If youre over 50, Edward Snowden is treacherous if youre under 30, hes heroic. This split comes from his character traits of narcissistic defiance and youthful idealism. These traits mold the individual conscience, which our culture always elevates above the state, considering especially heroic a conscience striving against tyrannical laws and surveillance. Overly romanticized, however, these strivings may degenerate into a self-destructive pseudo-heroism.
Pseudo-heroism follows a pattern: First (through false allegiance) gain access to targets; then (with fanfare) boldly strike; and finally (expecting accolades) elude capture. This often ends badly, John Wilkes Booth being an extreme example. Unfortunately, Booths infamous acclamation Sic Semper Tyrannis! still lives on; it frequently describes todays youthful narcissists elevating themselves above any law with which their conscience disagrees not by arduous negotiation following Lincolns example, not by public protest or civil disobedience following Gandhi or King, but by laws total annihilation through self-proclaimed, egocentric manifesto.