Julian Assange: Man of the Year

Its readers spoke, but Time magazine didn’t listen.

Julian Assange topped Time’s Readers’ Choice poll (Mark Zuckerberg grabbed the #10 spot), but the editors chose the guy with half a billion friends instead of enemies.

Some powerful people are seriously pissed off with Julian Assange, the 39-year old Aussie Internet activist, editor-in-chief and spokesperson of WikiLeaks.

A data repository for journalists and whistleblowers, WikiLeaks’ motto is to “help you safely get the truth out.”

He's no angel: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange heads back to jail the night of Dec. 15th (source: telegraph.co.uk; AP photo)

If Julian Assange is indeed guilty of rape, he should be punished. It’s hard not to wonder, however, about the dubious timing of the sexual assault charges against him, including the British High Court’s initial refusal to let him post bail (they did an about-face this week)—even though it’s standard procedure to do so in the UK following a rape allegation, and especially since the main accusation against him regarding the rape case is for refusing to wear a condom. How often does that happen at any given time (and in any given frat house) on the planet? Writer Max Fisher of The Atlantic nicely captured the conflicting issues and hypocrisy that surround the rape charges.

It’s interesting how right-wing haters of the “lamestream media” and supposed Constitutional purists are against the freedoms of expression and speech that WikiLeaks represents. In a sea of Republican redness, Ron Paul stands out as his party’s one dissenting voice.

Is Assange a dangerous conspirator? Or is he just doing his job as a journalist? Could it also be possible that Assange is a rapist AND a groundbreaking leader of free speech? The debate—and legal proceedings—rage on.

Thanks to the Internet, our world is headed toward more transparency, not less.  And once things start opening up, there’s no turning back. Right now Assange is leading the way. Maybe you’re sick of hearing about Julian Assange, but I’m waiting to see what he blows the lid off of next.