Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ferguson: A Black & White Conversation

A conversation I read online between two humans trying to understand each other and what has happened. A little more talking, and trying, and understanding will make a better world.


I have a number of white acquaintances. I even have a few white friends. The latter are people who simply accept me and all of my eccentricities. They judge me, they yell at me, they tell me I don’t understand. For the most part, my white friends know I never really think of them as my ‘white’ friends.

Why start this off with the above? Well. It’s actually rather simple. We live in a race society and a racially divided country and race, for the most part, has a bearing on almost every single solitary action in our existence. I choose to start this off with a reality. It doesn’t matter if I am walking around in a high end store or wanting to buy a house. The differences scream at us whether we want them to or not. Try as we might to NOT see the differences and as politically correct as it may be to not even mention the differences, if you can’t discuss those differences then are you truly friends?

What’s going on in Ferguson, MO is tragic and backing down behind the argument “we don’t really know what happened around that police car. Wait for the facts to come out” does not quite grasp the anguish and horror as well as the complete and total frustration so many blacks in that town and blacks all over America experience, not feel but actually experience directly each and every day of our lives.

Getting pulled over for “Driving while Black” is not some cute little saying nor does this cute little saying fully grasp the horror of what it is to pass by a police car, look at him while he looks at you going by and KNOW you need to prepare to pull over. Not once or twice or in some small southern town but the absolute reality of this in big and medium American cities. Black children may be taught to respect the police but we come to understand that we must FEAR the police. They will shoot us. They will beat us. They will harass us. Usually with little or no provocation. This is a reality for us. For us the police force is a military force with all of the enjoined powers thereof, and it’s not a black cop nor a white cop because all cops are blue.

My white friends and I have this conversation and some of them get that they cannot understand no matter how many facts they may have about our existence. They try. They really do but they cannot. They are sympathetic and get it intellectually but the reality of having a police officer order one to show ID simply because you are walking down the street or to have someone follow you around a store… or even to ask a police officer for directions. It’s terrifying for those of us who are law abiding citizens. What about those who straddle it or flat out break the law.

This is a terrifying time in Ferguson but this is only the reality that we live with each and every single day and it does not make it to the media and when it does it’s downplayed because the victim is black. Let’s face it he already has two strikes against him. He’s black and he’s male. Anything that happens… well the cops are probably justified.


Some of us whites have an inkling. If we are dressed in really casual clothes, torn blue jeans, 3 day beard etc, the cops are more likely to harass us when out walking, store clerks watch us and so on. Many whites and other races have experienced this unfortunate class-based discrimination.

However, there is a big difference – all my fellow whites and I have to do is put on a suit and tie and the police usually turn much more courteous. From talking to blacks and reading accounts in the news the discrimination happens no matter what. It must be a terrible feeling to live in a society where you are constantly under suspicion wherever you go or what you do.

When prejudicial thoughts enter my mind I try really hard to not let them turn into action. I believe we all can reduce each form of discrimination in society if we have the self-discipline and courage.



Same-Sex Marriage Now Legal For Majority Of The U.S.

For more than 165 million Americans — more than half the US population — Same-Sex Marriage Equality is now very real.


The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday to decline hearing a series of appeals cases on same-sex marriage will have the effect of immediately legalizing gay marriage in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. When combined with the 19 states (and the District of Columbia) that had previously legalized same-sex marriage, these states have a collective population of roughly 165 million, according to 2013 census figures.

For the first time, same-sex marriage is legal for the majority of the U.S. population. The 26 states where the practice is not legal have a total population of about 151 million.

The Supreme Court’s decision will also lead to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. Those states have an additional 25 million people combined. When these states follow suit because they fall under federal circuit courts that have ruled same-sex marriage restrictions unconstitutional, 30 states and the District of Columbia — totaling about 60 percent of the U.S. population — will allow same-sex marriage.

Two years ago at this time, same-sex marriage was legal only in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District, which together have about 11 percent of the U.S. population.

Progress marches onward.




Hands Up, Don’t Shoot! — America

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Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man

A member of the St. Louis County Police Department points his weapon in the direction of a group of protesters in Ferguson, Mo. on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014.

