They’re Watching Us

Ariel Dorfman from an revised essay collected in Homeland Security Ate My Speech .. highly recommended.

As the 2001 Patriot Act proves …, if people are frightened enough, manipulated enough, fear-mongered enough, they are more than willing to abrogate their own freedom … in the name of personal and national security. And if there were to be another terrorist attack like the vile ones perpetrated on September 11th 2001, even more invasive surveillance would be eagerly authorized, indeed demanded. Think of what fanatics like them could do with such colossal executive muscle at their disposal. Though what’s unsettling is to grasp that prospective tyrants wouldn’t require new legislation, now as during so much American history, to rein in free expression

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Digital Dystopia

Back in the ’90s, when I was the captain of my own cubicle in the depths of corporate America, it was mandatory that my away message on the telephone answering system announced my status and direction so as to avoid any confusion my business comrades might encounter. If memory serves, my standard message was a delaying tactic that assured many fun hours of telephone tag to flatten the productivity curve. It went something like:

You have reached the office of [me]. I’ve just stepped out on a special assignment but can be expected to return momentarily. Please leave a clear message stating your full name, date, time, call-back number, and the detailed purpose of this contact. I will immediately respond when I return. Your call is very important to me.

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