Tina Dupuy: Freedom of too much information
We are all celebrities now. Ever since we won Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2006, the same year we first found out about the National Security Administration spying on us, we’ve all become essentially public figures.
It’s the new equality: We are all stars!
"Private citizen" is now akin to "paid volunteer" — a contradiction.
If you’re on the grid, you’re no longer private.
Why? Because we’re being watched. Our personal paparazzi are tracking our every move.
The retailer, Target, can tell you when you’re pregnant, sometimes before you know. (It’s called "target marketing" and it’s just a funny coincidence Target is really good at it.)
Your car knows when you speed and is ready to rat you out.
Your "phone" is basically a data-gathering gadget disclosing everything from where you are to how often you win at online Scrabble.
Your web ads know the kind of shoes you ogle off-hours.
And then there are our fan pages: Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest, Twitter, Google+ and whatever offshoot you’re into. We volunteer much about our lives as public figures.
And now there’s confirmation the NSA is still data-mining our phone calls, possibly our emails and who knows what else. Yes, they’re going after terrorists, but our information is in the queue too — just in case.
When President Obama said this would be the most transparent administration in history, he was right. He just meant us.
Which is why we should at least decriminalize adult prostitution and weed.
Stick with me here.
If we have to live in a digital fishbowl, then we should have the decency not to fill prisons with blue law violators.
If it’s not private, at least make it not prosecutable.
There has to be some freedom — some ray of civil liberties — left in what we call a free country.
The 2005 Supreme Court decision, Lawrence v. Texas, made consensual sex between adults legal in all 50 states. These so-called sodomy laws weren’t just aspirational guidelines for a Christian utopian society, they were used to lock up married people for doing what Michael Douglas said gave him throat cancer.
"...Homosexual acts are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law-based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that," said Ken Cuccinelli, Attorney General for Virginia, who is now running for governor. He’s the government. He’s the main legal adviser in a state which claims it is "for lovers." He wants to dictate what we can do behind closed doors. The problem is: We no longer have those proverbial closed doors.
According to an FBI report, marijuana arrests make up over half of all drug arrests. One person is arrested every 42 seconds for pot. It’s not a stretch to imagine NSA data could go toward finding potheads to put in the pokey. Weed is a stupid drug and the laws against it are even stupider.
I’m not propagating some flippant idea that if we have no laws then there will be no crime. I’m merely suggesting having no privacy and arbitrary puritanical laws is a recipe for a theocracy. We have no confidentiality yet petty prudes wield legal authority in the government.
What we’re looking at is the worst of both worlds. It’s like a mashup of The Scarlet Letter and 1984 — The Crucible with electronic surveillance.
And I don’t think we can regain our privacy. The technology exists to track us and store the data. Our information is gathered now. It’s here.
What we can do is be tolerate of private behavior that is begrudgingly now public knowledge.
Think of it as the burden that comes with being a "celebrity."
Tina Dupuy is managing editor of Crooks and Liars. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.