Saturday, April 6, 2013

The One-Way Lens

Trey Smith

The Big Brother theory of surveillance goes something like this: pervasive snooping and monitoring shouldn’t frighten innocent people, it should only make lawbreakers nervous because they are the only ones with something to hide. Those who subscribe to this theory additionally argue that the widespread awareness of such surveillance creates a permanent preemptive deterrent to such lawbreaking ever happening in the first place.

I don’t personally agree that this logic is a convincing justification for the American Police State, and when I hear such arguments, I inevitably find myself confused by the contradiction of police-state proponents proposing to curtail freedom in order to protect it. But whether or not you subscribe to the police-state tautology, you have to admit there is more than a bit of hypocrisy at work when those who forward the Big Brother logic simultaneously insist such logic shouldn’t apply to them or the governmental agencies they oversee.
~ from Suddenly, NYPD Doesn’t Love Surveillance Anymore by David Sirota ~
Isn't this how it tends to go? A principle is laid down as being incontrovertible...unless, of course, you point that principle back to the folks advocating it. Then, in their specific case, the incontrovertible principal somehow becomes controvertible!

Sirota's target in this piece is the NYPD. The mayor and police chief have advanced the notion outlined in the first paragraph of the snippet above. But, in their eyes, when it comes to the establishment of an independent police monitor, being watched ain't such a good thing.
Somehow, they argue that their own Big Brother theory about surveillance supposedly stopping current crime and deterring future crime should not apply to municipal officials themselves.
The "logic" here would be downright hilarious, if not for the seriousness of the issue.

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