Describing the subjective reactions which accompany the miscalculations of a driver who finds that the automobile he is driving is going to do a rollover seemed to be material which would provide an excellent metaphor to be applied to the sensations that were experienced by advocates of a free press while they were witnessing this week’s vehement reactions by the Republicans to the latest WikiLeaks document dump.
In their January 1969 issue, Esquire magazine (the writer of one of their articles would be a more precise way of putting it) declared that race car driver Masten Gregory was the last of the great crashers. He would exit a Ferrari that was traveling at a hundred miles an hour toward a wreck situation with the same savoir fair and sang froid as if he were agent 007. He has successfully done that maneuver more than once in his life. It is good to have that bit of trivia available if you happen to find yourself in a vintage Volkswagen (remember the kick peg to access the last gallon of gas in the fuel tank?) that is tilting precariously to one side. A decision about departing from a vehicle as a crash becomes imminent is a quick-draw gun fighter reaction and not an occasion for a prolonged and detailed debate weighing the pros and cons of a binary choice: “Should I stay or should I take the option to get the hell outta here?” It’s a “think fast” type situation that is focused on and decided in one short moment in time.
We all know that Republicans are fanatical in their devotion to the Constitution, but when it gets to the Amendments, then they begin to go all wobbly and the issues start to get a little bit fuzzy. Thus while they give titular approval to the concept of a free press, they do consistently balk when it comes to most debates over the application of the principles established by the First Amendment. This week, it seems, some Republicans were on the verge of suggesting a return to vigilante justice and an endorsement of the idea that Julian Assange should be stoned to death in front of the New York Times home office. (Does stoning a sinner in public equate to “Second Amendment” remedies?)
Obviously teabaggers would be eager to debate the topic “Is Julian Assange the new victim of “The Ox-Bow Incident” mentality?” and slip in clever bits of equivocating and blur the terms of the debate because they are clever fellows who fully appreciate the art of fine oration. They seem oblivious to the point of view that the effort to quash Assange comes perilously close to replicating the level of tolerance for dissention held by Germany’s National Socialist Workers Party in Germany during the Thirties
Republicans with highly developed debating skills would be quick to point out that an occasional application of denial of the public’s access to biased propaganda is not the same as news censorship and therefore an acceptable remedy for the crisis that the WikiLeaks has precipitated in the realm of information management.
The Republicans ignore requests to show what specific information has endangered American lives by being published and completely ignore questions about how Assange qualifies for the death penalty on that count while Dick Cheney got a full pass for the damage he caused by outing Valerie Plame.
Some villainous Democrats have taken the debate over Assange as an opportunity to smudge and fudge and make gullible rubes think that a stifling of the WikiLeaks affront to the diplomatic corps of the “greatest country on God’s green earth” is comparable to the efforts of Herr Goebbels to implement mind-control on a national level.
The Democrats exaggerate the threat so greatly that they would have folks believe that the choice regarding killing Assange ASAP or sparing his life, putting him on trial, and then executing him for treason, is important and an occasion comparable to giving a crowd of members of the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club the choice of granting a full pardon to either Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, or to a legendary brigand name Barabbas. They would have us believe that the Republicans are actually crying: “Death to the free press!”
Future historians will look back on the week after Thanksgiving 2010 as the “point of no return.” Will Fox News (have you noticed how some lefties sneeringly pronounce it as if it were spelled Fucks News?) convince America this week that Rupert Murdock should become JEB Bush’s Commissar of Information or will America turn on the Republicans and endorse unfettered access to accurate information?
When Paul von Hindenburg decided to grant the leader of a minority faction the chance to be named chancellor, it was (to coin a new meaning for an old geometry phrase) a fulcrum moment. He did not realize that the lives of millions depended on his response. The instant he replied the course of history changed and their fate was sealed.
Someone with much more computing expertise than this columnist, could probably assemble a montage of moments from Western movies when someone yells: “Come on, boys, let’s <a href =http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,738163,00.html> string him up</a>!” and juxtapose it with some Republican sound bytes from this past week and get the point across. (It seems doubtful that Jon Stewart is reading this, but if he is; he has my permission to use this suggestion for a video segment.)
The New York Times, which this columnist has vigorously criticized previously, took a historic and commendable stand with their coverage of the latest WikiLeaks document dump. At an event held this week in Berkeley, a member of the audience shouted out the idea that Julian Assange should get the next Nobel Peace Prize. Isn’t he a leading contender for the “Time Man of the Year” award (which is given for news value and not as an accolade)?
Americans are facing a fulcrum moment. Americans can repudiate the Republican reaction to Assange or they can raise their hand in “the German salute” and prove that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it
Omar Khayyam once said:
“The Moving Finger writes; and having writ
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.”
Now the disk jocky will play Dobie Gray’s “In with the In Crowd,” Jim Backus (and friend) doing “Delicious,” and Willie Nelson and Ray Charles singing “Seven Spanish Angeles.” We have to go and investigate the news tip that Assange is staying at Lee Harvey Oswald’s secret hideout somewhere in the USA. Have a “The High and the Mighty” type week.