The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Budd McLaughlin

August 5, 2013

Surprised by NSA snooping? I’m not

— It’s been amazing to watch the average person’s response to the news that the National Security Administration has monitored our phone calls, emails and a host of other communications.

Perhaps the people who have expressed the most outrage are unfamiliar with George Orwell’s masterpiece, “1984,” or are unfamiliar with the phrase “Big Brother is watching you.” Who’s “Big Brother”? I always thought it was the federal government.

My question — while reading through the sordid details — has been, “Why are we surprised?” Why is any American shocked at the idea of being spied on? It happened to the mobsters, so why not to us?

I’m a Verizon user, so I’m pretty sure the government knows — and is bored to tears by — what’s going on in my life.

For instance, my “recent calls” list reads like a broken record. My weekly call log features the same people and numbers — Lensey (wife), Home (parents),  Adam Nabors (a Birmingham chum), work (well, work) and Patti (my mother-in-law who calls me when my wife won’t answer her phone.)

My phone calls typically last fewer than five minutes. My wife and I talk briefly about our days, what we had for lunch and what we might have for dinner. When I call my parents, I talk about the weather with my mom and baseball with my dad.

My Birmingham friend and I discuss music and movies. Work phone calls may consist of any number of things, though none of them involve plans to smuggle a bomb onto a plane via my shoes or underwear. And calls from my mother-in-law are usually immediately given over to my wife, who won’t answer her phone.

My text messages are no more interesting.

Here’s an example of my last few text messages:

Text Only
Budd McLaughlin
Poll

A recent national telephone survey found 75 percent of respondents believe the sale and use of pot will eventually be legal nationwide. Do you think marijuana should be legal in Alabama?

Yes
No
No, but I don’t think pot smokers should go to jail
Yes, but only for medical use
Yes, but only for personal adult use
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