Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bowers & Britz

I enjoyed reading the Bowers article, if only for the historical perspective it provided. By and large, however, the piece served as a chilling reminder of just how over broad the provisions of the USA PATRIOT ACT are. As I write this, I’m sitting in a public library. Who knows – I may be sharing the creation of this blog post with security operatives who were tipped off by my use of “over broad” in the same sentence as the USA PATRIOT ACT. If I should suddenly stop posting to the blog, please contact my wife and tell her that “the crow flies east in the winter.” She’ll know what to do.

Seriously though, some of the cloak and dagger stuff in that article would be comical if it were fiction. What possible reason could an agency like the IRS have for wanting to know who checked out books on explosives? Wouldn’t the circulation history of a biography on Osama Bin Laden implicate dozens of high school students writing reports as potential national security risks? To my layman’s understanding, the USA PATRIOT ACT essentially means that “national security” can be used as the justification for all manner of fundamentally unconstitutional searches and seizures that won’t ever be explained or justified due to the “highly sensitive” nature of the investigations, which can’t be talked about or reported on due to the Section 215 gag order. Thanks, guys. I feel safer already.

With regard to the Britz piece, I share in the sentiments of others here who have observed his firm grasp of the obvious. Sadly, my eyes glossed over about halfway through the article, so I may have missed what I’m sure were some finely articulated points on social justice with regard to the marginalized, information-poor populations of the world. I’m fairly certain, too, that these marginalized, information-poor populations appreciate ivory tower intellectuals like Britz taking to the ramparts on their behalf. I probably shouldn’t be so dismissive and reductive, but this piece just rubbed me the wrong way.

1 comment:

  1. While I can empathize with those of you who have expressed some irritation with being confronted with what felt like obvious points in one of our selections for this week, please do keep in mind that, particularly in a Master's level program with students coming from such a variety of backgrounds, in our class we have a great deal of varied life experience and exposure to this type of material, as well as quite a gamut of experience in terms of time out in the job world, working in professional fields, working on social justice initiatives, and so on, among students. So while some of these observations may strike you as no-brainers, they may contain some revelatory nuggets of wisdom for others in our class. It's aways good to keep that in mind as we go through our course material.