I finally watched You Don’t Know Jack, a relatively sympathetic Jack Kevorkian biopic, last night. Perhaps that’s why the crazy twists and turns in the Julian Assange story make me think that he and Kevorkian have something in common. Both are loners and misfits who relied on the kindness of believers to get on in the world, they’re fanatical about their cause, and they’re both a bit paranoid, though probably with good reason.
The point man for Wikileaks, or physician-assisted suicide, isn’t going to win any popularity contests. It takes a bit of a strange duck to be hated by many, sneak around like an outcast and risk prison. It’s not surprising that the same personality traits that allow Kevorkian and Assange to succeed as advocates for their respective causes also makes their personal stories fairly odd.
In the end, Kevorkian was undone by his eccentricity–he moved from assisted suicide to euthanasia. Because he was the prime mover and actor for his cause, it lost a lot of public attention once he went to prison. The difference with Assange is that Wikileaks exists as an independent entity. He’s not a one-man band like Kevorkian, and the site will probably continue to exist whether or not Assange is in the picture.