Monday, January 7, 2013

Good Stalker/Bad Stalker

Did you know that the same federal government which just renewed its intention to spy on you with impunity, and re-declared its right to arrest you without ever charging you, and jail you forever for reasons it never even has to divulge, has declared January to be National Stalking Awareness Month?

Although it is widely acknowledged that the National Security apparatus eavesdrops on, and collects the emails of, millions of American citizens, and is even building a new $2 billion facility in Utah to store all the data, the government still pretends to need to hear from you personally about what you are doing to commemorate Stalking Awareness Month.

"Post, Tweet, or update your status using our 31 days of updates!" the Department of Justice site cheerily and disingenuously advises. "Watch Stalking: Real Fear, Real Crime! Take the Stalking Quiz!"

President Obama just signed another extension of the FISA pro-stalking act into law, personally opposing an amendment by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) which would have required federal stalkers to divulge information on how many people they have victimized. The White House even supplied Senate leaders with talking points to quash the amendment. The surprisingly unclassified list was later obtained by the Tech Dirt website. (You may have to click "refresh" to get the list to show up, for some reason.)
"The Administration opposes this amendment. The goal of this amendment is to obtain an estimate of the number of U.S. persons' communications that may have been collected. Two inspectors general have determined, and reported to Congress, that it is not feasible to provide actual numbers or estimates. They also found that an effort to provide such numbers by delibertely trying to identify U.S. person information would adversely affect the privacy of any U.S. persons whose incidentally collected communications may exist within the collected data."
The president says that he doesn't want to admit that your privacy is being invaded because that would be an invasion of your privacy. Which more than qualifies for a whole chapter in Orwell for Dummies, don't you think?

But back to the Stalking Awareness Month quiz. One multiple choice question asks if you know how many Americans are stalked every year. Of course you don't, because that would be an invasion of your privacy. But the official government answer is more than three million -- unsanctioned creeps only, of course. And did you also know that stalking is a crime in all 50 states? You could have fooled me! What about the New York City police department's Muslim-stalking, and all those stops and frisks of thousands of people of color every single year? And then there's that little matter of the FBI stalking Occupy protesters with the help of the too-big-to-jail banks. In most, if not all, 50 states!

According to the government, most victims never report stalking to police, thinking that the police will not take them seriously. Ya think? The government also quite hilariously defines "monitoring computer usage" as criminal stalking behavior. And, it admits that computer stalkers are not necessarily tech-savvy. Duh again.

I am embarrassed to admit that I only scored a 70% on the quiz. I did get the question about the mental health of stalkers correct, though. I won't spoil things for you any further by telling the answer, in case you want to take the test yourself. And you know that you do! Just imagine Big Brother watching your every keystroke as you click through your choices, and reporting back on whether you're reporting back, and stalking the stalkers who stalk the stalking website.


Denis Neville said...

A new $2 billion government facility in Utah to store all the data…

Jorge Luis Borges, “The Library of Babel,” imagined a collection of information where the entire world’s knowledge was stored but barely a single word was understood:

“The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries…the Library is a sphere whose exact center is any one of its hexagons and whose circumference is inaccessible...For four centuries now men have exhausted the hexagons...there are official searchers, inquisitors...A blasphemous sect suggested that the searches should cease... authorities were obliged to issue severe orders. The sect disappeared...

The glut of information left the inhabitants of the Library, the librarians, in a state of suicidal despair. The main character reflectively writes:

“Perhaps my old age and fearfulness deceive me, but I suspect that the human species - the unique species - is about to be extinguished, but the Library will endure: illuminated, solitary, infinite, perfectly motionless, equipped with precious volumes, useless, incorruptible, secret.”

"Let heaven exist, though my own place may be in hell. Let me be tortured and battered and annihilated, but let there be one instant, one creature, wherein thy enormous Library may find its justification."

- Jorge Luis Borges, The Library of Babel

Pearl said...

