In a recent article from the opinion section of Huffington Post titled “Not Worried about Big Brother or Big Government” by John Pavley , Mr. Pavley explains how he is convinced two of his friends live in a constant state of unwarranted paranoia. The first is a gun enthusiast who lives a normal life as an upstanding citizen and family man, yet owns an unnecessary arsenal in the name of self-defense and has described himself to Pavley much like a hero in the midst of a cheesy Hollywood action film. The second friend is a crypto nerd, a self-described Anonymous who literally “tweets random links just to throw the bad guys off.” Pavley argues that both men share a stark similarity–unnecessary mania which is sure to draw attention from the wrong people be they acting on behalf of the government or not. Though both men haven’t actually committed crimes to attract the scrutiny of one of the government’s button men, Pavley thinks their behavior would eventually incriminate them regardless. In conclusion, Pavley states that he is for sensible gun safety and sensible intellectual property laws.
I don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories in general and I also doubt the various theories that global events are subject to the exact specifications of a small handful of men bent on dominating daily life. Such conspiracy theories do more to undermine liberty than help it—however I remain as skeptical of publicly consolidated power as supposed covert groups. They do essentially the same thing, anyways. I do subscribe to facts. I believe in the steady usurping of power from individuals proposed with the sincere effort to protect society from itself—in the first case, gun control may be necessary to the extent that the average citizen doesn’t need a bazooka or heavy machine gun, ever, but if the family man is a responsible gun owner, what crime has been committed? Would it be too much self-defense? If an individual interprets the second amendment as justification for the purchase and regulated storage of such a weapon in order to keep the government in check, it seems entirely reasonable to continue to allow the family man to carry on.
It is also public fact that billion dollar data center facilities exist for the sole purpose of storing internet traffic coming in and out of the country. One such example is the Utah Data Center. So in reality it isn’t far-fetched for citizens who otherwise live normal lives, to scrutinize the expansion of government powers into their private lives. It might be unnecessary for Pavley’s crypto friend to go to the extent that he does, but it is no crime to be overly conscious. It isn’t the global power players that we should be conscious of, but the casual dismissal of intrusions from the government (who use our tax dollars) into our personal lives, whatever the case may be.
Where I disagree with Pavley most strongly is the notion that the average citizen needs to be protected from himself. How are we to know that the people that Pavley mentions, the “other guys like them only more crazy,” are not newly hired government agents hoping to prove themselves for that next promotion? And are we ever secure enough to allow another person into our private lives, given the risk that they misconstrue our actions when they have the ultimate power to do just that? In another article from the New York Times, widespread dishonesty by police officers when testifying in court was exposed, completely undermining the credibility of law enforcement—evidence seems to point that even the most common “button man” from the government is prone to their own self-interests and not to the citizens.
As a result, I mostly agree with Pavley’s conclusion of a sensible approach to policy, but I find his casual attitude to these controls dangerous. Instead, a reasonable approach would be sensible skepticism—that is, some controls may be necessary or impossible to fight against the majority, but all controls should be taken with a grain of salt. The government and its agents exist to serve its citizens, not for the citizens to accommodate the intrusions of government agents.