Sunday, February 26, 2012

Civilian Drone Flights in the Works: Will the U.S. Become a Surveillance State?

Pressure builds for civilian drone flights at home

Heads up: Drones are going mainstream. Civilian cousins of the unmanned military aircraft that have tracked and killed terrorists in the Middle East and Asia are in demand by police departments, border patrols, power companies, news organizations and others wanting a bird's-eye view that's too impractical or dangerous for conventional planes or helicopters to get. Along with the enthusiasm, there are qualms.

By Douglas V. Gibbs

I remember when locally the citizens were up in arms when the city council decided to make the red light camera's video function run 24 hours. They saw it as the city finding a way to keep a constant surveillance on the people.  During a city council meeting over the issue, regarding a petition filed to ban the red light cameras, a citizen stood at the podium and told the city council to not protect us from ourselves. This kind of nanny-state attitude is a violation of our freedoms, the man offered.

The members of the city council looked at him with a deer-in-the-headlights look.  When it came time for the council members to speak, one of them said, "it is our job to protect you."

The attitude of these government elitists reminds me of the movie, "Minority Report." The film is based on a short story by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick.  The premise of the film is in the near future, where the nation's capital, in order to combat their incredible murder rate, has put into place a technology that identifies killers before they commit their murders. The Precrime Unit is hailed as a program that saves lives, until the chief officer of the unit is accused of a future murder through an elaborate set-up, making him a victim of the "perfect" system he helped create.

When is the line crossed? When does the government's attempt to protect us become a compromise of our liberty?

This all reminds me of the concept of The General Will.

The idea is for the individuals of a group to consider themselves a single body, conforming to the dictates of the community that best serves the whole. Individuality is set aside as selfish, and the good of the collective is place higher than the decisions of the individuals because, as it is theorized, individual decisions that place the  person above the society is doomed to be unfair and not in the best interest of the community as a whole. For this to work, the members of the body must all act in unison, becoming a homogeneous mass that thinks and works alike with the common goal of the good of the community as their focus.  The General Will is not recognized by the parts, but the ruling elite not only sees the General Will, but also knows how to apply it.  Any individuals that refuses to participate is poison to the community, and must be removed, or be taught to work for the common good.

Not a world I want to live in, but a world those that support continued surveillance would like to see. How else could they keep an eye on you, and make sure you do as you're told?

Civilian drones is not law enforcement, but a technique of restriction. But how is the operations policed against misuse? Or as the saying goes, "Who watches the watchmen?"

They tell us we are not ushering in a surveillance state, that they will only use the drones when necessary, and never on average citizens.

They also told us, long ago when the seat belt legislation first came into existence, that we would only be ticketed for seat belt violations if we had already been pulled over for something else. Now, after time has passed, the law has become, "Click it or ticket."

Government always promises restraint, but once the reins are placed in their hands, authoritarianism is always the result.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

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