You Don’t Have to Like Assange, But Freedom of the Press Must Be Preserved

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“Artwork” by Kathy Copeland Padden

I’m going to keep this short and sweet.

Gather ‘round, boys and girls — our fast, final descent into irrevocable fascism has finally begun. And we all watched it go down as journalist Julian Assange was apprehended in London as a political prisoner. Yes, a political prisoner. This is not hyperbole. When freedom of the press is no longer protected, we can’t even claim the pretense of living in a free society.

Whether you agree with Assange or not, you should be deeply concerned about what this means for the future of free speech and unbought, honest journalism in this country — and elsewhere. Because yes, dear Fellow American, it will affect your own life in ways it’s obvious many of you haven’t even considered yet.

This sort of heinous, hypocritical governmental overreach is precisely how we end up with nothing but state-sanctioned propaganda masquerading as “news” and “journalism.” When those who are truly “above the law” vow that a journalist who exposed their corruption isn’t “above the law” and will be severely punished, we have hit a new and scary low.

Many conservatives and neo-liberals are asserting Assange is not a journalist and, as such, doesn’t deserve the “perks” of the profession. Question is — who decides the definition of investigative journalism? Isn’t it better to err on the side of truth-telling and free speech? Shouldn’t the American people be allowed ALL the evidence to make a decision on the matter themselves? Fake News Syndrome, which includes cherry-picking what constitutes a “real” journalist, is a very convenient go-to when you have no other defense.

Whether it jibes with your accepted narrative or not, Assange is a journalist doing what journalists are bound by definition to do: seek the truth and share it with the masses. It should be deeply distressing to everyone that this point is being disputed. But grossly overpaid corporate shills like Hannity and Maddow are worshipped as sacred oracles, it’s really not all that surprising.

It’s pretty simple really. If the information gathered casts our government in a bad light, it’s the system that needs changing, not the parameters of journalism. You treat the illness, you don’t kill the doctor.

We are standing on the precipice of losing all the rights and privileges we as Americans hold dear. If we allow this to happen, we will deserve what we get. And what we get will be unimaginably dangerous for journalists, activists, and other truth seekers.

Look — you don’t have to like Assange. I actually find him kind of annoying, to be honest. But he’s not running for Miss Congeniality, and his charm or lack thereof has nothing to do with his role as a journalist. You must separate your disdain for the individual from the profession and principle. Because whether you can see it coming or not, every single American has a personal stake in how this plays out.

Written by

is a political junkie and history buff randomly alternating between bouts of crankiness and amusement while bearing witness to the Apocalypse. Come along!

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