Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Assume you’re being watched

Last week, two of the three “stars” of the Democratic Party leadership, the party’s top runners for the presidency, were recorded discussing how they might force the exclusion of other, lesser beings from future debates. Hillary Clinton and John Edwards did not look terribly much like potential leaders of the greatest nation on earth, at that moment. Their tone almost exactly mimicked that of junior high school girls in a locker room, trying to figure out how to have a party without that tag-along bunch finding out and spoiling their fun. The candidates hadn’t realized the microphones were on.

Scene two: Congressman David Vitter (R- LA) saw his phone number come up -- via Larry Flynt’s smut magazine -- among those who called the “D.C. Madam.” He had called from his own office phone. It never registered with him that phone company records could be made public. He announced he had apologized for his thoughtlessness, to his loving and forgiving wife, to the forgiving Higher Power, and to his constituents. We’re still waiting to hear if his constituents have forgiven him the way his state seems to have forgiven its senior kleptocongressman, William Jefferson, his transgressions. Either way, the secret is out.

Scene three: Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) spoke before a crowd of his own constituents. In the course of his speech, he compared President Bush to Hitler (now there’s an original notion! Nobody has ever, in the past, referred to a member of the opposing party as a nazi, has he?), and hinted that the administration might have been responsible for the 9/11 atrocities, or simply used them to solidify a dictatorial control over our free, yet fearful society (again, a new and original delusion, I guess!). For several days after word got out of his statements, Ellison denied having said any such nonsense, until somebody online released the video. He hadn’t realized he was being recorded.

In this day and age, there are very few secrets which can’t be discovered and shared with the world. People have recording devices of all sorts. My very basic wireless telephone can record and send audio. Had we spent another fifteen dollars, I could have had one with photographic capability, or, for just a little more, I could record videos to my heart’s content. My kind of miserliness in the face of technology is fairly rare, these days. Most folks like all the bells and whistles, and use them with enthusiasm.

It doesn’t matter whether you can see a camera, microphone, telephone, or some other device pointed your way. Somebody is watching, somebody is listening. There is no place truly safe from the critical eye. All around Great Britain, as well as in cities around our own country, security cameras and surveillance systems are pointed down upon us. If you search the internet, try looking for your own house on GoogleMaps, for instance. There very well may be a view into your living room window.

Some say the age of “Big Brother” is upon us. This is not Big Brother. Big Brother was a fictional, central, bureaucratic behemoth of oppression, the heart of an ugly fictional nation. This new excuse for paranoia is a real amorphous blob, an organic, growing life form, built of the hands and eyes and toys of millions of people. You can not escape by moving to another country, because these eyes move beyond borders. There is nowhere we can go to be absolutely certain we will be free of its supervision.

The funny thing is, folks have been saying this same thing for years -- centuries, even millennia -- long before the age of recording devices. No matter where you are, if you do or say something, right or wrong, somebody important will know about it. The secular modernists may have thought they had disproven the existence of an all-seeing, all-knowing presence when they came up with scientific atheism, but it would appear (to borrow shamelessly from Samuel L. Clemens) reports of His death are greatly exaggerated. He has simply taken to technology the way the rest of us have. Whether or not we all believe there is a supreme deity, we might as well be on our best behavior. Act as though He’s googled us and is watching our antics played out on YouTube.

The results will probably be less embarrassing than if we assume He’s not.

No comments: