After returning from a joyous and restful winter break, the Society gathered for the first time this semester to discuss “Resolved: Wikileaks should be shut down.”
The distinguished Mr. Butterworth (SFS ’11) began the debate by affirming the resolution in defense of diplomacy. Confidential, honest, and controlled communication, he contended, is critical the pursuit of U.S. interests abroad. He urged the society to be cautious of the Pandora’s box of information that Wikileaks represents. On the negation, Mr. Manchester (MSB ’12) praised the organization for empowering the people. He argued that just as whistleblowers are protected by federal laws so too is the right to free speech and freedom of the press—even if it may make some uncomfortable. On the floor, Ms. Green (COL ’12) seconded Mr. Manchester’s remarks and argued further that citizens in a democratic republic are entitled to information. Mr. Dulik (SFS ’13), however, pointed out that it that the information revealed in many of the leaks endangered U.S. soldiers and reminded the Society to judge the resolution according to whether it preserved the public good. Mr. Stroymeyer (SFS ’14) questioned the resolution not on the grounds of free speech but for the precedent it would set. As the debate developed, Mr. Walker (SFS ’11) observed a contradiction in the negation’s position: that the information revealed by Wikileaks was both readily available—and therefore not deserving of government censorship—and withheld from the public—and therefore deserving of our outrage. Mr. Manchester concluded by focusing on the empowerment of the public to be their own reporters—to draw conclusions from raw information. Mr. Butterworth, on the other hand, reminded that diplomacy is critical to meeting U.S. objectives and urged the Society to put its trust in the government rather than a self-interested organization. In the end, the Society voted 50-30-3 to negate the resolution.
Please join us next week at 8pm in the Philodemic Room!