Big Brother

8 11 2010

I imagine that there are a lot of people who think the title of this post refers to a relentlessly lame TV program. Everyone else should be aware of its more sinister meaning from George Orwell’s 1984. Big Brother was the manifestation of the omnipresent and despotic government in the novel, who was watching you … forever. We’re a few decades late, but the fine folks at the Pennsylvania Office of Homey Scrutiny Homeland Security (OHS) are doing their best to make Orwell’s dystopian imaginary world become a real-life nightmare.

It seems that the OHS in Pennsylvania contracted a local company to gather intelligence on potential terrorists. Problems arose when it turned out that the definition of “potential terrorist” was amazingly broad. For example, anyone participating in a political protest could be investigated because the protests might cause disruptions for businesses. Oddly enough, this same contractor provided intelligence-gathering services for several large companies across the country. This is probably how that exceedingly loose definition of a terrorist event came to be.

Worse still, these supposed “terrorists” were identified as such to local law enforcement agencies throughout Pennsylvania- and presumably also to those companies who made up the bulk of this contractor’s customers. For the alleged crime of protesting for or against gay rights (one example of the so-called “terrorist” activities tracked during this domestic surveillance program), a citizen could be denied employment at one of the large corporations receiving these intelligence services. Yes, Virginia. Participating in a peaceful, legal protest (the protection of which is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the US Constitution) could result in getting put on a terrorist watch list. Remember when top law enforcement and government officials kept telling us, “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear“? It turns out they were lying. Who woulda thunk it? Aside from anybody with an IQ above room temperature, that is.

As soon as the story broke in a local paper, the outgoing Governor of Pennsylvania immediately canceled the project and ordered that the contract not be renewed. Fear not, fans of authoritarian imposition into people’s lives. The incoming Governor is on your side. He’s the lovely person who- in his capacity as Pennsylvania Attorney General– decided to use the power of the State to force Twitter to identify account-holders who were critical of him.

There is no justification under our laws for this sort of wide-ranging surveillance of US citizens. Exercising one’s right to peacefully protest or criticize political figures does not a terrorist make. Our freedoms are guaranteed by the US Constitution and the Amendments thereto. Fear of just this sort of Byzantine abuse of power is why those guarantees are in the Constitution. With all that, why are our elected officials (and the lackeys they appoint to positions of authority) think they can get away with these illegal and un-Constitutional actions?

Because you told them so. You continued to vote for these creatures despite their intrusions into the private lives of your fellow Americans. When these pompous slimewads screeched and squawked about how “turrists are gonna gitcha“, you willingly acceded to their demands for more power and less supervision. You obligingly trembled in fear whenever the magic words were spoken- terrorist, homosexual, immigrant, communist, socialist, liberal, Mexican, etc., and eagerly offered up your precious freedoms in exchange for imaginary security and safety. Even more, you berated and belittled those who warned against giving more power to the government. To their discredit, the people who loudly and passionately proclaim their mistrust of any government organization as part of their political philosophy were the loudest and shrillest voices calling for sacrificing our precious liberties in the vain hope of safety.

We, the People, are supposed to be better than this. We are supposed to be a shining beacon of liberty and independence for the rest of the world to emulate. Instead, we are emulating the worst excesses of our enemies. Our elected officials- the people you voted into office- are willfully complicit in this collective raping of American liberty, and people are cheering them on as they do so.

Some would say, “I didn’t vote, so you can’t blame this on me!” Bullshit. Roughly 40% of the registered voters in this country voted in the last election. Those who did not vote- despite being registered- outnumbered those who did. This means that a vocal minority was permitted to shape the incoming government for at least the next two years. “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice“. By choosing not to vote, you allowed the whackjobs at the fringes of political discourse to dictate the nature and direction of that discourse. And now, we all have to live with the political consequences of your laziness. You must be so proud.

Current status: Disgusted

Current music: I Want You To Want Me by Cheap Trick

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