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Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man

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Demonstrator Keisha Gray cries while protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri

Environmental Regulations — Breath Easier


Château de Saint-Germain-Beaupré (II) — Revisiting The Fortress Château

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Château de Saint-Germain-Beaupré, a historic Fortified Château I previously posted and referred to as “Juxtaposition Of Royal Pretensions & Battle-Weary Sensibilities”, sits surrounded by a moat, meadows and lakes within a 16 hectare walled estate — newly restored inside with the luxuries and amenities of 21st Century living, and enshrouded by nearly a 1000 years of turbulent family and French history. It is situated 3 hours south of Paris, 25 minutes north of Limoges, in the Limousin.

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The Château Fortress sits on an ancient site dating back to the 12th Century, it suffered enormously during the 100 years war (1337-1453) and was rebuilt several times. For over 600 years the Château Fortress defended the Foucauld family seat – a Protestant, noble Clan, Companions-at-Arms with Jean D’Arc. In October 1605 King Henry IV stayed at the Château, in the room now known as “The Kings’ Suite”— he trusted and maintained great friendship with the Foucauld family.

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Surrounded by its own water system predating the Château’s construction and thought to date back to Roman times, the Château’s same strong water source feeds three lakes and finally cascade into a fish-stocked moat surrounding and protecting the Château.

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Upon entering the stone Gatehouse, the drive winds its way through a glade of exotic and mature trees and shrubs, outbuildings such as a caretaker’s cottage, large stable block, an orangerie, and workshops/garages. Finally sits the stately home of one of the many powerful, warrior families of medieval France. Worn from centuries of conflict, a bridge across the moat and a remotely operated wooden drawbridge permit limited access to the inner sanctum of the Château — total seclusion ensured.

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During the recent refurbishment, no rebuilding took place, but a full restoration of the remaining 16th and 19th Century buildings — where modernity co-exists with architectural elements that have evolved over five centuries, providing all the creature comforts one would expect: bedroom suites / apartments incorporate Carrera marble bathrooms built by Italian craftsmen, and Philippe Starck bathroom fixtures. Polished oak floors conceal start-of-the-art plumbing and electrics. The Château’s two meter thick window recesses retain their original 17th Century hand painted decoration of animals and birds living on the estate.

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The living space is set over three levels. Flagstone floors and a vaulted ceiling in brick lead into the grand salon with a large granite fireplace. A rear salon leads into a secluded library in the tower. Fully fitted kitchen with Carrara marble worktops leads to a dining room with large fireplace and a Murano glass chandelier. A further tower is home to the study and stairs down to an ancient chapel. The granite staircase, with its fully restored gothic ceiling, leads upward.

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The King’s Suite with its four poster bed and fireplace has a walk-in dressing room and Carrera marble bathroom in the tower. The “Grande Mademoiselle” bedroom features a hand painted ceiling, while the Yellow Room with its raised bed and marble en-suite bathroom also has large french windows and pastoral views. The “Octagonal Suite” in one of the towers has a large marble bathroom and views from many windows and balcony. There’s a further guest room with en-suite bathroom.

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Rising another floor up, there is a home-cinema and music room and further accommodation rooms. Outstanding attic space with intricate joinery supporting a unique and notable roof structure throughout the Château.

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A series of well preserved dungeons originally holding prisoners, now offer numerous storage facilities, along with central heating boiler, etc.

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Location in France

The Creuse is France’s hidden department, and forms part of the Limousin region. You have to leave the beaten track to find the many interesting and small towns and hamlets dotting the area.

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Guéret is the capital of the department and has around 15,000 inhabitants, which gives you an idea how sparsely populated this department is. The proximity of the town to both the River Creuse and the Lac du Cortille mean that plenty of watersports are available for both visitors and residents alike.

Bourganeuf has less than 3,500 inhabitants yet has a rich and affluent history, as the Knights Templar had their headquarters here for many years. La Souterraine is another popular small town, steeped in history and has drawn much interest from archaeologists over the years thanks to its 13th century crypt.

The Creuse has some diverse landscapes – from the vast plains of the Berry to the North, the hilly landscape of the Auvergne to the east and woodland to the south. The easiest way to access the Creuse is to fly into Limoges, or catch the TGV high-speed train from Paris.



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St. Germain-Beaupré is a canton of the Underground, which has 846 inhabitants — yes, tiny, indeed. St. Germain-Beaupré itself has a population of about 397.

