In the U.S. we are consistently taught that free speech is a founding component of our constitution, and that its concept is significant to our rights as citizens. However, we are not as free as we think we are. Kade Crockford, Director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts visited SUNY New Paltz on Wednesday to inform the audience that the government is more in control of us than we realize.
Prior to the event, Professor of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS), Jessica Pabón-Colón, explained the importance of the involvement of such studies in this three-part lecture series.
“As a field, WGSS, is concerned with social inequality in all of its manifestations. I am the principal coordinator of the speaker series and am in the WGSS department—so that is the practical connection,” Pabón-Colón said.
When asked about our First Amendment rights under the Trump Administration, she said: “I do not share the liberal democrat ideal that free speech rights protect all equitably or are distributed equitably. Before, during, or after Trump, she said. In my perspective, the speech of marginalized individuals and communities has always come with a social, political and economic cost that we can trace historically.”
Ever since 9/11, new mythologies have surfaced that altered the American perspective. Americans are trained that Muslims are dangerous and the government merely “failed to connect the dots” in order to stop 9/11—indications neither of which are true, according to Crockford.
“Since the 9/11 attacks we as a country have accepted some basic ideas which are false,” Crockford said.
There was no reported failure with communication between the CIA and FBI, but with immediate action when informed about potential attacks. Crockford stated that there is serious issue with our nation’s basic acceptance of these lies.
Crockford delved into deeper issues that have stemmed from governmental organizations’ distrust of our citizens. Mass surveillance is a major issue that far too many citizens are unfamiliar with. The government is not just looking at one specific person, but at every single person. This secretive method of spying is directed at all people around the world.
“This does not work,” Crawford said. “It’s a bad public safety methodology, because if you’re watching everyone you’re effectively watching no one.”
Mass surveillance “allows the FBI to police organizations like Black Lives Matter and environmental organizations and groups including indigenous people.” Counter Intelligence Program targets mostly groups in the United States who have conflict with the “political and social status quo,” such as people of color, feminists, gay rights advocates, communists and any person who strives to create change within our nation.
The different technologies we use today, such as cell phones and computers, are incredible tools for the government to further control us and even track down our locations.
Phones give law enforcement the power to track and control us—and the justification for this? Threats of terrorism and the supposed concept of national security.
“It was important to have this event. It’s very important to have this kind of information out here,” said third-year WGSS major, Rosemary Szalay. “We don’t always know what is being monitored, and now we have at least a better idea, and we can let people know they are listening more than we think.”