A Chill on a Hot Day

It’s awfully hot in Rhode Island, and those of us planning to be present for the General Assembly’s budget debate, today, spending ten or more hours in a large stone room without air conditioning could probably use a trick to keep us cool.  My morning reading on the exercise bike, just now, may have led me to the perfect thing.

Sit very still.  Now, in your mind, gather up everything you’ve read about the Obama administration’s surveillance activities, with special attention to PRISM.  Consolidate that knowledge into Edward Snowden’s statement that the government “quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type.”

Now combine that image with the Paula Deen controversy. Deen has been promoted as the face of American racism for the past week and appears to have lost her Food Network contract and some sponsorships based on this portion of a transcript from a deposition that she gave in an ongoing trial:

Jackson lawyer: “Miss Deen, have you told racial jokes?”

Deen: “No, not racial.”

Jackson lawyer: “Have you ever used the ‘N word’ yourself?”

Deen: “Yes, of course.”

Deen testified that she probably used the racial slur when talking to her husband about “when a black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head” [in 1986].

“I didn’t feel real favorable towards him,” she said, referring to the robber.

Jackson lawyer: “Have you used it since then?”

Deen: “I’m sure I have, but it’s been a very long time.”

Consider everything you’ve ever said on a cell phone or written on the Internet, including personal emails, and imagine it’s being stored and available for a keyword search in some massive database somewhere.  Twenty years from now, suppose, you’re at the height of your career and somebody finds it convenient to search the database for some word that was always inflammatory, but in the years since has become an unspeakable lightning rod.

Feel the chill?

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