Today’s recommended reading: a long big-picture guest post from Iris Van der Pluym over at Pharyngula. It’s become unfashionable to talk about the System as a mechanism for oppression, but it’s worth taking a long look at the last few decades of propaganda, imprisonment and death and the associated winding back of civil liberties, and ask ourselves the ever-relevant question made famous by Cicero: cui bono?
The illustration above (found in an unrelated (and more rambly) article from a year ago) could easily be adapted to most modern “democracies” with a few local adaptations in cultural iconography. It’s part and parcel of the disillusion many feel about the choices on offer in our own upcoming federal election.
That neither of these two articles takes the next step of examining the role of cyberspace in creating a permanent byte-trail record of most things we do together that will at some point (if it isn’t already) be a printout accessible by officers of the state, and noting the current upswelling of FUD rhetoric about cyber-security? Wary as the authors are, they’re not wary enough: today a cybertrail leads to the police questioning a man suspected of making rape-threats on Twitter against a feminist activist*, what scent will the cybersniffers be sent after next?
* I’m all in favour of abusive harassers engaged in intimidatory tactics by uttering threats facing legal consequences for doing so, and the strength of my approval is what gives me pause – pandering to our instincts for justice is exactly how oppressive overreach that ends up establishing and perpetuating systemic injustice can sneak in under our radar.