Frontline’s “United States of Secrets”

Last night I watched this 2-part special on Frontline. Overall, I thought it was a decent presentation on an important topic. I somewhat question one of the premises of part 2, “Privacy Lost”. In that episode, they basically said that since Google uses an automatic system to scan your emails for keywords and then present advertisements to you automatically -without any person ever actually knowing the content of your email- then that opened the door for the government to scan your email without a warrant, because courts wouldn’t be able to make the distinction.

But, to me, this is like saying: because I allow a maintenance man into my apartment to repair something, then I have somehow given permission to the police to enter my apartment at any time and search it from top to to bottom. You should be able to agree by contract to allow someone to have access to something that is private without it meaning that you have granted permission to everyone else in the world to view it. I think you can also grant someone access to something with the understanding that they are to keep knowledge of that thing confidential, absent a warrant or subpoena issued by a court.

We Don’t Need Gun Control We Need a Philosophy of Individual Rights

France has extensive gun control laws. The civilian ownership of most semi-automatic firearms, handguns, and automatic firearms is prohibited.  Despite this, a Muslim Jihadist was able to kill three people and wound one with an AK-47.
Mass shootings like this have nothing to do with the ease or difficulty of obtaining such weapons, as this killing in Belgium demonstrates, and everything to do with the existence of societies filled with people who no longer take personal responsibility for their own wellbeing and for the wellbeing of their loved ones. It is a result of a Western Culture of Individualism that is so far in decline that people join various cults and groups that advocate the subordination of individual lives and happiness to a god or a tribal group. It is a result of people who no longer use their own minds to search for the truth, but instead depend on some collective or religious authority to tell them what is right and wrong. It is a result of schools, journalists, and politicians that encourage envy and hatred of others by claiming that there is something wrong with those who do choose to pursue their individual, secular happiness in a free market system.

If too many people reject individualism and their own secular happiness in favor of some sort of collective ethnic group or afterlife, then they will violently turn on those that are not of their “tribe” or don’t worship their god, and we will see a relapse to the sort of perpetual warfare that hasn’t been seen in Europe since the Middle Ages. If too many people listen to left-leaning politicians and their politics of envy, then more mentally unstable people will find a rationalization for indulging their own feelings of envy and hatred of others with violence -such as the 2007 Virginia Tech mass-murderer who espoused his desire to kill “rich kids” in his suicide note.

The Western World doesn’t need gun control, it needs to rediscover a philosophy that advocates the pursuit of individual happiness in this life, and reason as the cardinal means of achieving that happiness. It needs governments that respect and protect individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.