Teenagers today are expected to do many things ranging from getting good grades to fostering good relationships to being compliant to the requests of their parents. However, it seems that in the midst of all this, few "high-schoolers" are proactively participating in political debate. Politics, to me, is an important and unavoidable aspect of society that needs to be discussed, civilly. Regardless of interests, affiliations, or nationalities, political discussions provide teenagers, nationwide, the forum to frame thoughts that should be welcomed.
For several weeks now, scandals have been populating the headlines in almost all major news outlets. First was the IRS scandal, now is the NSA controversy. Edward Snowden is the whistleblower who leaked thousands of NSA related documents to the public and then proceeded to flee to Hong Kong and later Russia. As the case further unravels, international dissent and support become more diversified as high governmental officials' frustration continues to increase. To many senators save Rand Paul, Snowden is the Judas of America. To whole countries and political figures, Snowden is heralded as nothing short of a hero who is willing to stand up to Big Brother.
From my personal experience, few 30-year-olds have figured their lives out. They recently finished college and are only a few years into their respective professional fields, hoping to work up the corporate ladder still. Snowden, on the other hand, had a lucrative 200K job living in one of the best tourist destinations in the world with his girlfriend -- Hawaii. His life appeared to be perfect and seems to be the American Dream we all strive for. He had no debts from college, a supportive family, and a stable job (that later turned out to be one he sought out for the purpose of exposing the government).
"Persecute the crime, not the leaker," the sentiments of many activists resonate.
To justify my belief that the government's actions are an atrocity to democracy is the fact that people are to have some sense of privacy. Of course, it is not to say that no freedoms are to be given up as a result of more collective security. But what Snowden revealed is a disregard for the very core of being an American -- the Constitution. The collection of metadata from Verizon aside (constitutional through Smith v. Maryland case of 1979), the atrocity lies in the massive compilation of data from Microsoft, Facebook, and Yahoo, just to list a few corporations. Not only that, the government proceeded to spend taxpayer money to build a massive data center to store this information!
Of course proponents to the NSA search will have two major arguments.
"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about." But, just because I am not doing anything illegal does not mean I am willing to give the government permission to snoop into my Facebook postings and pictures, my email messages, and my choices in what I read.
"Sure, the government is collecting this data. However, it does not mean the government is abusing this data." Yes, it was never proven and what Snowden believed is what some call to be "outlandishly speculative." But what I, as well as many Americans, am deeply concerned about is simply the possibility of abuse. The NSA's actions pave way as well as provide infrastructure to facilitate abuse. As a precaution to this abuse, I do not want to be part of it. I mean, a bit of trust in this sense is how all Orwell's books begin right?
Edward Snowden, to me, is a hero to the American public. Sure, his critics as well as his sympathizers label him as an arrogant 30-year old who dropped out of high school (he has his GED). But, I regard him as a hero because he is one of the few out there who is willing to disregard his whole life to expose an issue that he holds to be a dire injustice. He expresses his very public dissent against the world's most powerful government. Where his education lacks, his heart makes up for.
What do you think? Please comment your thoughts or tweet at me! @thetli8