Monday, March 15th, 2010

Worrying About 1984 Is So 1995

barcode tatFifteen years ago, when we were all more vigilant citizens, raging against the machine with Goodie Mob and Rage Against the Machine, ranting about the fact that there are so many surveillance cameras in New York City that anytime you can see the Empire State Building, you can also be sure that you are being filmed, an op-ed in the Times arguing for the governmental institution of a universal DNA databank would have seemed terrifyingly Orwellian.

As a practical matter, universal DNA collection is fairly easy: it could be done alongside blood tests on newborns, or through painless cheek swabs as a prerequisite to obtaining a driver's license or Social Security card. Once a biological sample was obtained, its use must be limited to generating a DNA profile only, and afterward the sample would be destroyed. Access to the DNA database would remain limited to law enforcement officers investigating serious crimes.

Oh, yes, I'm fully confident that access to the database would remain limited to law enforcement officers investigating serious crimes. But really, fuck it. Today, when such an article runs alongside a piece wherein Ross Douthat argues-very eloquently, as he does-that the Bush administration's lying us into a war that cost hundreds of thousands of lives was actually not as evil as Hollywood movies make it out to be, and when stories in the Business section of the same paper inform you how best to broadcast your current location via satellite triangulation and other ways to share the vast amount of personal information we're all so intent on putting onto the Internet, protest seems very, well, 20th Century. That ship has sailed. DNA samples? Sure, why not? And, yeah, I'll take one of those bar-code tattoos on the back of my neck, too-and embed a homing-device microchip in my temple while you're at it.

24 Comments / Post A Comment

Sproing (#561)

And the BEST kind of homing-device microchip? It's the kind Lee Van Cleef can detonate by remote control so no matter what kind of anti-authoritarian badass you are, you STILL have to rescue the President.

riotnrrd (#840)

As long as I can get my freak on with Adrienne Barbeau, it would all be worth it.

KarenUhOh (#19)

I received a Google Alert that I'm being oppressed on Twitter.

doubled277 (#2,783)


NinetyNine (#98)

Um, am I the only one who think it is most scary that it would be "limited to law enforcement officers investigating serious crimes"

kneetoe (#1,881)

There is no way anyone at the DMV is going to swab my cheek. That place is filthy.

That was my exact thought!

Hey, if a barcode would help me get all of my medical records in one place so that I don't have to tell every single doctor I visit about my ankle surgery in 7th grade, I'm pretty ok with it.

Yeah, but do you really want your podiatrist to know about your herpes? Cuz I don't. (Not that you have herpes! Or me either! Hypothetical!)

It must be bad grammar day at The Awl.

deepomega (#1,720)


Dave Bry (#422)

Thanks for close reading, ReginalTSquirge. Now fixed! (Unless there were more than two mistakes in the original… which, of course, might be the case. It is Monday.)

doubled277 (#2,783)

Yes, ReginalTSquirge, thank you.

ProfessorBen (#1,254)

So can we delete our old comments? Or edit them? :) Also I love it that facebook's incessant email alerts seem to reduce the amount of commenting you are willing to do on things like status updates – you know you may get 8 more emails of other people saying 'hey congrats' or whatever.

And yet I can't even get my own iTunes library recognize me. Reauthorize, damn you!

johnpseudonym (#1,452)

Well frankly, there is still a soft spot in my heart for Van Halen's 1984. David Lee Roth rules.

Mindpowered (#948)

"I only share my location with people I am comfortable meeting up with, and when I want to be found"

That bus has so passed.

The Times is just full of crap today — did you even read the article on the Pentagon shooter? It's like the author is channeling some Big Little Books version of Hemingway:

"Things happened fast and yet slow, at least in memory. The man, standing five feet away. Raising not a badge but a gun. Pointing at Officer Carraway's face. Discharging."

Later, the author actually uses the phrase "pop-pop-pop" to describe gunfire, and compounds the crime by turning it into a standalone sentence. I'm done with the Times today, is all I'm saying.

Bittersweet (#765)

"It happened fast and yet slow, at least in memory. The man, standing over a recycling bin. Raising not a Coke can but a newspaper. Holding it over the bin. Dropping."

HiredGoons (#603)

Everything you need to know is in 'Catcher in the Rye.'

petejayhawk (#1,249)

"If you aren't doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about."

-Anyone who has ever uttered these words needs to be rounded up and put into a FEMA re-education camp.

Dave Bry (#422)

Hear, hear.

Oh, the quoted statement is absolutely true. The problem lies with whomever is currently defining "anything wrong."

doubled277 (#2,783)

Unintended consequences is what always gets everyone. We protect liberties not because overturning them in limited ways will overtly and immediately erode our freedom, but rather, because they will do it much more dangerously; over time and with much patience.

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