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Opening Arguments

Yeah, we see you, so just stop that

Terry Doran, one of our frequently contributing guest columnists, sometimes goes off on a paranoid "the haves keep looking for ways to screw the have-nots" rant. In a column in today's paper, he prefaces one such rant with a grievance against domestic spying:

Recently my daughter, Cayman, in the eighth grade, asked about the shutdown and the massive spying operation on Americans by their own government.

“Dad, why don’t people protest?”

As I was trying to think of an intelligent answer, or even any answer, I began reading Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” a novel in which a man from Twain’s time ends up in King Arthur’s rule in the fifth century. And then my friend Dave Lambert asked me to co-host and help with an event he was planning, “Stop Spying on Us,” about the NSA’s little eavesdropping program. Around 30 people attended.

Why don’t people protest? Why did not one of the dozen local lawyers Dave invited to speak on the legality of the spying operation show up? Lawyers, after all, make the laws that make crimes like spying, pollution, torture, drones, wars and foreclosures legal — and acts of patriotism like speaking out against tyranny illegal. Make no mistake, the NSA is not after terrorists from other countries; they are after you, and me.

Jeez, Terry, I tought, that's a little over the top. Sure, a lot of us are worried about the intrusiveness of an ever-expanding government, but it's not like they want to keep track of everything we do all the time.

Then I came across this:

Strange new off-white boxes popping up in downtown Seattle use wi-fi networks that can record the last 1,000 locations of a person using their cellphone’s MAC address, but the Department of Homeland Security – which funded the network to the tune of $2.7 million dollars – has refused to address the nightmare privacy implications of a system that could lead to the permanent tracking of an entire city’s population.

Maybe we ought to pay a little more attention to paranoid rants once in a while. We might come to see them as an early-warning signal.