Wikileaks

Have you seen the website Wikileaks? People from all over the world can post documents that governments, businesses, and the like do not want public. A bunch of embarrassing documents about the Scientology religion have been posted. Scientology, Inc., has sued, as is their wont, but the court upheld what the site is doing.

The site is a “wiki,” which means its readers put it together. Anyone can post any document on the site, without identification and fear of reprisal. It exists in many different languages, and its biggest use seems to be from people in small countries living under corrupt and oppressive regimes posting documents that expose the evils they live under.

Wikileaks is a remarkable example of the freedom of information that the internet makes possible. Is this a good thing, or is its damage to private and confidential communication that institutions arguably need sometimes too harmful?

HT: Nathan Martin

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Every good thing–particularly the good thing of bringing bad things to light–risks doing bad as well.
    But that doesn’t make bad by association the good things that are done.
    Let the bad be bad, but let the good be good.
    Let the sun shine, as we used to sing.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Every good thing–particularly the good thing of bringing bad things to light–risks doing bad as well.
    But that doesn’t make bad by association the good things that are done.
    Let the bad be bad, but let the good be good.
    Let the sun shine, as we used to sing.

  • Ryan

    What prevents someone from posting a damaging, maybe even revolution inspiring, but false document?

  • Ryan

    What prevents someone from posting a damaging, maybe even revolution inspiring, but false document?

  • Ryan

    Oh an just thought of another thing, what happened to “loose lips sink ships”. Could our men and women in uniformed be harmed by the wrong info being released? I understand and support, partly, what they are doing, but there are dangers to be recognized here, the site assumes a certain virtue of motive on the part of posters that I’m not necessarily ready to concede to the human race.

  • Ryan

    Oh an just thought of another thing, what happened to “loose lips sink ships”. Could our men and women in uniformed be harmed by the wrong info being released? I understand and support, partly, what they are doing, but there are dangers to be recognized here, the site assumes a certain virtue of motive on the part of posters that I’m not necessarily ready to concede to the human race.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Ryan: so do freedom and democracy presume a ‘certain virtue’. Good luck with that.
    Who’s to stop it? What’s to stop it? Only force–a strong boot–can stop such a thing. Whose boot? The boot that wishes to protect good things, or the boot protects itself? The boot that exposes, or the boot that despises exposure?
    So, let the bad be bad and the good be good.
    And let the parties who post and the readers who read beware.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Ryan: so do freedom and democracy presume a ‘certain virtue’. Good luck with that.
    Who’s to stop it? What’s to stop it? Only force–a strong boot–can stop such a thing. Whose boot? The boot that wishes to protect good things, or the boot protects itself? The boot that exposes, or the boot that despises exposure?
    So, let the bad be bad and the good be good.
    And let the parties who post and the readers who read beware.

  • Don S

    I share Ryan’s concerns about the potential damage which could be caused to good people and institutions by evildoers, since there does not appear to be any accountability mechanism. However, as Susan says, there is indeed no legitimate way to stop it, and good may come of it as well. As with anything else, especially on the Internet, take all with a healthy dose of skepticism.

  • Don S

    I share Ryan’s concerns about the potential damage which could be caused to good people and institutions by evildoers, since there does not appear to be any accountability mechanism. However, as Susan says, there is indeed no legitimate way to stop it, and good may come of it as well. As with anything else, especially on the Internet, take all with a healthy dose of skepticism.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Take the internet with a grain of salt?
    Take all media with a shaker of salt. Preferably kosher.
    If we don’t learn to discern, then what have we learned?

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Take the internet with a grain of salt?
    Take all media with a shaker of salt. Preferably kosher.
    If we don’t learn to discern, then what have we learned?

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Veith, in short reply to your questions: “Is this a good thing?” Yes. “Is its damage to private and confidential communication that institutions arguably need sometimes too harmful?” Yes.

    But this has nothing to do with Wikileaks, in particular. Or, really, the Internet. As to the former, anyone who so desires can spread information — false or not — on the internet. Commenters here can (and do) spread false information without any particular recourse.

    As to the Internet, is it the first way that humans have spread information? Can’t you also print up a treatise on whatever you want and distribute it to whomever? Or can’t you say whatever you’re thinking to whomever you meet?

    The Internet didn’t change the fact of communication, nor the fact that people can spread all sorts of secrets or lies. It only changed how easy it was to do so, and to what audience size.

    So everything is as it was. Take everything you hear with a grain of salt. Find sources you trust, and trust what they say more than sources you don’t. As to accountability mechanisms, there are still laws — if I put sensitive military documents on to Wikileaks and it can be traced back to me, I’ll probably be in big trouble.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Veith, in short reply to your questions: “Is this a good thing?” Yes. “Is its damage to private and confidential communication that institutions arguably need sometimes too harmful?” Yes.

    But this has nothing to do with Wikileaks, in particular. Or, really, the Internet. As to the former, anyone who so desires can spread information — false or not — on the internet. Commenters here can (and do) spread false information without any particular recourse.

    As to the Internet, is it the first way that humans have spread information? Can’t you also print up a treatise on whatever you want and distribute it to whomever? Or can’t you say whatever you’re thinking to whomever you meet?

    The Internet didn’t change the fact of communication, nor the fact that people can spread all sorts of secrets or lies. It only changed how easy it was to do so, and to what audience size.

    So everything is as it was. Take everything you hear with a grain of salt. Find sources you trust, and trust what they say more than sources you don’t. As to accountability mechanisms, there are still laws — if I put sensitive military documents on to Wikileaks and it can be traced back to me, I’ll probably be in big trouble.

  • Ryan

    Organshoes,

    I certainly do not support a “strong boot” force and really do not disagree with you, but I have a healthy skepticism when it comes to human nature.

    To your other point: Does democracy and freedom presume a certain level of morality, I believe it does.

    “We have no government armed in power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”

    John Adams, Oct. 11, 1798; Address to the military

  • Ryan

    Organshoes,

    I certainly do not support a “strong boot” force and really do not disagree with you, but I have a healthy skepticism when it comes to human nature.

    To your other point: Does democracy and freedom presume a certain level of morality, I believe it does.

    “We have no government armed in power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”

    John Adams, Oct. 11, 1798; Address to the military

  • susan aka organshoes

    Then we agree, Ryan.
    But that presumption alone doesn’t keep us moral.It takes some law–boots, if you will. But not oppressive ones.

  • susan aka organshoes

    Then we agree, Ryan.
    But that presumption alone doesn’t keep us moral.It takes some law–boots, if you will. But not oppressive ones.


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