Friday, 2 April 2010

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear

A quick word about the meme that you hear more and more of these days as justification for tearing down freedom:
If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear from these security measures.
It's a ubiquitous, insidious idea, and has been used to defend everything that's flushing the Western world down the toilet. My local publican said it when policemen came on a random patrol into his pub on a Friday and scared away half his punters. It's what they say about ID cards. It's what they said about airport scanners.
Here's the thing.
It's a false dichotomy. Hide/fear, or Nothing to hide/nothing to fear, is not exhaustive. It takes as a given that intrusion is logically inevitable. It's not, hence it makes the logical fallacy of petitio principii, or begging the question. That is, there are other scenarios out there. Some of my favourites: innocent until proven guilty, privacy rights, mutual respect, you're our servants not our masters, and leave us alone you fucking cunts.

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