How Quaint: Big Brother Demands 'Privacy'
The other day, as usual, I began the day by checking for messages on the NSA notice board, aka my private e-mail account. Imagine my delight when I discovered that I had received an official invite to Netroots Nation, the annual shindig for undocumented transgender community-organizing Marxists of color. I was bummed out, however, to learn that this year's festivities, being held in San Jose, California, begin tomorrow, on June 20, while I'm still administering final exams here in Korea, so I'll have to miss out on the opening "Liquid Courage" party with Howard Dean.
This four-day event, jam-packed with seminars and colloquia, includes guest appearances by an impressive list of progressive members of the United States Congress, from Pelosi and Begich to Ellison and Waxman; exclude the more moderate half of the House roster Allen West identified as communists, and the remainder, along with their senatorial counterparts, are on the schedule at Netroots Nation. Then of course there is the opportunity to meet Sandra Fluke in person!
Overwhelmed by the honor of being personally notified, but a skeptic by nature, I had to do a quick internet search using PRISM (Powered by Google) to verify that the e-mail was authentic, and not an elaborate phishing operation. (Remember the good old days when we thought anyone attempting to gain surreptitious access to our private information online was breaking the law?) Sure enough, the Netroots website gives a complete schedule of events. As with all large-scale conferences, the eager attendee is faced with agonizing choices, with talks, workshops, and discussion panels occurring at the same time at various locations. One must prioritize carefully. For my purposes, a few titles immediately jumped out as must-dos:
"Free Your A**: Defining and Creating a Progressive Sexual Culture"
"A Nation in Trans-ition"
"UndocuQueer: The Intersectionality of the Undocumented and LGBTIQ Struggles"
The last of these three is most enticing. Of course, we all know about "Ls," "Gs." "Bs," and "Ts" -- and the lecture's clever title gives away the identity of "Qs." But what, I'm dying to know, is an "I"? I'm sure I'm not the only "S" eager to learn the answer, if only to avoid feeling out of the loop at chic parties this summer.
Everything I have just described is publicly accessible on the Netroots Nation website. I would describe the details of the (euphemism alert!) "private" e-mail I received -- it included a link for requesting press credentials -- but I am bound to secrecy, whatever that might mean in the era of President Observatron, the international electronic grid's "fundamental transformer," if you will.
For at the end of my e-mail from the progressive deniers of all individual existence and natural rights comes the following notice, straight out of those halcyon flat earth days when words like "confidentiality" and "privacy" were still imagined to have meaning.
CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This communication (and/or the attachment accompanying it)... is for the sole use of the intended recipient or recipients and may contain information which is privileged, confidential or exempt from disclosure and is covered by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. §§2510-2521. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure, distribution or other dissemination of this communication and/or the information contained therein is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient of this communication, please contact the sender at (xxx) xxx.xxxx and destroy all copies of the original communication.
I appreciate the effort to protect the privacy of our communication from state snooping -- that, after all, is/was the primary purpose of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act -- but given that this e-mail comes from Barack Obama's progressive authoritarian kin, I must propose the following addendum to the confidentiality notice above:
That is to say, review by unintended recipients is prohibited unless you are an authorized part-time clerk in any regional office of the Federal Agency for Metadata and Electronic Surveillance, in which case you need only contact the sender, recipient, or anyone among either party's recent contacts if you have grounds for suspicion that the relevant entity is engaged in terrorist-related activity, whether of the international (but non-Islamic) variety or the U.S. domestic (Tea Party) variety. (In the latter case, contact your local IRS swat team at once.)
My favorite part of the Netroots Nation confidentiality notice is "destroy all copies of the original communication." How quaint! Remember when we sort of half-believed we could "destroy all copies" of something? Remember when we dreamed we still had some voluntary control over our own personal communications, our own associations, our own lives?
"Confidentiality Notice" -- it's amazing what can make a person feel wistful and nostalgic these days. Almost makes me sorry I can't find the way to San Jose in time for the Saturday 3:00 p.m. panel discussion entitled, "Reclaiming Family Values from the Right." Well, it's either that or "Organizing Support for Abortion Rights in Hostile Territory" down the hall. Decisions, decisions.