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They WANT to be repressed!

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Civil Rights, politics | Posted on 20-03-2008


Somebody help me, please! I'm awash in a sea of stupidity.

My humanities classmates are full of ideas like:
"it isn't really that big of a deal unless you have something to hide" - it being government surveillance.

"…they won't target you or really care about what you are doing unless you are doing something wrong" - tell that to Peter McWilliams. Oh, you can't, he's dead!

"…the cameras don't limit freedom, you can still do what you want" - as long as "what you want" is within the current cultural norms, and there isn't a power-hungry fundamentalist deciding what to do about what they view.

Those examples are from just ONE post. The class is full of people who are saying, over and over, very explicitly, that they welcome ANYTHING the government does to "make us safe from terrorism."

I'm scared.

Comments (10)

Face it peo­ple are sheep. They do not want free­dom, because free­dom means any­thing goes which includes you know, bad things like ter­ror­isim and crime. They want secu­ri­ty, they want to know that every­thing in their lives will sit in a nice nar­row zone of com­fort with noth­ing chal­leng­ing them.

The best way to han­dle this sort of thing is by nod­ding agree­ment and say­ing some­thing along the lines of: “yes, that’s prob­a­bly true. But what if…” and con­struct­ing a sit­u­a­tion that would be intol­er­a­ble for them.

So on sur­veil­lance, how do they feel about sur­veil­lance cam­eras in toi­lets & dress­ing rooms? How about email mon­i­tor­ing of the abused wife of a sur­veil­lance pro­fes­sion­al who is try­ing to leave the abu­sive sit­u­a­tions? How about the plan by child pro­tec­tive ser­vices of appre­hend­ing par­ents seen to treat their chil­dren harsh­ly in pub­lic places, such as malls — would that work? 

What if insur­ance com­pa­nies buy the sur­veil­lance data and decide whether or not to pro­vide health insur­ance based on whether a per­son smokes, drinks, or uses a lot of swear words (because exces­sive swear­ing is found to be a pre­dic­tor of high blood pressure)? 

What about false pos­i­tives, when some­one is incor­rect­ly iden­ti­fied as a risk? And what is the sun­set date for the col­lect­ed data? One year? One decade? Life of the col­lect­ed per­son? For­ev­er? And if for­ev­er, is that because they feel that the “war on ter­ror” is a per­ma­nent part of our life? Does that mean it can­not be won? And if not, why not? 

It should at least help them *think* a little.

**hugshugs** That’s got to be maddening. 

Dena’s got the right idea for coun­ter­ing it, I think, although it won’t nec­es­sar­i­ly work. When someone’s deter­mined to believe that the only peo­ple who object to sur­veil­lance are crim­i­nals, it’s hard to get them to think any­thing else. 

Aren’t 1984 and Brave New World required read­ing any more? **sigh**

Are most of them young? There’s this cycle to gen­er­a­tions and the atti­tudes that are typ­i­cal to them. Many peo­ple who are in their teens and twen­ties now were absolute­ly cod­dled by par­ents, teach­ers, pret­ty much every author­i­ty fig­ure they encoun­tered. The result is that they come into the adult world believ­ing that they can trust the peo­ple in charge, the peo­ple whom, of course, want noth­ing but the best for good peo­ple like them.

I don’t know that I’d even try to con­vince them. the Denial is strong in these ones. If you point out how author­i­ty can be abused, they will rest assured that while that could hap­pen, it won’t because our lead­ers would nev­er do that to us. Per­haps instead of warn­ing them of cur­rent lead­ers who might try to hurt them, maybe pose a future sce­nario where “mom­my and dad­dy” have been replaced by an unknown other. 

For exam­ple, before the Holo­caust, Ger­many passed strict gun con­trol laws to dis­arm their cit­i­zens. The peo­ple went along with it because, at the time the laws were first pro­posed, there was no Holo­caust. That came lat­er, after the groud­work was already laid. If Bush, Cheney, and all these oth­er kind­heart­ed souls (*wretch*) pass all these mea­sures to keep us safe, what would hap­pen if a ter­ror­ist hacks into these sys­tems? Would your class­mates want Osama bin Laden watch­ing their every move on cam­era? Would they want iden­ti­ty thieves lis­ten­ing in when this or that clerk asks for their Social Secu­ri­ty num­ber? Or take it further…if the gov­ern­ment pro­pos­es implant­i­ng every­one with a device that could be used not just to locate them, but to dis­able or kill them remote­ly – you know, to stop peo­ple who try to shoot up a school or some­thing – what if Al Qae­da got a secret agent work­ing in the depart­ment that con­trols these things, an agent who could snuff out a mil­lion peo­ple at a time? The only ways to keep peo­ple being vic­tim­ized by the tech­nol­o­gy falling into the wrong hands is to not cre­ate it in the first place, or give peo­ple a means of coun­ter­ing the tech­nol­o­gy (which defeats the point of hav­ing it in the first place).

Or maybe you don’t want to make your class­mates cry. 🙂

It’s a lit­tle hard­er to judge ages in an online class than face-to-face, but there seems to be a fair­ly wide range of ages, from tra­di­tion­al col­lege age to 50s. Quite a few of them are either in the mil­i­tary, were in the mil­i­tary, or mar­ried to mil­i­tary men or women. None, as far as I can tell, are on or have been on active duty in war time. Some of them have men­tioned cur­rent­ly or for­mer­ly deployed spouses.

I have no prob­lem mak­ing peo­ple cry if it makes them think. I’m afraid I’m already edg­ing into a rep­ri­mand from the pro­fes­sor, though, who is adamant about “friend­ly” inter­ac­tions. I’ve been very care­ful to talk about ideas, not the peo­ple who have them, but I know some of them are com­plete­ly unac­cus­tomed to encoun­ter­ing seri­ous oppo­si­tion to what “every­body knows.”

This issue was cov­ered by Glenn Greenwald’s blog today. This essay came up:

‘I’ve Got Noth­ing to Hide’ and Oth­er Mis­un­der­stand­ings of Pri­va­cy — abstract: ” In this short essay, writ­ten for a sym­po­sium in the San Diego Law Review, Pro­fes­sor Daniel Solove exam­ines the noth­ing to hide argu­ment. When asked about gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance and data min­ing, many peo­ple respond by declar­ing: “I’ve got noth­ing to hide.” Accord­ing to the noth­ing to hide argu­ment, there is no threat to pri­va­cy unless the gov­ern­ment uncov­ers unlaw­ful activ­i­ty, in which case a per­son has no legit­i­mate jus­ti­fi­ca­tion to claim that it remain pri­vate. The noth­ing to hide argu­ment and its vari­ants are quite preva­lent, and thus are worth address­ing. In this essay, Solove cri­tiques the noth­ing to hide argu­ment and expos­es its faulty underpinnings.”

It seems very apropos.

Squee! Thank you!

Yep. This kind of think­ing sounds like young folks, but is more the type of think­ing of the sheep sort of folks, as anoth­er com­menter said. Those types want to avoid con­flict over doing the right thing, or smart thing.

Youth does not yet have the expe­ri­ence to under­stand that their ide­al­is­tic views are not real­i­ty. They have not had the “unthink­able” hap­pen to them­selves or some­one they know nor is their vision wide enough to look beyond their imme­di­ate cir­cles. They have not seen, so they do not know.

This is not their fault nor is it stu­pid­i­ty. It is mere­ly the nature of youth. Their expe­ri­ence is class­room expe­ri­ence. They don’t know that class­room ideals are not the real world. For those of us with more life expe­ri­ence, the best that we can do is to share what we know and what we have seen. The can gain wis­dom through our sto­ries if we let them. If they do not learn from our expe­ri­ence, life will pro­vide them with the wis­dom they lack.

Thanks for the link to ‘I’ve Got Noth­ing to Hide’ arti­cle Dena.