George Orwell would have a hard time writing 1984 if he did it now. Back in the 50s and 60s people understood instinctively why they wouldn’t want to live in a world with 24×7 surveillance of their lives. Now, as we’re getting closer to that level of government monitoring, they’re getting used to the idea:
In her acceptance speech, Sarah Palin said this:
Al-Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America and he’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights.
Now it turns out that it’s conservatives who want to be scrupulous about reading them their rights, and it’s leftwingers who are taking the Sarah Palin position of mocking those who are concerned about legalities.
I’m talking about the hacking of Sarah Palin’s e-mail account. Leftwingers are telling us the end justifies the means. They didn’t find any terrorism this way, but they think they uncovered some minor wrongdoing. Look at all the excuses they make over here are LiveJournal (in a forum where I cross-posted this). In other words, they’ve gone from complaining about GWB’s wireless wiretaps to participating in illegal wiretaps themselves, after the fact.
And it’s the McCain campaign that’s concerned about her rights. News item:
A statement from John McCain’s campaign condemned the hack as an “invasion of the governor’s privacy and a violation of law.”
When the government (or big business in the service of big government) comes up with a new way to intrude on our privacy, there will always be someone who tries to defend it. “Privacy doesn’t exist”, he might say. “It’s an illusion.”
Or, if it’s government censorship, he will say, “There is no such thing as an absolute right to free speech, therefore it’s fine for the government to restrict whatever it wants.”
I like the way the current Robert X Cringely handled one of those in his Infoworld blog. It’s in the responses to an article he wrote about Google’s unforthrightness about what it’s doing with our IP addresses.
One person responded:
Thinking about this… When was the last time you had your picture taken? No not by your wife, but by a survaliance camera? I bet it was yesterday when you stopped at the bank, had a cup of coffee at the corner coffey shop, how about when you picked up the bagle, or at the grocery store last night. […]
Privacy does not exhist! It is an ilusion…
Cringely cut through the nonsense thusly:
finally, to those who say ‘we have no privacy’ or that it’s merely an illusion, I say this: drop your pants. and while you’re at it, I’d like your social security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name and home address. post them here if you like.
everyone has information they want, need, and should keep private. the game isn’t over yet.
I think I can also use that on people who say, “I don’t care if the government knows X. I don’t have anything to hide.” The answer is yes, you do have something to hide. Yes, the government knows your social security number, but think of the government official who dislikes you most being in a position to ask you to a) drop your pants and b) explain what you and your wife/lover were talking about in bed last night.