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They WANT to be repressed!

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.

10 comments

  1. Steve says:

    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.

  2. Dena Shunra says:

    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.

  3. HopeEvey says:

    **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**

  4. Gaelan says:

    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. 🙂

  5. cyn says:

    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.”

  6. Dena Shunra says:

    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.

  7. Todd Jodan says:

    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.

  8. Scott says:

    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.

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