Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Matter of Intent

In honor of the marvel that is all this Wikileaks stuff, I took it upon my own brow to embed myself into the world of journalistic integrity. The result of this great hope was the viewing of Sydney Pollack's Absence of Malice.

Pretty much all that is needed to know about the flick is the title, and the knowledge that the lead protagonist is a journalist to whom a possible break in a murder investigation is given. The lovely Sally Fields plays said journalist, and takes to press these tidbits of leaked information. She does so with an... Absence of Malice.

In fact, it appeared to me that every character in Absence of Malice held within their bosom only an Absence of Malice.

Does Julian Assange, the current Dr. Evil of the world, have an Absence of Malice? Does he believe the ideals of the things he is doing?

I read that TIME Magazine is likely to choose Mr. Assange as their 'Person of the Year'. Generally speaking, the TIME's 'Person of the Year' is an honor bestowed upon the greatest movers and shakers in the world for the cause of progress. Yet I do respect TIME because what their award is about is not merely progress with an Absence of Malice. No, it is only for the person who pushes us all hardest. In 1938 that person was Adolf Hitler, followed by Stalin in both '39 and '42. I think Assange is a worthy pusher for this year's notorious award.

In the film (it's entitled Absence of Malice, in case you've forgotten), Sally Fields' newspaper release can be directly linked to the suicide of a woman with a now tarnished reputation. Sally had all the Absence of Malice in the world, and yet, her words caused damage; such damage that is cannot be redressed. As it turns out, pretty little Sally's motive, her state of mind had very little in common with the destruction she caused.

Despite the operatic scenario that exists between Assange's impulses and our desire to know his true motivation, it does not have weight. The only question of merit is whether Assange has done good or has he done evil.... but therein lies the problem. I can't seem to come to a conclusion on the matter. In theory, I tend to understand the perspective that governments must keep things private, and in this particular case, that the released info greatly damages our ability to be effectively diplomatic with our foreign envoys (full disclosure: I'm not exactly sure what envoy particularly means, but it sounds good, so I'm using it. I promise that my utilizing of that word, though perhaps incorrect, was done fully with Absence of Malice). However, some of the intel that has been released shows America potentially behaving badly. We have killed civilians. That's bad. I don't care if you kill them with an Absence of Malice or not, it's still bad. And our government should own up to its collateral damage --- what an awful phrase!

Where the truth lies about this Wikileaks stuff is somewhere between a rock, a hard place, and a haystack. Perhaps that's why it makes the hunt for Assange's intent seem important. If he meant evil, then it makes it so much easier to throw away the whole issue as a Bond Villain crusade against the hardworking American ideal. But if Assange means well...

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