We all love the hacker archetype, the one-man-against-the-machine theme. They make great characters. Chelsea Manning isn’t a character, this is not fiction. She is a human being in a cage, slowly rotting away.
Manning is kind of a hero, kind of a villain too. It depends. She is, whatever the case, an extremist. Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Aaron Schwartz… The list goes on. They blew a whistle or, in their own way, tried to initiate a profound shift in the status quo. It takes an extreme point of view to put your “quality of life”, even your life itself, at risk for a greater cause. They may have been naive, but ask yourself, how many world-changing, selfless acts of courage have you performed lately?
We need the extremists because on the other end of the spectrum there are extremists we voted into office or watched rise to positions of power: the people who regulate our data flows, who decide what is right and what is wrong, what is private or not, what goes down in the history books. They mean well, surely, but who knows…
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
WOLVES DON’T CRY NOR DO THEY WHISTLE
I am the ring binder that keeps the Patriot Act from falling apart.
I am the late Anonymous.
I am the drop of sweat coalescing like a countdown
from the hook nose of that rat-faced NSA employee
as he hacks the com grid, quiet as a traitor,
saving the world from a grizzled, well-cut suit
who means business, who means well.
You are the audience I hypnotize
with subliminal shots of erect cocks spliced into Disney flicks.
This is fiction, mere fiction, this is a game of tropes
played on wall-to-wall chess-boards of Google Map stills
under the benevolent gaze of Standard Operating Procedure:
asset tracking, data intercept, package localization.
I am Lisbeth Salander and everybody loves me.
This is fiction, mere fiction, this is how wolves play.
I am the golden retriever diving to safety
as the alien shockwave rips through the city.
Millions are dead but praise Jesus the family dog is safe.
I am Bradley Manning and my heart was never hermetic.
My heart has a problem: my heart leaks.
I am the control-alt-delete function
that scales down the DEFCON escalation,
I expose corruption and liberate data flows:
my name is Pirate.
I am Aaron Schwartz and I am not entirely happy.
You are the audience that smiles when I hang a terrorist.
You look the other way
when my sheep mask grows teeth.
I am Edward Snowden and I know you can see me.