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Wilmerding: Upset about Julian Assange's arrest

Looking backward from 2099, will 9/11 or 4/11 be remembered?

British police carried Julian Assange from his seven-year asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy as, in cuffed hands, he held Gore Vidal History of the National Security State and cried, "They must resist. UK resist."

His crime, telling the truth in the public interest as a journalist, producer and media activist with Wikileaks.

Will the UK violate its own law prohibiting extradition to a country with the death penalty? Will the US try the Australian national, who became a naturalized Ecuadorian citizen on 12 December 2017?

In uncomfortable parallels with shifting power past and present, Winston Churchill credits an experienced soldier's 1901 spy book, The Riddle of the Sands, for convincing taxpayers to fund measures against German naval threats; Britain executed Erskine Childers on 24 November 1922 on pretext of possessing a small pistol.

Articulate and departing from established narrative can be punishing no matter one's journalistic integrity or protections afforded the fourth estate in our Constitution*. Due to technology, industrial scale leaks, compared to Daniel Ellsberg's Pentagon Papers on Vietnam, shifted the course of global reporting and evaluation of war.

Vidal reminds us, "The people have no voice because they have no information."

With expansion of hate speech's definition and Google and Facebook de-platforming individuals, silencing of voices makes the electorate less able to analyze facts. In the absence of truth, how can sound public policy develop? 

Gay Wilmerding

*Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." -- Amendment I adopted 15 December 1791 with the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights

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