It’s One Year After Edward Snowden and Philly’s All Too Happy Living in a Surveillance State

Omnipresent security cameras, warrantless searches and the banning of secret compartments in cars?! Have we learned nothing?

Photo | Shutterstock.com

Photo | Shutterstock.com

Philly, it’s about time you exercised your rights and told government enough was enough.  Instead of actually solving the schools crisis, your government seems more obsessed with spying on you and telling you what you can put in  (or who you can pay to fuck) your bodies.

And, you’re perfectly OK with this. After all, who needs actual civil liberties when you’ve got Judge Judy educating your children on the television?


Then again, I can’t blame you:  This is the cradle of American identity so we might as well behave like the average American, right? (The average fat, wheezy, ignorant American is more concerned with waddling down to Walmart for another fix of sugary dope than safeguarding his constitutional rights).

This month marks the one year anniversary of the hubbub surrounding the National Security Agency and its former employee, and amateur twink model, Edward Snowden. Last year, Snowden shocked the world by disseminating evidence of NSA overreaches, arguably some of the most intrusive in America’s history.  He obtained this evidence while working there.  Upon learning that the federal government was spying on U.S. citizens domestically, a big no-no, we all clutched our pearls and made very loud noises indeed.

Red-faced Tea Partiers couldn’t decide if Snowden was a patriot or traitor.  On the other side of the aisle, liberals insisted that President Obama was the World War II-winning incarnation of President Franklin Roosevelt and certainly not the Franklin Roosevelt who put Japanese people into concentration internment camps.

“Let’s have some action,” bawled the hashtag activist community.  The politicians replied, “Action will be taken!”

So how are we doing in terms of curtailing the surveillance state?  Here in Philadelphia, not terribly well.

Over the past year, the Philadelphia Police Department has requested private businesses give the lilliputian army unfettered access to private security cameras. The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court ruled that police no longer need to even go through the motions of obtaining a warrant to search your car. Red light and municipal surveillance cameras abound, yet we can’t even keep heroin out of our public elementary schools.  Oh, and I did I mention that now the state legislature is trying to ban “secret compartments” in cars?

This is all under the guise of keeping us safe.

For the record, I have every right to design a hidden Rube Goldberg contraption in my car to hide my porn or my underwear or my Macbook so long as it poses no threat to public safety.  I have every right to do that.  After all, I live in Philadelphia:  I’d rather people not know the value of my underwear by having to lay it in plain sight.  I mean, there’s dangerous, weird people on the street.

Yet, in its infinite wisdom, the state legislature and state supreme court and local police department and federal government — entities with huge amounts of manpower and money — are saying they need just a little bit more power to keep us safe.

Here’s a message to statist Democrats and jingoistic Republicans: Go fuck yourselves.

What are we actually giving up our rights in exchange for, exactly?  If I’m living in a city with one of the highest tax burdens in the country — an infringement on my right to private property (money) — I better have some schools to show for it.  I don’t.

If I’m living in a city that tells me I can’t smoke a cigarette in a public park, I better have some litter free streets.  I don’t.

If I’m being told by the police that they should know every movement of mine, they should be able to keep heroin of all god damned things out of my public schools.  They can’t.

See, it’s not that the government shouldn’t have the ability to keep us safe.  Certainly, that’s one of the primary functions of government. Yet, if we’re willing to grant the government our hard-earned money, the privilege of ruling over us, and a monopoly of legitimate physical force, we’re doing so in exchange for something:  a great society.  We do not have this great society.

To add insult to injury, we as Americans keep whimsically expecting the government to do the right thing.  As a reminder, we cannot under any circumstances ever expect the government to ever do the right thing.  Watergate, NSA overreaches, Japanese internment, suspension of habeas corpus under Lincoln, the alien and sedition acts:  All of these things were constitutionally murky or outright unconstitutional — and thereby incredibly destructive to American society — actions.

Still, all of these things were done under the false premise that they kept us safe.

You know what actually keeps us safe, though?  Asserting our constitutional rights and refusing to kowtow to a bunch of weasel-y bureaucrats and politicians.  After all, the people with their hands on the levers of power after we vote are human beings.  Shitty, crazy, lovely, wonderful, smart, stupid human beings capable of either awesomeness or awfulness.

Don’t believe me?  Let’s take a look at just a few of the abuses at the hands of the government.

In one instance at the federal level, an NSA employee-cretin spied on women presumably having watched that douchebag Joey Greco on “Cheaters” one too many times.  In another at the state level, a state senator got indicted for corruption and paying state employees to throw her a lovely party.  In another at the local level, sitting judges allegedly fixed tickets for political cronies.

And you are OK with giving these people more power?  Really?

Folks, the more power you give the government the more power the bad seeds within that government are going to abuse.  It is inevitable.

Instead of being adults and understanding that the nanny state will beat them with its saggy tit before it will let citizens suckle from it, Americans have collectively shrugged their shoulders and not demanded action.  And that’s perfectly OK if you want to live in a society with a bunch of malcontented, illiterate children shooting up dope led by state senators like Leanna Washington and overseen by sitting judges who allegedly exchange porn and seafood for fixing traffic tickets.

No thanks. We need to demand that the state legislature in Harrisburg actually do something like, you know, govern the state instead of just giving itself pay raises and whining about politics ad nauseum while curtailing our rights at every turn.

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  • Bobby Carroll

    Josh. Thank you for shining some light onto government over-reach and usurpation of power. We are living in extremely consequential times. If you are interested in preserving your liberties, please consider Rand Paul as your political representative.

  • Joe

    Not from Philly and don’t know how I stumbled on this article, but hear hear! That’s the most common sense perspective I’ve gotten from any media outlet regarding our collective sheepitude when it comes to govt. overreach.

  • creatureofhabbits

    Its simply too late. The problem started when corporate laws and formulas were also applied on humans. We simply became numbers and statistics. The exploitation of those facts was a ticking time bomb.

  • johndoe

    Government is like a casino, the monitoring system prevents cheaters but it is mostly used to identify high rollers.

  • buzzbye

    Liberals. The destruction of America. and the free loading low info voters who keep voting the dam trash in like Obama

  • citywide

    We’re going to need a new mayor in a few years; wouldn’t it be great if someone ran who actually wanted to change a few things. How about you Josh?

  • pjcostello

    I think it’s a shame the author couldn’t manage to write a coherent article without stooping to vile use of elementary-school language. There’s no way the point could have been made, except through cursing? What a sad, sorry excuse for a ‘columnist’.