Join 3,523 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"It took 1.1 milliseconds!" Yao exclaims. "Yeah, that's me!"
May 16, 2008 8:18 AM   Subscribe

China's All-Seeing Eye. Naomi Klein's piece in the May 29th edition of Rolling Stone details how China is building the prototype for a high-tech police state with the help of U.S. defense contractors. And it's a growth market!
posted by The Card Cheat (50 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's it, I can no longer distinguish reality from the dystopian sci fi I read as a child.
posted by prefpara at 8:27 AM on May 16, 2008 [4 favorites]


Foucault would love this place.
posted by pwally at 8:27 AM on May 16, 2008


But it's still just a prototype, right? Not a real high-tech police state? So I guess we're OK for a few years, or longer if it's vapor(ize)ware.
posted by DU at 8:28 AM on May 16, 2008


Was that an Op-ED or an attempt at investigative jounalism? I'm not saying I do or don't agree with the sentiment, but you don't even get to the jist of the article until page two, then it just sort of devolves immediately into a tirade of conspiracy about forcing people to use Visa cards (something that would be very unusual in China's, till now, cash economy) and eat Happy Meals. Occasionall she throws in some actual examples of seemingly draconian policies, but mostly she just seems to imply that the cameras will be used for ill, rather than providing examples of them being used to promote authoritarianism. Having technology is not equal to using it for evil (yes, I do agree that they most likely will do so, but...).
posted by Pollomacho at 8:29 AM on May 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


So, it turns out consumer capitalism may also be an opiate of the masses, and to businesses, totalitarian regimes may be just another customer.

And the world spins on, securely in the benevolent palm of the invisible hand.
posted by weston at 8:30 AM on May 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


US and UK rival China for government surveillance. But don't worry about it:

"I ask Zheng whether China's surveillance boom has anything to do with the rise in strikes and demonstrations in recent years. Zheng's deputy, a 23-year veteran of the Chinese military wearing a black Mao suit, responds as if I had launched a direct attack on the Communist Party itself. "If you walk out of this building, you will be under surveillance in five to six different ways," he says, staring at me hard. He lets the implication of his words linger in the air like an unspoken threat. "If you are a law-abiding citizen, you shouldn't be afraid," he finally adds. "The criminals are the only ones who should be afraid."
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:31 AM on May 16, 2008


They're working out the bugs to make the U.S. version more cost-effective.
posted by crapmatic at 8:37 AM on May 16, 2008


Yeah, you need to test this stuff out where you still have the old rubber-hose standby in case of a problem. If you just deployed it on a free people first, you could have a revolution at the first screw-up.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:46 AM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I saw something in London today which creeped me out:

Roving CCTV cars
posted by vacapinta at 8:49 AM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Was that an Op-ED or an attempt at investigative jounalism? I'm not saying I do or don't agree with the sentiment, but you don't even get to the jist of the article until page two, then it just sort of devolves immediately into a tirade of conspiracy

Yeah, this is my problem with Naomi Klein's work of late: she has built a very powerful and compelling rhetorical device in her "Shock Doctrine" thesis, and though she always argues from verified fact, it's rendering her increasingly blind to nuance and counter-evidence.

I mean, as she's reporting this, some of the same technologies she describes so ominously are being used by Tibetan protesters to skip past the pre-existing social controls and broadcast incontrovertible evidence of their oppression, which would have rendered barely an inner-pages news-briefs blip in the world media a decade ago. And then this story is published in the midst of a global outpouring of support and goodwill for an earthquake-relief effort, inspired by sharp-focus details that, even a few years ago, the Chinese government might very well have completely suppressed.

