After a debate with a colleague about WikiLeaks, I was told "Assange stole our Graham".
Assange didn't steal me, nor did he steal a host of others who stand firm on their belief systems of truth, justice, and holding governments to account. I happen to have a moral compass that aligns with those people, who would also seem to share my beliefs: that the state can be wrong, that the state can commit crimes, that the state can lie and get away with it and that laws do not necessarily serve to protect their people but incriminate them, and that such laws should be changed.
Assange is a beacon in the world of media and journalism. A world in which special interests take precedence, in which the word 'journalism' has been reduced in definition to 'government mouth piece' and has lost all sense of objectivity and truthfulness.
This man managed to piss people off by never interjecting his opinion in any of his published material. When did journalism become something where you have to please everyone? When did journalism and media become this thing where someone's work is only good if it correctly communicates your personal viewpoint?
Why is there no respect for a man who is only following his convictions, and holding the unaccountable accountable while doing it? A man who does not publish op-eds and grace prime time news channels for interviews, galavanting his opinion across nations? How is it that such a man is not revered, but reviled?
For all that is wrong with journalism in the 21st century. For the amount of mass disinformation out there influencing people's decisions. For the complicity in journalists to fuel that disinformation. For all the injustices that happen around the world and are not addressed, while criminals of all sorts walk free. For fighting these things, and standing up for the principles of journalism, for exposing government crimes and creating an unrivaled publishing platform on which to do it, Julian Assange is an inspiration.
In a place where people cave instead of standing up for what they believe, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have singlehandedly changed the media landscape and pushed for new levels of accountability not just from governments, but from journalists. This is worthy of our respect and our thanks, and somebody whose actions gives me hope.