an eerie thought/happy new year.

December 31, 2006

almost 60 years ago, orson welles gave us an image of a surveillance-based police state, where our government had powers over us of which the third reich could have only dreamed.

time magazine said that “you” were the person of the year, because of all the small-scale contributions on the internet leading to large-scale social change (i’m really dumbing it down, but that’s the gist of it).

more recently, mostafa tabatabainejad, a ucla student, was tasered by campus police officers five times for challenging them after failing to produce a student identification card while using the library. this incident became widely known due to other library users video recording the encounter with their mobile camera phones.

in the past day or so, the internet has been peppered with images and videos of the execution of deposed iraqi president saddam hussein, also (secretly?) taken with a mobile camera phone.

regardless of one’s opinion of saddam, do we now fetishize his death? and, if so, do we do this out of morbid fascination with the butcher of baghdad or moreso because the anonymity of the internet allows us to do this?

it’s funny; in a very strange way, welles was right. every day, every hour, we’re being watched. however, what welles got wrong was who was doing the watching. it’s not the instruments of the state, it’s us ourselves. in a strange way, the internet, vanguard of modernity, has brought us back to a morality before coded law, an intellectual vigilanteism.

before signing off for tonight (and, i suppose for this year), i want to ask you to think about something. remember back to the jyllands-posten (muhammed cartoons) affair. defenders of the publication say that freedom of speech is paramount and that a similar cartoon against, say, jesus would not have sparked such controversy. opponents say that

my question to you is this: just because we can, does it mean that we should?

happy new year, friends. may 2007 be prosperous, adventurous and enlightening for you and your families.

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One Response to “an eerie thought/happy new year.”

  1. Milan Says:

    In the UK, at least, it is very largely the state that is doing the watching. Virtually all major city centres are constantly monitored by CCTV.

    That’s how Oxford proved that it was actually our varsity rowing coach who was wandering around drunk, causing havoc, after a party celebrating a big victory.


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