Monday, June 10, 2013

Did you ever wonder, what good a shower could do?

Over the weekend, while waiting for the shower, I read (as we all did) all the usual suspects on the American president's latest arguments in favour of neglecting the due process of law under his protectorate - I mean, neighbourhood gossips do it, and it's all the same thing. By and large, our wits were in accord, Douthat blaming us all for using communications in the first place. 

I forget whether I made it to the shower, but I can recall wondering what the point would be. Oh, I must have done. I have a dog to walk.

Leonard W. Levy
Origins of the Fifth
  Amendment: The
  Right against Self-
Oxford University Press, 1968©


  1. No, a shower will not get you off of the grid, although now that I think of it, giving up the right to privacy is a small price to pay to ensure more accurate google searches. I like my search engine to know that when I type "redmugbluelinen" I am looking for poetry and pictures rather than Bed, Bath, and Beyond. And if Uncle Sam is reading your blog, (which he almost certainly is), then he knows that not only does a gentleman not dine in restaurants - but he also refrains from eavesdropping an entire nation.

    1. You come here in obvious good faith but possibly lightly equipped with information in the subject at issue, and the mode in which you frame it leads to infamies of conduct of the very greatest moral consequence, for which there always exist various appetites of great energy. I'm terribly sorry to draw a distinction in the midst of such sympathy, but I did not cite the right against self-incrimination as an equal little snow cone to the Everest of privacy. I cited it because thousands of persons throughout British history, the precursor nation of this one, suffered under State compulsion and were hacked, quartered, immolated and sent to their mothers in dustbins for failing to incriminate themselves and, very often, others. When Google or Bank of America or your employer does it, it's naughty. When the only power on earth of the sovereign competence to compel your death does it, it is against an inheritance of liberty which no one has the moral right to squander.

      The “I have nothing to hide” school of moral self-management, by the way, is, against a power which is inherently fallible at best, not merely negligent for oneself, but antisocial in the most reckless degree. We do not measure our virtue with pride, without corrupting conduct enacted in our name. Such is the legacy of the tragic panic which has governed American society, through waves of serial Awakenings, since Massachusetts was invented. Such is the seductive pressure on us all, today, that we roast and hack our martyrs all over again, and extinguish the rights of Americans unborn. That we may be ignorant of how we do it has been the simplest of all deceptions, when that we do it remains, in the numbers of the latest Pew poll, revoltingly popular.

      But this is not eavesdropping. It is populist usurpation, the elevation of the crowd to a very high place. Even in that crowd, we have friends, and can possibly find ourselves, unwittingly.