I am really conflicted. I want to like Julian Assange and all that he's doing , except I find what he's doing so valueless that I am really struggling to applaud him or back him in any way.
The USA's desire to 'get him' is sickening. In fact general government reactions to him would be laughable if it wasn't so scary. At the same time though, we seem to be applauding him as a kind of bastion for free speech. We are starting to to see him as a champion of a cause when really all he seems to have done is put out a steady stream of sensitive gossip.
Looking at what has come out from wikileaks it is just information that will make it harder for those in power to speak well to each other. As a result of what he's published it's likely that countries will treat conversations with each other more suspiciously and cautiously. More like talking to a journalist than another diplomat or government bod. This can only further cloud and mask plain speech. It's not a gain. It seems to me that this potential loss of plain speech is also not offset by any gains from the 'revelations'.
What do we now know that we didn't before? Prince Andrew was a bit of a prat? There has been different agendas between David Cameron and the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai? Not ground breaking, impressive or worthwhile really.
I can't go along with accolades for him that shout him as 'the savior of freedom' as I saw one commentator on You Tube say. And yet..... and yet.... The governments are out of whack here and we must speak up.
Lets just be clear what we're speaking up for. Freedom is the thing we are concerned about isn't it? The right to speak freely and well. Gary Goldhammer points out quite rightly though that, 'that transparency without judgement is gossip, not journalism.' Making the point that although Assange say publishing improves transparency this is not always the case. Judgement, analysis and care also have a place.
In the end I suspect I will sign petitions and object to the way Assange is being treated but that is because it is wrong for the bigger guys to adopt the position of a bully when things don't go their way. We need to make sure that it is never OK to be stood on just because you become a nuisance. Our governments should be able to deal with Assange maturely and with 'due process' and we need to shout at them loudly and with force if they don't.
I don't really think though that I can applaud or give thanks for Assange. Gossip is just gossip at the end of the day.