“What do we want? Privacy! Why do we want it? None of your business!”
On Saturday, Oct 26th, Restore the Fourth Chicago and supporters gathered in Federal Plaza for a rally against mass surveillance. After a reading of the 4th Amendment, followed a brief NSA quiz (replete with chocolate statue of liberty prizes), the floor was opened to all participants for “soap box” speeches of 30 seconds or less.
This was followed by prepared speeches of which I’ll leave you with the following quotes:
From speaker Laura Jedeed:
“…we hear, over and over, that old argument from people unconcerned with the current state of privacy in this country. “Why are you concerned with privacy? You don’t have anything to worry about as long as you have NOTHING TO HIDE”…[this] assumes that only criminals and wrongdoers need privacy. That the only reason anyone would want to keep something to themselves is if it was bad or wrong.
On the face of it, this is absurd. Nearly every human being keeps certain things private that are not bad, wrong, or shameful. As Bruce Schneier points out, we go to the bathroom in private. We have sex in private. We write journals in private. We have our own private thoughts and feelings; our own private selves. Part of being a human being, part of being an individual, is the concept of privacy: that separation between me, as an individual, and we, as a society.
There are more subtle barriers of privacy than that most fundamental one too. We share more with our partners than our friends. We share more with our friends than our acquaintances. And we share more with our acquaintances than with the NSA—or at least, that’s how it ought to be!”
From speaker Trajan McGill:
“There is simply no way to come to any conclusion other than this: human beings, when given the ability to conduct mass surveillance, can be counted on to use it with great regularity to undermine and defeat those who stand in their way. So here’s the deal you get: you can only say you don’t care about mass surveillance if you are willing to promise you will never in your life take a political stand in opposition to whoever holds power at the time…If, however, you want to preserve your right and the right of your neighbors and your children to stand for things freely and fearlessly and associate with others who do, too; if you wish to preserve the right to differ with and attempt to defeat your elected officials when you think they are in the wrong, then it is vitally important that we turn back the buildup of this kind of power.”
From speaker Paul Baird:
“New critical ways of thinking, new ideas and ways of approaching problems, uncensored self-expression and artistic or musical creations have the ability to shape and alter our culture as a whole. They have the ability to change the way people interpret or view social, political, economic, environmental, or humanitarian issues….The entitlement of privacy, granted to us by the 4th amendment, allows for the unimpeded flowing of intention and information, the settling of curiosity, and the creation of thought, unaltered, unmeddled with, raw and unfiltered because of the inherent and assumed state of solitude shared between individuals or parties through any means of communication, which is essential to a free societies right to free expression.”
From speaker Ed Levinson”
“With each leak of these programs being made public, we look for answers from our president and respective representatives as to why there are ongoing unconstitutional practices by government agencies. Instead of hearing the truth we get fabricated stories and outright lies…The director of the NSA, Keith Alexander claimed that these programs have prevented dozens of terrorist attacks, however even he later admitted that this was a mistruth – and no attack on American soil was ever prevented with the use of these programs…We are being sold the idea that we must sacrifice our constitutional right of privacy for security, that we must accept our loss of civil liberties and trust that our government has our best interests at heart. How can we possibly trust the government when they have been caught lying to us and committing perjury about these programs on multiple occasions?”
Afterwards, onward we marched! From Federal Plaza down to the Historic Old Water Tower, then doubling back and finished at Pioneer Court chanting:
- Hey, hey, NSA, how many phones you tapped today?
- Restore the Fourth! Restore the Fourth!
- What do we want? Privacy! Why do we want it? None of your business! When do we want it? Now!
- Tell me what democracy looks like? This is what democracy looks like!
- NSA has TMI! NSA has TMI!
Restore the Fourth’s next public meeting will be Thursday, Nov. 14th at CivicLab. Social half-hour starts at 7:30PM with the official meeting starting at 8:00PM. This rally was just the beginning!