Pushing Conspiracy

by Emily Jasper on August 26, 2010

As a journalist and blogger, I know that part of my own role is to question. It could be policies or habits, other opinions and my own. In fact, I’ve had to stop myself from having every title be in the form of a question because that’s how I think.

All the drama with WikiLeaks got me thinking: at what point are you questioning just for the sake of questioning?

Maybe I’m naive. Maybe there are forces plotting against ignorant people like me and can’t wait to exploit my trusting nature. Maybe I should start thinking of the government as Big Brother and my friends all as spies.

Sorry, I’d like to still think people have good intentions.

On the other hand, there are others who don’t. That is very clear. I’m not saying there isn’t evil out there. I’m saying that people are questioning every tiny little detail without much thought to the consequence.

Think about the stereotypical journalist who’s out to get a story and an above-the-fold byline. They are often portrayed in movies or tv shows as being as evil as the bad guy, using all kinds of questionable means to obtain information. You might even get that oily feeling of being played the same way a used car salesman might make you feel.

You may feel that way because you know that the pursuit of the story isn’t for The Truth as often claimed, but it’s for the selfish pursuit of a front-page story.

That’s kind of how I feel WikiLeaks approaches their exposure of information. In the name of The Truth, people’s lives may be put at risk. People’s financial foundations and even jobs. The integrity of the press. Is there really a scandal, or is it just about shaking things up?

Honestly, when I heard about the militiary confidential records being released, and that people thought we had a right to know, I got worried. There is already a ton of information about those activities in the press, especially as there are more and more critiques of decisions. There’s a subtle line that seems to be followed: we don’t agree with the war, but we support our troops.

Taking a black marker to the names of troops or informants in the way of minimizing risk on thousands of documents isn’t enough. Maybe I’m diminishing efforts on WikiLeaks’ part, but I don’t get the impression it’s their goal in life to be more than minimally helpful. In my personal opinion, releasing those reports wasn’t just a declaration against the war, but it’s putting lives in danger…just to make a point. And as much as I do hold the “leaker” responsible, there’s also news that WikiLeaks may pressure people into releasing information. I may be jumping to conclusions, but if you make people paranoid enough about conspiracies, they’ll find them everywhere.

So what do you think? Do we deserve to know everything? Do we have a right to make our own observations about what could be considered criminal or misleading the public? Should we apply this not just to our government, but every organization from Google to the Red Cross? Is there no Good left anymore or are we just finding ways to dirty everyone’s hands?

Photo credit.