Monday, September 03, 2007

Freedom bleeds from a thousand little cuts...

For most of my adult life, the term "civil liberties" was more likely to induce a little roll of the eyes, a little "there they go again" directed at the avant garde of social excess, pushing the boundaries of what a polite society would consider remotely reasonable stretches of personal freedom. And in the 1980s, when I was coming of age, that's mostly what they were: ACLU lawsuits that always seemed to favor the cause of the extreme left (although I do recall them defending the rights of the Klan to march) or just plain bizarre behavior.

But in the last few years, my reflexive rightist tendencies have been draining from me, and perhaps not coincidentally I've had the increasing sensation of encroachment on my liberties as an American citizen.

Maybe it's the security cameras that keep popping up.

Maybe it's the "rights management" controls that have invaded the digital content I buy.

Maybe it's the obtrusive security at airports, and the way minor civil servants have started to talk to me like I was a third grader at a fire drill.

Maybe it's these inexplicable camps that my wife has been questioning lately.

Maybe it's the way that the Congress seems to be bending over backwards to serve the interests of corporations.
Maybe it's my realization that while the government says it's never about oil or money, it's always about oil or money.

Maybe it's the way that no matter where you are, somebody can find you from your cell phone.

Maybe it was when a co-worker figured out something I posted anonymously on the internet that didn't even concern him directly--and in the course of his search, identified a psuedonymn that I've used to post a lot of private observations online.

Maybe it's all this talk of a national identity card.

Maybe it's this talk of building fences and militarizing our borders.

Maybe it's that we are being "temporary inconvenienced" with wartime laws and security measures for a war that nobody can project a real end to.

Maybe it's all the money in politics.

I really don't have the answers, and I'm far from being a raver about this stuff. I just have to confess that where I once implicitly trusted--I don't know, call it "the system"--I no longer do. I think I've been around too long and seen too much. Wisdom doesn't counsel trust of power; "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." I have found, to my great disillusionment, that those with money and power can be trusted to do almost anything they think they can get away with to get more of both. And the more power that is concentrated in Washington, the more money competes to buy it and direct its hand.

Distressing, and frankly at this stage I'm not entirely sure what to think about it all.


At 8:30 AM, Blogger dorsey said...

This might sound a little out of left (no pun, seriously) field, but I'm reading this post in the context of the latest post at SCP, and a recent one at nakedpastor. Maybe it's just the frame of mind that I'm in lately, but there was a comment in the nakedpastor thread that really rang out loudly, and then pealed again and again as I read the SCP post and this one:

"Love endures. Institutions don’t."

The system could never ultimately be trusted. Eventually, it will pass away. The challenge for lovers, I think, is to avoid the pitfall of letting the system distract us from loving each other.

At 11:19 AM, Blogger dufflehead said...

add to this the finger we get from "beloved leader" when we say we don't want any more wars and then he sets in motion attacks on Iran.

doesn't being a public servant mean that you serve the public?

At 2:34 PM, Blogger Dan said...

What I do...

I sit around and wish there was a God in Heaven that gave Two Shits about What Happens on Earth.

Then I just watch some TV.

At 8:50 PM, Blogger Spiritbear said...

This is right on. I have two bumper stickers on my truck (and a couple more). One says DRM is evil. Another says, Civil Liberties, dont leave home without them.

If we dont get outraged, who will?


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