Blessed are the fearmakers, for theirs is the Department of Fear.
"I trust my government. I trust them with my data, and I trust
them to protect me. They've protected me -- they've made the best
efforts to protect me my whole life."
You can't turn on CNN without hearing about it. We have Americans believing it's a veritable epidemic. With the help of our media partners, we distribute fake reports that wildly exaggerate it.
Fear of human trafficking is a popular initiative of the United States Department of Fear. Few celebrities work harder to spread awareness of this threat than Ashton Kutcher. Wikipedia:
In April 2011, Kutcher and wife Demi Moore began a public service announcement campaign claiming that "Real Men" do not engage the services of child prostitutes who are the victims of human trafficking. Kutcher's claims that 100,000 to 300,000 American children were sold into sexual slavery were criticized by newspaper the Village Voice, which gave evidence refuting the claims. Kutcher represented a study referring to minors "at risk" for sexual exploitation as referring to children actually being prostituted. Experts estimate the true numbers to be in the hundreds, not the hundreds of thousands. Kutcher reacted to the criticism by accusing the Village Voice of promoting child prostitution and using Twitter to request that Village Voice advertisers including American Airlines, Disney, the City of Seattle, and Domino's Pizza withdraw their advertising from publications owned by the Voice's parent company.When a good fear campaign is at stake, it's often necessary to overlook the opinions of experts, ignore empirical evidence, and banish common sense. Our media partners understand this point: CNN quoted Kutcher and Moore's ridiculous numbers without comment.
However false, the image of a quarter million American kids working as sex slaves encourages parents to fear child abduction. Fear of abduction makes parents want to keep their children inside the house where they pass time watching television programming sponsored by our corporate partners. Instead of playing with their friends outside, they occupy the sofa eating processed foods. As a consequence, some develop ADHD, others diabetes. The hope is that these children will become lifelong customers of our pharmaceutical partners.
As with any great fear-maker, Ashton Kutcher is also a trust-maker. In a recent interview with Jenni Miller of Moviefone, Kutchner spoke about the importance of trusting the department.
I trust my government. I actually have a trust for my government with my data, and I trust them to protect me. They've protected me -- they've made the best efforts to protect me my whole life. I don't wake up and worry that there's gonna be a suitcase with a bomb in this hotel, because we live in one of the greatest countries in the world with one of the greatest intelligence communities in the world, that protect us and keep us safe consistently and constantly, and have yet to jeopardize my safety intentionally. So I'm okay with it.Ashton Kutcher understands that our attacks on Iraq and Libya, as with our efforts to arm al-Qaeda and destabilize Syria, are occasions where we have unintentionally jeopardized the safety of American soldiers and diplomats and, looking to the future, quite possibly our own civilians as well. Kutcher told Moviefone:
I think that when we start thought policing people and idea policing people, then that's crossing a line. And I think, you know, everybody's so afraid of this imaginary line of thought police that they forget their own personal safety.The notion of idea policing troubles Kutcher but he isn't on guard for it, suggesting the concern is "imaginary" (we didn't tell him). Instead, Kutcher says the public must be mindful of their personal safety, fearing the terrorists and...
The abductors, traffickers, and pornographers. Kutcher continued:
You know, I want to know the IP address of every single person that's sharing child pornography on the Internet, because I might be able to find a child that's being molested somewhere and save that child. I think that that's valuable information to be shared. And if we didn't have these collection and filtering mechanisms for the Internet, we might not be able to help each other and save each other, and I think that the benefits far outweigh the potential downside.Instilling fear of child pornography is a powerful means of soliciting support for surveillance initiatives (see 'Stand with us or with the child pornographers'). The downside? We are capable of planting child pornography on your computer.
Kutcher concludes the Moviefone interview with a shot of false hope:
And the great thing is, we live in a democracy where we get to elect our officials, and if, at a certain point, we feel like they've infringed upon our privacy too far, we can elect people that will demand our privacy.Of course, if the American people were to elect candidates who support privacy, we would have NSA find something with which to blackmail these politicians. In the unlikely event NSA found nothing, we could always send some photos to the hard drives of their laptops...