"Wiki-steal this book," advises the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's "generally right-wing guy" Patrick McIlheran, in twin reference to WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange's forthcoming memoir and Yippie radical Abbie Hoffman's 1971 tome, Steal This Book. In the latter case, it was the book's own author that endorsed its theft. Here it's McIlheran, a third-party actor who was positively delighted when the private e-mails of climate scientists were stolen and leaked last year.
Mr. McIlheran is upset by Assange's "anti-American irresponsibility."
Yet apparently for McIlheran, the wholesale theft of intellectual property — the ownership of which is under other circumstances considered a sacred, inviolable right by American conservatives — is representative of pro-American responsibility, and here is its advocacy appearing on the pages of a major daily newspaper.*
Julian Assange has yet to be charged with any WikiLeaks-related crime, although several of Patrick McIlheran's political idols have alleged the commission of treason against the U.S. but without explaining how an Australian citizen might be held to such account.
McIlheran's other problem is that there is no copyright protection available for government documents whereas the unauthorized reproduction of Julian Assange's memoir would clearly be unlawful.
Which is what McIlheran is urging. Not that anybody has ever accused McIlheran — an award-winning journalist — of drawing logically valid analogies but this one is remarkably inapt and inept, even for him.
* Whose own legal disclaimers warn against unauthorized use.