We are three days out from an election. Overseas readers will recognise that the (depending on your point of view) holy/unholy trinity of Greenwald, Assange and Snowden visiting our country over recent days has had the potential to skew our election. (Incidentally, only one of the trinity 'incarnated' themselves here, can you guess which two were only 'spiritually' present via the internet?)
The gist of their message to us has been that our spy services do more spying that our PM John Key has let on. (Numerous articles abound, here are two of the latest, Fairfax and Herald. You are allowed to be confused by the details!)
On the one hand this is sending some people, including a number of journalists into paroxysm and frenzy, driven by the moral crusade of trying to prove that John Key has broken the rubber band of truth stretching into an actual, proveable lie.
On the other hand some people (including myself) are 'So?' So what? I am So over this. So, what about real issues in Kiwis' lives like child poverty, access to affordable housing, better paid jobs? Of these the media appears disinterested.
Fuelled by Monday night's Moment of Truth event at which the trinity appeared, our media are acting as though preserving the secrecy of our spy services is a self-serving quest of the National Party, treating good men such as Ian Fletcher (head of GCSB) as some kind of villain out of an Orwellian terror nightmare and generally shouting SHOCK HORROR when their role in the service of the country they do not seem to love should be supporting the importance of NZ playing its part in the global defence of democracy and fair trade. (An honourable exception is Fran O'Sullivan). If only one journalist let along one opposition politician would utter these words, "United we stand, divided we fall, I favour a bi-partisan approach to intelligence gathering. Now let's get back to child poverty."
So there is a kind of madness going on, though there is a good chance that common sense will prevail and our votes when counted on Saturday night will support the status quo. Yes, that means supporting the sensibleness of our spy agencies keeping NZ safe, even if it means my unpublished thoughts (not many exist!) and your internet shopping raids might be viewed by GSCB clerks with nothing better to do. (Yeah, right ... they are, of course, looking for you to use other words on the internet than 'Amazon' or 'BNZ'. Words such as X-Keyscore ...).
There is a deeply unChristian angle to the presupposition beneath the trinity's crusade against their own countries involvement in the so-called Five Eyes network. That presupposition was clearly articulated by Glenn Greenwald on a Radio Live interview with Duncan Garner (yesterday afternoon, here). In that interview - which helped pass the time of day between Christchurch and Timaru - Greenwald asserted the absolute human right to privacy, to being able to do and say things behind locked doors and passwords which no one else could access.
There, I realised, is the intrinsic presence of sin and darkness within their crusade which, ironically is justified in terms of shedding light on aspects of government. By contrast, a Christian approach to living life is that we are to live in the light, hiding nothing, doing nothing under the cloak of darkness (e.g. 1 John 1:5-7). A Christian has nothing to fear from any eavesdropping on conversations or reading of emails.
Greenwald's argument is quite scary. By asserting this absolute human right to privacy he denies the possibility that the state might have a legitimate interest in private thoughts which involve the planning of evil acts of terror. Taken to its logical conclusion, Greenwald's argument would mean that we wait for terrorist actions to happen to us, rather than seeking to prevent them occurring.
If we have the means to prevent terrorism then it is unloving towards our neighbours, unloving of others to permit those actions to happen for fear of infringing on 'privacy.'
That we have few commentators willing and able to think clearly, beyond the media feeding frenzy, is a sign of the possibility that we are lacking philosophers to serve the common good of our society. Instead we have circus managers and an unending supply of clowns.
Of the latter, even our government has supplied a few. I am completely unimpressed that our government permitted the organiser of the Moment of Truth event, Kim Dotcon, into our country.
I am not particularly impressed with John Kay's handling of the intelligence matters. He has revealed too much and he has failed to offer an appropriate apologia for the importance of a cutting-edge community of intelligence agencies.
He will likely still be our PM after Saturday because part of the unfolding political tragedy of 2014 is that not one other party leader is capable of holding a candle to his abilities, exposed as they are to their many shortcomings. Seddon, Fraser, Holyoake, Kirk, Rowling, Lange, Bolger, Clark. They will either be rolling in their graves or rolling their eyes this week.
PS Shakespeare got it right when he said that those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad. Kiwis, if we don't get over this madness, we will destroy ourselves. If we want to solve child poverty we need an economy which performs well. As Fran O'Sullivan points out the GCSB is at the heart of government moves to assist our great corporations in remaining at the top of their commercial game.