No Easy Way To Be Free: Assange, The Left, and Press Freedom

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Freedom of the press is like a woman who nobody truly loves, but everybody wants to sleep with.

What do I mean by “truly loves?” I mean the entire essence, all the way out–to hold a standard that refuses to change according to political advantage.

I just watched this interview with Julian Assange’s mother, Christine Assange, on Australian TV, and experienced a deep pain.

There is one proper response to the legitimate question: “What about press freedom in Equador? Will Julian fight for those journalists and editors who are in prison in that country should he receive safe passage there?” That response is:

“Yes.”

But that’s not what Assange’s mother says. Instead the assails the reporter in a very unfortunate tirade claiming all human rights organizations who decry persecution of the press led by President Correa in Equador are spreading “propaganda.” Not so. Here is a letter from New York’s Human Rights Foundation that specializes in human rights in Latin America, detailing some of Equador’s abuses of press freedoms. [I worked as a writer and editor at HRF for a period of time, in 2007, and know the President, Thor Halvorssen since many years. That’s how I am familiar with HRF’s work.)

The left has never loved freedom of the press, historically, unless said “freedom” happens to undermine their own foes. They have consistently acted as apologists for leftist tyrants and dictators who with great impunity persecute critics of the regime. It has always sufficed for them that a dictator hate the US–then he can persecute his own press all he wants–examples include Chavez and Castro, two of their darlings.

I have wanted to believe that Assange is an exception to leftist confusion about “freedom of expression,” as he seems very familiar with freedom as it was articulated by the “founding fathers” of this country. I has seemed to me that he is genuinely devoted to opposition of tyranny, not only that committed by “right wing” governments. Our government, for example, can’t be called “right wing” at the moment, since we have a left leaning democratic President, who is personally waging war on Assange, at least according to Assange. But to see this interview with his mother is heartbreaking. Her dismissal of the imprisoned regime critics in Equador undermines everything her son had done, and the principle he has given up his life for.

I wonder what he himself would say if asked the same question his mother was asked. I hold out hope he would simply say: “Yes.”

There is one standard, and it always answers itself. What is freedom of the press? It is freedom of the press. That a free press should have the right to report on government without said government retaliating against said press.

Why not Equador?

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