Peter Carr is Wrong: Civic duty should not be condemned

In his article of December 2010, Peter Carr asserts, “Everyone at Le Web is Wrong: Wikileaks Should be Condemned not Celebrated.”

First Carr writes, “I hate the fact that he’s trading on a myth that We The People have a right to know everything our governments are saying and doing in our name.”  While this objection is perhaps understandable, he then goes on to say people have “no real business – beyond a basic prurient interest” in knowing what is being done and said in their name.

Are we talking about democracies, still? Are these governments of the people, for the people, and by the people? This article just mentioned the biggest reason aside from mere curiosity that people might be interested, and then deliberately overlooked it in favor of invective.

Understand that public interest is not entirely abstract. For example, does the name Henry Kissinger ring any bells? Some people are still pretty furious about the deals he cut, and would have liked to know something about them before the corpses started piling up.  We trust our officials to do things for us, but that trust doesn’t have to be blind trust.

Anya_fennec: He does have a point about how information will be more closed among those who use it though

So what should Assange do? What should a man do, who has information about, say, a government killing civilians?  Should he do nothing and let things go, in the hopes that maybe those who perpetrate it are going to be less tight-lipped about it in the future?

I agree that Wikileaks supporters are no saints.  (I’m not surprised by it, nor indignant, as Carr seems to be.)  I agree that the choices are far from optimal, and I’m hardly interested in defending every leak, but to argue against the very idea of openness on the grounds that people will anger the big bad elites and they will stop being nice is completely counter to the point of democracy.

If Carr doesn’t care about things like whether or not his government is providing training and material support to dictators who butcher peasant families (as allegedly happened with Kissinger), then it’s his right to ignore this stuff. But it’s not his right to sign away the interests of every other voter.  We shouldn’t assume that everyone who might care is acting out of “prurient interest” when we’ve already brought up more responsible motivations.

Published in: on December 15, 2011 at 3:44 AM  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] Kissinger years, went to funding some third-world dictator; the core idea that we are on some level responsible for what our tax dollars do is the same.  We must allow that conservatives as well as liberals may feel guilt over what their […]

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