This is the next stage of the Julian Assange chronicles: from the summit of information disclosures and meddlesome revelations on classified state matters, the Australian rabblerouser now finds himself the subject of a new round of jokes and ribbing. WikiLeaks, in short, must be wary of the dangers posed by a new campaign of farce.
Satire, humour and ad hominem attacks can have the effect of wounding and deflating. When directed against dissidents from the vantage point of tradition, the effect can be calculating and delegitimising. For Chelsea Manning, a querulous attitude to the US military, a confused matter of gender and lingering resentment were furnished as weapons against her role as a genuine whistleblower. Whistleblowers, or so goes this line of reasoning, cannot suffer “delusions of grandeur”. They must be calm, focused, and scrupulously clean.
Assange, as with others associated with the vocation of exposing the asymmetrical nature of power and its impacts, has found himself repeatedly depicted in fashions that supposedly undermine the rationale for transparency politics. He is an enemy of conventional forms of stratified power, and must duly account for dirtying that sty in advancing an approach that insists upon transnational networks “which function,” writes Raffi Khatchadourian, “outside norms of state sovereignty that have held for centuries.”
Joan Smith, chair of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls…