[Editor's Note: Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. Her column, Exene Says..., is her space to basically just write what's on her mind, everything from crazy life stories to political theories and observations about what's going on in this fucked up world of ours. To contact her, send all messages to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
To me, privacy means self-respect; respect for others; the opportunity to live in a safety zone of free thought, behavior and expression. Intruding on others' privacy is justified to prevent or stop abuse, criminality and/or danger. But in a healthy, balanced social order, privacy is what every person has a reasonable right to expect from family, friends, strangers, the press, the workplace, the public and the government. Privacy is addressed in the Fourth Amendment.
To me, secrecy implies subterfuge, shame, criminality, amoral or unethical behavior, corruption, etc. Secrecy is often invoked "for the common good" or "security." The corporate/government elites expect and demand that all of their activities, public and private, be protected by multilayered, total secrecy. What are the secrets they don't want us to know?
As Edward Snowden leaked, we no longer have a right to any privacy. The elites know everything people are doing, thinking and communicating to one another. Meta-data is gathered and shared by the NSA, Fusion Centers, the IRS, the DHS, FBI and the CIA. Taxpayer-funded, private, ultra-high-tech robo-mercenaries, weapons and devices surround the elites. Recently, one man's decision to expose this aspect of our government has garnered international attention.
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Bradley Manning was acquitted of aiding the enemy. But he was found guilty of many other charges and faces up to 136 years in prison. He didn't help the enemy, he didn't commit treason, he didn't endanger average Americans or soldiers on the ground; he caused no damage to anyone but the elites. He exposed atrocities to the people so we would know what is really going on. He sacrificed his own life to inform others, and he defended the helpless victims caught in the crossfire of the Resource War.
Manning took an oath to defend the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic. He upheld that oath. Snowden is more of a mystery--who knows his intent or his real story? But he symbolizes that same valiant act of exposing nefarious secrets.
In response, the corporate/government cabal is going to crack down even harder on "whistleblowers." Their paranoia is understandable, given what has already been exposed by the alternative media and truth-seekers everywhere. Many of their secrets are out in the open. Now, if people would just look. . . .