I mean, come on! Did we honestly believe we had any real privacy since J. Edgar first came to power in 1919, led the Palmer Raids and named future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter “the most dangerous man in the United States” for, among other things, founding the ACLU?

Did we honestly believe we had any real privacy after we learned the FBI spied on Dr. King and every other civil rights leader and follower? Infiltrated virtually every Vietnam anti-war organization? Photographed people who attended any other type demonstration? Or, collected personal data on those who protested military and corporate recruitment on college campuses?

Those of us who requested our personal files through the Freedom of Information Act and noticed the multiple redactions certainly knew privacy’s limitations.

It’s never been just Spy vs. Spy; it’s always been spy on all of us.

And even more so after the Internet jumped out to meet us and we climbed right aboard. Where the information superhighway allows data to streak throughout the world and where countries’ boundaries are virtually meaningless. Sure, there were encryptions designed to keep your stuff private, but we all knew they were a joke. Easily broken, even the most sophisticated programs. Still, we sent (and send) emails to each other detailing the most private parts of our lives. We open accounts in banks without walls. We use credit cards to buy shit from stores we’ve never seen and don’t even exist in the “real” world.

Then along came social media and we all announced to our “friends” and anyone else who really wanted to know, what we ate, drank, what music we listened to along with our personal politics, opinions, and attitudes.

And people are getting upset because their calls are being recorded, our privacy invaded? We gave our privacy away decades ago but now we’re shocked? Puh-lease.

Where was all that shock when we allowed the government to pass the Patriot Act? We volunteered to forego our civil liberties in the name of security. Or, the awe when the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act passed—fully equipped with its own secret court?

Secret fucking courts! That’s not what I believe democracy or patriotism is about.

Yes, we’ve been told that these more recent anti-democratic policies begun by President Bush after 9/11 and reauthorized multiple times since have thwarted a number of terrorist plots. Can anyone reading this post name or describe any of these plots? I mean, if they were thwarted, what possible harm would be caused by publicly telling us about them now? Unless of course it’s bullshit.

You all know the list of anti-democratic freedoms we have relinquished in the name of terror since 9/11 and the only reason the shit’s hit the fan now is we’ve discovered the scale to which Big Brother has applied the laws to which we quietly acquiesced.

Did anyone actually believe that Verizon and other telephone and internet carriers would refuse to bend over the chair when the government came calling? This angst and dram is a piss-poor excuse for our refusal to allow these un-American acts to pass and wend their way throughout our society, institutions, and mentality.

So what is going to be done about the fact that we’ve delivered our phone calls (and now the newest travesty, our DNA) into the hands of Big Brother? The ACLU will bring its lawsuits, maybe a few members of Congress will bitch and moan, and the media will express outrage as long as it garners viewers. In other words, nothing.

So let’s make a deal. Collect whatever the fuck you want, whenever you want, but unless the government can prove that any information it has will directly place a person in danger, all their records ought to be available to the public. Completely available. If our government wants to know all about me, then I want to know about each and every part of what they are doing. What’s good for the goose…

I know the naysayers will argue the government would be unable to conduct its business if everybody knew everything. But we did just fine after Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, Woodward and Bernstein exposed Watergate, when Seymour Hersh disclosed the C.I.A.’s massive domestic spying. In fact, many would argue that we did better.

But we learned nothing. Actually, that’s not true. We learned to genuflect to a government (and I mean every administration I’ve lived through) and passively allow them to do it to us all over–again and again. This isn’t what I thought the phrase “what goes around, comes around” meant.

So, let’s demand the release of every government document that does not put a human life in direct danger. And, if it’s found that someone held back information when nobody was in harm’s way, well, then it’s time to open the jail cell doors.

I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

16 thoughts on “PRIVACY? PUH-LEASE

  1. Yes indeed….I’ve been pondering this a lot and am amused/horrified that it doesn’t look like 1984 at all. That was the Soviet model of totalitarianism, not the American. Obviously we would give away our liberty only to a consumerist scheme. Give us the sugar, in whatever form, and we will drink the kool-ade and leverage ourselves to whatever degree will keep the drip operating. In retrospect it was obvious and brilliant. The 1984 model breeds too much resistance. The Sugar Daddy corporate model plays into addiction, always a winner. It has to fail also, we just don’t know how it will, just as we bought into the 1984 model while dreaming our electronic dreams of freedom and congratulating ourselves on our freedom. The fact that we were required, in the aggregate, to be able to drive all over the place and have as much instant gratification as possible in order to be controlled just didn’t seem to much occur to us since we labelled it as freedom. Now that “freedom” is a rhetorical nullity, we are left with the well developed cravings we substitute for it.

    • Georgia–First, thanks for continuing to read my crazy. I very much appreciate it. Wish you’d write a blog cause i think it would be incredibly interesting. Know that anytime you’d like to write a Monday post, please just let me know and we’ll work it out. As for ” It has to fail also, we just don’t know how it will,” Can only say what i’ve said said before. Our job (at least mine at my age) is to keep the candle burning.

        • Georgia–I think the work you have done and continue to do all these years is incredibly interesting. And if you could it might be great the write about it and the emotional attachment you have with it, well, that’s a 1000 words, no?

