Thursday, May 23, 2013

Big Brother is Looking to Watch

   The unspeakable horror of the terrorist acts of the Boston Marathon bombings have had profound and lasting effects on all of us...especially those of us here in Boston. Inevitably, the question arises about the preventability of similar acts of terror in the future...which of course, sparks a debate that has been around long before the recent events brought it back in the forefront. 

   I remember having to read a book in high school (and also being lucky enough to be required to watch the movie class!) called “1984.” What I remember most from the book is that “big brother is watching.” The government surveillance was everywhere in this future (now distant past in reality) society and was instrumental in the control of human behavior (although it’s virtually impossible to curb the human factor). I remember the movie more than the book, since I was a very visual child. I remember being freaked out by the movie, and the seeds of being against absolute government control (as seen in the movie) were firmly planted.

   Living in an open society as we do, leaves us open to all sorts of heinous acts by deranged individuals and groups. The question of what can be done to protect ourselves is asked daily, and it seems the response, in the passing of prohibitive and infringing laws, is also done daily. With all the laws passed that restrict the rights of the average citizen, have we become more safe? It doesn’t seem like it.

   So if the laws being passed aren’t working, what’s next? What is the answer to keeping us safe? Some have suggested that more surveillance will do the job. After worked in “1984.” I should note, it worked to catch the “criminals” after the crime was committed. Read the book...see the movie, and understand what passes for a criminal and a crime in that society. We are not quite there yet, but I have to wonder if the road to that society starts with the increased surveillance that is being proposed.

   Not only is it being proposed, it’s being made business friendly. The suggestion is that local businesses be given tax breaks to install surveillance equipment outside their establishments. Sounds like a great idea, considering recent events, to catch criminals. Again though...that would be after the crime is done, and cameras, as a tool to catch the bad guys when they’re finished doing bad things, don’t have a great track record.

   The Boston Herald has quoted Glenn Reynolds (law professor at University of Tennessee) as saying “The record of cameras in catching terrorists has been really lousy.” He goes on to say “If in fact they caught these guys through the cameras, it’s pretty much the first time.”

   He isn’t alone in this opinion. The Boston Herald also quoted Matt Welch of Reason Magazine “You can’t sneeze in London without being on six cameras, but that didn’t stop the bombings.”

   So cameras as a preventive tool...just doesn't make sense. Taking away my privacy, won’t stop crime. Of course, after realizing this, the next logical suggestion has been to deploy domestic reconnaissance drones. I have nothing against the Boston Police Commissioner for suggesting this, he thinks it’s a good idea. I just want to know where we draw the line at the beginnings of a totalitarian society?

   I know some of you reading this might think my views extreme. Surely we are not even remotely reflective of such a lifestyle. I would caution you against willfully putting your good sense to sleep...and ask you to simply think back to how things used to be, and how they are today. Growing up, I never dreamed things would be as they are now...and I just hope that when my great-grandchildren grow up, their view isn’t one of never imagining having all the freedoms we do today.

* Boston Herald quotes taken from the April 24th edition

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more. All this talk about combating terrorism is just a pretext to employ technology to control the general population.