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R.I.P. Freedom of Speech

Dec 09

I always thought the United States of America protected freedom of speech as one of our sacred liberties. I was wrong. Turns out, we believe in freedom of speech so long as it doesn’t embarrass any career politicians.

Up until now I’ve been torn on the whole “WikiLeaks” issue, but this morning I read a short, illuminating article on Wired.com that completely solidified my stance. “Why WikiLeaks is Good for America” outlines the reasons we should be applauding Julian Assange and finding ways to support his efforts. Here are some interesting quotes from the article:

WikiLeaks stands to improve our democracy, not weaken it.

A truly free press — one unfettered by concerns of nationalism — is apparently a terrifying problem for elected governments and tyrannies alike.

[…] we should embrace the site as an expression of the fundamental freedom that is at the core of our Bill of Rights, not react like Chinese corporations that are happy to censor information on behalf of their government to curry favor.

On the campaign trail, Barack Obama vowed to roll back the secrecy apparatus that had been dramatically expanded under his predecessor, but his administration has largely abandoned those promises and instead doubled-down on secrecy.

At long last, there is a “media” organization that is attempting to do its job. Our news organizations are too busy regurgitating corporate press releases so they can sell ad space that they’ve failed to uncover important stories and uncomfortable secrets. No wonder they’re struggling to stay relevant.

I’ve seen this first hand. “Let’s get this advertising agreement wrapped up,” they say, “and then I’d love to send your contact information over to our editorial staff to see if we can write something up about your company.” And, “We’ll likely be writing an article about you next month. It’l be a great opportunity for you to run some ads and solidify your name in our readers’ minds.”

Senater Lieberman (and numerous other politicians,) should be ashamed. Instead of hunting down Julian Assange, and changing our espionage laws so we can throw him in jail, we should be protecting him and enabling his efforts.

Am I completely off-base on this or are we losing our constitutional rights to an overreaching government?

Update: Just came across two more great quotes.

  1. Citizens of a functioning democracy must be able to know what the state is saying and doing in our name… —From an article on MSNBC.
  2. We all should have those first amendment rights as if we are all journalists.Ron Paul

About the Author

Hi. I'm Ryan Jenkins. I'm a husband, father, mormon, product manager, tech geek, and hamburger lover.

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