Editorial:

It’s time to practice the ‘Golden Rule’

Posted 6/2/22

Kim Kardashian has nothing left to hide. Apparently, the social media diva has plenty to fear. For starters, she’s afraid of guns. 

“The current laws in our country around gun …

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Editorial:

It’s time to practice the ‘Golden Rule’

Posted

Kim Kardashian has nothing left to hide. Apparently, the social media diva has plenty to fear. For starters, she’s afraid of guns. 

“The current laws in our country around gun control are not protecting our children,” Kardashian recently posted on Twitter. “We have to push law makers [sic] to enact laws that are fitting in today’s world.”

Not surprisingly, Kardashian doesn’t mention privacy in her tweet.

Privacy is one of those subjects some people think is optional — until their own rights have been violated.

On the one hand, Americans have enjoyed unprecedented rights to privacy, which they have cherished for more than two centuries.

On the other hand, the onslaught of new technologies and violent crimes have threatened Americans’ privacy rights in unimaginable ways since 1776.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees Americans certain rights to privacy, most notably in the Fourth and 14th amendments. The 14th Amendment addresses due process of law. The Fourth Amendment pertains to search and seizure — the requirement that law enforcement agents obtain search warrants from objective court judges. To obtain such a court order, law enforcement personnel are expected to show probable cause, which presumes a suspect has something illegal to hide.

“Search and seizure, in criminal law, is used to describe a law enforcement examination of a person’s home, vehicle, or business to find evidence that a crime has been committed,” according to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute.

After Sept. 11, 2001, it became less difficult for law enforcement agents to search suspects and seize property. At the time — in the wake of the World Trade Center towers being leveled by commercial jets — most Americans supported any and all efforts to stop terrorists in their tracks, no matter the cost to individual liberties.

“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about” became the mantra of many Americans who supported doing “whatever it takes” to protect the innocent.

Then-President George W. Bush and America’s first Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge were fond of saying, “Terrorists only have to be right once. We have to be right 100 percent of the time.”

More than two decades later, with school shootings becoming a routine occurrence in the United States, the forfeiture of privacy seems like a small price to pay to protect American lives.

Or is it?

On the one hand, searching and seizing a home rumored to be “locked and loaded” with automatic weapons might prevent the killings of innocent children in school yards like those in Texas and Connecticut, nightclubs in Florida, churches in South Carolina, concert venues in Nevada, grocery stores in upstate New York and movie theaters in Colorado.

On the other hand, the Second Amendment grants Ameicans the constitutional right to keep and bear arms; it is inane to presume that every home across the United States where handguns, rifles, shotguns and even automatic weapons are stored houses a mass killer.

The recent massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, is one of dozens of cases in which innocent people were killed by gun-toting men — and boys.

Every shooting prompts the same responses from people on both sides of the aisle. One side says, “Get rid of the guns and the insane shootings will stop.” The other side proclaims, “Guns are not the problem; crazy people are.”

The debate over the Second Amendment and the right to privacy are intertwined. Both are inexorably linked to technology.

Many of the same citizens who fiercely oppose gun ownership are big fans of cellphones and computers, social media and websites that intrude on privacy in the workplace, in the home and in communities across the United States.

Similarly, some of the same folks who stand as ardent supporters of the Second Amendment want to stomp on their neighbors’ “smut phones” and stamp out the “dark web,” all in the name of “family values.”

It slices both ways.

The United States has struggled with protecting privacy rights since its founding. Americans have grappled with the challenges of technological advancements for nearly as long, particularly when it comes to guns — beginning with muskets, continuing with the Winchester repeating rifle, progressing toward AR-15 assault weapons, and continuing toward laser-guided arms that can be operated autonomously from the sky.

Computers and cellphones are weapons, too; they are threats to personal liberty, community freedom and workplace privacy. Any technology that robs people of their privacy — in their homes and the workplace — strips them of their dignity. 

Spying on people simply because we can (“they’re probably guilty of something”) is a threat to everyone. At what point does the person on the spy side of the camera or probing computer eye find themself being watched by someone else?

Does every American who enjoys the privilege of spying on his neighbor or coworker today seriously believe the tables — or camera — won’t be turned at some point in the not-too-distant future?

Authoritarian people tend to be extremely suspicious by nature. They also have a tendency to become paranoid. The people they trust today to report the comings and goings of coworkers, classmates and family members may not be trusted tomorrow.

Before we surrender our privacy rights to hidden video cameras and LCD monitors, smartphones and Global Positioning System satellites, we might want to ask ourselves if we’re just a bunch of busybodies, snooping on lovers and strangers, friendly competitors and archrivals simply because we can.

It’s time to start practicing the Golden Rule: Treat others the way we want to be treated.

Privacy is a privilege, yes, but it’s also a right.

Violate that right and chaos will ensue, as history’s most deranged dictators demonstrate over and over … and over.

It slices both ways.

Americans at both ends of the privacy spectrum would do well to recall the harsh lessons of history. We are all innocent, until proved guilty. Presuming innocence, we have a right to protect ourselves, not only from crazies who slaughter helpless children, but from brilliant technologists who rob us of our freedoms and steal our individual identities.

If technology can be used to hack cellphones, surely it can be used to identify potential killers before they mow down their victims. It’s only a matter of time until law enforcement agents will be able to disarm a loaded gun the same way they now track and hack smartphones.

When they do, perhaps Kim Kardashian will have nothing left to fear. Evidently, she has nothing more to hide. Guns or no guns, the queen of social media obviously has no respect for privacy.

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