DoublePlusCrimethink About Ownlife

I was thinking about something today. Over three-quarters of the American people go to Church at least every few years. Nearly half describe themselves as regular church-goers. Given these facts, why would people object to having a state religion? Why would people demand separation of church and state? Clearly, they don’t have any problem with religion. So why is it suddenly bad when government does it?

If the answer to that is obvious to you, well it seems to be not so obvious to a large section of the commentariat. Robert Samuelson is the latest idiot to dust off the tired idiotic argument of “Why you no like NSA when you like Facebook?”

There is more than a little hypocrisy to the outcry that the government, through the National Security Agency (NSA), is systematically destroying Americans’ right to privacy. Edward Snowden’s revelations have been stripped of their social, technological and historical context. Unless you’ve camped in the Alaskan wilderness for two decades, you know — or should — that millions upon millions of Americans have consciously and, probably in most cases, eagerly surrendered much of their privacy by embracing the Internet and social media.

The Pew Research Center’s surveys confirm that these behaviors are now entirely mainstream. In 2013, 85 percent of Americans used the Internet. Of these, almost three-quarters (73 percent) belonged to social media sites (the biggest: Facebook). Almost one-fifth of adult Internet users have posted personal videos, many hoping, says Pew, that “their creations go viral.” Among people “single and looking” for mates, nearly two-fifths (38 percent) used online dating.

This is the argument made by a boot-licking piece of crap. I’ve made this point before: can these people seriously not see a difference between information shared voluntarily and information shared involuntarily? Can they not see the difference between sharing your information with a corporation and sharing it with a government? Here’s what I had to say when Cesca was making this boot-licking argument:

There is simply no moral equivalence between corporations putting cookies on our computers and the NSA engaging in mass surveillance with extra sugary promises that they’ll be nice. To draw such an equivalence is to demonstrate that you failed high school civics. We should be suspicious of corporations. But we should be more suspicious of government because they wield a far larger and more pervasive power.

Again, how many people has Facebook executed? How many people has Twitter jailed? Did General Motors inter thousands of innocent Japanese people? Did Proctor and Gamble pretend to cure black men of syphilis just to see what would happen? If they did do these things, would they not be held accountable?

The worst thing that Facebook will do to me is market something at me. The worst thing the NSA will do is tip off the DEA that I might be doing drugs so that my door is bashed down by gun-wielding agents in the middle of the night. These are not even remotely comparable things.

Many of the NSA defenders understand this on some level. That was the point of my opening thought. When it comes to religion or abortion or sex, they immediately grasp the difference between a private actor (e.g., your parents telling you not to have pre-marital sex) and a public one (e.g, the government telling you not to have pre-martial sex). But when it comes to surveillance, they really don’t see a moral difference between Twitter knowing where I went on vacation and the government knowing every single person I called.

Partially, that’s reflexive anti-corporatism. Partly, it’s pure partisanship — they’d be a lot more suspicious if a McCain Administration were doing this. But I also think part of is that some section of the commentariat doesn’t really value privacy at all. Or they are in such a state of mind-blowing fear over terrorism, privacy concerns are dwarfed by the need to feel safe. How else can you explain this paragraph:

If Americans think their privacy is dangerously diminished, there are remedies. They can turn off their PCs, toss their smartphones and smash their tablets. Somehow, this seems unlikely, even though another Pew survey finds that “86 percent of adult Internet users have taken steps . . . to avoid surveillance by other people or organizations.”

I pointed this out on Twitter, but it’s worth saying again: in the book Nineteen Eighty Four Winston and Julia are unable to use normal communication to conduct their affair. Instead, they have to communicate with secret notes and whispers. This was seen as one of the most oppressive aspects of the regime.

We now have American commentators openly stating that we should live in such a society. That if you don’t want the government snooping on you, you should smash your tablet. Communicate with secret notes and whispers if you don’t want to be heard, you Ron Paul disciple.

For people like Samuelson, it is all right, everything is all right, the struggle is finished. They have won the victory over themselves. They love Big Brother.

Comments are closed.

  1. Seattle Outcast

    They ALWAYS loved Big Brother – the very thought of it gave them massive woodies that Charlie Sheen on Viagra would be envious of.

    While for most people 1984 was a warning of government overreach, for these people it was a blueprint for the future.

    Thumb up 4

  2. richtaylor365

    the government knowing every single person I called.

    But that is not (as I understand it) what “metadata” is. What they are collecting now is not “every single person I called”, but phone number to phone number, not person to person. Connecting the phone you use to you personally requires a FISA warrant, the same with finding out the identity of the person on the other end as well as the content of the call, all require warrants where probable cause (articuable and demonstrated facts) that would necessitate a warrant.

    Now before the usual suspects fly off the handle letting their spital fly, I am not condoning the practice, just trying to understand what they are doing, trying to understand both side of the issue. And it is not as black and white as being portrayed. Just recently we have had two separate appeals rulings on the NSA and their metadata collection, one declared it Orwellian and unconstitutional while the other gave it a free pass. Previous SCOTUS rulings have also bought off on the practice, stating that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy when using phones. Granted, it’s been almost 35 years since Smith vs. Maryland, the new communications technology ubiquitous, a need for a revisit by SCOTUS is obvious.

    I think NSA’s rational is thus; a Taliban fighter is picked up on an Afghan battlefield, he is interrogated, his safe house is discovered and his laptop and contents are mined for information. The name of his boss, a rather high AQ muckity muck is discovered along with his cell phone number, The NSA goes to FISA and gets a warrant for all phone numbers that this phone called. Some numbers come back to the US. The NSA goes back to FISA, shows them what they have and asked for another warrant to determine the identity of those people attached to those numbers along with the contents of only those calls from the AQ boss to the US contacts. Now if those calls are innocuous ( he is calling his nephew at Harvard to see how he is doing, or calling a porn site to resolve a billing dispute because his “Girls In Burkas Gone Wild” tape is defective), then the trail dies right there. But if the contents of the calls reveal info of a terrorist nature, then the NSA goes to FISA for another warrant to get the metadata records of who this US source has been contacting, and so it goes.

    they’d be a lot more suspicious if a McCain Administration were doing this.

    I’m inclined to think that this is a non partisan issue considering who is lining up on which side, there is no red/blue distinctions here. Folks like Rand Paul would still be fighting it even with a Romney administration, and many screaming liberals are against it and against this administration for defending it.

    Probably my biggest beef is it’s secrecy. The NSA claims they have thwarted terrorist attacks by using metadata protocols, why did we need a Snowden to reveal what they were doing? They should be proud of their actions but instead we have pukes like Clapper who lie about it.

    Thumb up 1