‘Mind Control’ Achieved by Post-Snowden United States (El Espectador, Colombia)

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One of the most disturbing consequences of Edward Snowden’s revelations is the self-censorship that has begun to take hold in what was once called the ‘freest nation in the world.’ For Colombia’s El Espectador, columnist Juan Gabriel Vásquez cites a recent survey of American writers, and explains why going along to get along with surveillance makes a mockery of some of the West’s most cherished ideals.

For El Espectador, Juan Gabriel Vásquez writes in part:

The PEN survey brought some disturbing revelations. Twenty eight percent of writer-respondents said they had curtailed their activities on social networks; 24 percent took pains to avoid certain topics during their telephone conversations and in e-mails, and 26 percent had avoided writing about certain topics. The New York Times mentioned the case of Charles J. Shields, a biographer who has stopped writing about the history of civil defense in the United States because that would have forced him to put into his search engine and conversations words that would raise the red flags at the NSA. This can mean only one thing: writers are self-censoring. They are leaving certain areas untouched, especially if writing about them involves using certain terms in their communications. So it has come to this: the reality of life in the most powerful democracy in the world has achieved what has been impossible for the worst totalitarian systems and the worst theocracies – mind control over individuals.

No, this isn’t science fiction: if religion and dictatorship have something in common, it is their open striving to legislate our mental activity. “Bad thoughts” are a routine part of the Catholic confessional; and few stop to ponder the obscenity of a ritual that obliges them to describe to a priest their secret desires, even if those desires don’t exist in the real world, and even if they haven’t acted on them nor plan to do so. The very fact of harboring them is punishable.

READ ON IN ENGLISH OR SPANISH, OR READ MORE TRANSLATED and English-language foreign press coverage as the NSA surveillance scandal continues to unfold at Worldmeets.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.

         

Author: WILLIAM KERN (Worldmeets.US)

Founder and Managing Editor of Worldmeets.US

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6 Comments

  1. The extent to which we allowed the terrorists to win following 9-11 still hasn’t been fully understood by most people. I read stories about how we are losing our civil liberties, privacy rights, and rights to decent treatment by law enforcement nearly every day. It wouldn’t be so painful if I wasn’t old enough to realize just how much has been lost.

  2. And we all laughed at the idea of “big Brother” when the news about NSA broke.

  3. “You better watch out,
    You better not cry,
    Better not pout,
    I’m telling you why”
    “He’s making a list,
    And checking it twice;
    Gonna find out
    Who’s naughty and nice.”
    “He sees you when you’re sleeping.
    He knows when you’re awake.
    He knows if you’ve been bad or good,
    So be good for goodness sake!”

    NSA may have leaned a lot from Santa. :-)

  4. I didn’t laugh about it. I’ve been creeped out every since the Patriot Act when through, and especially when the 2010 Defense Act was passed allowing, for awhile at least, Presidents to arrest people and detain without trial as long as they were suspected of terrorist ties. It seems not only has the electorate forgotten why we had those rules in place, but so have a majority of our elected officials.

    We have already signed over the authority for those in power to do whatever they want. The only reason we don’t live in a Soviet style police state, at least as far as I can tell, is that those in power have merely elected not to exercise the authority they have to do so. But they could. This is not what the Founding Fathers wanted. We don’t simply trust everyone to not abuse their authority, they are simply not to have it without any checks on it. Even when those checks make it harder to catch bad guys who might blow up stuff.

  5. Right on the money slam.

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