Some Days Daze Me: Bush/Gonzales want my mail/life

Some days I pick up the newspaper and get dazed by the headlines before I even have a chance to get caffeinated [note to self--drink coffee before looking at newspaper]. The front page of today's Florida Times Union had the following headlines: "Feds want to know where you go online" and "Mail snooping." I am not kidding when I say that I checked the date to see if it had suddenly become April 1. But no, this was either an out-of-season hoax or reality. Yet what sick kind of reality is this? These headlines were not in big print. The big print was reserved for a football game, which is apparently more important to some people than civil liberties. Here's most of the top half of the front page:

So, Attorney General Gonzales "wants your Internet provider to keep track of every web site you visit." And we are told this right after "the most digital holiday season ever." In other words, as the major corporations of our planet urge us to live more and more of our life online, the government wants to know more and more about our lives.

I'm trying not to blow a gasket over Gonzales' position. If you read the article you can tell there is not really a fixed position at which to target one's arguments, which is either tactical brilliance or administrational incompetence. Let me just state what is obvious to most people who have spent more than a few days studying this whole Internet thing, including the ways in which it can be abused: Serious paedophiles are not going to get caught by the Internet strategies Gonzales is proposing. The most serious bad guys have been online since before the Internet. They are adept at anonymizing their online activities.

What is predictable with some certainty--should Gonzales get his way--is a whole heap of misdirected misery for innocent schmucks who happen to check the spelling of paedophilia in Google [as I just did] or take a wrong turn when trying to find toys for boys.

In other words, innocent citizens will have to curb their use of the Internet quite drastically for fear of the SWAT team at the front door scenario. As for First Amendment protected Internet erotica, just stop thinking about it! That will become way too risky. Best just abstain. And don't even think about sublimating those naughty thoughts into steamy letters to your [legal age consenting adult] loved one.

Why? Because, as the tiny sidebar above reeals, our president reserves the right to read our mail in "exigent" circumstances. And of course, we all know what those are, right? No? Well surely that's the point.

They had a phrase for this in the old country (that English-speaking country with a system of government on which upstart America was going to improve). They call it "Defence of the realm." Civil liberties suspended until further notice to serve the interests of the Crown. Meetings banned. Letters intercepted. Property seized. Thumbscrews and hot irons firmly on the table. And the date today is? January 4, 2006. Aaaaargh! It's getting so bad I'm starting to have some sympathy with those who would rather go to the game than bang their heads against this stuff. Go Gators!

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