyone else. Assange’s real priority is Assange, and everything and everyone else is secondary.
Luckily, there is a word for such people, a useful label that will help us assess his actions and motives.
14 thoughts on “Julian Assange: Not a Hero, Not a Terrorist, Not a Criminal, Just an Asshole”
Applause for getting the details and nuances of classified information EXACTLY RIGHT.
Asshole. That’s funny.
Accurate, but funny.
“Assange’s real priority is Assange, and everything and everyone else is secondary.”
Yep, that is the asshole world view. Exactly.
The guy is facing extradition and imprisonment for aiding the world….and I DO see what he has done as aiding the world….Of course hes going to try to look after himself!!!and dont tell me that ANY of you here wouldnt do the same….
He’ s facing all of that for breaking the law. He may THINK he’s aiding the world, but he doesn’t have the right to make that decision unilaterally.
I am very familiar with that world view, as it is a constant temptation.
Great commentary. And the description of ‘asshole’ is priceless, and perfect for Assange, whose name kind of asks for it. He’s a greedy, self-centered, self-righteous, publicity whore who cares only for his own ass(hole) and for no one else. He’s a traitor to society, the worst kind of excuse for a human being there is. I truly believe he will meet his maker someday, and that maker will be sorry he ever created this peace of work, (I meant to say crap, but I won’t). Perhaps he’ll find out about rape while he’s incarcerated. Wouldn’t that be fitting for such an ————-
I believe it is currently up to Sweden to decide if he is a criminal or not, but that is another topic.
Right—although when Newt, Sean, et al. call him a criminal, they aren’t talking about him failing to wear a condom in Sweden.
On second thought, this needs further investigation. Allegations have surfaced that the entire Wikileaks project is merely a front for the sale of classified information. Wikileaks is claimed to be a publicity stunt to get people to pass classified information to them for free. They then sell the really important stuff to the highest bidder and put the embarrassing/useless stuff on Wikileaks for publicity. The allegations currently are shaky at best, but probably worth looking into. The Wikileaks saga could get a lot bigger before its over.
He makes me so angry, a publicity stunt for attention. He is an asshole. He is an attention seeker and the only reason he did this is to be seen as a hero and for high schoolers to know his name in 30 years or so. Really everyone is going to look back and reflect on how much of a fucking idiot he is.
At first I would have bought hero, but now asshole seems apt. In addition to the excellent and more important points made above, if you are going to fuck your way around Europe while on a masturbatory ego trip of righteous glory, perhaps you should let your partners have some say in doing it and doing it responsibly with protection. I don’t think he should be extradited to the US, but he certainly should be accountable in Sweden and stop being a whiny little bitch. I just find he repulsive and absurd now.
In Assange’s world accountability is just for other people.
2012 update, by entering the Equadorian embassy, particularly if with the conviction that it represents foreign soil and requesting ‘diplomatic asylum’ (a concept not enshrined in any convention, treaty or law but popular in the tinpot politics of South America), Mr Assange has knowingly breached his bail conditions and is now demonstrably a criminal. Well done Mr Assange. What a pompous, self aggrandising git…..
Thank you for the re-introduction of the beloved and vivid term “git”…