Irony

From the ancient Greek εἰρωνεία eirōneía, meaning dissimulation or feigned ignorance.

How ironic, then, that the self-proclaimed saint of informational freedom gets “leaked on” (forgive the metaphor) by one of the key outlets for his own prodigious leaking…The Guardian…see below:

LONDON — Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who was released from a British jail late last week, is facing a new challenge: the leak of a 68-page confidential Swedish police report that sheds new light on the allegations of sexual misconduct that led to Mr. Assange’s legal troubles….

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/world/europe/19assange.html?ref=world

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/18/julian-assange-allegations-wikileaks-cables?INTCMP=SRCH

Yet – here is the question – when and where does irony cross over into blatant hypocrisy and how does that affect the issue?

No doubt Assange was counting on the sacrosanct trust we have that prosecutors’ papers are never released – and there is no doubt that the version he put out to his followers, suffered in the new telling – and I have no doubt that the righteous indignation of those offended by the sharing of this info will be heard across the land…but so it goes…

I asked about hypocrisy – frankly I think I have the line – the boundary that was crossed – where what’s secret for me is critical, despite the fact that I don’t believe in secrets for you.

I stumbled across the following article Sunday morning over coffee – I have to say the mug went cold as I was so engrossed in the story and its implications. Read:

Transparency is secretive business. WikiLeaks, the swashbuckling new-media organization whose motto is “We open governments,” relies on a technology of extreme reticence called Tor Hidden Services — a part of the Tor Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated not to light and clarity but to shadows and opacity, to the increasingly difficult art of keeping secrets online….

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/19/magazine/19FOB-Medium-t.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=tor&st=cse

Maybe now is a good time to substitute privacy for secrecy – what I view as private, some might view as secretive  – more on that irony in a moment – Tor has some incredibly powerful and important applications – but it also incredibly dangerous and potentially harmful. It’s one thing to hide an Assange and his leaking – it’s another to provide shields for terrorists (although he has been called one) and killers. Where is the line? Who decides? What power is there to adjudicate?

As we have seen – with Assange – and time and time again with those who make rules for others – what’s good for you is not always good for me – after all I make the rules.

So it is with privacy. On the one hand – I heard a POV this week that suggested that if we let it all hang out – assume nothing is private and put it all out there ourselves – than we have nothing to fear! We have essentially controlled it all and have nothing to hide. The downside or danger though was pointed out by another member of the discussion – which is that someone, somewhere will keep it all back – which essentially changes the game – and that person could end up in control – and no doubt – not a benign control at all.

The irony here is reminiscent of Orwell’s Animal Farm – a great novel of irony – remember this quote? “All Animals are created equal but some animals are more equal than others” – one of my favorites…and in my opinion very applicable here.

I also refer you to the last paragraph or two of the book – see for yourselves: http://www.george-orwell.org/Animal_Farm/9.html

All of which drove me in this direction when thinking about privacy and related issues:

“We have not thrown down the divine right of Kings to fall down for the divine right of experts” Harold Macmillian

And, there you have it.

Substitute “business” for “experts,” or “gurus,” or anyone or anything that purports to make decisions for you.

Privacy is your right to hold or give up – if I want something from you I can ask, and give you value in return – not sanctimony.

Seems to me the lesson in WikiLeaks is that what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander.

What do you think?

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