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The church is a focal point of the village and has undergone many changes, including the end of the XVIII construction period of the bell tower, extended by a tapered lantern  inspired by the towers of the château of Saint Germain Beaupré. It incorporates the stately chapel, built at the end of XV, against the southern flank of the vaulted nave with ribbed arches, tiercerons, and key central vault with weapons of the Foucault family. The west door of the chapel is decorated with a molded and sculpted décor unfortunately cut in its upper part. There is a painting on canvas (late XVII) representing Saint Germain Bishop of Auxerre and a canvas painting (1729), signed Nillaud (limougeaud painter), representing the return of the Rosary to St. Dominic.

Over the years significant damage occurred and operation Saving Popular Heritage Distance Creuse was necessary for the restoration of this church.

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The “Nothing To Hide” Defense — A Not Altogether Thoughtful Position That Forfeits Freedoms In An NSA Age

Or… How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New Stasi

Sometimes I become so frustrated with a circumstance or a discussion/debate/argument that I have to continue to play it out by writing out the conclusion. I become frustrated when what should be a simple intellectual joust in pursuit of understanding or clarification devolves into confrontation. I’m always unsatisfied with that outcome, and I have to play out the scenario to its end. Thus follows…

It was a cold, brisk, wintery-rainy evening this past Saturday set alight by a Holiday Party amongst friends. For an hour, I wandered the crowd hugging, kissing, and smiling. Eventually I completed my rounds and found the food table filled with gourmet treats. While contemplating the choices, I overheard one of my more genteel friends pronounce an opinion robustly and openly. She, an always tanned, world traveler and cruise fanatic, was discussing with one of my more intellectual friends, an international businessman.

“Well, I’ve got nothing to hide, so I really could not care.” I instantly knew the topic and the position she had taken… and to me this was like hearing the starting gun for a thoroughbred at the Belmont Stakes. “What!,” I retorted uninvitedly. “You have got to be kidding; having nothing to hide has nothing to do with your right to privacy and your freedoms!,” I quipped. And, I was off!

image.w174h200f3The topic, of course, was about the recent revelations of the NSA snooping on American’s cellphone calls, international calls, world leader’s calls, etc. And the comment was a defense of this government snooping activity: the “Nothing To Hide” defense.

It was a very frustrating and disappointing “conversation.” It has to be in quotes because it wasn’t a conversation, not a discussion, not even a debate. You must both listen to each other and refute the stated points for a discussion to occur. “Oh, come on, I don’t want to hear it,” was the greeting to my comment.

I asserted, “Freedom is risky. If you want total security, you want to have a totalitarian society.” “That is absurd,” came promptly. “You don’t mind having your calls monitored or tracked because you think you have nothing to hide, which misses the point, but that’s the mentality of Russia and the former Soviet Union… that if you’re innocent, then you have nothing to hide, that one is guilty until proven innocent, while here we are innocent until proven guilty. If you are presumed innocent then no one has a right to track you and your calls or monitor you until you become suspected of engaging in illicit acts and a court order has been obtained.”

“We are talking about Terrorists for God Sake! Not some intellectual rant about Russia,” shot my way. To which I responded, “Yes, you want to be safe, but you are willing to give up your freedoms for security, and I happen to agree with Eisenhower when he said,” and I was halted in my tracks with a loud interruption. “Listen dear we are talking about protection from horrible terrorists.” “Yes, but that’s my point, and I still refer to what Eisenhower said when he,” and I was again stopped in my tracks. “You just don’t get it.” “I do, but I want to make my point with what Eisenhower said.” “We have been harmed by terrorists and must do what must be done to protect ourselves.” “Well, Eisenhower said…” “Oh! Enough, who cares?” “ Well, I do, and I want to make my point.” Another interruption, “How can you justify not taking precautions?!” “Are you gonna let me tell you?” Another interruption. “Are you gonna let me tell you?” Interruption. “Are you gonna let me tell you?” Interruption. “So, you really aren’t going to let me make my point?” “No, I’m not. Who cares what Eisenhower said. He wasn’t dealing with terrorists!”

“Ugh, you’re just being a Liberal!” was lobbed as an insult grenade as she turned on her heals and angrily darted away and into another small group where she ranted promptly about me, in what I was informed was a rather uncomplimentary complaint, to a fellow conservative (former advisor and aide to our recent republican governor) — ironically enough, one who knows how to discuss such matters respectfully without relinquishing her position. As she turned and ran, I rejoined sufficiently loud, “It’s not a matter of being Liberal or conservative; it’s just that I value my freedoms and rights. You may not deserve your freedoms, but I deserve mine.”

