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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Public Apathy Breeds Presidential and Congressional Abuse of Consumer Privacy Rights

The Scourge of Our Apathy

Helen Keller said it best: “Science may have found a cure for most evils, but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all—the apathy of human beings.” This was an amazing observation for this author and educator who was both blind and deaf. She penned it in 1927 in her book, My Religion. So the modern apathy movement of today has a history dating back at least 80 years. Actually it goes all the way back to the world’s most influential philosopher, Plato, who said in 428 BC: “The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”

Definition of Evil

According to Webster’s first definition, evil is being “morally bad or wrong.” The second reaches a little further, “causing pain or trouble; harmful; injurious. I will let you decide if this administration and Congress has reached either of these levels, but, due to the apathy of the American public, they are taking advantage of the fact that so many constituents are either out of touch with reality, have quit following the news, or are simply mired in a rut of oblivion. No matter the reason, as a bargaining force, the consumer has given up their right for a voice in control over their privacy.

Apathy is Everywhere

Apathy.Net had an interesting comment from one of its readers. Commenting on the cognitive dissonance—holding two conflicting thoughts simultaneously—in the 2006 election, John quoted the NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll finding that only 16% of Americans approve of Congress’ job, yet 37% think Republicans should retain control in Congress. John, as we all should be, is astonished by the fact that these two figures mean 21% of those respondents disapprove of Congressional leaders, but still want them to continue doing what they are doing.

Indifference Toward the Republican Party’s Move toward Theocracy

In a project conducted by Cornell University titled, “The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party,” one of the undertaking’s headings is: “This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy.” Theocracy, of course, is a form of government where God or a deity is the supreme ruler. Continuing with the Cornell study, “It is about the manipulation of people of a certain faith for political power…Today’s hard right seeks total dominion. It’s packing the courts and rigging the rules.”

Cornell finds that voter apathy—meaning those who don’t vote or who do without being fully aware of the issues—is key to the recent surge of the theocratic right. And from my point of view, that has elected the Bush/Cheney administration and a Republican Congress that have no use for the privacy rights of the individual. One need only mention Bush’s NSA spying and Congress’ refusal to pass legislation to protect your sensitive data to make the point.

Apathy is Lethal

I found this line in a number of philanthropic organization appeals on the Internet. Pretty macabre, but effective in describing what happens if we don’t do something about the problems of the homeless, or AID’s victims, or the environment. And, that’s only domestic issues. Horace Greeley, newspaper editor in the 1800’s said, “Apathy is a sort of living oblivion.”

More on apathy later.

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