Daily Archives: December 7, 2010

No Bail

Julian Assange willingly turned himself in to authorities in London this morning only to be denied bail. Note that no charges have been filed against him; he is merely wanted for questioning in the matter of “sexual assault”– i.e., engaging in consensual sex without a condom. Meanwhile VISA has suspended wikileaks’ payments. The number of companies engaging in this form of suppression of free speech is growing, a development Assange has described as “the privatisation of censorship.” This issue is very significant, I think, in particular because it emphasizes that public discourse is increasingly governed by the imperatives of private property. For example, a mall is a privately-owned public space. As such, it is at the discretion of the owners of that mall as to whether it  would allow, for instance, a political demonstration. In such a situation the privileges of ownership ultimately trump the right to free speech. The same can be said for social networking sites such as Facebook, which are experienced by their users as a limited public forum but which are in fact the property of a corporation. What we are seeing here, it seems to me, is a complement to the much-vaunted “public-private partnerships” which have featured as a key component of neoliberal economic policy. In this case private corporations and the State are working in tandem to police the boundaries of political speech even as the neoliberal State privatizes prisons and outsources the use of force (mercenaries, private security agents, etc.).

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