We made amends, though, as friends do. Yet, the situation still ate at me with disappointment. I will and do assert my views strongly, but I also enjoy hearing an opposed view and even more so their reasoning. I especially enjoy the back and forth attempt to understand or make one’s point in an attempt to convince. Sometimes that can be an energized or passionate attempt on my part, but it is never dismissive or rude. I may not give ground, but I don’t attempt to seize it, either. That is an important difference in “conversation.”

This is what President Dwight D. Eisenhower said in regards to the pursuit of extreme security in a free society:

“If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking… is freedom.”

I should have also offered this Eisenhower quip:

“May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.”

I said correctly that “The War On Terror Is America’s Mania” in my July 22, 2013 posting to Faustian urGe, “Freedom Is Not Free — Risk In The Age After 9/11 & The Snowden Revelations.”

The above encounter and this topic, specifically, came at an interesting time, as more revelations from the Snowden NSA release showed that while it had been publicly admitted that the NSA recorded contacts and length of calls and locations of Americans on US soil, the truth is that American phone calls are being monitored for content, etc while they are traveling internationally. It was revealed that NSA monitors and records such calls in a vast net of internationally based calls and inevitably ensnares US citizens’ phone calls when they travel internationally. We are to be assured that these are syphoned out upon learning that a US citizen is the one being monitored. Really? OK.


We Deserve Our Freedoms Even If We Have Nothing to Hide

Even I, the “Liberal,” can appreciate the wisdom of Ronald Reagan when he said to us,

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Today, it seems that many Americans have forgotten this important lesson. And nowhere is the lack of knowledge and common sense of the American populace more apparent than as regards our collective response to the NSA revelations.

One retort to my genteel woman friend above I would have liked to deliver in response to, “We are talking about Terrorists for God Sake!,” would have been to the effect of: Terrorists are about terrorizing and thereby winning. Which is to say that if they instigate self-immolating fears that prompt a society to take actions harmful to the self, then they have won. That is the focus of terrorism. They cannot win by military defeat such as Germany triumphing over Poland in WWII, so they act in a manner that makes a “Poland” destroy itself. Or here, to make the US forfeit its most cherished quality: Freedom.

Thus, when Americans act out of fear and retreat to “security” as their overriding concern, they risk forfeiting many of the hard-won freedoms we have historically enjoyed. Americans will tolerate “snooping” and clear invasions of privacy and reduction of rights and freedoms because over privacy, rights, and freedoms, they are afraid of losing life (terrified).

Once upon a time, Americans would have said, “Give me Liberty or give me death!”

Today, the American mantra seems to be, “Give Up Your Liberty Or We’re All Gonna Die!”

Today, we seem to meekly yowl, writhe in painful fear, and willfully and willingly hand over our freedoms for a promised sense of safety.

I find this reaction disappointing and unacceptable.

As was said of those taking the “Nothing To Hide” argument regarding NSA activities,

“These fellow citizens of ours don’t care about their constitutionally protected freedoms because they don’t understand them or the consequences of losing them. And if you don’t care about a freedom, you’re sure to lose it.”

— Floyd Brown, a political appointee in the Reagan campaigns and consultant to the Bush, Dole, and Forbes presidential campaigns

The terrorists have won. And we have helped them to defeat us.

A handful of terrorist thugs destroy some of our iconic buildings and tragically kill three thousand people, and we willing trade away our rights because we have not the fortitude to earn and defend our freedoms, as freedom entails risk. Exposure to to risk is the cost of freedom… it is the deeper truth behind the trite cliché that “Freedom Is Not Free.” Indeed. And that was the point of my original post about risk in the age after 9/11. The point isn’t that we should not respond by taking precautionary measures. Risk and security must be balanced to achieve safety while preserving freedoms, not just as many as we can but all our freedoms.

We defeat terrorism by not succumbing to it.

Every single year more than 11,000 firearm-related homicide deaths occur in the United States. Each year! Yet, we mightily protest that restrictions cannot be legislated because this would intolerably infringe on our constitutional rights! Yet, after one single (and yes, horrific) attack in which less than a third of these casualties occurred, we toss away our rights and freedoms… seemingly, glibly. I find this disturbing and beneath a great society.

Now, don’t get me wrong about the loss of life on 9/11. I watched the second plane hit the tower live on television, and I wept as I saw the close up images of people jumping and falling out of the World Trade Center. At the time, I sat on the Board of Directors of an organization based in New York City, and I cried on the phone with my employees as they relayed to me what they saw outside their office windows, as they watched their friends and associates dying just down the street in the crushing inferno.

