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Corrupting the Morals and Sensibilities of a Population

Mark A. Goldman                                               Dated: 7/10/2013

 

This article expands on something I wrote in 2003, entitled How I See It. 

Recent revelations, that certain agencies and/or corporations are recording and saving every email and phone communication citizens make, indicate that the US is deeply engaged in corrupting the morals and sensibilities of American citizens and perhaps a significant part of the entire human population. 

I think itís imperative that we ask ourselves how it affects a personís mental health and psyche to know that every electronic communication he or she engages in is being recorded, saved, and possibly read, listened to and perhaps even shared with unknown others, now or in the future, and for who knows what purpose. 

I donít communicate with every person in the same way even if I am conversing with them on the same topic. In fact, it would be inappropriate for me to talk about some things the same way to different people.  With some people it is appropriate to share oneís most intimate thoughts and feelings, whereas it might be totally inappropriate to do so with others.  I also believe it is totally inappropriate for you or anyone else to secretly eavesdrop on any communication I might have with anyone I choose.  

And certainly, eavesdropping on other peopleís conversations wonít necessarily provide the eavesdropper with an appropriate contextual framework to truly understand what is being said, meant, or construed.  

The government is corrupting the morals of any agent they are paying to eavesdrop and record my or your communications.  The government canít be trusted to use this information appropriately.  There is no such thing as "appropriately" in this context.  

Furthermore, the knowledge that a government would institute and then defend such a practice corrupts the morals of everyone who understands what is being done, and who at the same time accepts it as a legitimate way for a government to conduct its business.  In point of fact, it identifies the American government as an illegitimate, immoral, and unenlightened institution, and, if allowed to continue, the American people as a docile and subservient lot, disrespected, mistreated, and unloved by those who were entrusted with their well-being.  

By insisting that software, communication, and other companies allow the government secret back door access to information I might have in my computer or phone also corrupts the morals of those working for such companies.  It forces their employees, knowingly or unknowingly, to pretend, lie, and deceive their customers about what it does or doesnít do.  It undermines the Constitution and corrupts the entire enterprise we call America.  It creates mistrust, divides people, adds to fear, crushes hope, promotes sadness, and makes a mockery of oneís patriotism.

Ordinary citizens, knowing that their communications might be monitored and one day used for illegitimate purposes are likely to alter, consciously or unconsciously, the way they communicate with one another.  Instead of encouraging people to be honest and open with one another, it almost forces them to do just the opposite.  Instead of society becoming more open and honest, it will tend to make society a more closed off, fearful, and lonely place.  

If we only feel comfortable being open and honest with people we meet face to face, the quality, depth, and breadth of our relationships will diminish and become less rewarding.  And soon even our face to face meetings will be less honest.  This new reality is not for the advancement of the human condition; it is a giant and tragic step backwards for every person on the planet.  

It doesnít matter if you or I have anything to hide or not, although I would venture to say that we all have a right to hide some of our thoughts and feelings from whomever we choose, especially when we have no idea who might become privy to them in a deceitful manner, or how they might use that information, even after we have taken honorable pains to share our special thoughts and feelings privately and exclusively with very special people in our lives. 

Furthermore, the potential and probability that such a system will be abused is almost surely as close to 100% as one can get, particularly when you consider what the state of consciousness must be of those who would think up such a program in the first place and put it into effect in a manner that disrespects the Constitution, the People, every government employee, and a great many businesses.  

Honorable, well educated, thinking people will not want to do this kind of work and so over time those who do end up in these jobs will be the most likely to abuse their position of trust, particularly when they find out that there is no effective way to report or correct whatever abuse they see going on around them.  And the government will not want to hire people of high moral character (like the Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden(s) of the world) because you never know what such people might do when asked to perform disreputable tasks.

To give up oneís freedom and right to develop inspiring, honest, loving personal and working relationships, which is in some sense what life is all about, in order that the government might one day be able to intercept some remote terrorist plot is an idea so lacking in both truth and wisdom that I admit to having no adequate words to describe it.  It is much more likely to inspire terrorism than to discourage it. Maybe that's what our burgeoning security industry is really trying to do.  This is not what democratic governments do, nor what a sovereign people would ever accept. 

Iím not saying that governments should refrain from monitoring potential enemies.  But whatever methods a legitimate government develops to protect its citizenry, their strategies need to be honestly and legitimately structured so that those providing oversight are qualified, fully informed, people of unquestioned integrity who have the strength of character to insure that the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens are protected to the highest degree possible. 

Informed sources indicate that proper oversight to the program now in operation is not in any sense available, nor do we currently have in place what any well informed person of integrity might call a legitimate government.


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