I tried to have a discussion with a few friends of mine about the Wikileaks scandal and Assange’s arrest. My argument was against censorship and the slow errosion of our freedoms for the past 9 years. A Republican friend’s argument was that she would rather have to jump through hoops at every turn if it prevented a terrorist attack. I countered with the Benjamin Franklin quote, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety,” and said that I would almost rather there be another terrorist attack then slowly lose my rights one by one. That’s where she invoked the third rail of debate: 9/11.
The conversation immediately descended into the depths of hell, with several other Republicans coming to her aid. A few of my more liberal friends came to mine, and it turned out that NO ONE was really discussion the issue at hand: Is what Assange did really illegal? If documents written by the government of and by the people are taken by one of those people, is it really stealing? How do documents become “CLASSIFIED”? Who decides on the Constitutionality of that classification?
The important thing is this: If every time we attempt to have an adult conversation someone decides to end the discussion by screaming, “REMEMBER 9/11,” nothing will ever be discussed, let alone agreed upon. The constant steering of political discussions to the irrelevant (especially since the wars fought and most of the security decisions made since have NOTHING to do with the terrorist attacks) makes us all sound like children and does not further discourse in any way. A nation divided we definitely are, and I fear, a nation divided we shall remain.