But in the scheme of things, this is what happened. We reacted… and overreacted. We invaded a country that never threatened us and killed more than 100,000 innocent civilians. We fearfully forfeited some of our highest freedoms that are constitutionally guaranteed. World War I started from a simple terrorist assassination of a European royal, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. An overreaction occurred. An entire continent went to war. Sometimes events cause reactions far out of proportion, and we must be on guard to measure ourselves and our actions.

We may simply look at history to understand why…


“I’m not worried about NSA. Got nothing to hide & want to stay safe.” This is the sentiment of millions of Americans who sincerely believe they have nothing to worry about. They don’t think they’ve committed a crime, and therefore they’re comfortable allowing the NSA, Barack Obama, the CIA, and the FBI to know their whereabouts, personal email, text conversations and more.

I get it. None of us want to be blown up by al Qaeda.

The operational specifics of Prism and other NSA programs are still mostly classified. We have little knowledge of how the government snooping machine actually works. They claim to not listen to cellphone calls, but can we be sure? Machines can listen to millions of calls and report to humans. Government claims not to be reading emails, but we know they collect the emails… to be read later? Only the most naive believe the government doesn’t lie.

Americans, or citizens of any free society, have a right to know what information their government is collecting about them, and we should have the opportunity to correct mistaken information.

The Founding Fathers Agree

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Today our email and documents saved in “the cloud” and our cellphone conversations are the modern equivalent of our “papers and effects.” We have the right to expect that they’ll be protected from “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

I am not happy to let these long-protected and universally-understood civil liberties disappear with hardly a whimper or protest. Even if I have nothing to hide, I cannot forfeit freedoms for which generations of Americans fought and died just because I refuse to stand up and protest… even when standing in front of a valued friend.


Privacy Matters

article-new-thumbnail_ehow_images_a02_0n_qp_respect-childs-right-privacy-800x800Privacy is a basic human need: Implying that only the dishonest have need of privacy ignores a basic characteristic of the human psyche and creates a built-in conflict. Humans have a fundamental need for privacy. I lock the door when I go to the men’s room, despite the fact that nothing secret happens in there. I have a fundamental need to do so, and any society must respect that fundamental need for privacy. In every society that doesn’t, citizens have responded with subterfuge and created their own private areas out of reach of the governmental surveillance, not because they are criminal, but because doing so is a fundamental human need.

Less than fifty years ago, if you were born a homosexual, you were criminal from birth. If today’s surveillance level had existed in the 1950s and 60s, the lobby groups for sexual equality could never have formed; it would have been just a matter of rounding up the organized criminals (“and who could possibly object to fighting organized crime?”). If today’s surveillance level had existed in the 1950s and 60s, homosexuality would still be illegal and homosexual people would be criminals by birth. It is an absolute necessity to be able to maintain privacy for society to progress and question its own values, in order to learn from mistakes and move on as a society.

On the surface, it seems easy to dismiss the nothing-to-hide argument: Everybody probably has something to hide from somebody. Everyone is guilty of something or has something to conceal. All one has to do is look hard enough to find what it is.

Canadian privacy expert David Flaherty expressed a similar idea when he argues: “There is no sentient human being in the Western world who has little or no regard for his or her personal privacy; those who would attempt such claims cannot withstand even a few minutes’ questioning about intimate aspects of their lives without capitulating to the intrusiveness of certain subject matters.”

Such responses attack the nothing-to-hide argument mostly at its extreme form. In a less extreme form, the nothing-to-hide argument refers not to all personal information but only to the type of data the government is likely to collect. In most cases, very few persons will see the information, and it won’t be disclosed to the public. Thus, some might argue, the privacy interest is minimal, and the security interest in preventing terrorism is much more important. In this less extreme form, the nothing-to-hide argument would seem to be a formidable one. But, it only seems that way.

The nothing-to-hide argument stems from faulty assumptions about privacy and its value — that privacy is about hiding bad things. Privacy is also about the “good things.”

Privacy creates a safe sphere in which we may engage in the machinations that create free democracy and diverse opinions. Without that safe sphere of privacy extended to its fullest, we are likely to grow more inhibited from full expressions of our selves, our views, and our values… for fear that if not now, then eventually this may be turned against us in the future. As the computer-security specialist Schneier aptly notes,

…the nothing-to-hide argument stems from a faulty “premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong.” Surveillance, for example, eventually inhibits desirable and lawful activities as free speech, free association, and other First Amendment rights essential for democracy.


