Monday, June 10, 2013
Just because it's "legal' doesn't mean it's right!
I note that several commentators and apologists for the NSA's spying on the electonic communications of US citizens and residents are claiming that it was legal, authorized by the Patriot Act and/or other legislation.
This is spurious.
For something to be 'legal' merely means that a law has been passed designating it as such. Congress could pass a law tomorrow declaring that we have too many elderly people, and therefore anyone who's turned 70 must turn themselves in for euthanasia. That law would make their killing 'legal' - but not moral, or ethical, or right, under any system of ethics or morals of which I'm aware.
The point at issue in the NSA spying scandal is not whether or not it was legal. It's whether or not it was right. I state, flatly and without reservation, that it was wrong - that it was in violation of both the letter and the spirit of the US constitution. I don't give a damn whether or not hair-splitters agree with me on that point. If I found someone trying to aggregate information about the contents of my mailbox by inspecting every item as it was delivered, I'd stop him by any means necessary, because he's invading my privacy. I don't need a law to define that, nor do I care whether he - or those who sent him - define privacy differently to me. I know what privacy means to me, and what it meant to our Founding Fathers. Can you imagine what Washington, or Jefferson, or Jackson would have done if they'd found their personal, private communications being monitored like this? That says it all, right there.
To maintain that such overreach is 'necessary' is to ignore the basic element in this whole affair. Necessity doesn't define morality. Is it right or wrong? By any civilized standard of which I'm aware - and that doesn't include the tortuous machinations and confabulations of politicians and bureaucrats - it's wrong. Period. End of discussion.