Column – WikiLeaks motives, outcome hard to judge

November 29, 2010 — Leave a comment

Originally published in The Daily Toreador.

All of this recent news about WikiLeaks has me feeling pretty torn.

On one hand, I greatly applaud the fact that citizens are doing their part to keep our nation in check. By leaking a multitude of government documents, it could be (and has been) argued that WikiLeaks is doing a great service in helping prevent a “1984”-esque regime, where secrets reign and everything is controlled by the government. It’s good to know there are people out there who would do whatever it takes to make sure information stays with the people.

On the other hand, however, I worry that some things are far better left private. Some secrets, after all, are kept to protect people.

I’m not even talking exclusively about the U.S. soldiers that could potentially be harmed by certain pieces of intelligence falling into the wrong hands, though that’s certainly an issue we should be concerned about. I’m talking about us. You, me, our families… The regular people, as it were.

Not that I endorse most gossip, but have you ever been in a situation with a friend or family member where you want to say something about them them – maybe that they got a horrible haircut or that they’re a terrible artist – but you never tell them directly because you know the strife it would cause? Feelings would be hurt, sure, but in some cases you know things might become heated and violence may break out. It’s better for everybody around if you just keep your mouth shut, maybe only talking to a couple trusted friends about the issue.

Or say you’re in a bar and you see a rather buff and mean looking guy with a pretty hot girl on his arm, you typically keep any comments you have about either of them to yourself. You might tell your buddies that the girl is really hot, but you certainly don’t walk up to the guy or the girl and say it, lest you be pummeled.

These are the kind of things that the latest WikiLeaks leak is making public. Only the gossip is on a global scale and all the nations involved carry really big sticks. If too many people are angered, we could be looking at some pretty scary times in the future.

So if people and organizations such as WikiLeaks don’t exist, we might (but might not) put ourselves at risk of totalitarian control, where freedom dies and the common man and woman suffers greatly.

But if the likes of WikiLeaks aren’t careful and divulge the wrong information, we might (but might not) put ourselves at risk of global war that could devastate our entire planet.

It’s like we’re living in the tagline for “Alien vs. Predator.” No matter who wins, we lose.

This is why I’m torn about the issue. If I had to choose a side right now, I would say that WikiLeaks is at serious risk of going overboard (if they haven’t already) and should probably be dealt with. But I can’t deny the potential benefits of such an organization existing in the long run.

Provided, of course, that the organization itself is moral and truly has our best interests in mind.

Unfortunately, I think Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is right when she said on Monday that the latest leak is “an attack on the international community” and poses a serious risk to U.S. foreign relations. Whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has good intentions or not, there’s a very good chance that he’s doing more harm than good.

We are extremely lucky to live in a nation where we do elect those in charge of us. We have to hope that those people won’t abuse the power we’ve given them, and trust that sometimes they keep secrets for a reason.

Britton Peele


Freelance video game critic for sites like GameSpot and GamesRadar. Amateur fantasy author.

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