The Torah of Julian Assange, part 2
As long as they don’t dig into what my elves do in the 11 months they’re on vacation, I’m solidly behind WikiLeaks.
This, in a nutshell, describes my own ambivalence about WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and Bradley Manning (the guy who allegedly turned over all those cables to WikiLeaks and has been held in solitary at Quantico for the last 7 months, give or take) — where, my friends, is the line?
Context? The quote is from Michael Moore on last minute gift ideas for Christmas. Good list, truly: I’m going to make a small contribution to The Water Project as suggested. But buried in a glowing description of why one should financially support WikiLeaks is that sentence about the elves — and I’m riled up all over again. Not exactly riled, but troubled & confused & a little uneasy.
Yes, I know it was a joke, but isn’t this the nub of the problem: Do we have a right to know about those kinky elves? Or is it a need? Is this about principles or gossip or a result of our deep-seated fear at being left out? (Yes, those people speaking a foreign language really are talking about you.) And how much are we willing to be told about us without our permission in exchange for knowing about everyone and everything else?
Just before God decides to reduce Sodom & Gomorrah to rubble & ash, S/He wonders out loud: Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? I, the Lord, am about to do something that could be interpreted as vile & murderous — will my chosen guy let something like this pass? God blabs, Abraham negotiates, and the city is still blown to smithereens. Knowledge in and of itself doesn’t guarantee changing a damn thing — millions of people around the globe knew that bombing Iraq was wrong, but that didn’t stop President Bush from pushing the button.
I’ve no doubt that God knew all along there weren’t 10 righteous folks. Given that basic fact of omnipotence, is it better for Abraham to know ahead of time, after the fact, both, or neither? Or consider the near-sacrifice of Isaac. It is entirely possible that knowing the truth about her husband’s action was what killed Sarah.
There are those who argue that it’s always better to err on the side of knowing, and of taking action, even if it ultimately gets you nowhere. That you gotta keep an eye on those who wield power. I respect that position, have even argued it myself from time to time, but is there a thing as too much truth?
I don’t want to know about elfin debauchery and laziness in August. Truly. It will just upset me. I don’t want to know what some lower level diplomat said about another’s table manners (though I was interested to read that Assange is staying in a 10-room chateau owned by an uber-libertarian Brit while he’s out on bail). Jewish tradition teaches that it is okay to bend the truth in the service of keeping the peace. If more of us followed this rule in our personal relationships… whoa, baby!
So, Julian Assange, if you show me all of yours, maybe I’ll show you mine. Or maybe not. That’s for me to know and you to find out.