Spying: Who gives a bong?



You might worry, too, if your last name was Zacharias.

Did you see the report that the National Security Agency and FBI have breached the privacy of US citizens?

Not surprisingly there isn’t a Jones, Brown, Greene, or Smith in the bunch.

But there is a Gill.

Somebody better warn Vince.

This particular Gill was under surveillance by the US government while he was a Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates.

For the 40 and under readers, there was a time in US history when spying on its own citizens was illegal.  Such activity cost one president his presidency.

Ever heard of Richard Nixon?

But it seems that many citizens may be too preoccupied shopping for good quality marijuana  to give a bong about who the US is spying on.

Many don’t care if our government is spying on us. What’s anyone gonna to see? Pot is legal man. We are just toking and listening to In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Everybody just needs to chill out about all this NSA fuss.

Let ’em spy, Dumb said.

It’s for our own protection, right? Dumber said.

Here, pass me that joint, Dumb said.

Wait! Did you try this one? Try this one, Dumber said.

If people would simply get high more often, none of this stuff would matter. Who cares that Gill is a veteran? That he served in the Navy?

Wait! Isn’t spying on its citizens the thing that Russia does? That China does? That Syria does? That Germany did?

Isn’t it part of everyday practice for North Korea?

Do North Koreans even have access to an email account?

Oh. Maybe not.

Still, our government wouldn’t put good American citizens under surveillance. Would they?

Why would they need to put any of us under surveillance these days? What with Twitter and Facebook, Instagram and Reddit, every single detail of our daily lives is already out there for public consumption. The government doesn’t have to hunt very far to track down

– the names of our children

– where all our family members live

– what we had for dinner last night

– the name of  our high school English teacher

– exactly where we live

– what time we leave for work

– where we most often go to lunch

– the church we attend, if we attend

– the school where we teach or learn

– the graves of our next-of-kin

– where we are going on vacation and when we will return home

– the car we drive

What more could they possibly need to know?

Oh, and remember all those freedoms those soldiers have been reportedly dying  for all these generations?

Yeah. The US government has stomped those suckers flat.

It appears Janis Joplin had it right all along. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

(Dear NSA: I see you there, looking back at me, while I am looking back at you.)

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of After the Flag has been Folded. William Morrow.






Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

1 Comment


about 8 years ago

Recently I was at a spiritual retreat organized by the ministry I am a part of. In one small group session, a 40-something vet with wounds that led to his discharge said something startling. He was talking about people with different political views (mostly re gun control) and their expression of same through public actions such as marches demonstrations. The vet said that although he disagreed with them, their right to do so was the reason he had served. Then he went on to say, "We aren't over there fighting to protect America. Our troops are fighting for these people's rights to express their views." I nearly choked. It was not the time nor the place to challenge this man's thinking, but consider what he said and what it implies: we didn't go into Afghanistan and Iraq to protect our country from another 9/11 or similar terrorist attack? We went in because our basic constitutional rights were being abridged and needed defense and/or restoration? Really? Rhetoric about the wars has frequently implied this, but it's the first indication I have that perhaps our folks in the military these days are being told this. Yes, I know what the oath of enlistment says about preserving and defending the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic and faithfully executing the lawful order of superior officers. I took that oath and have considered it to have no expiration date for myself. And to be sure, those injured and killed on 9/11 were denied their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a most grievous way. But how on earth were our Constitution and laws, our form of government under attack? Security was breached and compromised, but our FREEDOM and our FREEDOMS were not. Free citizens who do no exercise those freedoms are not free. And free citizens who do not challenge and restore freedoms if and when abridged by the very government established by our Constitution and laws have failed to exercise their responsibilities as free citizens. But before we citizens can do anything, we first have to pay attention and inform ourselves. Next, we have to give a care about what we have learned. Among other things, I think a major casualty of our recent wars has been the clarity of our thinking. We have allowed ourselves to believe that the military defends our freedoms, as if any and all threats to our security were in fact an overthrow of the institutions of government and the laws and courts, the checks and balances under which we operate. No, folks, that's our job. If only the military can and could defend our freedoms, then: A) the military should have years ago staged a coup to overthrow this government that spies on its own citizens and violates these citizens' rights; and B) We should again be invading Iraq and Afghanistan because current failures of the political systems there must again be constituting a violation of our freedoms here, right? The only thing that makes us free and keeps us free is our relentless insistence on being free.


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