Fascists R Us

I plan to keep Zen Haiku mostly on usability and information architecture, but I couldn't let this go by: The daypop top 40 links brings the distressing news that the FBI is rifling through library and book store records. Oh, it's all for terrorists, innocent people need not worry. Terrorists have replaced kids as the justification du jour for privacy invasion.

The terrorist argument is a retread of "If you're don't have anything to hide, why do you care?" Come on! A desire for privacy is normal: there are legitimate reasons not to disclose personal information. Anyone can be made to look bad: I like the expression No man is a hero to his valet although I've never had one.

Another argument implies you're paranoid & narcissistic: Why are you so special that the government care about you? The answer of course is that I'm not special. That's the point. The FBI doesn't have to care who anybody is, they can just rifle through big lists. For great demolitions of anti-privacy arguments, I recommend Phil Agre's writings.

Is it just me, or has the county gone mad? If we become as fascist as the terrorists, we lose. I'm old enough have been part of the blue ribbon protest against the original "Communications Decency Act". This current state of affairs worries me more. The first time I heard about Homeland Security I laughed. No one would really pick a name so obviously Orwellian.

In the censorship rather than the privacy invasion, vein:

It turns out that video editing, (which has been around for a while, is more popular than ever. A new chain out of Utah called Cleanflicks, edits their customers' videos for them [Update: 09/18/2003: Link to Nando Times story removed, since they shut down their site]. It's not censorship, but it's damn close. Even closer is the way VH1 plays the video for Smash Mouth's Walking on the Sun. The lyrics contain two "toke" references and two "crack" references. But the crack references are clearly anti-crack: "Put away the crack before the crack puts you away" while the toke references are not. Guess which audio gets cut?

Posted by Chad Lundgren on Monday, June 24, 2002 (Link)


Posted by Fred Wednesday, August 7, 2002 at 10:54 PM

I must repeat and emphasize, that video editing IS NOT censorship. Censorship is when an individual is BANNED from expressing themselves politically, religiously, or artistically in a public arena, by the governmenmt or some other entity. This is not at all the case with video editing. Un-edited videos are widely available. Those who edit videos are making no attempt whatsoever to prevent people from watching un-edited videos. If I want to go out and buy an un-edited video, and then either edit it myself or pay someone to edit it for me, so that I don't have to watch certain parts of the video that I don't want to see, then that's my business! Why should some rich studio executive or anyone else have any say in the matter? I'm not denying anyone the right to see the un-edited version! It's not censorship! Not even close!