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Does anyone know a good answer to the question: "Why are you worried if you don't have anything to hide?" or refutation to that type of thinking?

My wife and I were bumping into this repeatedly on Facebook yesterday among various knuckle-dragging types while discussing the NSA spying stories and we found ourselves sputtering from time to time because we could not find the right wording.

I would say something like "Civil liberties and due process are not about who THEY are. They are about who WE are." And I like that line, but I think for this specific question there's bound to be a more effective rejoinder.

Thanks in advance. Will respond to all good faith substantive comments, as time permits.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Forget a snappy line (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CharlesInCharge, jrooth, Nattiq

    Give them a thought experiment.

    "What if you found out a big company was polluting the water you drink. You want to join a group that will stop them, but the company uses its power to declare you and your group economic terrorists. Now you DO have something to hide."

    Or find something like that even less seemingly political as an example. Because a lot of people hate environmentalists. (sigh).

  •  You refer to people you disagree with as being... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ROGNM, johnny wurster, doroma, emelyn

    "knuckle-dragging types," yet you're looking for "good-faith, substantive" comments.

    Has this site been trapped in some sort of weird Perpetual Thursday zone since yesterday?

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 06:30:49 AM PDT

    •  Yes, people who have no problem with the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      entire population of the U.lS. being spied upon by its own government. Yes, I refer to them as 'knuckle-dragging types'. (Same types of folks who have no problem with government torturing suspects, provided its us doing the torturing to 'THEM'.)

      Don't get the 'Perpetual Thursday' reference - may be a little too inside baseball for me. Care to explain?

      •  Reference to Thursday Worst Diary - I'm told (0+ / 0-)

        it used to be a fairly good challenge (or something). I'm still trying to come up with an answer to your main question, but this one I can handle.

        At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

        by serendipityisabitch on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 08:53:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, so that reference was implying that my (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          diary was the worst diary by calling it 'Perpetual Thursday'? All because I used the phrase 'knuckle-dragger' to refer to the right-wing bozos who seem to dominate places like FaceBook and Yahoo?

          Thanks for filling me in on the reference. I'd never heard it before.

          •  I'm not going to guess just what the reference (0+ / 0-)

            was supposed to mean. I rather liked this diary - at least it takes a different viewpoint.

            But I have to admit, it's certainly been a couple days of dueling diaries, and it might be fun to put them all together in a bunch and see what they look like. And then run....

            At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

            by serendipityisabitch on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 10:11:38 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thank you. I was fulminating against the person (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              who made the reference to 'Perpetual Thursday' and not against you, even though it might not have come across as such.

              That person never did come back to explain what he or she meant, so I really do appreciate you filling me on the meaning of the 'Perpetual Thursday' reference.

              Glad you liked my diary. I've really been enjoying reading the intelligent and thoughtful responses to the question I posed. (My wife has actually used a couple of the responses already this morning in her battles on FB :)

  •  Choke them while calling them (0+ / 0-)

    fucking idiots. /snark.

    “liberals are the people who think that cruelty is the worst thing that we do” --Richard Rorty Also, I moved from NYC, so my username is inaccurate.

    by jeff in nyc on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 06:32:11 AM PDT

  •  In all things with respect to government power (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WheninRome, CharlesInCharge

    it is in most cases about the potential abuse of power not the power itself.

    It is a really interesting debate in that if some spy analysts want to wade through all kinds of irrelevant data, there is a part of me that thinks, "That's stupid, but have at it if you feel you must."

    But what stories could they tell from tracking people's lives?  What stories would they tell?  Would they get the story right if they chose to tell it?  What stories will they tell themselves about people they have never met but have had the opportunity to examine pieces of their lives?

    If they are anywhere as bad at figuring out who I am as Google is, I think that's rather troubling really.

    We are assured that these programs are properly overseen, but we are also told that the military is doing everything it can to prevent sexual assault, too.

    It is the potential for ignoring misconduct, misinterpretation, manipulation and abuse that is the real problem.

