You're being watched. Almost everywhere you go. Video cameras proliferate like sex-crazed rabbits. Satellites can probably count the hairs on your head. Those obscene, ubiquitous cellphone cameras are catching you from every angle, whether you know the owner or not — whether you want to be shot or not.
You're being tracked. Not just through the Internet, despite the claims that one can surf without leaving a trail. Your cellphone probably allows people to set your position to within an inch or two. And every time you use a credit card, a little bit of you is shaved off and sent via transporter to a central receptacle where it's processed, coded, and safely stored — for eternity.
You could open your door one day to a passel of men in dark suits who flash identification and take you to an undisclosed location where you have no rights. A phone call? Don't make them laugh. Think it can't happen? Why? What makes you so special?
You've lost your privacy. Do you care?
There's this episode of West Wing, that bastion of liberal socialistic anti-Americanism, where a potential Supreme Court nominee is asked if he believes the constitution contains a Right to Privacy.
(Editor's Note: If you take the a and c out, it spells privy, where real men have for generations guarded their privacy. After over twenty years of marriage, my bride still asks with a tone of disbelief, confusion, and irritation why men spend so much time in the privy. And, after all these years, I still can't explain it.)
But I digress. The nominee says that there is no explicit right to privacy in either the Constitution or Bill of Rights. Oops. Wrong answer for some liberal, left wing, socialist program. He's toast.
Now the First & Fourth amendments do suggest some measure of personal privacy. (For those of you who don't have your Constitution handy, here's the Fourth:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Not bad, but it'd be nice to see an explicit statement such as, "The government will keep it's hands, eyes, and tongues out of my business unless I'm doing something really bad, and if there's a question about how bad I'm being, the default option is keep out."
However, you (and I) have already thrown the Fourth amendment into a shredder, and it's not all the fault of hiz former honor, George Bush. Mostly, probably, but not all. The fact is we're blithely giving our privacy away for free, thanks to technological discoveries we neither understand nor control, including that most insidious of parasitical inventions, the Internet.
It's bad enough that American Express won't issue me a card unless I reveal the most intimate details of my life such as, how much do you owe your local bookie, why haven't you weeded your garden since the beginning of Spring, how often do you and your wife — well, you get the idea. And I give them the information because I want their damn card.
Conservatives hate the Fourth amendment even though they claim to prize privacy. Let the police go where they will. If you're innocent, you've nothing to fear. (At least, I think that's what conservatives believe. Cogito ergo veritas, which means, roughly, "if that's what I think, it's good enough for me to believe.")
Liberals say they love the Fourth amendment but have done nothing to protect it. Perhaps they share the same naive faith in government as the conservatives: If I've done nothing wrong, I've nothing to fear. Or, perhaps they're too busy with more important issues, such as saving the earth, programming their children to be perfect little adults, and protecting inter-species marriage.
Where, when, and how did we get so screwed up?
I love the expression, "off the grid." It's too late for me. My carcass has been spread all over the grid like warm butter on hot toast. I've sunk into grid crevasses so deep it'd take a blow torch to clean me out. And that'd hurt — a lot, which is not a good thing.
Gadfry Daniels, I even use my own name on the Internet. What a putz!
And it doesn't look as if Ol' Jug Ears is wrapping himself up in the privacy banner, at least based on how he's dealing with the trials (and tribulations) of maybe terrorists being held in Cuba.
The police put video cameras on poles to catch us speeding or breaking into 7-11s, there's something in our cell phones that allow strange government agencies to pinpoint our exact location, and no one squeaks when the government gets all aroused over putting our medical information online so it's available to every acne-faced hacker.
9/11 didn't help. We're so fixated on security, so insistent that the government protect us from every crazed terrorist, illegal immigrant, and flasher that issues of privacy are brushed aside like cookie crumbs.
"What if it were your daughter?" comes the challenge to anyone who suggests that risk is an inevitable component of life. "You wanna be blown up by some radical weirdo?"
Yeah. That's my goal in life, to be some moron's ticket to 27 virgins or indeterminate age.
But isn't that the risk we have to take if we're going to live in a free society? Isn't our privacy worth something? And why are we so freely giving it away like the school slut?
It's perhaps a classic example of the law of unintended consequences. We never ask about the implications of our actions. We assume things will work as intended. We're idiots. And now we're on display for all to see.
Welcome to the Monkey House.