“Is it always better to know the truth, even when it hurts? Or is ignorance bliss? Or are they both true some of the time? Bonus twist: how does your opinion on truth jive with your opinion of wikileaks?”
First a note about the title of this post, which some of my readers may recognize: It comes from an old Sesame Street skit, where a cartoon guy is wailing, “Tell me the truuuuth, Ruuuuuuth, I want the truuuuuth, Ruuuuuth, nothing but the truuuuth, Ruuuuth….” Whereupon the girl he’s singing to gives it to him: “My name is Pearl.”
Well, buddy, you asked for it.
Now for my take: Yes, I think it’s always better to know the truth. Always. I notice that Wikileaks was given as an example (more like a prompt to vent, one way or another), and I know that the USA was embarrassed in the eyes of its various allies and quasi-enemies (I’m thinking Russia, since no one in government seems willing to give up on the Cold War): Imagine if we had all been honest with one another from the very beginning, instead of all this diplomatic bowing and scraping and smiling, and slicing and dicing one another behind our backs. Yes, this extends to your telling me that this blog is the most boring piece of tripe you’ve ever read, and why on earth am I wasting my time with it?!’
It does not extend to Wikileaks, or anything that genuinely threatens or breaches national security. There’s a vast difference between the bald truth, and putting stuff out there that can be used by people whose intent is nothing but harm. It’s one thing to say — what was it? — “Vladimir Putin is…” Well, I can’t remember the assessment of some State Department flunky whose career is almost certainly about to be spent — all of it — as the third consul in charge of obtaining personal products for tourists in Tirane, Albania. That was brain-dead. It’s another thing to say, “Islam has always been part of America,” when you can’t even find a historical reference for a wild claim like that. If I say, “France was the actual prime cause of the Second World War,” it’s certainly a wild claim, but I can make a case for it. (Hint: Think Napoleon. Is it “Ratisbon” or “Regensburg”? “Cologne” or “Koeln”?)
But when the US was the sole possessor of the hydrogen bomb, and that gave us an advantage over an enemy (whether perceived or actual) — i.e., something we could use to keep that enemy at bay — well, supposing today’s technology had been around sixty years ago, and the plans for the H-bomb had been posted for every little rinky-dink Tenth-World demi-nation to scarf up and use to terrorize its neighbors. Posting things like that isn’t truth, it’s irresponsibility. It’s a “clear and present danger.” And if Julian Assange can’t be prosecuted for treason, since he isn’t an American citizen — there should be a way to prosecute him as being a menace and a danger to the population of the world.
And that’s the truth.