I haven’t said much about Julian Assange yet because, unlike the media, I think we have to wait and see. The question to me is whether Assange is Bruce Wayne or Joker from The Dark Knight. Is he a hero fighting a corrupt system on behalf of the common man, or is he simply an anarchist who wants to watch it all burn?
What we know so far is that he is the founder and final editor at Wikileaks. He has published a bunch of secret American documents. Now he’s wanted in Sweden for unrelated charges. Paypal, Mastercard and Visa have blocked the ability for people to donate money for his support and that resulted in a cyberattack against them by Assange’s supporters.
So how do we decide if he’s a good guy or a bad guy? For one thing he’s trying to free information. The government can make things secret for convenience reasons as well as for national security reasons. It is possible that Assange is simply airing the dirty laundry that world governments would rather keep in the laundry basket. But none of what he’s released so far is of any benefit to the common man. There are embarrassing missives between diplomats. So what? So our representative in country X thinks the leader is a ninny. That doesn’t really help the man on the street.
However, Assange claims to have a doomsday weapon that will reveal all kinds of secrets about the financial industry should he be sent to prison. Okay, maybe that could help the common man but it could also ruin him by crashing the institutes to which his life savings are entrusted. And there’s the rub. If he just wanted to collapse the entire Western system, that doomsday weapon (if it is real) could have done it. He has shown restraint. He’s vetted the information he’s posted in order to protect people. At least the ones he’s decided deserve protection. I think he’s capable of doing much more than he has done. He started his “career” as a hacker and has, as they say, madd skillz. Restraint sounds like a virtue, but Joker restrained his powers in order to do the maximum amount of damage at the right time too.
Bottom line is that Assange hasn’t done anything remarkable yet. The media is ready to either vilify him or make him a saint. That’s largely because the outlets have a political philosophy and are under pressure to produce reports so they land on one side or the other. It is too early to call on this one. So let’s all show some restraint, shall we?