You’ve been framed! Charlie Hebdo and WikiLeaks – The Geoculture of Free Speech

Peter Wilkin


This article examines the issue of free speech as a part of what world-systems scholars call the geoculture of the modern world-system. It does so by comparing and contrasting responses from governing political and media institutions in the UK and the US to Julian Assange’s Wikileaks revelations and the Charlie Hebdo murders. The purpose of this comparison is to show that the commitment to free speech on the part of these media and governing institutions is instrumental rather than principled since powerful vested interests are involved. The West’s claim to be the defender of liberal values is contingent upon geo-political and economic circumstance. In short, power and interest tend to transcend liberal, universal principles in practice for reasons that the two cases demonstrate. The framing device of worthy versus unworthy victims (as set out by Herman and Chomsky in their book Manufacturing Consent) helps to explain responses to the Hebdo killings and the treatment of Julian Assange/Wikileaks by UK and US governing institutions.

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