[ExI] Who is safe?

spike spike66 at att.net
Thu Dec 23 17:28:37 UTC 2010

Insight-inducing Wikileaks article in the Guardian today:



"Well, anything might happen but nothing has happened. And we are not about
to leave the field of doing good simply because harm might happen . In our
four-year publishing history no one has ever come to physical harm that we
are aware of or that anyone has alleged. On the other hand, we have changed
governments and constitutions and had tremendous positive outcomes."  Julian

In reference to Wikileaks exposing massive corruption in the Kenyan


"1,300 people were eventually killed, and 350,000 were displaced. That was a
result of our leak."  Julian Assange


These are not necessarily contradictory statements.  When he says "no one"
he doesn't actually specify to what "one" refers.  We ordinarily think it
means humans, but perhaps he meant not a single aardvark was harmed, not one
platypus or walrus displaced.  Or if the slain and displaced Kenyans were
all corrupt bureaucrats, then they are not human, so they don't count, or
they had it coming.  Or if a person saved or benefitted counts as a negative
person harmed, then one's score could be positive overall, analogous to a
job saved or created is a negative job lost.


If I have any complaint about the article, it tries to reduce the work of
Wikileaks down to a single number, positive or negative, when the question
is far more complicated and nuanced.  Increased transparency both benefits
and harms both good and bad people.  Julian's comment that no one has ever
come to physical harm from Wikileaks is absurd.  But I will buy the notion
that plenty have benefitted.  I even buy the notion that the overall impact
has been beneficial.  So if some transparency is an overall positive, then
more of it is still better, ja?


There is no clear end to that line of reasoning, no point where still more
transparency becomes cumulatively harmful.  Or does it work like a
transparency Laffer curve, where there is somewhere an ideal level of
transparency?  If so, we could have info-liberals who favor more
transparency than we have now, and info-conservatives, who favor less, and
info-libertarians who think all information wants to be free, and info
totalitarians who think Wikileaks and the whole internet thing should be
regulated or shut down, and info-hypocrites who want the other guy exposed
while keeping her own secrets, and info-(?) who hide among a jungle of false
information or intentionally create doubts about the veracity of their own
history.  What would that be called?






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