Neither of these points completely rebukes her core argument; it just tones down the fear factor, shades it a bit, suggests that historical forces move in several directions at once. In this Rolling Stone story, it merely weakens her journalism, but in a recent Nation column, she argued from a point of presumably wilful ignorance about the nature of venture capital so complete it utterly overwhelmed her point.
posted by gompa at 8:52 AM on May 16, 2008 [5 favorites]


Don't say "Police State," say "Surveillance State." It sounds a lot better.
posted by absalom at 9:01 AM on May 16, 2008


They're working out the bugs to make the U.S. version more cost-effective.

See, (and I don't mean to single you out, crapmatic) this is exactly the sentiment that Kelin is playing on in her sensationalist work. Frankly, I find it lazy journalism, and I also find it pervasive in a lot of what I hear in the Left. It's the same pandering to fears of the "other" you get when the Right talks about the Gay Agenda or Abortionists, the Evil Corporate Spector. If it's big corporations then it must be evil, amirite? That's just lazy thinking, lazy journalism and lazy politics. Give me some examples of Big Security invading our privacy (I'm sure there are plenty if someone is willing to actually cite them), not just speculation that they will and an implication that my privacy is next because IBM's got a contract with China, oogity-boogity! We should demand more from our journalists.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:06 AM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Don't say "Police State," say "Surveillance State." It sounds a lot better.

They're both police states; the second one just has better information about your every facial expression. How is that better?
posted by prefpara at 9:09 AM on May 16, 2008


Give me some examples of Big Security invading our privacy (I'm sure there are plenty if someone is willing to actually cite them)...

There is nothing that will make me stop reading an article or book faster than the tedious rehashing of facts everyone already knows.
posted by DU at 9:10 AM on May 16, 2008


> Give me some examples of Big Security invading our privacy (I'm sure there are plenty if someone is willing to actually cite them)...

And you're complaining about Klein's alledgedly lazy thinking?

Here you go, all you can eat.
posted by you just lost the game at 9:23 AM on May 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


I think this just has a lot to do with cost. Setting up systems like this in the 1950s would have been impossible. But as cameras and (more importantly) networking and data processing get cheaper and cheaper, people are going to keep spending the same amount of money.
posted by delmoi at 9:42 AM on May 16, 2008


There is nothing that will make me stop reading an article or book faster than the tedious rehashing of facts everyone already knows.

No, see, that's the thing, it's not a rehash of what we know, it's a rehash of what we assume.

And you're complaining about Klein's alledgedly lazy thinking?

And I still am. First, because I'm not trying to sell books or magazines. Second, because again the link cites assumption of abuse rather than examples of abuse.

Tell me, show me. On October 21, 2005 Wang Lung was arrested in Chongqing for downloading pictures of Tiananmen Square protests. Don't just say IBM and the CCP are involed and assume that it means there is abuse of civil rights, that is the laziness I'm talking about.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:09 AM on May 16, 2008


I love the resolution on my new Panopticon. If I do a freezeframe right before that jackboot smashes into that Chinese guy's face, forever, I can see a most curious reversal of tradition - the raised letters on the bottom of the sole reads MADE IN AMERICA.
posted by adipocere at 10:09 AM on May 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


pollomacho--did you actually read the article? I see no evidence that you did, although I do see that you have a big axe to grin against Ms. Klein.

that Kelin is playing on in her sensationalist work. Frankly, I find it lazy journalism, and I also find it pervasive in a lot of what I hear in the Left. It's the same pandering to fears of the "other" you get when the Right talks about the Gay Agenda or Abortionists, the Evil Corporate Spector. If it's big corporations then it must be evil, amirite? That's just lazy thinking, lazy journalism and lazy politics. Give me some examples of Big Security invading our privacy

The article is the exact oppositie of lazy journalism: Klein specifically provides, going into great detail, "examples of Big Security invading" the privacy of the Chinese. She visits and talks to the Chinese companies manufacturing the surveillance systems, details the Chinese Firewall, provides numerous real-world examples of how the Chinese surveillance system is being applied, illustrates concretely how large American security companies like L-1 are providing the technological blueprints, specifically looks at how the Chinese security state is being used, etc etc etc. The article is positively chock-full of specifics: there is nothing lazy about it.