Total Information Surveillance of Society Is Problematic…

  • A potential problem with the government’s harvest of personal data is “exclusion.” Exclusion occurs when people are prevented from having knowledge about how information about them is being used, and when they are barred from accessing and correcting errors in that data. This kind of information processing, which blocks subjects’ knowledge and involvement, is a “due-process” problem — and we are all constitutionally guaranteed due process under the law. It is a structural problem involving the way people are treated by government institutions and creating a power imbalance between people and the government. To what extent should government officials have such a significant power over citizens? Especially in this age when information is often more powerful than money or arms. This issue isn’t about what information people want to hide but about the power and the structure of government… and the balance of power between the governed and those who govern.
  • Yet another problem with government gathering and use of personal data is “distortion.” For example, suppose government officials learn that a person has bought a number of books on how to manufacture methamphetamine. That information makes them suspect that he’s building a meth lab. What is missing from the records is the full story: The person is writing a novel about a character who makes meth. When he bought the books, he didn’t consider how suspicious the purchase might appear to government officials, and his records didn’t reveal the reason for the purchases. Should he have to worry about government scrutiny of all his purchases and actions? Should he have to be concerned that he’ll wind up on a suspicious-persons list? Even if he isn’t doing anything wrong, he may want to keep his records away from government officials who might make faulty inferences from them. He might not want to have to worry about how everything he does will be perceived by officials nervously monitoring for criminal activity. He might not want to have a computer flag him as suspicious because he has an unusual pattern of behavior.
  • Then we have the problem of “accretion.” Privacy is often threatened not by a single shocking act of overreach or abuse, but by the slow accretion of a series of relatively minor acts. In this regard, privacy problems mimic certain environmental harms that happen over time through a series of small acts by different persons and entities. Although society is more likely to respond to a major oil spill, gradual pollution by a multitude of sources creates worse problems, especially when taken as a whole.

Privacy is rarely lost all at once. It usually erodes over time, dissolving almost imperceptibly until we eventually start to notice how much has been lost. Each step we lose our rights and freedoms may seem incremental, but after a while, the government will be watching and knowing everything about us.

“My life’s an open book,” people might say. “I’ve got nothing to hide.” But the truth is that now the government has large dossiers of everyone’s activities, interests, reading habits, finances, and health.

  • What if the government leaks the information to the public?
  • What if the government mistakenly determines that based on your pattern of activities, you’re likely to engage in a criminal act (as warned in “Minority Report”)?
  • What if it denies you the right to fly?
  • What if the government thinks your financial transactions look suspect or just odd—even if you’ve done nothing wrong—and freezes your accounts?
  • What if the government doesn’t protect your information with adequate security, and an identity thief obtains it and uses it to defraud you?

Even if you have nothing to hide, the government can cause you a lot of harm.

Is The Free Selection Of Our Future Leaders Threatened?

More prescient and disturbing, is the possibility — nay, probability — that this information will be used by government interests (or in the interests being served by government) to derail the rising political aspirations of an individual perceived as undesirable by those controlling the information or by those for whom the information holders are serving.

  • Don’t like a rising Bill Clinton? Easy to gather the info at hand and create a scenario desired and release the info through surrogates to destroy any candidacy before they are even the candidate.
  • Want to stop a Tea Party rising star like Ted Cruz? Sabotage him with gathered info…even if none of it reveals illegal activity or information per se.
  • Or just gather all the Facebook postings of anyone younger than 30 to be able to reveal in any one of our future leaders all kinds of embarrassing personal pictures or comments made in youth or before maturation or that’s just really no one else’s true concern or right to know.
  • But the government can also harm people inadvertently, due to errors or carelessness., and this powerful fact must not be borne lightly.

The nothing-to-hide argument speaks to superficial problems but not to the prescient others. It represents a singular and narrow way of conceiving of privacy, and ignores consideration of the other problems often raised with government security measures.

The trade off between privacy and security is a false one…false at our founding and false today.

“If you’ve got nothing to hide,” many people say, “you shouldn’t worry about government surveillance.” Others argue that we must sacrifice privacy for security. They base their position on mistaken views about what it means to protect privacy and the costs and benefits of doing so.

The debate between privacy and security has been framed incorrectly as a zero-sum game in which we are forced to choose between one value and the other. Why can’t we have both? Protecting privacy isn’t fatal to security measures, but it does involve proper and adequate oversight and regulation.


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