ANOTHER LEFTY PROTEST MOVEMENT BECOMES ALL ABOUT THE ACT OF PROTESTING
I'm not sure whether I've said it here, but my disappointment with Occupy Wall Street stems from the fact that it very quickly became a movement that wasn't about Wall Street so much as it was about Occupy Wall Street. What I mean is that the message of outrage at our economic order eventually got lot because the people of Occupy became obsessed with their right to occupy. The message "We're not leaving this encampment" became more important to Occupy than anything the occupiers were saying about the plutocracy.
Something similar is happening again with Edward Snowden -- with the help of Glenn Greenwald, Wikileaks, and the governments of China, Russia, and who knows what other countries, he's made this all about him. Specifically, as with Occupy, it's all about his apparent belief that he's entitled to evade the laws he's flouting. To me, the whole point of civil disobedience is to take whatever punishment the authorities you're defying choose to dole out, as a way of focusing public attention what those authorities do.
And yes, we know from Bradley Manning that Snowden would be badly mistreated in prison even before he saw a courtroom. I can't blame Snowden for not wanting to face that. But by now Manning looks like a much more principled leaker.
In a way, this is happening on the right as well -- tea party groups whining about the difficulties they had getting special tax treatment from the IRS seem to feel they're entitled to a government declaration of apolitical status while engaging in politics.
It's kind of the White People Problems version of civil disobedience -- The Man shouldn't get to retaliate after I spit in his eye. Yes, The Man's retaliation would probably be disproportionate, but having the world see that is the point, isn't it?