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A (Supposed) Right to Privacy...

Submitted by admin on March 21, 2014 - 8:58pm

Recently while talking with Abram Hess—one of the men elected and about to be installed as an elder here at Clearnote Indy—the conversation turned to the question of privacy. Abram made a fascinating observation that I want to explore a bit more here. 

If you use a CVS card, Kroger card, or just happen to use the same credit card at a national chain every time you're there, and especially if you ever use Google, Facebook or shop on, any privacy you think you might have is just an illusion. They know more about you than you know yourself.

But even if you stopped doing all of those things, you don't have privacy, because it turns out that the NSA is spying on all of the citizens of the United States at an unprecedented level. The only way to (maybe) reclaim your privacy is to go off the grid completely, move out into the country, and avoid cameras by never visiting towns or driving on an Interstate. In fact, if you are reading this article, I can confidently say that you don't actually have privacy in any way that the founding fathers would have understood the word to mean. 

But what about our right to privacy? After all, it is a central tenet in the modern era, such that every month or so I get a federally mandated letter from an organization I have business dealings with, outlining my supposed privacy rights. It turns out that the phrase "right to privacy" is problematic in a couple of ways. First, despite a general respect for privacy in many places, there is no explicit right to privacy in the constitution. Second, and more importantly, legally the term is used today in a way that has nothing to do with privacy. In Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decided that it was legal to murder an innocent child in your womb, claiming that it was simply exercising a "right to privacy."

If ever there was a political fiction that needed to be exposed, this is it: "Privacy" today doesn't look like privacy, it looks like murder. All our talk about privacy is just talk, and any actions we have taken in the name of privacy have done little to protect it. Meanwhile, if anyone dares to call out the government for intruding on our privacy, he gets asked suspiciously, "If you haven't done anything wrong, what are you afraid of?"

Nothing, except the thought of the government allowing others to exercise their "right to privacy" on me.