Sunday, November 27, 2011

Manifesto of a Progressive Single Female Land Owner

I’m of the last generation that grew up on analogue communications – hand-written letters and no email, typing on Corasable paper in college. Word processors – the DOS kind – entered the workplace the year after I graduated, in 1985. The only phones we had was our land line, and when I was in the car, out shopping, or off picking blackberries in Webster, you couldn’t reach me. If I got lost on the way home, I stopped at a gas station and looked at a map. Cell phones looked huge and ridiculous, and having and using one cost a fortune.

Everyone raised after that point grew up with their lives being broadcast in some fashion. With email, GPS and online social networks, status updates, options on electronics and web sites with default settings on “track,” it seems that we live much more publicly than we used to, which is good in a lot of ways, but also a double-edged sword.

Privacy is a huge area of Constitutional rights that I think could use a serious shot of adrenaline. It is the very core from which We the People store and build our power. It is the locus of our integrity as individual human beings. Keep in mind as well, that with the increasing economic disparity, the Middle Class has not only lost out on income but also on privacy. With every home lost, gone is also a power base, a zone of autonomy, independence, and influence.

Privacy is the reason why the government is not supposed to tap your phone without a warrant. It is why the government can’t force you donate one of your kidneys to Rupert Murdoch, even though he’s stinking rich, and you are the only perfect match for him, and without your kidney he’ll die. Privacy, of course, is the seat of bodily integrity, and that is a kickass feminist discussion for another day.

Privacy is a zone in which we can interact freely and without government surveillance or interference. It is the zone of liberty in which, provided you don’t bother anybody else, you can do as you wish. It is also the zone in which the people are sovereign to their government, as in they get their powers from us, and all rights and powers are reserved to the People. That’s express in the 9th Amendment. It is also grounded in "The Penumbra of the Constitution."

Privacy is not the same as secrecy. It can be open to the public. It can be transparent with documentation, but it can also be free of governmental supervision and surveillance. My home is a gun-free, bigotry-prohibited, progressive-friendly, human liberation zone. It took me until my late 40s to be able to afford it and get in here, ‘cause the mortgage and taxes ended up being less than my monthly rent in NYC. Now I am a single-female homeowner and tax payer. How many times has that happened in human history, without having to marry some nobleman or captain of industry, minister to his needs, and have him die before I died of repeat child-bearing?

The private sphere is a crucial power base for the Middle Class. It is the very essence of democracy, in which every man and woman can be a king, a free and autonomous political being. As such, as a private citizen who has dominion over this land and this ediface, I want to devote the resources I have to the movement and towards the expansion and acquisition of more zones of privacy within the reach and control of the Middle Class.

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