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  1. #1
    pbrockway2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Defend Free Speech! Free Julian Assange!

    I see the faq don't seem to outlaw overtly political posts, so I'll let the title express the sentiment being expressed all over the internet and in real life.

    Having computers and a culture based on networks of them has made a difference and looks set to make even more of a difference. Being lied to is no basis for security, but far too many died before the Pentagon Papers saw the light of day.

    Hopefully 2011 will mark the start of an era when the truth can be told quickly so it can make a difference. And where those - like Assange, Ellsberg and others - who speak truth to power cannot easily be silenced.

  2. #2
    JosAH's Avatar
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    I think that all that is going to happen is that politicians will change their strategy of lying. b.t.w. has anyone noticed that they've all become 'internet experts' all of a sudden? They're all blabbering about 'advanced DOS attacks being downloadable by the click of a single butten'; they can't even program themselves out of a wet paper bag ... My fear: Julian Assange is going to disappear and they'll be trying to take the Wiki Leaks site down and criminalize it over and over again.

    kind regards,

    Jos
    cenosillicaphobia: the fear for an empty beer glass

  3. #3
    pbrockway2 is offline Moderator
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    My fear: Julian Assange is going to disappear and they'll be trying to take the Wiki Leaks site down and criminalize it over and over again.

    Yes, Assange is facing a pretty stressful xmas/new year. I guess he knew what he was up against, but, still, it must be tough for him.

    As regards having him "disappear", maybe there's some comfort to be taken from the death threats made by various US politicians. They introduce a human rights aspect to his extradition and his lawyer said in an interview with David Frost recently that an EU hearing on that matter would take at least 7 years to arrange...

    -------------------------------

    Politicians will continue to lie. But it seems to me that, unlike the changes in information technology of the 15th century (which had a huge impact on society), 21st century technology is incredibly decentralised and cannot be as easily controlled.

    Of course it cuts both ways and it is the public not the politicians who are most likely to be spied on in the digital age. But the big difference is that we (generally speaking) have nothing to hide.

  4. #4
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    It's on the Dutch radio right now: Julian Assange is out on bail; it surprises me because they didn't want to do that yesterday. Let's see what he is going to do and what Wiki Leaks are going to do.

    kind regard,

    Jos
    cenosillicaphobia: the fear for an empty beer glass

  5. #5
    pbrockway2 is offline Moderator
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    I read a little while ago that he had been redetained after the Sweeds appealed the bail decision. I'm now on holiday (yay!) but with intermittent access to teh internet.

    The more I think about this the more danger I see to the US.

    Assange has staked his liberty because he thought that was for the best. But the US is in danger of losing its first amendment - or at least of defanging it. (not just because of the reaction to wikileaks, but other recent court decisions that equate free speech with "providing material assistance to terrorism") And some of its citizens are supportive of this, or silent, out of appalling ignorance.

    My vote goes to the somewhat anarchistic view of Thomas Jefferson: "Given the choice between a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment in choosing the latter."

    Of course it wasn't either/or for Jefferson: he got a government and a free press. But that took a revolution. I don't know about the Netherlands but in New Zealand we still have the horrible legacy of the English "official secrets" approach to public knowledge in regards to the behaviour of public officials. Not just revealing information (which may breach contractual promises) but publishing it, possessing it, even reading it can become an illegal act at the discretion of some official (no special law required). Judges can, and do, regularly impose a prior restraint on what can be said publically. And there can be no criticism of that because there is no public knowledge of what is being forbidden.

    It's like some (many?) in the US don't seem to realise what a huge advantage they have over certainly the Commonwealth countries. It took Jefferson and friends much sacrifice to get the current consitution and if its first amendment ends up being pushed aside (or made ineffectual) by recent legislative and executive attacks it will hard to win back.

    But - and this was the motavation for my original post - the very nature of information now makes democracy harder than ever to suppress.

  6. #6
    JosAH's Avatar
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    In the Netherlands the government has to be totally 'transparent' (man, do I hate that political word). They implicitly have included an 'except when' clause and it shows on an almost daily basis. Journalism always finds out what has been done behind the back of the populations but politicians don't feel too ashamed to lie about their own deeds. Democracy gets stronger, thanks to all the information being available, but politicians get meaner just because of it. There always has been a, say, discrepancy between politics and the people but this gap gets bigger and bigger. Silly (unrelated) news fact: a right winged party overhere yestterday wanted the West to attack Iran. Today, for no reason, they took back what they said. I consider that entire thing just stupid populist chat.

    Enjoy your holidays and

    kind regards,

    Jos
    cenosillicaphobia: the fear for an empty beer glass

  7. #7
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    in New Zealand we still have the horrible legacy of the English "official secrets" approach to public knowledge
    In India too. And various other Victorian legacies that lost their relevance long ago.

    the very nature of information now makes democracy harder than ever to suppress.
    Well said.

    db

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darryl.Burke View Post
    the very nature of information now makes democracy harder than ever to suppress.
    Well said.
    But it's a double-edged sword as this very same technology can be used by totalitarian regimes to very opposite ends by making it easier to identify and eliminate ideological opponents.

  9. #9
    pbrockway2 is offline Moderator
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    Sorry about the slow reply...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fubarable View Post
    But it's a double-edged sword as this very same technology can be used by totalitarian regimes to very opposite ends by making it easier to identify and eliminate ideological opponents.
    I agree with this. Actually any technology that's powerful will provide an opprtunity for its use by the "bad guys": totalitarian, commercial, political.

    But indentifying political opponents isn't such a problem - after all dissent (rather than, say, disagreement) is essentially a public act. An unknown dissident isn't really a dissident.

    Thinking about it, the distributed nature of information is only one thing which makes it unstoppable. The other consequence of its cheapness is that it is not (unlike the 15th century information revolution) restricted to being a broadcast medium. Now the authors and publishers are also numerous and distributed.

    -----------------------

    This has a nice consequence that can be seen in the "Java is bugged" thread: anyone can say anything to as broad an audience as they can find. The stoopid we will have with us always: and now they have voice!

    Whether technical or political I think we should welcome the openness and, each of us, make the best of it.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by pbrockway2 View Post
    Whether technical or political I think we should welcome the openness and, each of us, make the best of it.
    Things are getting a bit more suspicious: the USA government wants to have the data of all private telephone conversations of Rop Gonggrijp. They are after something (imho).

    kind regards,

    Jos
    cenosillicaphobia: the fear for an empty beer glass

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