Punishing the Heroes, Rewarding the Villains

Deric Lostutter exposed the corruption in Steubenville, Ohio as an entire town covered up the rape of a fifteen year old girl.  His work as “KYAnonymous” and the help of other Anons blew the whistle on school and law enforcement officials covering up an inexcusable crime to maintain the reputation of their high school football team.  Apologists for the rapists were shamed and the system was forced to work in light of the resulting public pressure.

The rapists each received one to two years in a juvenile hall as the media lamented how unfortunate it was that their high school football careers would be cut short.  The coach and cops and judges received no reprimand for their cover-up.  The girl became the victim of cyber-bullying for “what she did to” her attackers.  The hero in all of this, Lostutter is facing ten years in prison after the FBI raided his home in reaction to his efforts.

Edward Snowden exposed the corruption in Washington, D.C. as the entire federal government covered up the ongoing total surveillance operation which allows them to track virtually any domestic information exchange without a warrant or a legitimate reason.  The program is in clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, but it’s also in clear violation of common sense and decency.  It is anti-democratic and the big difference between this and all the other controversies from the capital is that this affects you, personally, no matter who you are.  There is nobody who is immune to this program.

The president has responded to the whisteblowing, saying there are “some trade-offs” between security and freedom, completely ignoring the wise words about deserving neither commonly attributed to Ben Franklin.  Nobody is being reprimanded at our intelligence agencies, in the executive branch, or within the telcos allowing the invasion.  The enemy, according to the government, is the whistleblower.  Snowden is seeking asylum in Iceland as he believes he will never be able to return to his home due to the reaction to his heroic efforts, as the director of national intelligence has stated this was a reckless disclosure against tools that “keep Americans safe.”

It seems that, with Bradley Manning, a trend was started.  The villains are now the victims… the poor, unfortunate rapists and the misunderstood, patriotic peeping toms.  Exposing crime is now the biggest crime in the land and, while the media is finally doing their job and reporting the corruption (since they’re included on the list of targets now), the people seem to be exhibiting a muted reaction.  All we have mustered are a few angry Facebook posts and a couple of late-night TV punchlines.

The old poem about how the man didn’t help when they came for the Communists (since he wasn’t a Communist) comes to mind now because they’re not just coming for the Communists or the socialists or the trade unionists as Niemöller wrote, but they’re coming for everyone.  Every single American citizen is directly and personally affected by this.  If we allow our government to tell us that it’s in our best interests to let them monitor everything we do, and for them to prosecute those who would expose the depth of the monitoring, then the government has stopped working for the people and the opposite has happened.

A few people have asked me why I’ve been so silent on the NSA issue, and on politics in general lately.  The truth is that I’ve been watching the people fight in Turkey and it’s inspiring, but at the same time it’s disheartening.  I’m starting to worry that the first two decades of this millennium will be in history books someday as ‘the collapse of a superpower.’  The chapter will discuss the apathy of the people as the government encroached evermore on their rights, from the PATRIOT Act to the TRESPASS Act to the acknowledgement of comprehensive monitoring of all telephone communications, and the moral of the story will be that we could have stood up and fought back, but we just sat there, watching reality television and eating fast food.

That’s why I haven’t talked about it.  I haven’t wanted to deal with the crushing depression that accompanies watching my friends, my neighbors, my peers simply going about their daily lives while a surveillance state is clearly being built around them.  It’s not even anger — it’s despair.  This is the single biggest story of 2013 and rivals some of the biggest controversies in American history… Watergate resulted in a shameful resignation but it pales in comparison to this, and nobody is making demands.  Nobody is standing up.

So nothing will change, and that’s why I haven’t talked about it.

I don’t hold much hope that the people will prove me wrong, but if I’ve ever wanted to be wrong, it’s this time.

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