The treatment of Assange helps me not forget how prissy and prudish politically correct thinking has made societies in the developed world. Assange is a journalist and journalism was always something of a disreputable profession. I remember when I was with my Dad and he met some of his colleagues they would exchange scurrilous gossip that could never be printed in the 1960s, with little concession being made for my youth. They’d talk about the Prime ministers wife and her long time lover, a colimnist for The Times, wondering at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in Britain whether Prime Minister MacMillan was ‘ queer’ and had a ‘lavender marriage’. It was all fascinating to me.
In those days, before breath tests and such, the test of sobriety was the ability to walk in a straight line. Dad used to say that most days, after lunch, a reporter named George Morrison couldn’t even stand up in a straight line and yet he’d get in his car and drive off in pursuit of a story.
I don’t know if any of those guys had personal hygiene issue or kept anally incontinent cats but I understood those colourful characters, all of whom had seen a lot of life, didn’t have any time for social climbers or for pious or self righteous hypocrites. And I know they were far better storytellers than any in the major news media today.
The efforts to silence Julian Assange are part of a bigger plan, to completely contol information available to the public. A few years ago I had a blog called Samizdat on my friends list, named after the Samizdat literature in The Soviet union, a way of distributing banned books. They are still going — Samizdata. How prescient were they in choosing that name? It often seems it will not be long before we will have to pass our work around on data CDs, memory sticks and SD ram.