Now whether or nopt one agrees with Ms. Klein that the confluence of the corporations in the security industry, the use of security systems by the Chinese government, and the totality and speed with which this security apparatus is being developed, is a cause for concern is another matter. One could argue that the Chinese security/surveillance apparatus that Klein details and describes is not malign or Orwellian but benign and necessary. But one cannot argue against the facts that she presents in terms of the economic boom in security systems and that the Chinese government is in fact using these systems to moniter potential dissidents: the facts are there.
posted by ornate insect at 10:27 AM on May 16, 2008 [5 favorites]


"If you are a law-abiding citizen, you shouldn't be afraid," he finally adds. "The criminals are the only ones who should be afraid."

I'll bet anyone $1,000 bucks that this guy is involved in human trafficking, child pornography or something even more disgusting.
posted by psmealey at 10:37 AM on May 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


If it's big corporations then it must be evil, amirite?

From where I stand it's not so much "If it's big corporations then it must be evil, amirite?" as it is "Why the fuck do big corporations/the government need to know so much about me?"

But on the other hand, it's not as though governments or corporations have ever abused access to information/technology/the public trust before.

Fortunately I am not a criminal, so the point is moot and I do not have anything to worry about.
posted by you just lost the game at 10:45 AM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


From the article:

"Yet Yao insists that the government's goal is not repression: "If you're a [political] organizer, they want to know your motive," he says. "So they take the picture, give the photo, so at least they can find out who that person is."

Yes, I am entirely certain that the Chinese government would merely like to identify political dissidents in order to meet with them, listen to their ideas and gain an understanding of how they feel Chinese society could be improved to the benefit of all.
posted by Stonewall Jackson at 10:53 AM on May 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


Don't just say IBM and the CCP are involed and assume that it means there is abuse of civil rights, that is the laziness I'm talking about.

I enjoyed learning that the US has federal laws post-Tiananmen restricting U.S. commercial involvement with Chinese security operations. So if IBM is involed with CCP, the Federal BI can bring the hammer down on IBM. The U.S. government assumes that there are violations of civil and human rights.

I enjoyed the investigation into the illegality of L-1's relationship with Pixel Solutions under U.S. law. Please read the article.

When I put the L-1 scenario to the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security — the division charged with enforcing the post-Tiananmen export controls — a representative says that software kits are subject to the sanctions if "they are exported from the U.S. or are the foreign direct product of a U.S.-origin item." Based on both criteria, the software kit sold to Yao seems to fall within the ban.

When I ask Doni Fordyce at L-1 about the embargo, she tells me, "I don't know anything about that." Asked whether she would like to find out about it and call me back, she replies, "I really don't want to comment, so there is no comment." Then she hangs up.

...
While fingerprinting technology appears on the Commerce Department's list of banned products, there is no explicit mention of "face prints" — likely because the idea was still in the realm of science fiction when the Tiananmen Square massacre took place.

posted by eustatic at 11:14 AM on May 16, 2008


For the record I do not know Ms. Klein nor have I previously read anything by her. So, any axe to grind I appear to have against her is not meant to be against her specifically, I do have a problem with biased assumptions, however. I read the article several more times looking for examples of abuse, specific rather than implied examples. Again, I found none.

True, she visited Chinese companies doing research and development into security technology. She details how the technology could be applied. The only specific example she used is the filming of Tibetan protestors being destructive and the films use as propaganda, however it was a film of people committing violence on public property, hardly a scouring for political dissidents as is the stated potential use.

