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The news this week has been freaky. It seems everything we do, say, or write is being monitored by Big Brother. Every keystroke, every bank transaction, every word spoken into a phone … everything and anything is being stored away in a massive facility in Utah capable of handling a “yottabyte” of information, the largest measurement computer scientists have. From here, personal data can be sifted through at leisure, ready to nail someone for real or imagined offenses. Wow, this gives me such a warm fuzzy feeling. Thank God we live in America, land of the free.
Last week I decided to get away from the dire news by pulling weeds in the garden. We live in a fairly remote corner of north Idaho, and we have a large garden. Weeding relaxes me.
But it was not to be. Half an hour into my task, I heard the sound of an engine overhead. Looking up, I saw … a drone.
Flying due south-to-north, it passed low and directly over my head. It was one of the few times I didn’t have my pocket camera on me or I would have taken pictures.
I won’t be so paranoid as to suggest the drone was spying on ME personally … but I can assure you the feeling of unease, of KGB-style government surveillance, increased exponentially since that day. I can’t even weed my garden in privacy any more.
Now I’m being more careful in what I email, what I say on the phone and what I type on my computer. After all, everything is being recorded.
Back in the 1970s, when I was in high school, I remember seeing a television commercial for Coca-Cola. The ad depicted a houseful of rural Russian peasants celebrating some sort of event – laughing, joking, talking freely, drinking Coke – until suddenly the door slammed open and some armed KGB officers stood there menacingly. The gist of the commercial is how the communist Russian government didn’t want any of its subjects to wring the least bit of enjoyment out of life, especially by drinking Coca-Cola.
Back then my thoughts about the ad were pity for the poor peasants who couldn’t be joyful without governmental permission. Now, 40 years later, those feelings have come home.
Supposedly all this unconstitutional domestic surveillance is to catch terrorists, but I can assure you the whispered opinion here in Real America is that we’re entering a dark and desperate age, one that – if historical precedence is noted – precedes shocking acts of despotism, tyranny and butchery.
Sorry if all this sounds paranoid, but after learning my phone lines are tapped, my emails are collected and my weeding activities are monitored by overhead drones – what else am I to conclude? That this is all done for my safety?
“Safety” is a highly overrated quality. In the name of “safety” we’re willing to forfeit an astonishing number of constitutional rights. Need I remind you of the famous quote (attributed to Benjamin Franklin), “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
“The program was sold to Americans with the goal of safety and security from terror,” noted Joseph Farah. “But it has evolved into a terror of its own – a ‘cure’ perhaps worse than the disease.”
Critics point out that the precedent for domestic spying came in with the Patriot Act during the Bush administration, as if that somehow excuses the explosive expansion of citizen surveillance under Obama. But domestic surveillance has existed at least since the 1970s, when it became technologically possible to do it.
I’m fully convinced that my reaction to this surveillance – paranoia and careful watching of what I say, write, or do – is precisely what the government wants. We are being conditioned to accept governmental intimidation, whether it’s a school board forbidding mention of the Deity at a graduation ceremony, or by someone refraining from replying to an email that might be deliberately “misinterpreted” by government goons. People in power always believe that the end justifies the means; and if the “end” is the reduction of criticism for destroying our constitutional republic, then they’ll use whatever means are necessary to achieve it.
As was so succinctly illustrated in Atlas Shrugged, we are experiencing tyranny by regulation. “There’s no way to rule innocent men,” observed Floyd Ferris, a character in the book. “The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kinds of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of lawbreakers – and then you cash in on guilt.”
The government has been known to create “crises” as necessary to further their objectives, whether it’s gun control or clamping down on freedom of speech. Surveillance, as the IRS so blatantly demonstrated, often descends into rewarding friends and punishing enemies. “[I]f everyone’s every action were being monitored, and everyone technically violates some obscure law at some time, then punishment becomes purely selective,” notes Moxie Marlinspike in Wired. “Those in power will essentially have what they need to punish anyone they’d like, whenever they choose, as if there were no rules at all.”
The drone that flew over my head caught me in the highly subversive act of weeding the strawberries. How is this subversive, you ask? Well, the strawberry bed is just part of a much larger garden. The garden exists because we are endeavoring to become more self-sufficient. We are endeavoring to be self-sufficient because we believe this nation’s political path will lead to an economic collapse. If we believe this, it must mean we don’t trust our government. Therefore we must be watched or we just might plant bombs or blow up airplanes. Hence the act of weeding strawberries makes us subversive. See the logic? Anything can be twisted and made seditious.
Never forget one thing: The number of people killed by terrorism pales in comparison with the hundreds of millions of people killed by their own governments in the last century.
I’m going to be weeding the peas today, if anyone is interested in watching.