    •  Thank you. I think "potential for abuse by those (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      in power or possibly to gain power" that may resonate. A lot of the folks I bump into on Facebook were not around in the 60s and 70s for Nixon and the Church Committee. They're Reagan babies or whatever the generational label du jour is and their sense of history is also sharply constrained and heavily propagandized.

  •  Privacy (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RockyMtnLib, CharlesInCharge, Pi Li

    It's not about having my anything to hide, it's about my things not being anyone else's business.

  •  It's not that you are doing nothing wrong, (3+ / 0-)

    it's that something could be done with the information and [they] could invent information and assign it to you. Somebody could get your passwords and empty your bank account, or they could post something threatening and it would be attributed to you. The possibilities are endless.

    Remember those people who had paid off their homes got foreclosed upon and they had no legal recourse? This is like that, only worse. The computer systems are huge and faceless and somebody is always working an angle somewhere.

  •  If I have nothing to hide why should anyone (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RockyMtnLib, serendipityisabitch

    be looking?

  •  That way of thinking, when put in practice, (4+ / 0-)

    effectively places the burden on all of us to prove we don't have anything to hide.

    In a free society we're supposed to place the burden of proof on those with power to prove that someone is up to no good. They have to do the legwork. Not us.

    liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

    by RockyMtnLib on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 07:02:17 AM PDT

    •  The most sinister interpretation of (0+ / 0-)

      government placing everyone under surveillance is that they view everyone as a potential suspect - all as potential criminals.

      That is where the people start to be viewed by the state as the enemy, which is a story that never ends well.

    •  First of all, I agree with you 100%. That (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      happymisanthropy, RockyMtnLib

      said, this FB crowd does not seem amenable to idealistic appeals like 'We're supposed to."

      Glenn Greenwald actually made a quite powerful iteration of your sentiment:

      The way things are supposed to work is that we're supposed to know virtually everything about what they do: that's why they're called public servants. They're supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that's why we're called private individuals. (Emphasis added.)
  •  Well, bring it home, personalise it (3+ / 0-)
    "Why are you worried if you don't have anything to hide?"
    Ask them then if they wouldn't mind giving you the passwords to their email accounts.

    As them if they'd be OK with their relative listening in on one of their phone conversations.

    Ask them if they'd be comfortable with a neighbour watching them through a telescope.

    After all, if they have nothing to hide, what's the problem?

    Black Holes Suck.

    by Pi Li on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 07:37:22 AM PDT

  •  There's no consensus... (2+ / 0-)

    ...on "having something to hide."

    The argument assumes that everyone in the government is pure of heart.  For example, what happens if we get a Rick Santorum in the White House (not very likely, but not impossible), or somewhere high up in law enforcement (very possible, given the bias in FBI staffing toward strongly religious, white Christian cultural conservatives)?  And would you really trust me with that sort of power?  I wouldn't.  

  •  Try turning it around to: (0+ / 0-)

    "Do you have anything worth taking that the IRS doesn't know about?" Because the data that's being swept up can include all of your financial assets, even the ones you've 'successfully' hidden.

    "Do you have anything worth stealing?" is a more succinct version, but real consideration of that question is likely to induce long term paranoia, which is probably reasonable, but not particularly useful for continuing a rational discussion.

    At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

    by serendipityisabitch on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 09:24:09 AM PDT

  •  Ask them "If the cops showed up at your house (0+ / 0-)

    and accused you of a crime (which you knew you weren't guilty of) and said they wanted to search your house would you let them without a warrant."

    One failed attempt at a shoe bomb and we all take off our shoes at the airport. Thirty-one school shootings since Columbine and no change in our regulation of guns. --- John Oliver

    by voroki on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 10:04:31 AM PDT

    •  Thank you for this. You and a few others have (0+ / 0-)

      suggested a similar tactic: posing a hypothetical question to the person that compels them to consider their abstract position against their specific personal situation. I like that, although some of the argumentative types might still not quite get the 'privacy' issue. (IOW, I can just hear some of them saying, "Sure, I'd have no problem if they wanted to search my residence without a warrant.") Still, it's as good as any riposte I was making yesterday (I think). So, again, thanks.

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