As a business, or an individual, I can refuse to do business with anyone I want for any reason I want as long as they are not a member of a protected class that I am discriminating against.
If I ran a movie theater and chose to not show Michael Moore's propoganda films, that's my right. If I run a radio station and don't want to air Limbaugh, that's my business, too.
Of course it’s your right. But the fact that you have a right to do something doesn’t mean that it is ethical to do it.
I'll admit, I'm not particularly concerned what happens to Mr. Assange. As an egomaniac, he's getting the fame he's wanted.
I share this view. However we must avoid thinking that we are only obliged to behave ethically towards people that we like/agree with/care about.
Consider this: A proportion of the people who are charged and convicted for accessing child pornography over the internet are identified because they have given their credit card details to a commercial supplier of child pornography.
Foolish behaviour, you might think. But it means that banks are apparently willing to register pornographers – child
pornographers – as merchants for credit card transactions, to provide services to them, and to accept payment of commissions from them.
What kind of a world is it in which the likes of Bank of America will provide services to child pornographers, but not to Wikileaks?
Of course, for the most part the bank doesn’t know that its customer is a child pornographer. The bank doesn’t ask, and the pornographer is very unlikely to tell. And the bank not asking is not due to any desire to facilitate, or turn a blind eye, to child pornography; it’s simply that the bank doesn’t need to know the precise nature of the goods and services that a merchant is selling in order to provide payment services to him. And, since they don’t need to know it, they don’t ask. They are not policemen; they are not concerned to know whether your business is illegal or immoral or socially undesirable, any more than a taxi driver wants to be told why you are going to your destination before he agrees to take you there.
What underpins the freedom of a civil society – and especially a society founded on free enterprise and free markets – is the freedom of the individual to go about his affairs without unnecessary government intervention. In particular, the free market won’t work unless things like banking and payment services, communications services, etc, are readily available to all who want them.
Obviously this isn’t an absolute right. We have, for example, money-laundering laws under which transactions can be scrutinised and prevented. But there are criteria for that, and a a legal framework for that, and a process for that, and an opportunity for those aggrieved to challenge the denial of service to them.
No such process has been invoked here; there have been no proceedings against Wikileaks in the US. And yet not only Bank of America but a variety of financial services companies, internet providers, etc, are declining to do business with them. And I think there is little doubt that what underlies is the is the desire of the US government to put a stop to the activities of Wikileaks, and the gentle or not so gentle suggestion of the US government to Bank of America and others that, really, they don’t want to be doing business with that kind of customer. .
I think it sets a dangerous precedent if people start being denied access to financial services, access to markets, access to sources of information, and ultimately access to participation in civil society simply because they are out of favour with a powerful government. We should demand that governments above all should use the laws and legal processes which they themselves have set up. If the US government moves against Wikileaks, it should be accountable for that in the US courts. Bank of America should not be in the business of knowing or guessing what the US government would like them to do, and then doing it.