Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Editorial: The upside of the surveillance state

Pity the poor Courier editor. Ed Snowden forced him to think about the increasing electronic surveillance of Americans since the Patriot Act, but now he can't quite decide whether Snowden is a traitor or whether all this e-snooping is a good thing, crippling him with so much confusion that he's forced to write an editorial.
     The only opinion I can detect in the piece is this: "there may be a bright side to Americans drawing away from this obsession that every detail of every minute of life just has to be posted, ...," which I translate as, "it's a good thing they're watching us, as maybe we won't say so much in public," a rather odd position for any member of the fourth estate to take.
     But it clearly illustrates the frog-on-simmer thinking that has held sway in this country for over a decade, where the populace greets each new insult with an oh-well at its inevitability, much as the editor shrugs though his column today, complacent with the idea that whatever the NSA spooks are doing, they're not after him, so all's well.
     Noodging I-told-you-sos from those of us who warned about the creeping surveillance state years ago do no real good. What we need now is to use the Snowden incident to raise the question, what kind of country do you want to live in? I can't imagine anyone answering sincerely that we like being electronically strip-searched daily, cowering and sniveling in fear of phantom threats, while fat corporations rob us blind. Yet that's what the editor seems to be embracing.

Note to editor: as you apparently missed it, here's the first rule of writing anything: have something to say.