The recent revelations about the NSA’s data collection efforts on phone calls, emails and internet use have lots of people, including myself, up in arms (figuratively, NSA, figuratively!!). But people are talking like all this alarm might actually lead to some change. Well, let me tell you that the snoopy horse is not only out of the barn but so far down the road that the cloud of dust has already settled and the clickety-clack of hooves not even a distant echo. Besides, lots of people just love that the govt is keeping its paternal, all-seeing eye on everything we do (the ultimate helicopter parent, except these helicopters are black). These people say “I’ve got nothing to hide, so let ‘em listen.”
Well, all you people with “nothing to hide” need to learn the difference between “secrets” and “privacy.” Let me help you out. The reason most of you are reluctant to drop your pants in public, bend over, and spread your cheeks so that passersby can inspect your nether regions is not because you have something illegal going on in your butt to hide but because there are certain things that you wish to keep private (and I thank you for that). And just because some people like to post naked pix of themselves online doesn’t mean it should then be mandatory for us all.
And why exactly does the government treat the program itself as something to hide? If it’s perfectly legal, oh no, nothing wrong here, perfectly constitutional, why does the spying (oops, I mean “safety monitoring”) need to be such a secret? Why are people being prosecuted for trying to tell us about it? After all, for a decade, every terrorist has worked under the assumption that the US govt is doing everything it can to tap their calls and emails. It’s certainly no secret to them. If anything, these reports on the NSA’s advanced capabilities are likely to help deter would-be terrorists, and should be publicized even more. Hell, they should make shit up about what they can do. No, the govt is desperate to hide its 4th amendment abuses from us, not the terrorists. Why? Because they know that the prospect of having what you say and to whom you say it stored in a big database (that “no one will actually read”) will have a chilling effect on free discourse—admit it, it’s there at the back of your mind right now, isn’t it? The idea is not so much to find out what we’re doing and saying as to intimidate us from doing and saying it in the first place.
But I don’t know why the govt should be concerned. When was the last time they reversed course on anything even when pretty much everyone wanted it (background checks at gun shows, anyone?), much less when lots of people on all sides of the political spectrum think it’s just fine.
Orwell’s 1984. You thought it was a fantasy novel, not the new operator’s manual for the USA.