This shirt pretty accurately depicts my emotional reaction to the news that so many members of Congress, including a number of self-described progressives, voted to reauthorize the surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act.
I know that under the Patriot Act, the feds aren’t even mainly using surveillance cameras to monitor innocent, law-abiding Americans. It’s the tools you can’t see that are most invasive: the wiretap, the e-mail collection, the riffling through your mail, the suspicious activity report. But the surveillance camera is the outward physical manifestation of an otherwise invisible system. The unresponsiveness of our elected officials to the privacy concerns of American citizens — and to the butt-out-without-a-probable-cause-warrant mandate of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution — makes me feel, deep down, like picking up that sledgehammer. Even though sledgehammers won’t solve the problem, it’s what I want to do. Not knowing what will actually solve the problem makes me want to do it even more.