Saturday, May 13, 2006

Are we all 'sex offenders' now?

New forms of surveillance and control are usually first introduced to control the weak, defenseless and despised of a society before being employed more generally. The poor, the young, the sick, the aged, the immigrants and the criminals stock the laboratory for social control. But none are as loathed and subject to control as those that are classified as 'sex offenders.'

Given the breathtaking audacity of the current regime, have we already passed beyond the 'experimental stage' to the implementation of total information awareness of every citizen? Has each of us already had our privacy stripped away and in essence been reduced to the status of a 'sex offender?'

Washington Post:
...Eric Haskett was merely taking a nap in a car when he roused suspicion in a rural Frederick County neighborhood. A neighbor traced Haskett's license plate to an address once used by a registered sex offender....

...After allaying the concerns of several law enforcement officials over the past few weeks, Haskett also asked them what he could do to clear his name.

"They said the best bet is to leave the area," Haskett said.

Haskett has no criminal record and has not been accused of wrongdoing, according to public court records and law enforcement officials. The confusion arose after he rented a room in a house on Liberty Road where convicted sex offender Donald M. Sanders had also rented a room; the sex offender registry listed only the house address, not room numbers.

Sanders moved out about the time Haskett moved in, and the two men had no other connection, according to interviews with them, their landlord and law enforcement officials.

Special Agent Michelle Crnkovich, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Baltimore office, said agents interviewed Haskett and determined that the incident was a mix-up. Cpl. Jennifer Bailey of the Frederick County Sheriff's Office said her agency also looked into the matter. And so did Sgt. Palmer Grotte of the Maryland State Police, who said he received an e-mail that started the incident. It is not clear how neighbors obtained information about Haskett from his car's license plates -- information that is protected by privacy laws. [emphasis added]
Privacy laws? Are they kidding? That is so pre-9/11!

Barry Leahy, who rented the rooms to Sanders and Haskett, said the incident points out the potential abuses of sex offender registries.

"I see that convicted sexual offenders should be available on a police list. I can't see that people should have access to that list and hold that against him," Leahy, 54, said. "There's too much of this throwing stuff around on the Internet."... [emphasis added]
Oh well, just an innocent individual whose life has been destroyed. No big deal. After all, the amateur snoop who stirred up the lynch mob had the best of intentions:
...Stefani Shuster, who acknowledged in a telephone interview that she wrote the e-mail that put the events in motion, said she had the best intentions.

"I have a family to protect,"...
And as we all know, anything you do to 'protect' your family is A-OK, right? Snooping, violating privacy laws, destroying other people's lives - all fair game, you just have to say the magic words: 'I thought I was protecting my family' - and everything is permitted. Kinda like 'National Security' for the Deputy Fife in all of us.

So what does this tragic tale tell us? It demonstrates how easily our reputation can be ripped from us - by just a few hayseeds on the Internet - when we have no privacy. So imagine, if you can, what is being harvested by our government in the name of 'national security?'

Of course some would say that we all just need to get used to the 'new normal,' as Mrs. Alan Greenspan phrased it during her lecture the other night on NBC. Of course the TV was only flashing pictures of people taking off their shoes at the airport, not of the government logging all our private phone calls, mapping out our 'social networks,' and on that basis deciding who is a 'Kool kid' and who gets an IRS audit. And don't forget, using spy satellites on Americans is also now part of the 'new normal' as well. Sunbathing in your backyard? Big brother is watching!

D.C.-style smear jobs are terrible, but what if that could be done retail? Just imagine the smears that could be manufactured if some petty bureaucrat - or some politico appointee - had access to every detail of your life (with BTK representing the further extreme). Of course, as long as you keep your 'attitude up' (i.e., don't piss off the Kommisar) everything should be hunky dory. But stray just a little... remember, Haskett's 'crime' was napping in his car. Who knows what might lead your neighbor to report you as an 'offender' under the new world order of the GWOT?

So remember 'the new normal' when reading subversive websites like this - 'they' know what (and when) you are reading because by now you have little more privacy under this regime than a sex offender.