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.

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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10 thoughts on “They WANT to be repressed!

  1. 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. 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. **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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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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