Winston Smith is plagued with a need. A need for freedom. Individuality, however, is illegal. Everyone must conform to the government or perish. All around him he is aware that “Big Brother is watching.” Cameras are everywhere recording everything, making sure he shows no sign of desiring freedom or individuality. In a moment of defiance Smith decides to begin journaling his thoughts against the government, which is also illegal. Thought Police will arrest and execute anyone who thinks for themselves — especially thoughts against the government. The Thought Police’s job was simple: monitor everyone and deal with those who show signs of free will. Free thinkers are seen as a problem to the government and are to be blotted out. Winston must be careful not to let Big Brother know of his thoughts, or he will face a certain death.
Above is a brief summary of George Orwell’s novel, 1984. The story is incredible, but what turns it from thrilling fantasy and terrifying reality is the story is not too far removed from truth — at least for those who are looking.
In 2001, only six weeks after 9/11, in reaction to the attacks on the World Trade Centers, President Bush signed into law the US Patriot Act. It’s an extremely complex law, but in summary, it gives the Federal Government the authority to wiretap any phone in the country and listen in on the call. In 2012, President Obama signed the NDAA, National Defense Authorization Act. This is an extension of Bush’s Patriot Act but also includes emails and text messages. In addition, the NDAA monitors which websites you’re viewing. Both these laws were touted as being an instrument in preventing terrorist attacks, but since 2001, not a single terrorist attack has been foiled and our rights as Americans are being stripped. Like Winston Smith, we are now are being watched by Big Brother.
In today’s America, we are constantly surveilled. After the NDAA passed, President Obama was asked about America’s spying program. Obama claimed no Americans were being watched — but he was caught lying and the American people were outraged. Unfortunately, that white hot rage has dulled to a slow simmer. Obama’s administration was again caught spying on the Associated Press, reading emails and wiretapping phone lines. Again though, the American people have simply shrugged it off and accepted it as a normal part of society.
I have to challenge this way of thinking, however, this idea of “It’s just the way it is.” Is it not a problem to you that every call you make, every text you send, and every website you view is being sent to a server outside Fort Meade, Maryland, to the National Security Agency’s headquarters? Do you not care that every time you get into your car and drive to work, someone knows you’re not home? What happened to the 4th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America?It clearly says:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”
You have the right to not be spied on, but we passively accept it as normal. If the Patriot Act and the NDAA were passed to spy on terrorists, why are we the one’s being watched? We are not the enemy of the State, so why are we being watched like we are?
If the NSA’s spying program doesn’t scare you, Google “FEMA camps.” FEMA stands for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In case of emergency, the federal government has the authority to control every resource in America. The roads, communications, food and water supplies, healthcare, everything. Imagine a world where you can’t drive, get food or water, go to the hospital or even make a phone call to a loved one without the government’s permission? The government will claim it is for our protection, but I would much rather have freedom to do as I wish. Again, a place that has complete security, but all its resources are managed is nothing more than a jail cell.
President Obama has also admitted these FEMA camps can be used to detain those deemed a threat to the State. You can be arrested and sent to a camp for as long as the government thinks you’re a threat — up to 10 years. I beg you to do your homework on this. I’ll even get you started:
If the government thinks you’ll commit a crime, even 10 years down the road, they claim to have the authority to detain you and hold you until they feel that desire to commit crime has subsided. This is a clear violation of the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Amendments of the US Constitution — but we Americans passively continue on with life. Sure, most of us will never fall under these pretenses — but once the government ventures down this avenue, what is to say they cannot abuse this power? And then, who can stop them?
And finally, the right of freedom of speech has been eroded. Michelle Obama spoke to a group of high school seniors in Topeka, Kansas, on Friday, May 16. In her speech, what topic did she choose? Racism. Topeka, Kansas is the site of the landmark case, Brown vs. the Board of Education. During her 20 minute speech, the First Lady chose to remind us all that after 60 years since the civil rights movement — America is still racist. Mrs. Obama made sure to mention her husband, the first black President, and made sure to praise Jason Collins and Michael Sam for being openly gay. Two things: one, I couldn’t care less who those men sleep with — two, I don’t remember the President giving Tim Tebow a call from the White House calling him a hero for his stance on Christianity. I must’ve missed that headine.
Mrs. Obama continued her speech by claiming older generations make racially insensitive comments and thoughts like that should be challenged. Now, I’ve heard my grandparents say some pretty wild things, but never once have I asked them to apologize for their words. Because like it or not, having an opinion is not a crime, no matter how unpopular. The French philosopher Voltaire once said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
If you were to say, “I hate white people,” or “I hate men,” or “I hate Christians” — of which I am all three – that’s okay in today’s society. You’re allowed to have and voice that opinion, despite it being hateful speech. But if one were to say the opposite, they are a bigot and scorned by the public. This double standard is so uneven, inconsistent, and unfair to all.
People are so politically correct in today’s society, we can’t say anything or even hold an opinion without someone getting offended. The First Amendment of the Constitution has been put in place to protect the people’s voice. The First Amendment does not grant us liberty to talk about the weather. It allows and even encourages people to say controversial things without persecution. It’s not very tolerant of someone to voice an opinion and whoever doesn’t agree demand they be silenced. Without the ability to argue your opinion, we lose individuality. Not everyone is going to agree with every belief one holds. When everyone agrees about everything without question, we lose a very human aspect and become very robotic in opinion.
We can’t be afraid of “thought police” or worry about our government because we choose to speak against it. 1984 is a fictional story written by George Orwell. Don’t let it become a reality written by the oppressors. Six Amendments have been broken countless times by our government in under 15 years. We, like Winston, face an all seeing government where unsavory thoughts and not-yet-committed crimes can imprison a person. It may be a lot to take in at once. Some may read this and feel I am crazy. But for those who have seen what I’ve seen and feel as I feel, just know – you are not alone.
Photos via: Google — Tom Bridge
The personal views expressed in this post are the writers’ own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Minnesota Connected or its sponsors.