Again, it doesn't matter if I agree with her assumptions. It doesn't matter if I feel that such technology is being developed faster than civil liberties can be protected. That's not my point. My point is to throw statements like,

The end goal is to use the latest people-tracking technology — thoughtfully supplied by American giants like IBM, Honeywell and General Electric — to create an airtight consumer cocoon: a place where Visa cards, Adidas sneakers, China Mobile cellphones, McDonald's Happy Meals, Tsingtao beer and UPS delivery (to name just a few of the official sponsors of the Beijing Olympics) can be enjoyed under the unblinking eye of the state, without the threat of democracy breaking out.

without giving us any proof that this is the goal is disengenuous and only plays on our assumptions and not on the facts of the case.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:22 AM on May 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I for one welcome our Chinese overlords, since I am not a criminal. I can't wait to be reborn at Carousel when my lifeclock crystal turns red. Oh, and Frontline had a great episode, "China in the Red" which relates to all of this.
posted by whatgorilla at 11:32 AM on May 16, 2008


Fortunately the next large wave of unrest in China will be fomented by peasant Christian house churches who organise face to face in communities where outsiders from state organs are easily spotted.
posted by Abiezer at 11:39 AM on May 16, 2008


pollomacho--besides the fact that your first post on a thread about a seven page article came a mere 11 minutes after it was posted, which makes one wonder if you even read the article before you posted, you appear to be willfully misreading Klein's article: you are tethering your entire argument to the question of "abuse."

Now, perhaps Klein does tend to assume the surveillance complex she describes (with rigorous attention to detail), is so open to abuse, and that b/c the Chinese government is so inherently reactionary, that the security complex is being, and will be, abused, but even if one disagrees with this assumption (and in order to disagree one has to posit that the Chinese government is somehow less authoritarian than it is usually seen), the strength of the article is twofold:

a) in the alarming questions it raises about how new technology is being rapidly applied en masse to integrated surveillance systems in China (and by implication potentially applied beyond China)

b) detailing the very existence of this little-known and under-reported world: i.e. the world of security, surveillance systems, and information-gathering that is detailed in the article, and that the Chinese government in integrating into one vast system (i.e. the Golden Shield) not unlike the TIA project Poindexter wanted (my comparison, not Klein's)

To my mind, the more we know about the spread and use of surveillance technologies the better prepared we are, as global citizens, to note any abuse by governments of the vast surveillance potential that the technologies afford.

Were you aware before you read the article of the following facts (and unless you are a specialist or work for the NSA, I suspect not):

--200,000 surveillance cameras have been installed throughout [Shenzen]. Many are in public spaces, disguised as lampposts. The closed-circuit TV cameras will soon be connected to a single, nationwide network, an all-seeing system that will be capable of tracking and identifying anyone who comes within its range — a project driven in part by U.S. technology and investment. Over the next three years, Chinese security executives predict they will install as many as 2 million CCTVs in Shenzhen, which would make it the most watched city in the world

--In July 2006, workers at a factory near Shenzhen expressed their displeasure over paltry pay by overturning cars, smashing computers and opening fire hydrants. In March of last year, when bus fares went up in the rural town of Zhushan, 20,000 people took to the streets and five police vehicles were torched. Indeed, China has seen levels of political unrest in recent years unknown since 1989, the year student protests were crushed with tanks in Tiananmen Square. In 2005, by the government's own measure, there were at least 87,000 "mass incidents" — governmentspeak for large-scale protests or riots.

--During the Lhasa riots, police on the scene augmented the footage from the CCTVs with their own video cameras, choosing to film — rather than stop — the violence, which left 19 dead. The police then quickly cut together the surveillance shots that made the Tibetans look most vicious — beating Chinese bystanders, torching shops, ripping metal sheeting off banks...The police also used the surveillance footage to extract mug shots of the demonstrators and rioters. Photos of the 21 "most wanted" Tibetans, many taken from that distinctive "streetlamp" view of the domed cameras, were immediately circulated to all of China's major news portals, which obediently posted them to help out with the manhunt. The Internet became the most powerful police tool. Within days, several of the men on the posters were in custody, along with hundreds of others.

--Several biometrics companies, including Yao's, have been invited to compete. "We have to be able to match a face in a 10 million database in one second," Yao tells me. "We are preparing for that now."

