SODOM & GOMORRAH: Modernity brought us privacy whereas life in more traditional times was simpler and more open. However, we have become accustomed to the anonymity that social atomization has brought and losing it to a modern system of surveillance is painful.
The federal government has made overtures to allow the Air Force to dispatch unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) to local law enforcement. The goal of the new project would be to help police locate kidnap victims, fugitive criminals, and the like.
Federal officials say that the drone operators could take and keep photographs of people doing things that the government feels may be “of interest.” It would seem that my lonely nights of sitting naked in a beanbag chair watching reruns of All In The Family are coming to a quick close. Local and federal law enforcement may soon have the ability to spy on people eating junk food, smoking in front of their children, or participating in our consumerist society a la beanbag chair.
Andrew Napolitano opines on the developments at Reason Magazine where he makes two primary points.
First, he argues that it’s unnatural for the government to violate our right to privacy. The right to privacy is apparently a natural right, but also a constitutional right (I’ve explored some of the paradoxes involved in the attribution of rights briefly elsewhere). Regardless of my own views about where rights come from and what those rights actually are, I have yet to see Napolitano or anyone else explain how and in what sense natural rights are natural. This is perhaps especially true with privacy; in pre-modern societies everyone was “up in everybody’s business” to speak in the parlance of our time. When you did something wrong, a jury of your literal peers judged you for it. Historically the government could be up in your business whenever they wanted to.
Second, he suggests that this is all illegal. We have to smile at the irony; Napolitano is saying that the government needs to give itself a warrant per the government’s rules for warrant-granting before the government will allow the government to spy on you. Should you find that the government didn’t follow the government’s rules, you may sue the government in the government’s courts and allow the government’s judges to determine if the government was in the wrong. For rights being so natural and laws being so supreme, they sure are easy to undo with a little creativity.
What the state giveth so they taketh, including privacy it would seem. Crying out that your rights are somehow natural just because you wish they were is nothing more than the pitiful bleat of weak-willed people neutered by the cold and unforgiving machine of the state.