THURSDAY 6-13-2013

Jun 13, 2013 -- 10:27am

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Be here at 7:30, you could win tickets to Widmer Brothes Brewer's Dinner Friday night at Howiee's. Only 50 Tix available total. (773-5767 to reserve yours) All part of Medford Beer week. Amazing menu -  check it out on the picture!


6:35 John LeBouttlier, former congressman, co-host of FNC's "Political Insiders". Are the scandals creating an opening for 3rd parties? WATCH MORE

8:10 Jeri Karcey, Eric Dubin, CITIZENS FOR TRANSPARENT GOVERNMENT CFTG.ORG We're talking about their efforts to recall Sen. Alan Bates. They need 10,000 or so 541-622-2209 for more information.

7:35 Kathryn Hickok, Cascade Policity Institute,

Can We Prevent '1984'?

By Kathryn Hickok

George Orwell’s frightening novel Nineteen Eighty-Four was published 64 years ago last week. Ironically, the anniversary coincides with revelations that the U.S. government has been conducting warrantless searches of the complete phone records of millions of Americans under a secret court order. Then, The Guardian published a report alleging that the National Security Agency has access to the servers of America’s largest internet firms. The report claims the NSA is developing a program called “Prism,” capable of extensive surveillance of virtually anything modern technology can discover, organize, transmit, or quantify.
Civil libertarians have long warned that the same technologies that make our lives convenient and “connected” have the capacity to be abused in terrifying ways. It appears their concerns have not been overblown. Orwell’s novel predicted a future in which “Big Brother” knows everything, and not even thoughts can escape surveillance. Our technological lifestyle is the modern “telescreen.” Like Orwell’s television-like spy mechanism, it’s impossible to “turn off.” Many have worried it was only a matter of time before the government would obtain access to all the data our devices can store.
No doubt, Congress will spend months trying to figure out what is going on at the NSA, how long it’s been happening, and what should be done to protect citizens’ constitutional rights. But a more important question than “How will Congress protect our freedom and privacy while fighting terrorism?” is “What kind of country do we want to leave behind us?”
In 1984, the character Winston Smith has disconnected memories of the historical Britain before the fictional totalitarian state. He remembers bits of nursery rhymes he doesn’t understand and the admirable behavior of people who “disappeared.” He vaguely values their personal integrity, and by extension the culture from which they came, even if he can’t quite relate to them or imagine living in a free society.
Our connection with all that is good from previous generations, what we deem worthy of retaining for the future, is called “tradition.” Big Brother threw tradition down the “memory hole” and quashed people’s individuality with it. Free people nurture their own personhood when they are able make judgments and choices based on experience, knowledge, and shared wisdom inherited from others (including the mistakes). We lose the fullness of our humanity when we are not able to engage in this basic process of critical judgment and intergenerational communication.
In the life of any nation, knowledge of the past informs the future. “He who controls the past controls the future,” Orwell wrote. “He who controls the present controls the past.” America’s founders believed in the dignity of the individual, inalienable personal rights, and the delegation of power only by explicit consent of citizens. This tradition is worth preserving, but it won’t be saved if we don’t protect it and pass it on. An Orwellian future in which government engages in surveillance over every aspect of our lives is not inevitable. But we can change the course of our future only if we remember―and value―the best of our American past.

Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland program at Cascade Policy Institute.

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