The companies that score well will be first in line for lucrative government contracts to integrate face-recognition software into Golden Shield, using it to check for ID fraud and to discover the identities of suspects caught on surveillance cameras. Yao says the technology is almost there: "It will happen next year."


--and, as one of many examples Klein gives that counter your own argument:
Like many other security executives I interviewed in China, Yao denies that a primary use of the technology he is selling is to hunt down political activists. "Ninety-five percent," he insists, "is just for regular safety." He has, he admits, been visited by government spies, whom he describes as "the internal-security people."

--and the entire story about L1 is a major coup in the article, important as much for fact-finding as it is for any interpretation:
If Yao impresses the Ministry of Public Security with the company's ability to identify criminals, L-1 will have cracked the largest potential market for biometrics in the world. But here's the catch: As proud as Yao is to be L-1's Chinese licensee, L-1 appears to be distinctly less proud of its association with Yao. On its Website and in its reports to investors, L-1 boasts of contracts and negotiations with governments from Panama and Saudi Arabia to Mexico and Turkey. China, however, is conspicuously absent. And though CEO Bob LaPenta makes reference to "some large international opportunities," not once does he mention Pixel Solutions in Guangzhou....

(snip)

In other words, this controversial U.S. "crime control" technology has already found its way into the hands of the Chinese police.

(snip)

You have probably never heard of L-1, but there is every chance that it has heard of you. Few companies have collected as much sensitive information about U.S. citizens and visitors to America as L-1: It boasts a database of 60 million records, and it "captures" more than a million new fingerprints every year.


--One of the first people to sound the alarm on China's upgraded police state was a British researcher named Greg Walton. In 2000, Walton was commissioned by the respected human-rights organization Rights & Democracy to investigate the ways in which Chinese security forces were harnessing the tools of the Information Age to curtail free speech and monitor political activists. The paper he produced was called "China's Golden Shield: Corporations and the Development of Surveillance Technology in the People's Republic of China."

These factive descriptions (I could have pulled out many more) show that the main purpose of Klein's article was to describe in detail the vast integration of security technologies and surveillance systems into the everyday life of Chinese citizens. To say that Klein does not argue fully enough why this development is alarming is simply to create a strawman that the article is somehow more of an op-ed than a valid piece of research. But taken as research alone, quite apart from the question of abuse, Klein has done us all a service for outlining the ease with which a technologically advanced security state is being built to spec in China. Whatever conclusion one draws from this develoipment is entirely different from the fact that the development itself is not one that most people are aware of.
posted by ornate insect at 11:58 AM on May 16, 2008 [4 favorites]


prefpara: I suggest a more precise reading. I didn't say it *was* better. I said it *sounds* better.
posted by absalom at 12:16 PM on May 16, 2008


prefpara: I suggest a more precise reading. I didn't say it *was* better. I said it *sounds* better.

And I said, "How is that better?" How is that a misreading?
posted by prefpara at 12:27 PM on May 16, 2008


Here's an extensive report about China's Golden Shield from Canada's International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development. Though it's a bit dated (2001), it addresses many of the same issues touched upon by Klein.

I found this quote, included in the Prologue (okay I didn't read the whole damn report), to be particularly chilling:

"… it’s a little strange to tie free trade to human rights issues, it is basically getting down to interference in internal affairs." – Bill Gates, then CEO of Microsoft, standing shoulder to shoulder with Jiang Zemin during a photo-op in Beijing, 1994.

And then, lo and behold, what pops up at the bottom of my screen? THE MICROSOFT GOLDEN SHIELD!

The corporations are coming! The corporations are coming!
posted by Kabanos at 1:11 PM on May 16, 2008


I don't like Naomi Klein, although I respect her for the hard work she's done over the years.

This article comes across as a lazy and opportunistic jab at dictatorial governments in a time of crises, in spite of the plethora of facts (and I did know about the cameras in shen zhen but I don't expect everyone does).

