Free Freedom

A weary-looking TSA official asked me why I opted out of the full-body scanner at the airport recently. As always, I responded that it is against my religion. The haunting lyrics from a Larry Norman song waft through my head; “I was born and raised an orphan, in a land that once was free…” It used to be, when I was little, that you were innocent until proven guilty. As I stand in line at the airport, next to an eerily humming x-ray machine that is examining all my secrets, learning what I’m reading without ever having to read my blog, I watch fellow citizens step inside a sci-fi-inspired glass chamber while being bombarded with God-knows-what so that any unnatural contusions might be spotted and analyzed. They raise their hands above their heads like outlaws in the old west. We are all guilty now, until proven innocent. If you are Trayvon Martin, you pay for the assumption of guilt with your life. Don’t worry, Mr. Zimmerman, you’ll be acquitted.

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In my darker moments, I wonder who benefits from a government that keeps increasing amounts of data on its citizens while cutting programs to ensure their comfort and health. We have elected a police force, not officials of the people, by the people, for the people. Vigilantes can literally get away with murder, as long as the skin-tone algorithm is correct, but if you’re perverted enough to want to fly, you have nothing about which your government is not interested. Who is being protected here? Who is being kept safe? A stranger has his gloved hands on my crotch. I’m feeling a little more than vulnerable.

Protest is a sign of love in this troubled world. If I step inside that glass chamber and raise my arms, I am declaring that I am guilty. Let me prove my innocence to you. Technology has made our private lives so easy to scrutinize. I used to think the future envisioned by Jacques Ellul was just a touch paranoid. I’m now beginning to think he didn’t go far enough. This computer on my lap can be like a TSA official in my own home. My website visits may be traced and analyzed, and my self-publish words misconstrued. And if I go to the store at night, a stranger can follow and shoot me with the blessings of our legal system. Of what are we so afraid? Is it time to stand our ground yet?

3 thoughts on “Free Freedom

  1. I would point out that Zimmerman is also presumed innocent by the system. People have the right to walk down the street. They have the right to observe strangers in their neighborhood. They have the right to be total jerks. Sometimes that leads to trouble that didn’t have to happen, and that doesn’t sit well or make the presumed innocent Zimmerman a sympathetic party. There are no easy answers in that case, and I was not on the jury or in the courtroom in spite of what the media would have me believe about their “unbiased” coverage. However, the idea that I have no right to defend myself if someone is smashing my head against the concrete doesn’t sit well, either.

    As for the TSA, Ellul did not go far enough. TSA is nothing compared to NSA. Snowden is 100% spot on, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Rockafellers and Carnegies were Americans who were invested in our country. The people in power now no longer invest in America or need her people to retain their money and power. We are nothing but the booty call, and the more control the corporate-controlled government has over us, the more compliant a booty call we are.

    The most disturbing thing for Holmes and I in all of this is how terribly complacent the American public is. Nixon had one illegal wire tap, and the whole country blew up in rage. The Obama Administration expanded the pre-existing PRISM program from use on foreigners to use on all American citizens. The same people who raised hell about the comparatively negligible Bush surveillance programs are okay with this because it’s their darling in charge. They trust their “own” party with no comprehension that both parties now serve the same masters, and it’s not the American people.

    You and I have seen so many freedoms lost, but our children will not remember a world where their every electronic transaction was not recorded, stored, and analyzed by an ever-more-grasping government. A world where their persons and property were safe from unwarranted search and seizure. People simply no longer want the responsibility of freedom. Makes me want to shove my head in a wood chipper. We are becoming more Soviet than the Soviet Union ever was.

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    • Steve Wiggins

      Thanks for your thoughts, Piper. It is a frightening world, and I admit that were it not for this blog, I’d probably prefer not to think about it. It kind of makes me long for Plato’s philosopher kings…

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