Snowden

I still feel adrift about this story. Still, it seems like someone pointing out things that were already well-known and having everyone act as if it’s new information. This isn’t a matter of the emperor wearing no clothes and just now someone admits it. This is years of people saying “the emperor has no clothes” and finally someone says “look, I fake making clothes for the emperor” and that’s all of a sudden big news.

Plus, I remain nervous about his disappearing to Hong Kong in order to release this news. I mean, I know Hong Kong isn’t exactly China. And I respect that he is in fear of his life. And China is more our frenemy than some kind of USSR 2.0. But I find it absurd that Snowden thinks that Hong Kong is some bastion of civil liberties. I just don’t believe that he actually thinks that. So, if he didn’t go to Hong Kong for the civil liberties protections, why did he go there? Until I feel assured it wasn’t to share what he’s found with China before sharing it with the American people, I’m wary of treating him like a hero, even if I don’t feel confident that he’s some great enemy of the state. I just have mixed, ambivalent feelings about him.

But most of all, I’m completely stunned that people think most Americans are going to give a shit about this. Go back and look at every fucking piece of pop culture since 2002. We enjoy the fantasy of a government that can get into everything and follow us around electronically. And, frankly, just like CSI convinced a generation of juries that you should be able to get DNA in a few minutes and use facial recognition software to get a match instantly, Hollywood has convinced us that our government should be capable–for better or for worse–of instantly knowing everything about us This isn’t a matter of right or wrong, because we’ve been shown it being “right” and we’ve been show it being “wrong.” But in both cases, pop culture has been making the argument that this is a capability a government has, or should have.

People in this country might not want that power turned on them, but they are not going to give a shit about–and in fact, I’d argue, would actively support–it being used against “those” people.

And the disconnect between the people trying to make hay about this and that fact just irritates me so much. Though it should be, this isn’t obviously wrong. And I wish people would do a better job of articulating just what’s wrong with it.

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8 thoughts on “Snowden

  1. As I’m reading this post I have a hulu window going also. They just showed a commercial from an online insurance company bragging that you didn’t have to have any documents to get an online quote. They can find your home/auto info without any help from you and they are using this as a selling point.

    The timing almost killed me, but this corporate stuff is more what I worry about than the government reading my email.

  2. Yeah, I mean, that’s also the thing–you holler for 50 years about how things need to be more privatized, then, again, I’m confused about how you’re surprised that the government has the same capabilities to know shit about you as the private companies they contract with do.

    I worry about them both, frankly. But that cat doesn’t seem to me to be just out of the bag, but the cat and the bag are now so many miles apart that I don’t think that cat is going back in there. If we want privacy, we’re going to have to build different protections. We’re never getting “they can’t get that information” back. It’s gone.

  3. The best course of action would be to dismantle the institutions that use these tactics to nefarious ends. I’m not holding my breath for that, either.

  4. I’m with you … who gives a sh*t. I’ve got nothing to hide. Sure, I might be embarrassed by the frequency of calls to Dominos Pizza but I’ll get over it. Seems a small price to pay to stop a whacko from blowing stuff up.

    I, for one, don’t think Snowden is in any way a hero. He’s not a “whistle blower”, he’s a traitor and what he’s done is treasonous.

  5. No, believe me. I give a shit. But I’ve given a shit for a decade and come to terms with the fact that no one else gives a shit. It doesn’t matter that you think you have nothing to hide. All of us have something that could be used against us and the government shouldn’t be poking its nose into our business without a warrant. That’s basic fourth amendment stuff–they don’t get to scrutinize you to see what laws you might be breaking. They have to think you’ve done something wrong and be able to prove that belief is reasonable in court before they can dig through your shit.

    It’d be nice for Americans to force the government to live up to that.

    It is a big price to pay. It might be one we’ve decided is worth it, but the outrage and confusion these past few days indicates to me that a lot of people didn’t know they’d been paying it.

    And I don’t think that Snowden is a traitor (yet, if the rumors that he gave info to China pans out, then yes, he is). It’s embarrassing for the U.S. government to be caught by the U.S. people doing something, but, in general, I don’t believe that the government has some unilateral right to keep secrets from the People. And certainly, even if they do keep secrets (as they must attempt to do in this day and age), it’s not treasonous when the People learn of them. It’s just annoying and embarrassing.

    I don’t think he’s done some great thing. But I think that one can only assume this isn’t a big deal if one doesn’t look very closely at U.S. history. We have a tendency to turn the power of the state on our own citizens in really, really ugly ways. It doesn’t matter if you’re clean if they can make you seem dirty. We should be nervous about that.

    But in this case, like I said, I do feel like the outrage from the media is false. After all, they’ve been reporting on this shit for years.

  6. These agencies have to understand and appreciate that the loss of privacy is a two way street. Plus, what did they expect from hiring and giving a broad security clearance to someone under age 30 without a high school diploma?

  7. beth, that describes a large chunk of the military and a large percent of the people with the skills to do what he did for them. Other then the fact that I am 31 now, that describes me.

    You see their problem. Plus the fact that age won’t keep you from being a spy/mole/leaker/whistleblower. Look at the history of the CIA :p

  8. polerin – yeah, I shouldn’t paint my picture with such a wide brush & you raise a valid point. But that said, I think there’s value in those who have more maturity & education under their belt.

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