From the very opening sentence of the article, it's not about loving the people, it's about hating the government. Governments are bad, mkay? A terrible disaster strikes Si Chuan, the worst in over 60 years, and her thoughts turn to a business executive in Guang Zhou? Sure she has a point, it just sounds rather heartless. It's not particularily difficult or insightful to insult china on safety, pollution, or human rights. Why not wait for a better time? not while people are still dying, and bodies rotting.
posted by ryanfou at 1:25 PM on May 16, 2008


ryanfou--I expect the article went to bed and Klein finished it long before the recent earthquake?

Also: did you and I just read the same friggin article?

She's not "insulting" China; she's making a very particular point about the alarming rise and development of sweeping, integrated, and profitable surveillence and security technologies. Her description of the industry and implied criticism is as much about--and directed towards--the American multinational coorporations that are supplying China with elements of these technologies as it is the Chinese government. Her article illuminates how the profit motive of supplying surveillance technologies underlies the entire enterprise.

Is it a news flash that capitalism and democracy are often at odds in this way, or about the contradictions at work in China? No. But it is newsworthy to learn the extent to which certain technologies are being applied as surveillance tools--in ways that should concern anyone (in any country) about their individual rights being infringed upon. To be cavalier about these developments, as if the larger issue of surveillance and civil liberties were no big deal, seems especially strange.
posted by ornate insect at 1:57 PM on May 16, 2008


US 'Sonic Blasters' Sold To China
posted by homunculus at 5:06 PM on May 16, 2008


without giving us any proof that this is the goal is disengenuous

Seconding Ornate_Insect, disingeniousness isn't required; but at any rate one of the chinese interviewees clearly stated the company had been visited by "spies", right?

Anyway, am I reading correctly that this L-1 company is in principle breaking those export laws set up after Tianmen (which were intended to involve surveillance gadgetry of any ilk)...?

So how would a U.S. citizen go about - i mean, if buying into Frau Kleins article and being thus suitably outraged - getting his government to enforce the laws? (well-monitored UK resident here, we have CCTV police cars in Scotland too)
posted by yoHighness at 6:06 PM on May 16, 2008


Top cop brands CCTV a 'fiasco': No deterrent, no good as evidence
posted by homunculus at 6:30 PM on May 16, 2008



China's All-Seeing Eye
NAOMI KLEIN Posted May 29, 2008 3:24 PM


I know she's supposed to be something of a "visionary", but now she's posting from two weeks in the future.

Cool.
posted by rokusan at 8:34 PM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I continue to be surprised about these types of exposes focused on China. Even the democratic ethnically Chinese countries enjoy the nice warm blanket of ever present surveillance.

Bottom five in this list from above:
* Malaysia
* China
* Russia
* Singapore
* Taiwan
posted by FuManchu at 10:57 PM on May 16, 2008


When the city of Shenzhen was mentioned in this article it sounded a chord in my recent memory that only became clear later on in the article when I remembered that just last week I met two lovely Chinese girls who resided in none other than beautiful Shenzhen. They were on a beach holiday for a month paid out of their parents pocket. They were supposed to be in school, one 21 years old and the other 23, yet they had the audacity to skip school and fly to Thailand to party. Their english was impeccable and they were fully equipped with the latest technology. They introduced themselves as Hayley and Vanessa, and told us not to even bother with their Chinese given names. I'm fairly certain that through the course of the night they managed to change clothes not once but twice. They had rather relaxed and realistic views on Tibet despite one interesting remark that the Dalai Lama was a 'troublesome liar'. I had travelled to China once in 2004 and I must say that these two women resembled nothing like anyone I had met there, and they were more conventionally 'western' than myself. Not to get too personal, but for the sake of discussion, they had the sexual openmindedness of a character from Sex in the City but with the grace and politeness of a classic woman. Unfortunately, no romance transpired for me but a friend of mine had better luck and late into the business of the evening he was surprised when "Mr. Pink" appeared out of Vanessa's elaborate purse. It was a sophisticated Chinese-built vibrator. To make a long story short, he will be visiting her in Shenzhen next year. I suppose I'll tell him to watch out for the hidden video cameras.
posted by ageispolis at 2:47 AM on May 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


