Twenty-First Century Morality, Writ Frighteningly

Posted: Jun 11, 2013 12:01 AM
The 29-year-old computer technician who spilled U.S. surveillance secrets all over the floor last week explained himself in an interview with the Guardian newspaper in England. Note, please, the boldfaced type that ensues.

" I don't want to live in a society that does these sorts of things (conduct wide surveillance to prevent terror attacks). I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under."

See how simple it is? I don't like the look, the smell, of the thing. My mind is made up. Don't agree? That's your problem, according to the worldview of Edward Joseph Snowden, a very 21st-century moralist -- the jerk.

Snowden surfs along on a crest of moral rethinking -- dominant for half a century -- that prizes individual judgment, individual insight above all else and puts in the hands of people like himself the authority to decide great questions for the good of us all. Julian Assange, who in 2010 leaked U.S. military and diplomatic documents to the media, is another such sage, as is Pfc. Bradley Manning, soon to be tried for leaking to Assange.

Where do we get these jackasses? This is nothing like civil disobedience of the sort made famous by the likes of Gandhi and Dr. King. Civil disobedience, whatever one may think of the motive, has an inner morality far beyond the grasp, apparently, of Edward Joseph Snowden.

The civilly disobedient acknowledge the unlawfulness of -- say -- disobeying an order to sit in the "colored" section of the bus, or in Gandhi's case, to pay the British salt tax. Unlike the babblers of secrets, Snowden and Assange, the civilly disobedient take the consequences of their actions entirely on themselves. That's to say, apart from personal inconvenience or indignation, no member of the public suffers on account of their conduct. Additionally, they don't go running off to Hong Kong to avoid capture. They offer their wrists for the handcuffs.

We're a ways beyond that style of action now, thanks to 50 years of moral deterioration, during which it's become natural -- accepted -- for the morbidly malcontent to impose their own view of morality, soundly conceived or not, on everybody else, no questions asked. Least of all, the question: "Who died and made me God?"

Edward Joseph Snowden is the evolutionary consequence of about five straight decades of mental deterioration during which the intelligentsia and their hangers-on have persuaded many if not most that there's no binding moral code any more: certainly not one that an "activist" with a "conscience" is obliged to observe.

That Edward Joseph Snowden, by spinning his international tale of surveillance programs he finds offensive, might have impaired the nation's security and exposed numbers of his countrymen to murder by terrorists -- well, I guess we're supposed to say, big deal. What's a bunch of American lives as against Edward Joseph Snowden's right to take personal offense at surveillance tactics he doesn't like? Isn't the default position on moral questions, what do I think? Are we truly supposed to care what the nation, through its elective and appointive agencies, has decided might be a good idea?

The modern moralist, the Edward Joseph Snowden type, judges himself to operate with complete latitud, and without inhibitions of any kind. He's the boss -- in charge of moral decisions old, new, refreshed, made over, repainted.

The Snowden episode points up the dangers of life in a world without moral guidelines, even legally unenforceable ones. Where everybody does his own thing -- an effrontery the 1960s made habitual -- common life isn't possible. No moral center, no peace. Pending its restoration, Authority will fall into the hands of the men not with the biggest ideas but, rather, the biggest guns. Or IEDs.

The world that Snowden, Assange, Manning and their half-witted claque would have us inhabit is a bleak place indeed. The behavior of these egotistical jerks sends a chill up normal spines -- such normal spines as remain among us.

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