For now, anyway, tolerate

From my comments yesterday — observations about the world of peeping and prying in which we find ourselves — you might have inferred that I believe various spy encroachments on our lives are acceptable, are just and judicious, and ought not to be complained of.

Not so.

It is, all of it, an intrusion into our lives which no civilized society ought to be forced to endure. It violates a basic element in anything like “a universal code of human rights.” It gives — and even more significantly demonstrates — unreasonable power, to and of governments and their co-conspiratorial agencies and contractors.

And there’s the rub.

We do not — even in the land of the free and the home of the brave — inhabit a civilized society. If not absolutely dog eat dog, it still is a world whose teeth and claws show red. We need protection from dangers, within and without. In order “to insure domestic tranquility, to provide for the common defense” it has become a legitimate function of government — unwelcome but essential —
to identify and neutralize dangers before they strike.

The lesson is not that governments spy, and we need to prevent it; the lesson is that governments spy, and we have choices:

* tolerate
* rebel
* move

My choice is to tolerate, because different issues remain, equally or even more important, which we may — by objecting and voting — be able to affect.

* Climate Change
* Poverty <— Distribution of Wealth
* Women’s Rights

You will think of others.

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5 thoughts on “For now, anyway, tolerate

  1. I always enjoy your thoughtful posts, but I need to disagree a bit with this one.
    I’d suggest that there is a position between “tolerate” and “rebel”, that might be labeled “complain loudly”. If we simply sit back and tolerate the loss of our privacy, the loss of journalistic freedom, the reduction of our free speech rights, then I don’t think there will be any way left for us to demand the changes that our country so desperately needs. I’m not suggesting revolution (Oh, good Lord, I just put myself on a list at the NSA) but I would sure love to see some outrage in the streets.

    1. You are right, and I ought to have listed more options. (I was trying to suggest a spectrum, not limit the options to three.) And please, complain loudly. It’s good for the spirit; the government and its agents need feedback, particularly the negative kind.

      My “tolerate” choice was not meant as spiritless acceptance of yet another whittling away of our rights, it was admission that, on this specific issue, I believe public safety is probably more important than individual privacy, and nothing I can do is liable to change things.

      [Note the shilly-shallying “probably” and “liable to.”]

      And thanks for the feedback.

      1. Ah, thanks for the clarification! What a dilemma for all of us, this choice between safety and privacy….I just cannot shake my unease at the secret use of government power. Had the gathering of our “metadata” been public, I might feel differently.

        I can’t help but wonder what else is going out with no public scrutiny?

        (I think “shilly-shallying” is my new favorite phrase)

  2. Well spoken, well said and well written work; detailing indeed the very aspects of society that needn’t be kept on record under pretense of “possible threat” or “potential crimes”, which are guises that allow the government to spy on innocent civilians for no reason whatsoever.

    Know the laws. Exercise your rights. United we stand. The vendetta never sleeps.

  3. Anything is fine as long as you know. Then you can adjust. The main thing is to find out exactly why the eavesdropping is being done. I don’t think it’s only to pick up B- words and T- words. I think it’s more to tabulate how many times product names come up, and how much of the population believes that an organ donor is actually dead when his organs are removed (for example). There is lots of propaganda, lots and lots of advertizing, and the effect has to be assessed. See Shakespeare’s play Coriolanus for how the babbling of the masses tells us that.

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