Privacy Shmrivacy

fbook lifeThe comedian Pete Holmes used to do a bit about how Facebook was actually a giant government conspiracy to get us to give up our privacy rights. Three years ago, it seemed funny.

That a shockingly large percentage of Americans believe Edward Snowden ought to be tried for high crimes – treason is the offense of choice – instead of lauded as an activist making all of us wiser suggests that Pete’s joke might in fact be the truth.Pete-Holmes-2013.jpg

As Lawrence Wright recently reported in The New Yorker, the CIA knew Al Qaeda was in the USA two years before 9/11. None of the sixty or more people at the Agency who knew about the operatives cooperated with colleagues at the FBI. (Many of these folks were subsequently promoted for reasons that remain unclear.) Edward Snowden broke the law, and war-mongers like California’s grouchy Auntie Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, want him pilloried. Despite the strenuous blubbering from people in the killing business, Snowden’s revelations haven’t killed a single American. The CIA’s obstruction of justice in the USS Cole investigation and its failure to share information from tapped phones set the stage for the biggest terrorist attack in history. CIA Director James Clapper lied under oath to Congress.

But more promotions no doubt are in order.

It would be easy to dismiss the vehement disagreement over Snowden as just another example of people with money and power always wanting more of it to the detriment of just about everyone and everything else. When we live in a world where 85 human beings have as much wealth as the bottom half, greed becomes an acceptable – and secretly admired – attribute. But something larger is happening here.

Activists Rally In New York In Support Of NSA Whistleblower Edward SnowdenSocietal apathy. Almost no one cares.

On Facebook, everyone is a star. Privacy? What good is that when the second highest aspiration in American life (after riches), the pursuit of fame and celebrity, requires “sharing” your private life with strangers? So a large group of strangers – the government, the NSA – is “knowing” your emails and telephone calls. That’s great! That means you’re kinda important.

In our way of thinking, Edward Snowden deserves a Presidential pardon for his crimes – and an official acknowledgment that law-abiding American people must know about and consent to being put under surveillance before a large group of strangers is welcome in their private life. We believe that the 2016 Presidential candidates ought to sign a clemency pledge before they earn our vote. If Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist could get dozens of politicians to sign a no-new-taxes pledge, surely the righteous of mind could insist on a litmus test of their own.

Of course, for that to happen, someone would have to care.

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