I often talk about social policies I don’t like, social issues that I think are pressing, or solutions to problems from my point of view. Often though, the ideas are kind of at an academic distance, and so I thought I would share just one way these vague, and seemingly distant policies really effect me, and probably others.
The reason I thought of this was because I just sent an email to my sister. A week or so ago my mom had sent us a video about some sort of terrorist threat in the NYC subways, and the newscaster went on to explain why it was an “easy target” etc. So we then had a couple of back and forth emails about how annoyed we get when the media provides a blueprint of sorts for people who really would carry out such heinous acts. Then I thought about how many movies I have seen with elaborate plots on how to rob a bank, blow up a city, etc, and I sent that thought to my sister.
Immediately after sending the email, I had a queasy feeling. I had just sent communication over the internet containing the text ” how to rob a bank, blow up a city”. The thought that this email was going to be picked up in some governmental office scanning emails for suspected terrorist activities crossed my mind. And this isn’t the first time that I’ve had this feeling. With domestic wiretapping, communication interception and a raft of other policies ushered in by Bush throughout his presidency and the Patriot Act, those of us who think Big Brother might be peeking over our shoulder when we communicate, are no longer paranoid- we are realistic.
I don’t want to live in a country where as a completely innocent citizen, I have to second guess my words when talking to my family. I’m not saying I had a full blow panic attack, or I started hyperventilating. But the fact that the thought crossed my mind, that I might pop up on a watch list somewhere, even if for only a second, is unsettling. Has our society really become so dangerous that it is necessary to surrender our right to privacy? The terrorist watch list maintained by the FBI has nearly 1 million names on it. Call me crazy, but I don’t think we have that many terrorists running amok.
So that’s it really. Just an observation I had. And this sort of thing only wants me to redouble efforts to protect our civil liberties and promote social justice at home and abroad.