This report is nothing new to me. During the McCarthy years my husband's family and us as part of it were more than stalked by government agencies that broke laws which resulted in job losses, severe threats to our emotional health and more. By the time it was safe to consult with legal consul for a court case, the statute of limitations had expired. It is a well subsidized and supported structure that has now permeated the entire national government of both parties, who ask no questions when asked for huge amounts of money to continue this illegal and unconstitutional invasion of privacy. And even with lack of proper evidence they can convict citizens in absentia , or harass them or torture if necessary to get answers they believe are the truth.
Most people are not aware of the dark shadow cast over our civil liberties and they stalk without permission so that they cannot be questioned or challenged by people who are unaware of these realities.

Democracy is slowly dying in our country and like the frogs in hot water most people don't realize the boiling point of the water is close at hand. Thank god for you Karen, who informs us of the dangerous situation most people live under and I only hope some sanity and reason will return one day. It is like the Stockholm syndrome where people captured by the enemy become accepting of their captors, even carrying out their dirty work for them.

I still have trouble believing what the State of the Union has come to and the lies that presidents tell during their speeches on that occasion. Do have your usual great column when Obama gives his State of the Union speech with your great reproduction of the speech with your honest comments in parentheses through it. It will cheer us all up after we have a good cry.

James F Traynor said...

Shades of Javer! Personally, I've reached an age, or a mental state, where I don't give a rat's ass what people know about me. But a lot of people do and they have a right to their privacy. You can't live without leaving tracks, spoor, and there's always someone, for one reason or another, sniffing around. You just have to watch out for those wearing bones in their noses and carrying portable barbecues. There's a whole tribe of such people, called Republicans, who are prone to such behavior and some of them are wearing really big bones. But, it has to be said, they are not entirely alone in this. It is one of the perils of The Age of Information.

Denis Neville said...

@ Pearl – what an awful time that was for you, your husband and his family

I was just a very young lad during the anti-Communist witch hunts of the Cold War.

But I do remember my mother talking about it and how despicable one South Dakota senator was.

A Harvard educated Jewish professor, who had worked for the WPA before coming to the University of South Dakota, was denounced as a Communist by “someone back east.” When he defended Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, which many South Dakota conservatives equated with Communism, he was labeled as “that Communist history professor.”

South Dakota’s Senator Karl Mundt had his own witch hunts in search of Communist subversives during those times.

Another USD professor was identified as a “card-carrying Communist” by Senator Mundt. This professor had taught at Ohio State University before Ohio Republican Senator Bricker had him fired, after seeing an FBI file that “definitely proved he was a Communist.” After talking with Mundt, the USD President directed the dean of USD’s Medical School to “fire the scoundrel…I do not want a guy like that around.” The dean agreed and called Senator Mundt to get the incriminating facts.

The FBI’s communist census for South Dakota was thirty-seven. Mundt was “happy to report that through the combined efforts of the FBI, Senator Mundt, and a good South Dakota citizen” that the number had been reduced to thirty-six. “Good riddance of red rubbish!” Mundt crowed.

A nation of sheep begets a government of wolves and in this way the soul of America dies.

“Our history will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, then history will take its revenge, and retribution will not limp in catching up with us.” - Edward R. Murrow

James F Traynor said...

Harvard? A Jew? A professor? WPA? And west of the Mississippi and east of the Sierras? In the 50s? Now there was a guy with a target on his back. In the east he'd of stood a chance, not much of a chance, but at least a chance.

James F Traynor said...

There's one thing that's making me nervous: the FBI and OWS. That redacted group and the redacted person and the sniper bit - yeah, nervous. My beast is sniffing the air and pacing its cage. Doesn't do that without reason.

Denis Neville said...


It's also making me nervous.

In the past, people of conscience, such as Ed Murrow against McCarthy's purges, had platforms to speak out. Today, similar voices still exist, but they are no longer heard because the elites deny them the platforms. Community action requires a platform. The organized crack-down on OWS and now the FBI element demonstrates the sinister level of force that exists today to thwart dissent.

Quiet men with white collars, men without chests…

“I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of “Admin.” The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business concern.” - Uncle Screwtape in the “Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis