Questions of Civic Proportions
"A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit."
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(share your answers in our Learning Studio)
Have old habits of mind kept us from seeing new challenges that have us surrounded?
We have clear evidence that we face new threats to what we understand as a right to privacy. We should consider that it’s also time to update what we know about the harm these threats cause us. We have all given away our data for the privilege
of Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and Candy Crush. We think we have a handle on this bargain, but this conversation
between The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson and author Shoshana Zuboff will show all the ways we’re thinking about this wrong.
One turn in the conversation includes this insight from investigative reporter Julia Angwin. She says we would do better to think of it as data pollution:
“Living in a world where all of your data is collected and swept up in these dragnets all the time and will be used against you in a way that you will probably never be able to trace and you will never know about it feels like that same type of collective harm.”
The corporate threats have not replaced the threats from the government either. Massive amounts of data have opened up new fronts there too.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently purchased “the world’s best iPhone hacking” software
for $820,00. Prosecutors have started to build their own DNA databases by offering plea bargains known as, “spit and acquit
,” and at least two U.S. cities
have purchase real-time facial recognition program known as FaceWatch Plus.
If only Orwell could see us now. 🤢
What’s the next move when institutions stop following their established patterns of behavior?
Longtime court watcher Jeffrey Toobin believes we’re also approaching today’s legal questions all wrong. Writing for The New Yorker, Toobin shows how a case-by-case approach of eras past has managed institutional clashes. He thinks using that approach today “misses the point” with the current showdown over congressional subpoenas, claims of Executive Privilege, and flat defiance.
President Trump’s declaration, “We’re fighting all the subpoenas" sounds uncomfortably similar to President Nixon’s commitment to, “Let it go to the Supreme Court. Fight it like hell.” Nixon’s plan fell apart with an 8-0 decision
from the Supreme Court in July 1974. No one expects a decision like that in 2019, but it explains why new voices have started talking about impeachment. That move would change the “math.”
Toobin’s opinion piece, “The Constitutional System is Not Built to Resist Trump’s Defiance of Congress
,” shows the difficulty in responding to an “open campaign of total defiance of another branch of government.”
We asked community members to help us build a reading list on this question in the Learning Studio. Recommendations there include:
Adam Liptak writing for the New York Times, “Is Obstruction an Impeachable Offense? History Says Yes
,” and Alex Shephard’s argument in The New Republic, “Should Democrats Impeach Trump? Wrong Question
Hint: The right question asks about the rule of law. You can still add your recommendations to the Learning Studio post
Can the routine of seeing all the usual headlines blind us to seeing what’s changed?
“Cancela said she was nervous when she defended the measure with a reference to vasectomy that day in March. But she said she willed herself to summon the courage to disrupt the usual order.
‘I wanted to be respectful,’ she said. ‘But also make a point.’”
Let's follow Cancela's lead. And Nevada's!