Tuesday, June 11, 2013

6 in 10 sheep don't mind being shorn

Once again I find myself in the minority of public opinion.

The first polling on the National Security Agency surveillance leak is out, and despite almost unanimous cries of outrage from the press and civil-liberties advocates, the rest of America seems decidedly "meh" on the matter.

Over half of us—56 percent, to be exact—think that serving phone companies with a secret court order to surrender customer phone records is an "acceptable" way to fight terrorism, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

While 41 percent oppose the NSA surveillance program specifically, a much broader swath of the country is generally willing to sacrifice privacy for security.

Sixty-two percent say they'd rather the government intrude on their privacy if it means making it easier to investigate terrorist threats.

You have to wonder how these lambs feel about being led to the slaughterhouse. They probably are thinking the same thing as, you know, actual mutton.

But the survey also reveals some fascinating demographic information. Out of the age groups surveyed, young people are both the least likely to be following the surveillance news closely and the most likely to say they highly value their privacy. Predictably, Democrats say they're supportive of the policy more often than Republicans do—and Republicans were far more supportive of the NSA's warrantless wiretapping back in 2006 when President Bush was in the White House, compared with today.

On the whole, only 27 percent of Americans are even paying close attention to the revelations. That's roughly the same share of the country that in late May was tuned into the IRS targeting scandal and Congress's investigations into the Benghazi attack.

The key part of this news -- to me, anyway -- is that Democrats favor NSA snooping over Republicans, which is precisely the opposite of what it was during the Bush years. In other words, my party's president before the Constitution.

The pushback against the whistleblower -- which some are refusing to even call that -- is a blizzard of smears and personal attacks.

"If you don't have anything to hide..." you say?

So your bank or credit card company has never made a mistake on a check or a deposit or a debit or a credit? You've never been rooked, gypped, or defrauded, or had your identity stolen and your credit report damaged as a result?

The police have never pulled you over for no reason? Never given you a speeding ticket when you weren't speeding... or worse? I don't suppose the law enforcement officers of this great nation have ever gotten an address wrong on a search warrant for drugs. (Certainly, in the United States of America, we have never, ever arrested, charged, prosecuted, convicted, sentenced and absolutely never executed an innocent man, then.)

Ask a lawyer about what a good idea it is to accept a police invitation to stand in a lineup. You know, since you're innocent.

Has your son or daughter ever been in trouble at school? What about that time when your rebellious son was hanging out with the wrong crowd that night and got picked up for criminal mischief -- or worse yet, had a marijuana cigarette in his pocket?

How about the other side of your family? You know, the n'er-do-wells with your same last name? Don't they have a son who goes to all those protests with OWS?

What about that insane neighbor who heads up the Neighborhood Watch? Didn't you piss him off one day by blocking his driveway for five minutes while moving a piano? Did you know that he was filing reports on "subversive" neighbors late at night on his computer?

All of these things -- and more -- will find their way into your file in the new age of Total Information Awareness. These files are permanent. You don't get to read them and correct mistakes. Once something goes in that file, right or wrong, it will be there forever and you won't ever know about it.


Can't figure out why you were denied that business loan?

...or why your daughter was denied admission to that prestigious university?

...or why the city wouldn't grant you that building permit?

Do you feel safer yet?

Still not certain about the real threats against your life?

In 2001, the year when America suffered an unprecedented terrorist attack -- by far the biggest in its history -- roughly 3,000 people died from terrorism in the U.S.

Let's put that in context. That same year in the United States:

  • 71,372 died of diabetes.
  • 29,573 were killed by guns.
  • 13,290 were killed in drunk driving accidents.

Measured in lives lost, during an interval that includes the biggest terrorist attack in American history, guns posed a threat to American lives that was more than 100 times greater than the threat of terrorism. Over the same interval, drunk driving threatened our safety 50 times more than terrorism.

Those aren't the only threats many times more deadly than terrorism, either.

The CDC estimates that food poisoning kills roughly 3,000 Americans every year. Every year, food-borne illness takes as many lives in the U.S. as were lost during the high outlier of terrorism deaths. It's a killer more deadly than terrorism. Should we cede a significant amount of liberty to fight it?

I am appalled at the people who think this kind of spying is just no big deal. And when the rationalizations for doing so get carried to partisan extremes...

... well, it's probably over for our republican democratic experiment. And six out of ten Americans don't have a fucking clue about that, either.

Update: Extra thoughts from jobsanger.


Katy Anders said...

Is there ANY intrusion into our rights that can't theoretically be justified by fighting terrorism?

"If the life of just ONE child is saved by this program, then it will have been worth it..."

Then Obama - whose administration looks to be going after the person who made us aware of the program - walks out and says, "It's great that we are having a debate about this subject,. because I'm concerned about it, too!"

So he's excited about having a debate but is going after the person who made the debate possible...

I'm done with him. Police state it is...

Elderlady said...

This is where I am with a lot of this. When people were voting on The Patriot Act.way back in 2001.. I screamed, yelled, and stomped my feet... and mostly quoted Ben Franklin, about those "who would sacrifice liberty for temporary security...deserve neither." I was labeled "unpatriotic." Congress passed the damned law anyway. So, until we can get Congress to repeal this crap....it is what it is. I grew up during WWII. Nobody wanted to know what library books I read. I lived through rationing (hey I still have the books) of gasoline, sugar, meat, and anything else that was "vital" to the war effort. We were NEVER told to "go shopping". I don't know how you roll back the law, or the attitudes that accompanied the damned thing. But, it needs to be done.