The Bipartisanship Smokescreen

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

—Benjamin Franklin

This NSA wiretapping scandal is unbelievable. The Patriot Act is a vile piece of legislation passed in knee-jerk fashion by a terrified Congress who had no clue what exactly they were doing to us. Blown out of proportion or not, I’m sure PRISM—or whatever Big Brother presents it as to the companies denying its existence—is pulling data in a sweeping, invasive, and unconstitutional manner.

But the thing many people seem to be missing is this goes beyond political party lines.

The finger-pointing has already begun, with the Dems blaming Bush for starting the program and the Repubs blaming Obama for bringing it to a whole new level. Either way, they’re both responsible. There are three branches of government populated with assholes on both sides of the aisle who have at worst collaborated to make this a reality and at best allowed this to happen on their watch. Any time something like this shows up, someone waves around the Patriot Act and says, “Because terrorism.” Fearmongering at its finest.

Meanwhile we citizens spend all of our time arguing about the things that affect us as individuals, things like gay marriage, abortion, religion, and gun ownership. Bipartisanship is the best smokescreen Big Brother could ever have. While we’re kicking and screaming and fighting and protesting over social issues, the power players in the NSA and FBI go unnoticed in violating the very rights we all claim to hold so dear.

Let’s take gay marriage for example. Does who you’re sleeping with really affect the government? Not in the slightest. It may offend an uptight neighbor, but it makes zero difference to government operation.

Or let’s look at gun ownership. Does the government really fear that gun in your hand? Hell no. Let’s think about this: sure, a collection of armed citizens sounds scary, but how are they going to organize in any effective manner against Big Brother if Big Brother has access to all of their communications?

It does not matter which side of these debates we’re on, because as long as we’re choosing these battles, we’re missing out on the big picture. This is why groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation are so important, and why people need to understand the benefits and limitations of the devices they carry around in their hands every day.

Yes, a lot of this data doesn’t matter. A lot of it is meaningless prattle and we give a lot of it away to companies voluntarily all the time. But when it comes down to truly private data, shouldn’t you be aware of how to protect it? Shouldn’t you have the right to protect it?

You’re goddamn right you should.

So by all means, keep arguing about whether we should teach sex ed or Creationism in schools, or whether Bush or Obama have done more damage to our country and our economy. As loud and obnoxious as those arguments can get, it’s all docility to Big Brother.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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