I don't want to be at the mercy of my emotions.

I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.

- Oscar Wilde

A Bold. Beautiful Photo Worthy Of Looking At

I found this photo while I was doing some research on used cars, and found myself blown away by how such a simplistic design could emote so much trust. It is so hard these days to find people who inspire you to be forthright and who evoke a feeling of safety so this picture hit me especially hard.

Perhaps it shook me because of the lens through which we view salespeople, kind of untrustworthy people who will do anything to make a buck. This has been conveyed in literally every advertisement orpicture with sold cars in it. That sneaking suspicion that their smile does not really mean anything at all and would continue to shine no matter what you said. Yet, here, I see comfort and support.

It feels like these two men truly know each other and have made each other’s lives better in some way. The friendly lean into the handshake, the pat on the back, their comfortable poses and how they are still angled towards each other instead of trying to get away; all of these things yell friendship, even in front of a backdrop that seems corporate and uncaring.

ven the colors are friendly and support the overall message of comfort. Normally when you see cars being sold you are confronted with flash; bright colors and quick moving cars that catch your attention and make you want to come visit so you can be as stylish as you have always wanted to be. Here you see models of cars that are sold to people who need convenience over flash, who maybe do not have the money for the most expensive model but need a car regardless.

I feel like I would find this dealership in my small hometown, where everyone knows each other and youhave a good relationship with the people who sell to you. Where you actually can feel comfortable withthe salespeople because they know what sort of things you need in your life and will not try to push you to buy more. A business that probably won’t pack as much flash because it is not needed but will make sure that you have the best vehicle for your family.

Maybe that is why I was so drawn in by such a simple picture, that feeling of safety and community that you get when you know that you are appreciated by a business. I feel like I have not found that as much since I moved away from home, and this made me realize how much I miss it.

Freedom of Speech

The founders of the United States saw the right to free speech as a basic human right and embedded it into the foundation of the United States. This allowed for the freedom of expression by citizens and freedom of the press, two crucial pieces that form the structure for democracy. At the core of this ideal is the concept that everyone deserves access to information so they can make an informed decision. With this ideology at the root of our society, these headlines should be out of place:


Yet here we are, in the midst of government oppression that encroaches upon our basic freedoms. Our current administration is one of the most secretive that have been covered by the press, with limited access for members of respected newspapers, “free speech zones” on the streets and campuses that prevent the taking of videos and pictures, and enhanced prosecution for whistleblowers like Edward Snowden. Our right to free speech has been the pulpit that we have been able to proclaim our greatness from, the piece of our constitution that set us apart from oppressed nations around the globe where the press and the people are controlled and punished.

We don’t believe that we can say that about the United States anymore when The Justice Department spent 7 years trying to force James Risen, a New York Times reporter to identify his confidential sources, seizing records for over 20 phone lines and email accounts. We have watched anxiously as more of our civil liberties became trampled and unrecognizable, as we were forced to only congregate and protest in pre-designated areas, and as the NSA continued to collect data for possible prosecution years down the road.

We fear that we are headed deeper into peril as our main news sources are funneled through six media giants and our reporters on the street are being arrested for trying to collect information thatis right in front of them.

We do not want a democracy like India’s where: The government demands that the Internet is pre-screened to remove pages that might be deemed inflammatory Pakistani authors are banned from the their book fests
Sociologists who offer nuanced discussions about corruption, are slapped with charges that is covered under the Prevention of Atrocities Act Art is removed from galleries for fear that they hurt Hindu deity support Citizens are silenced for “decency or morality, “friendly relations with foreign state” or “public order.”

Journalists are harassed, sued, and arrested for speaking, writing, and creating Activists are arrested for talking back to police without physically assaulting them Social media sites are not allowed to disclose how often the government requests national security requests for their users data If those last three sounded familiar, that is because they are applicable in India’s and the United States Democracy.

The arrests of journalist and activists have been occurring more and more regularly, with the Department of Justice releasing a scathing report of the freedom of speech violations that the Ferguson police department perpetuated. Twitter sued the US government in October of 2014 so they could freely publish the number and types of requests our government makes about Twitter users. We are the frogs in the pot right now, many of us not realizing the broad swatches of civil rights that we are losing. It was an important time to speak up after 9/11 as Bush dropped surveillance on us, and it’s still important to stand up and speak now as our oppressors continue to steamroll us into submission.

"Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only oneway to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source ofterror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear." Harry Truman

Internet Privacy

We have talked about Edward Snowden before briefly as his decisions helped to show the American public the ways in which we were being spied on. In short, Snowden was a government contractor for the National Security Agency in 2013 when he revealed mass surveillance on the part of the government that included:

Tracking the details (time, names, addresses, etc.) of every American’s call history Real-time access to your phone and Internet traffic (1.7 billion emails a day) Recording your browsing histories and social media updates Snowden has since fled to Russia to escape punishment at the hands of the U.S. government, where he has been waiting for over two years for the public to wrap their heads around the lack of Internet privacy. However, a recent segment on John Oliver showed that many people do not know who Edward Snowden is while those who do consider Edward Snowden to be a traitor (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEVlyP4_11M).

No one seems to care that we are giving away our freedom.With companies collecting information on our demographics, behaviors, and habits from our Internet history and using that to increase their sales, and our government increasing our Internet surveillance, we are in a sorry state. Internet privacy is remarkably important for many reasons, but let us start with the simple ones. Every app that you use as well as almost every web browser is collecting your information. While they say that none of it is identifiable, it is being assembled by different businesses and then traded.

While that may mean nothing more than some targeted coupons on your door, it also means that your information belongs to others and that you do not have the right to change it, update it, or request that the information be removed later. Not only do you no longer control this information, the storage of this information is liable to outside attacks. One study showed that while most courtesy credit and identity theft monitoring agencies offer services for up to six months after your information is stolen, frequently when databases are hacked they do not steal your identity for over a year. At this point, the companies that wanted your data will no longer care and you will be stuck fighting your own battle against information you didn’t even realize that your Facebook or Twitter collected. This is only the information that we pass along easily when we upload Candy Crash, yet it is information that can ruin your life. Now imagine everything that you do online. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, YouTube, Skype, and Apple are all collecting that information, which includes: Bank account numbers Credit and debit card number Computer, web-sites, and email usernames and password Your email content Employment history Medical records

Full name
All your purchases online Social security number Street address Phone number Voter registrationmber .....this list goes on. Once again, this information is causally collected and stored in vast databanks, open to attacks from the outside. While this is scary enough, at least these websites cannot prosecute you for things you said online. The NSA can. Technically, all of the information is collected automatically and then run through algorithms to detect criminal activity that can then be researched by a person. Technically, if the person realizes that they are looking at American records without a warrant then they must destroy the data. In reality, if the intercepted information is“believed to contain evidence of a crime” then the NSA is allowed to turn that information over to the federal law enforcement. This means that your private information and communications can easily end up in the hands of the police or the FBI with no warrant and frequently no reason. Many people say, “If you don’t have anything to hide, then this shouldn’t concern you.” To those people we have nothing to say, because they have no understanding of why privacy could ever be important even though they probably close the door to use the restroom. Our internet privacy is paramount to our individual identities and expression. We worry about what our government is doing, as our society looks more and more dystopian even with laws to protect us. If we cannot stop them here, how will we stop them later?