Watch this: a map of every protest on the planet since 1979. Are we freer now to protest, or inspired more to fight only because we feel so entrapped?
1. It hasn’t been a great week for transparency, y’all. First a high-profile journalist got detained at an airport like a terrorist suspect and then Bradley Manning, the soldier who got arrested in 2010 for handing over secret documents to WikiLeaks (a not-for-profit media organization that encourages whistleblowing via their handy-dandy anonymous dropbox-type contraption), received his sentence. As his trial ended this week, three big things happened: first, he was given 35 years in military prison (could’a been worse but still… it’s being called draconian).
Second, it’s become clear that the atrocities Manning revealed (the US military killing civilians and then airstriking the evidence into oblivion, for example) aren’t really being dealt with as seriously as the ooh-he-revealed-our-secrets drama is — and, as ACLU rep Ben Wizner points out:
“When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system.”
Or, to put it even more bluntly:
Oh, and third? Manning? More like Womanning, amirite?! Ehem. Bradley Manning is now Chelsea Manning. And every news article about the ‘revelation’ (those paying attention to the trial saw it coming) covers Manning’s announcement and then awkwardly starts switching the pronoun thereafter. Now, whether or not she‘s gonna get the hormone therapy she requests in jail is less obvious. Three words: Kansas military prison. Just sayin’.
Major zeitgeisty theme alert! And I don’t mean Gosling. This time. The whole Manning saga, like the Snowden/NSA one, gets people talking about this inherent paradox of our Western culture that isn’t going away: the tension between the freedom we love and the importance of security measures to maintain said freedom, even if it limits it. Or, as the upcoming Benedict Cumberbatch movie about Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange puts it much more elegantly (I’m not even kidding… that sounded like I was kidding), this is “a defining question of our time: what are the costs of keeping secrets in a free society-and what are the costs of exposing them?”
Happy weekends, all!!
Quote of the Week: