Lots of talk around these Internets about NSA spying. Opinion polls in America seem to indicate that most people don't think that it's a big deal, varying from "nothing to hide" to "what's the big deal?" to "ho hum," and probably including a lot of "haven't they been doing this for years?"
There is plenty of harm though, and I've seen it alluded to elsewhere. Take the example of, say, me. Reading/scanning my e-mails or even my offerings herein will not yield anything of real interest to anyone, perhaps little of interest even to the intended readers. My telephone conversations are even more guarded and innocuous. I'm not involved in anything nefarious (take my word for it), and the small-change complaining that I do on this blog is certainly no threat to our government. But there is a real danger, to me and to you, dear reader.
There is always the chance that something that I say will be taken in the wrong way, either with an abundance of caution or through shear stupidity. I sometimes attempt to turn an artful phrase, and those efforts lend themselves very well to misinterpretation. And it has happened too, to real people who are not me, and the incidence will only accelerate.
Some completely innocent people have been identified as potential malefactors, sometimes through print evidence or reported speech and sometimes through those diabolical closed circuit security cameras. Investigations have been mounted, and they may someday be mounted against you for some completely innocent thing. One example that I read about featured an innocent man who happened to be wearing a jacket that struck someone as being too heavy for the weather and then allowing a train to stop and the station and then leave again without his getting on. That was it, drag his ass up to the station before he can accomplish his terrible plan. Now remember that an investigation, once mounted, wants to find something, like in his apartment or his computer for instance. And the file, once opened, may remain open forever.
Less than that will get you on a terrorist watch list these days. For nothing. There will be unintended consequences.
One thing for sure, in the 1960's you could not have gotten anyone in the country to sign on for constant close examination like this, not anyone from anywhere in the political spectrum. It would all have sounded so like the Soviets, whom even American communists had given up on. These things must come about gradually if they are to come at all.
There's no future in resisting modernity though, so we probably just all should get used to it. This constant monitoring will be with us until the comet hits, in all likelihood. I miss the Constitution, and American democracy, as flawed as they were they were a big help to us there for a while. Gone now, and gone more comprehensively than any of the things listed in that stupid song.
Smile! You're on Candid Camera!