ageispolis, WTF?
posted by prefpara at 11:13 AM on May 17, 2008


He's met the scions of China's new filthy bourgeoisie living it up on the money their parents corruptly extracted from the working poor and his mate shagged one of them. This tells us something about the state of the nation, but perhaps not what ageisopolis thinks.
posted by Abiezer at 12:21 PM on May 17, 2008


ornate_insect: I got very confused, I am sorry. You are right, we are not talking about the same article. The article I was thinking about was this one: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080602/klein . I thought it was linked to in the original post, but apparently not.

I only quickly skimmed the rolling stone one, but I don't have any complaints about it.

With regard to my choice of the word 'insulting', I hope if you do read the Nation article, you might see what I was talking about. Not so much insulting, as just depressingly cynical. I guess that's the problem when you look at things analytically and strategically and forget that in the end it's the lives of real people you are talking about.
posted by ryanfou at 5:46 PM on May 17, 2008


"Mr. Pink" appeared out of Vanessa's elaborate purse. It was a sophisticated Chinese-built vibrator.

As a patriot, I prefer red-white-and-blue dildos.
posted by homunculus at 6:05 PM on May 17, 2008


"If you are a law-abiding citizen, you shouldn't be afraid," he finally adds. "The criminals are the only ones who should be afraid."

I bet that is said somewhere every day in every dictatorship in the world. A free society is a society where it should be very easy to overthrow the government thus insuring that the government continues to reflect the will of the people.

If you read the original Bill of Rights, each right is enumerated so if some time in the future the leadership of the United States became corrupt then those rights would insure that the government couldn't stop people from organizing and overthrowing them like King George. Why this fact eludes so many is beyond me. "Criminal" can be an arbitrary term. The Bill of Rights is meant to thicken the line between criminal and patriot.
posted by any major dude at 10:35 PM on May 18, 2008


I bet that is said somewhere every day in every dictatorship in the world.

Not just dictatorships. It's pretty much code for "people like us having nothing to fear". It's been used as air cover for all types of police state encroachments, even in so-called liberal democracies. Often the very fact of speaking out against this type of thinking is enough to call attention to your own possible misdeeds.

While it's intellectually true that that if you truly are law abiding, you should have nothing to fear from the authorities. But, if you are wrongly accused (and not exonerated by photographic evidence) or more to the point, you belong to a ethnic or sociological group that traditionally attracts "suspicion" you are never safe or far from accusation.
posted by psmealey at 9:02 AM on May 19, 2008


Spies for Hire: Carlyle Group to Become Owner of “One of America’s Largest Private Intelligence Armies”
posted by homunculus at 9:18 AM on May 19, 2008


Cisco Leak: 'Great Firewall' of China was a Chance to Sell More Routers
posted by homunculus at 8:28 PM on May 20, 2008


Chinese Censors: Yeah, We’re Still Here
posted by homunculus at 11:23 PM on May 28, 2008


Spy Cams in Planes Would Track Facial Expressions for Terrorism and "Air Rage"
posted by homunculus at 12:20 PM on May 29, 2008


China’s Cyber-Militia: Chinese hackers pose a clear and present danger to U.S. government and private-sector computer networks and may be responsible for two major U.S. power blackouts.
posted by homunculus at 1:50 PM on May 30, 2008


Did Hackers Cause the 2003 Northeast Blackout? Umm, No
posted by homunculus at 2:05 PM on May 30, 2008


« Older In recognition of American Craft Beer Week, I pres...  |  The Promise of Prediction Mark... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments