Copyright © by Len Holman, 1/5/14
A very clever fox, hired by a committee of farmers and his fellow foxes,
has snuck into the most prominent farmer’s chicken coop (a LARGE coop) and
stolen a particularly fat chicken. This fox then absconds with the poultry
and his colleagues are outraged. The farmer wants, not only that particular
chicken back, not only the knowledge of how this clever fox managed to unlock
the coop, but the fox itself. What does he do to accomplish all this?
He hires the foxes to capture the miscreant with the idea of punishment severe
and long-lasting. These foxes are especially good at tracking and, with
the help of their employers (other farmers), they begin the hunt.
The fox leaves town and holes up, eventually, with a far-away farmer who
is not the original farmer’s friend. The chicken? Not to be
returned, since it has been dismembered and the succulent part are scattered far
and wide. When examined by the possessors of these parts, they are found
to be filled with biologically suspect ingredients and the suspicion begins to
grow that this particular chicken is but one of many which that fox stole, and
which are tainted, unbeknownst to the general eating public. Sure enough,
chicken parts begin to show up all over, and when it becomes evident that the
cunning fox has taken more than one little bird, the public outcry is beginning
to swell. The farmer, whose original birds they were, is not chagrined.
“If that fox had only come to us—me and the other foxes—and voiced
his complaints about the chickens and my methods, we would have taken steps,”
he whines. “As it is, we’ll have to get that fox back because he’s
broken the law, and is a traitor to our farm and the whole chicken industry.”
When reporters ask if the point is not the fox but the chickens, the farmer
explodes in self-righteous fury. “We have procedures for this type of
behavior,” he says, avoiding the question. Then, much to the farmer’s
horror, it is discovered that some of these tainted chickens have been eaten by
leaders of countries around the globe, without their knowledge of what’s in
them. Their confidence in the farmer’s integrity shaken, they become
angry, but the farmer is not too upset. It appears he is going to continue
his practices and hunker down until the storm passes, but he has a problem:
that damn fox keeps releasing chicken parts and now newspapers and social
commentators and the whole of the social network is ablaze with accusations and
outrage and disgust.
And that takes us to Edward Snowden, a contractor for the
farmer…uh, the U.S. government, who has taken the confidence in the American
government and the constitution and rattled them into fraying pieces. The
New York Times editorial board and the Guardian newspaper have both argued for
some type of clemency for Snowden, but the friends and fellow conspirators of
the farmer want him back on American soil to “pay for his crime.” He
DID steal secrets and he DID flee with them, but look at the results—or lack
of them. There is no evidence that any agent or operative of the U.S.
government is hanging by his or her thumbs in a dark cellar in Yemen or Sudan
because of the leaks. There is no evidence that our capacity to locate and
kill suspected terrorists has been impaired at all.
There IS a growing, informed, awareness of what the government has done
and is doing and that is creating some problems for us, here and abroad.
It’s not as if no one knew we were listening in on phone calls. Hell,
our government has been doing that at least since Hoover wore his favorite
frocks. It’s the extent of the eavesdropping that is
mind-blowing. How can ANY government, no matter how big and ruthless and
ignorant and mindlessly aggressive, evaluate millions and millions of phone
calls, Internet chats, social media, emails, browsing searches and pictures of
your old uncle Max picking his nose at the Thanksgiving dinner? But
we CAN evaluate (all of us), the implications of the never-ending flood of
information about just how non-private our cherished privacy is. The
farmer and his fellows are beginning to be uncomfortable about all those chicken
parts out there, with probably more to come. Back in the Congress of the
United States, where the Wise go to Pontificate Without Thought, the cry is
heard the Snowden needs to be gotten and punished, that the Russians have
probably downloaded all his goodies, that he is a treasonous and poisonous
criminal, not an idealist or whistle-blower. He is called a “leaker of
secrets” as if there was a cracked hose somewhere and the water is dribbling
out. No fault goes to the hose-maker or the people in charge of taking
care of the hose. He didn’t leak, he gave. And those
secrets surely needed to be known by us—some of them, anyway.
One question looms: if not for the fox, would any of us know about the massive, pervasive invasion of our privacy? Would there be court cases and editorials and commentary? Would any of this be in the public domain at all? There is one scary thought for everyone who works for the farmer—that there are more parts out there and that they will reveal more than we already know. Our government must hope we will overload on all this information and shut down so the NSDA can go back to doing what it does best. And our fox will continue to hunker down in Russia, looking for someplace more congenial to hide, hoarding his remaining chicken parts….and waiting.
Return to Bylines