Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Free Speech Under Fire

One of the most valuable things to come out of the Wikileaks brouhaha is that average citizen can finally observe the lengths to which the Unites States government will go to squelch speech that doesn’t agree with the sanctioned narrative. Usually the government uses dirty tricks against someone they’ve defined as a pain in the ass, well outside of the media glare. Tactics like destroying someone’s reputation and sending them down the road to financial ruin have typically been reserved for the more marginal left wing activists, who were unlikely to garner much sympathy from the general public in any event. Here, we have an intelligent, charismatic anarchist who cleans up well and looks good on television-a totalitarian government’s worst nightmare. As a consequence, they were forced to use their biggest guns, and fire them in full view of the media.

Obama’s government, (let’s not lose sight of that salient fact), has thus far exerted pressure on Mastercard, Visa, Paypal, Twitter, the Swiss Banking and legal institutions and the mainstream media, sufficient to drive Wikileaks to the brink of nonexistence, all because it was doing what journalists are supposed to do-report the news. I seem to remember learning way back in civics class that a free press was a vital component of a free society.  The fact that most of the media outlets in this country have abdicated any pretense that they are still practicing anything resembling investigative journalism, seems to have given the government the idea that they are free to squash dissent with cavalier impunity.

Even I was taken aback by Lieberman’s call to investigate whether criminal charges could be brought against the NY Times for publishing the Wikileaks cables, but I guess that is part of the whole plan to re-frame the debate. Two weeks ago, Wikipedia was regularly described in the media as “whistleblowers”. Over the past week, news organizations Reuters, NBC, and the Associated Press have formally decided to stop identifying WikiLeaks as a "whistleblower" organization. Clearly, the media is attempting to turn public opinion to the government’s view of Wikipedia, that is, that they are cyber terrorists.

From the Atlantic: “Gawker's Ryan Tate thinks it is telling that the three news outlets amended their style guidelines to fit with the White House's official characterization of the leaks. "What a coincidence!" he marvels. Tate is also skeptical of the AP's claim that "a website that specializes in displaying leaked information" is a clearer and more accurate designation. "[That] rolls right off the tongue," Tate scoffs.”

Language is power. If you can frame the issue with your language, you’ve won more than half the battle in the court of public opinion. Here, the government has pressed the bankers and the media into service to achieve its totalitarian aim to stifle dissent. This should be resisted firmly by every patriot worthy of the name.

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