Privacy? What a shame…

So by way of a bit of introduction, I wanted to start this blog off with a discussion of the idea of privacy.

My first stop a visit to the recent situation in China.  Google’s recent threat to pull out of China has raised the issue of government censorship in China back into public awareness.

In my opinion, one of the more interesting facts to come out of all of the furor is that, despite all the work by China’s government to censor information and block sites, people in China can still access a lot of the forbidden information.  So much so that news organizations mistakenly reported that Google was already no longer censoring sites.

More than ever, information cannot be hidden.  Not forever, not successfully.  The truth WILL out.  This can be attested to by John Edwards, Mark Foley, Jeff Gannon, Larry Craig, Jack Abramoff, Duke Cunningham, Tom DeLay, Matt Baker, and on and on.

Along this line are recent articles about how social media is affecting privacy and the availability of data about our activities, including one entitled The One Thing Twitter Forces Us To Do.  The point of the article is that social media forces us to be honest, with so much of our activity now verifiable though our postings to social media.

All that said, I am going to remain anonymous. 

“PoliticallyMe” is just that, my political online life.  I’m a real person, and these are my real opinions (except when I’m being snarky, and I’ll try to make that as clear as possible).  I’ll try to be as responsive to readers as I can be, and take responsibility for what I write.  But I won’t post my real name.

As someone who lives in a state where one’s financial livelihood is not adequately protected from arbitrary decisions based on personal feelings (as opposed to competency to perform the work), I cannot afford to jeopardize my family by saying something that an employer might disagree with. 

But privacy is a two-edged sword.  While privacy protects me from unfair discrimination, privacy also allows such discrimination to exist, which leaves me feeling ambivalent about my decision to remain anonymous.

Let’s take the Larry Craig example from above.  The right wing of our political spectrum believes that homosexuality is bad, sick, perverted, sinful.  (Yes, there are the Log Cabin Republicans, but the majority of the party would rather they just go away).  Until the truth came out, as a Republican representative Larry Craig had to keep his sexual preference secret.  But by having that privacy, he reinforces the idea that he has something to hide, that there is something shameful about his preferences.  Had there been no such privacy early on, no one could have shamed him about his sexual orientation, and he might have been able to serve honestly.

Had Jack Abramoff, Duke Cunningham, Enron and Worldcom not been able to practice their financial skullduggery in secret (for a time), they wouldn’t have done what they did, which was ruinous to our economy and our Democracy.

So on the one hand, secrecy is the anathema of democracy and fairness, but on the other it is required to keep my family safe.  And by hiding who I am, I perpetuate the idea that there is something wrong with what I believe.  And eventually, the truth will come out.  Wonderful.

Privacy… what a shame.

This post ties into the Post-A-Day topic for August 15, 2011

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