It’s a regular old Monday. I’m typing this at about 3:oo PM PST. 97 degrees outside as summer approaches. Some folks are unhappy to be back at work. Most of us are worried about our money or finding the time to do what we really want to do. Regular old Monday. “Calendar’s full of them” as L.B. Jeffries once said about Wednesdays.
But something really remarkable is happening in the world. History is happening before our eyes but it’s sometimes hard to see under social media feeds decrying remakes of great movies or complaints about boredom or other mundanity. That’s not pointing fingers at those folks because we call get busy and caught up in our own lives.
Last week, Edward Snowden won.
I know some very smart people who think he’s a hero. I know some very smart people who think he’s a spy. I will be honest, I was always a little unclear on his crusade and for a long time veered more toward the spy camp. Thanks to Jon Oliver’s unflinching interview, I now know his cause.
One thing I did know was privacy was dead. We had given it up and people wouldn’t care about the government collecting our data in mass droves. (What’s up, NSA? Hey, if you like this blog, how about a retweet. Thanks, NSA.) My cynicism told me that battle had been lost.
I’m delighted to say I was wrong. Congress last week voted to limit the mass collection of data by the NSA. Edward Snowden’s personal reporter Glenn Greenwald did a victory lap on many news outlets proclaiming it great steps for liberty. Let’s not be naive here, if the government thinks your a terrorist, they will be reading your emails. But now they can’t just take everything because you might someday think about maybe possibly in a roundabout way becoming a terrorist.
What’s even more amazing is this Congress that voted to allowed the NSA’s powers to expire was made up of both Democrats and Republicans who wanted the program ceased. Despite the 24/7 news war between Fox News & MSNBC, this was bipartisan governing listening to the will of a great number of Americans who said “Stop it.”
Extraordinary. Truly extraordinary. And when the stakes are this high about an issue this important, one must feel a sense of hope that both sides of Government (sorry, Republicans, but you guys love government too) got this one right.
Over the weekend though some very disturbing footage emerged from McKinney, TX showing a white police officer wrestling a bikinied teenage Black girl to the ground. Police officers certainly have the right to use force when subduing a subject. What danger this teenage girl presented the police is unclear. Considering there were no weapons, lethal or otherwise, present or no assault or crime committed by the girl on the video, it doesn’t look good for McKinney’s Finest. To watch an adult basically assault someone underage in the manner portrayed in the video is at best – disturbing. Maybe there will be more evidence coming to light to explain the officer’s side of the story but outside of the girl pulling an uzi on him and his partner, it’s hard to imagine who part of the story will people say “Oh now I see why that teenage girl armed with only a bikini was so dangerous.”
Some will say there’s no racial element to the story which is hard to believe. There have been racial tensions between the African-American and/or Black community and white police officers for decades upon decades upon decades. The election of Barack Obama to The White House will not make those magically go away.
But now, thanks to the advent of cell phone cameras, incidents like this are now making national news. The person who shot this video wasn’t some vigilante. It wasn’t the news or an off-duty reporter. It as a 13 year old girl. Want to bully a Black girl? You better have a damn good reason because it’s going on the 6 o’clock news: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/texas-police-clash-teens-pool-party-about-race-says-girl-who-recorded-video/
Conspiracy theories and far-right extremists warn of Big Brother watching. (Not watching the show Big Brother, but watching out for BIG GOVERNMENT watching your every move.) That’s actually not really happening. George Orwell’s 1984 remains a must-read warning of totalitarianism. But even he couldn’t predict that the cameras would end up in the hands of the populace. (Maybe he did and I missed it, but you get my drift.) It wasn’t Big Brother cameras that caught the Boston Bombers – it was cell-phones like the ones you and I have.
Government overreach like cops abusing their power is being caught on cell-phones.
Corrupt politicians are being caught on live mic’s by the media.
The internet has given the people are permanent record to store their grievances and injustices.
Technology in the private sector is far outpacing much of that used in the public sector – even when it comes to the military. (Yes, I know there are exceptions. That’s why I said some, please save your emails.)
We live in a time when Big Brother isn’t watching us – we’re watching Big Brother. Just like how we just told the NSA “no more.”
For the record, Big Brother is made by a hell of talented TV crew that features good friends of mine, you should totally watch it.
Also, for the record, there’s A TON of good cops out there doing great work to keep neighborhoods and people safe. Good cops whose reputations shouldn’t be besmirched by the ones caught on camera doing terrible things.
And then today, this happened:
I hope your social media feeds were filled with this news, though I doubt. A Manhunt in New York is leading the news and everyone can’t wait to get to Jurassic World. But this story is History. Sometimes History is quiet, with far-reaching implications that aren’t obvious in the initial headlines. Your grandchildren and great grandchildren will not be growing up in the same world we are. And Thank Goodness they won’t. Yes, there’s more to be done. No, the right is not over. No, climate change is not fixed. But to see the leaders of the world basically say “Fuck this” to the old ways which got us into so much trouble is nothing short of astounding. This development isn’t good news – it’s great news. Despite cries for more to be done, I celebrate this because my cynicism said we’d never get this far. I’m glad again to see my cynicism proven wrong in such a short period time.
As people we fuck everything up. Our jobs. Our families. Our Money. We can’t stop getting nice things then breaking them. But as people, we also fix things. Our jobs. Our families. Our Money. Once we stop crying that our favorite toy is broken, we pick it up, fix it the best we can and get back to playing.
I don’t believe we can prevent climate change, but maybe as is our nature, we can fix it. Thanks to some of these recent developments, I dare to remain hopeful.
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