  2. Nicely stated, Zach! I do agree that the public should have access to most of the information that our government collects, though not sure what we’d do with it. I know that’s not the point, of course…..Do you think people who grew up with the Internet, reality TV, and cell phones have a different definition of “privacy”? That is, if they’re used to having every move they make watched/documented, perhaps privacy is (or is becoming?) less important to them. Hence, why “nothing” will happen as a result of the Verizon fiasco?

    • SAFM: Hence, why “nothing” will happen as a result of the Verizon fiasco?” I don’t think *any* multi-national gives a shit about anything but government control and their profits.

  3. And everyone thinks our last Revolutionary War was our last one. The magic number is still 535 . When that changes we’ll have chance to step in the right direction. Zach, I couldn’t agree more.

  4. I need a word here and I can’t put my finger on it.

    A “revolution” is when the people completely overthrow their government and install one of a different form. But that’s not what I’m looking for.

    A “mutiny?” An “insurrection?” “Rebellion?”

    I know people who as little as six months ago would have been aghast at the very thought of using the Second Amendment for the precise reason the Founders wrote it down before all the others, save the First. Like it or not, the posters and bumper stickers and tee shirts you’ve seen talking about disarming the civilian population of a country right before the purges and bloodbaths start are true. They are historical fact, and perhaps you should read up on them. Start with the 1933 Nazi Firearms Law. Then Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and–don’t be shy–up to this very day and the scores of political attacks on peaceful, law-abiding American gun owners.

    I’ve had a concealed carry permit for over thirty years now. I have never even pointed a gun at another human, There was never any need to.

    This may change.

    We need a re-installation of the Constitution as the basic law of the land. Don’t think you are protected by it. Our government ignores it as we ignore a piece of trash paper blowing down the sidewalk. Who gave them this right? This power? How in the hell did the two words “secret court” enter our vocabulary? Where were the televised hearings on this? How did our representatives vote? People say “we gave out freedoms away.” Not so. They were stolen in the dead of night behind closed doors. It’s not just the wiretapping. It’s the TSA. It’s the whole Patriot Act. It’s Homeland Security thugs. It’s taking your shoes off in front of government agents if you want to fly from Boston to Chicago and having your genitals pawed by them.

    This is not America. I’m more frightened of our own government than any terrorist group on earth.

    It would hardly be called a Revolution if the people took to arms and cleaned house reinstalling our beloved government to it’s original condition. Oh, they would kill us in the hundreds of thousands. But for every policeman, deputy, AFT agent, State cop, FBI agent, the Secret Service *and* the entire U.S. military *combined*, for each one of them there are 45 American with firearms and the knowledge to use them effectively.

    Earlier, people laughed at the idea of PRISM. Most are still laughing at the idea of already-built and manned civilian detention camps dotted around the nation.
    They are real too and could be put to use overnight with the declaration of martial law or something like that. Do a little research, friends.

    This democracy–if it can still be called that–is on a bobsled downhill run and picking up speed. If there is an executive order to pick up “terrorists” like me and whisk them away for an undetermined period of time with no warrants and no legal representation, the war starts then. I’ve no doubt that I wouldn’t last more than a few moments in such an uneven firefight, but I can guarantee they’re going to need a lot more body bags than just one. Multiply that by millions of still-peaceful gun owners and the attrition becomes evident. Then add to that guerrilla attacks on convoys, fuel and ammo dumps, or simply driving a large truck through the fences and knocking off the tail rotors of their helicopters on the ground, etc,.etc.

    You haven’t thought of this? Rest assured NORTHCOM has.

    However, I suspect the military would side with the American citizens, in small groups at first, then regiments, then divisions. This is their home too. They want to raise their children in a free country as much as we do.

    It’s the worst-case nightmare scenario. I hope it does not come to pass and I don’t think it will unless several other horrors are discovered. But you must understand that it is possible. People aren’t buying $350 military-grade weapons for $1,500 and stockpiling ammunition because they expect a longer hunting season next year. They’re scared too. They’re nervous. But they are preparing to fight back when that last straw breaks the camels back.

    And what list do you think *this* post will land me on?

  5. Well…. privacy. “loss of freedom”. I’ve been working recently with folks from the former Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe – we dishonor them and the other folks in China and Argentina and other true totalitarian countries when we claim some sort of awful loss of freedom and privacy. Believe me, folks, this is nothing. In Slovakia every sixth person was a paid government informant. Poor poor us….when was the last massive roundup of members of the green party or the late night raids snatching up tea party members or the mass graves holding ACLU members. We fight for absolute dignity, freedom and free speech but people, PLEASE, some sense of proportion! A long delay in getting privileged tax status does not equate to torture cells and disappearances!

    • Toledo Dave–First, it’s nice seeing back here. Have missed you. As for your comment, can’t quite tell whether you agree with my take or not. No matter, I certainly agree with “We fight for absolute dignity, freedom and free speech but people, PLEASE, some sense of proportion!”

      • oh, o.k. – I just read your reply now….thorry!

        Check it out on google or whatever…it’s a “discipline” system, a prison model – created by Jeremy Bentham. Then Michel Foucault wrote about it….Panopticism is EVERYWHERE….always was, always is, and always will be….I’m curious what you would have to say if you read a little of Foucault’s essay “Panopticism”. He’s intense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.