Meet the "Western dissidents"
Julian Assange for all intents and purposes is/was a political prisoner. We aren't supposed to have those in the West. We are supposed to value free speech. We are supposed to tolerate those who stray from the mainstream. We are SUPPOSED to be free. But we have witnessed a disturbing trend of late in this country and in Europe, the outright oppression and silencing (one way or another) of those who merely highlight injustice and incompetence.
They did that in the Soviet Union. It's not supposed to happen in France, or the UK, or here. But now it does. And that is a shameful development.
We also see attacks on free speech, with governments and politicians across the west pressuring Silicon Valley to suppress its critics. An unaccountable, unelected elite can sweep away a person’s livelihood in minutes, and cut their political message off from millions of American citizens. As I wrote in my column two weeks ago, the overarching trend is the gradual destruction or delegitimization of every tool, digital or otherwise, that non-elites use to express their preferences. Does that sound like a free society, or a controlled one?
You don’t have to agree with any of the individuals or groups listed above to see that surveilling political parties, blocking journalists from entering countries, jailing critics of religion, upholding blasphemy laws and censoring the net is the behavior of authoritarian nations, not liberal democracies. Yet this is the disturbing pattern we now see in the west.