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Don't Make Waves in the Duckpond!

The art of disarming critical rhetoric so as to not ruffle too many feathers.

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DUCKPOND (Rixstep) — Australian Green party senator Scott Ludlam, currently globetrotting for Julian Assange, stopped by in Stockholm for a brief visit. Somewhere along the way he gave the Stockholm tabloid Aftonbladet permission to translate some of his blogging into Swedish.

Scott's writing is powerful, compelling, and way too much to the point. So Aftonbladet set about to take the fangs out of it and to portray Julian Assange and WikiLeaks in the least advantageous light possible.

The Original

Most of what Aftonbladet worked on comes from the following article published in Scott's official parliamentary blog. The article in question is found at the link below. It'd be a good idea to read Scott's own writing before proceeding.


The 'Translation'

The Aftonbladet 'translation' was easy to deal with. A translator was chosen who had not yet read Scott's original. And no alterations were permitted afterwards, once the translator had seen it.

The translation back into English was famously straightforward as the translation into Swedish followed Scott's own 'thinking' and as it was rather obvious where the various linguistic constructs came from.

But what was not obvious - until afterwards - was the extent to which the Swedes at Aftonbladet took pains to remove anything too laudatory of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, as well as anything too specific and/or damning about Sweden, the Swedish government, the Swedish judicial system, and most significantly the Swedish prime minister.

Do have a good read. [And yes they got the date wrong at Aftonbladet.]

Do We Dare Trust Your Judicial System, Sweden?
Aftonbladet 17 December 2011

Australian politician: Julian Assange risks rendition to a vengeful US.

Yesterday the decision came down that the British Supreme Court will hear the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's extradition to Sweden.

Last week the High Court gave the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange permission to appeal an extradition order to Sweden in the Supreme Court. Today, 19 December, [sic] the court is expected to decide if he's to spend the holidays with an ankle tag in the English countryside or in detention in Sweden.

It's a long way to travel to Stockholm for the sake of a single Australian citizen. But I think it's worth it to get all the facts amongst all the rumours in this complex case and to get an increased understanding of the case of Julian Assange.

But I'm not here to interfere with the Swedish judicial process. I trust that if a possible trial take place that it will be fair. If there are accusations then these shall of course be tried in a judicially secure way by the Swedish judicial system.

I have traveled to Sweden because I do not trust the rule of law in the US with the current political climate, and I harbour a strong fear for the safety of Julian Assange if he is rendered there. Republican politicians in the US have already decided beforehand that he is a terrorist. We need only look at how Bradley Manning is being treated to understand what Julian Assange is risking.

But there is a gray zone. How will the Swedish government react if the US petitions for a 'temporary surrender' of Julian Assange when he is in safekeeping in Sweden? This cannot happen without the cooperation of the Swedish government. The question I and many other concerned Australians with me are asking is if this on the table.

More than a year has passed since WikiLeaks leaked correspondence from the US department of state to the world's great daily newspapers, and since the terrible information about the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs was published. We've had a lot of time to consider the consequences. Confidence is in the balance. There is a type of consensus in open democratic societies that there is a need for discretion in international diplomacy. But this does not mean that democratically elected governments may lie and mislead their citizens when it's a question of life and death.

Through WikiLeaks I have - as so many Swedish and US citizens - discovered uncomfortable things about my own country. It was in the public interest to release this information. Sporadic actions of spontaneous openness hold up a mirror of truth.

In the decision from the High Court in London in November Julian Assange is rightfully called a journalist. A few weeks later Assange was awarded Australia's most prestigious prize in journalism for his distinguished accomplishments. Without people who are willing to take risks to confront the powers that be, the democratic safety mechanisms we take for granted will be undermined.

The government of Australia don't seem to really comprehend that WikiLeaks can be crushed by a wounded superpower and that Julian Assange risks being rendered to the US. But Australia is not part of the rendition agreement between the EU and the US. That's where we put our trust in the Swedish judicial system.

Scott Ludlam

Homework Assignment!

It's now your job, dear reader, to see where the NutraSweet Swedish version went wrong and where the Swedes forced in unsolicited connections with Swedish cultural events not portraying Julian Assange or WikiLeaks in the best possible of lights, and to in general assess what that much talked about Swedish duckpond news filter is really about.

Of course it's possible Scott did a hasty summation of his earlier work for Aftonbladet, but the fact remains that the original article paints one picture and Aftonbladet's paints another that studiously avoids making waves in the Duckpond.

Good luck!

Du gamla, du fria, du fjällhöga nord, du tysta, du glädjerika sköna
Du tronar på minnen från fornstora dar då ärat ditt namn flög över jorden
Jag hälsar dig vänaste land uppå jord, din sol, din himmel, dina ängder gröna
 - Swedish de facto 'national anthem'

See Also
Scott Ludlam: An Australian Abroad
Aftonbladet: Vågar vi lita på ert rättssystem, Sverige?

Red Hat Diaries: The Daily Quack
Red Hat Diaries: The Daily Quack - SVT's 'Agenda'
Red Hat Diaries: The Daily Quack III

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