August 23, 2013
To Comfort the Afflicted and Afflict the Comfortable

Preach it, Brother Simon!

The war between state power and those holding it to account needs constant refreshment. As Snowden shows, the whistleblowers and hacktivists can win the occasional skirmish. But it remains worrying that many otherwise liberal-minded Britons seem reluctant to take seriously the abuses revealed in the nature and growth of state surveillance. The arrogance of this abuse is now widespread. The same police force that harassed Miranda for nine hours at Heathrow is the one recently revealed as using surveillance to blackmail Lawrence family supporters and draw up lists of trouble-makers to hand over to private contractors. We can see where this leads.

I hesitate to draw parallels with history, but I wonder how those now running the surveillance state — and their appeasers — would have behaved under the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. We hear today so many phrases we have heard before. The innocent have nothing to fear. Our critics merely comfort the enemy. You cannot be too safe. Loyalty is all. As one official said in wielding his legal stick over the Guardian: “You have had your debate. There’s no need to write any more.”

Yes, there bloody well is.

Here in the US, well, here’s a couple of typical American views.

It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either. — Mark Twain
But I mean no harm, nor put fault
on anyone that lives in a vault
but it’s alright, Ma,
if I can’t please him.
— Bob Dylan, “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”
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Posted by Chuck Dupree at August 23, 2013 03:11 AM
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Interesting that Twain and Dylan came to mind.

Everything from toy guns that spark,
to flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark,
it's easy to see without looking too far,
that not much is really sacred.

Posted by: on August 23, 2013 1:15 PM
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