About secrets and MI5 and Snowden

The metaphorical sequence of events:

  1. Person A does something pretty naughty to Person B, without Person B even knowing. You know, like pinning a note to his back that says “KICK ME”.
  2. Person C finds out about it and tells a whole lot of other people what Person A has done.
  3. As a result of Person C’s actions, Person B finds out and is now pretty angry. Person B wants Person A to face some kind of punishment.

In this scenario, who is the de facto, classic Bad Guy?

It’s Person A, right? I mean, Person C was just revealing the truth, hoping to stop it from happening again.

What about Person B? What if Person B was a complete arse? Maybe the school bully, and this was Person A’s way of giving him a taste of his own medicine? Well, actually, that’s called vigilantism and generally leads to more bad stuff and creating the Joker. No matter how bad Person B is, it’s still Person A’s responsibility to rise above it. Because once Person A starts acting aggressively, they’ll get a taste for it, and carry on doing it and, before you know it, they’re just as bad as Person B. Maybe a bit worse.

So everytime the MI5 chief or NSA staff or presidents or prime ministers or anybody else in and around the security and intelligence industries attempts to paint whistleblowers as criminals and Bad Guys, do remind them that whistleblowers wouldn’t need to exist if governments didn’t keep doing stupid, secret shit without telling their employers (you know, us).

Note 1: This doesn’t mean the likes of Snowden, Manning and Assange are cool heroes we should worship and cultify. People can be weird and annoying and obnoxious and do unpleasant things while also doing good, useful things. Cognitive dissonance, etc.

Note 2: Revealing sensitive information about how western governments are abusing their own citizens and those of other countries may indeed be dangerous and create new security threats. But the burden of responsibility and guilt still falls to Person A, not Person C. The actions are still those of Person A; Person C just put the truth where it belonged.

Also, this.


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