Stymied by Outrage

Paris happened and the response from our officials is distressingly predictable. I am distressed. I’m angry. I’m outraged. I expect better from people who are allegedly elected into office for their competence as statespeople.

In France and in the US our officials push for more surveillance of the people, even though focus on mass surveillance likely impeded our ability to foresee and prevent the attacks.

In the US even our progressive officials are pushing to hobble encryption on personal devices (if not all computers) even though backdoors are always cracked or leaked to the public, partially because police can’t help themselves and look at private cheesecake photos. (#2.)* In the meantime, the Daesh** were communicating on burners via SMS. Essentially much like drug traffic in the US.

In the meantime everyone’s now looking to block the Syrian refugees because they’re Muslim (or just because they’re refugees. Western civ sucks when it comes to welcoming the new huddled masses yearning to breathe free.) Because Islam is the problem, not just that people really like to hate the other guy and kill them. And in the meantime, Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal all went to the National Religious Liberties Conference where pastor Kevin Swanson ranted at length about how gays should be executed in the United States, because incitement is, evidently, an accepted religious liberty here. Needless to say, the attending candidates have been rather quiet or evasive about their attendance of this conference, and their opinions on Swanson’s rhetoric.

I’m really outraged. Part of me wants to cite this as evidence that the human species just can’t handle civilization. I’ll just say that when we master it, when we are able to be responsible with the power that we now wield, it will be despite ourselves.

* On the good side this will push anyone serious about keeping their stuff private to open source, since the current push for such mandates would be on commercial software. And if they were to mandate end-user encryption illegal, we’d see a lot of development of crypto with plausible deniability. This is a battle that tyrannies cannot win, which is part of how tyranny is fought in places like Iran and China.

** Daesh is an acronym for Dawlat al-Islamiyah f’al-Iraq wa al-Sham which translates to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Da’ish is disliked by the group itself because it is phonetically similar to Daes, “one who crushes something underfoot”, and Dahes, “one who sows discord”. Due to a lack of standardized spelling (it’s a phonetic Latinization) there are many variants on this spelling, including Daesh which is gaining popularity, I think as a neutral alternative.

Image is of a Syrian refugee, courtesy of BBC (used without permission). Fun fact: over half of the displaced Syrian refugees are children, most are orphaned. So the cute empathy girl really is kinda appropriate in this case. Not that we take very good care of our own children.


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