Thursday, December 09, 2010

Afraid to Speak Truth to Power

During most of my daily activities, I have very little occasion to feel fear. Even when I have a bizarre, creepy dream - ahem, last night - in which two giant tarantulas take up residence in my bedroom and Stephen King comes over to help me deal with them, I wake up not so much afraid as just shaking my head at what it all means.

Yes, I am aware that this makes me extremely lucky. There are people all over the world, here in the U.S. and in every other country, who feel fear every single day. I live a remarkably easy life, even when it's not being compared to that of someone who is abused, trafficked into slavery, denied basic human rights, or subjected to bombing/marauding/killing by military forces.

In light of the foregoing, I find it interesting that the thought that makes me a little afraid today, the only thing kicking in those stomach butterflies of trepidation, is: what will my government do to me if I speak my opinion about WikiLeaks? The answer is supposed to be nothing, right? We're all supposed to have freedom of speech, and we're supposed to be able to express our opinions without any government law stopping us. We're "free." Right?

It's disgraceful that I am afraid of what U.S. government forces are going to do to people who speak out in favor of WikiLeaks. I have not done anything illegal. I am not a "hacktivist." I haven't even read most of the leaked cables. But I can't believe the campaign of bullying and intimidation being used to try to stop WikiLeaks from releasing information.

INFORMATION. Words. Speech. What is the U.S. government so afraid of in those leaked cables? What could be worse than the video of murder by Apache helicopter soldiers that was released last April? Although, seeing as there is apparently Guantanamo info in upcoming cables, I hesitate to even ask that question. You'd think it couldn't be any worse than what we already know about torture by the military and CIA, but who knows? And why do all these "patriots" like Sarah Palin, Mitch McConnell (who called Julian Assange a "terrorist") and apparently every mainstream news editor issue a nonstop stream of I-bleed-red-white-and-blue rhetoric while overlooking the fact that speaking an opinion in favor of WikiLeaks is now seriously frightening?

I think about human rights defenders around the world (including those featured in Speak Truth to Power) who face the fear and speak out anyway, often resulting in harsh punishment, "disappearance," and death. I admire their courage.

I hope everyone continues to speak the truth and calls out the intimidation of WikiLeaks (and Amazon, and PayPal, who apparently succumbed to the bullying) for what it is. Three cheers for Daniel Ellsburg for boycotting Amazon and calling for a whistle blower to reveal the intimidation that led to them barring WikiLeaks from the site.

I feel a little afraid. Interestingly, we're planning to go see Fair Game later today. That is probably not going to make me feel any better.

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