Spoiler alert: In this column I'm going to reveal the ending of George Orwell's "1984," so if you haven't gotten around to reading that one yet, you might want to skip this.
Orwell's uncannily prophetic dystopian novel -- which came out in 1949 -- describes a future with no privacy, no individualism and no freedom, a world in which everything a person does is under the watchful eye of the state, the Thought Police and the leader, Big Brother. Not only is everyone under constant surveillance, but words are given double or contradictory meanings, history is constantly revised, the political party engages in fear mongering to keep the people in a perpetual state of frenzy against a mythical enemy and spying on your neighbor is encouraged and rewarded.
The older I get the more I become convinced Orwell had a time machine. Recent events only bolster that thought.
Exhibit A: The targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service.
That a government agency -- especially one as powerful and feared as the IRS -- would make a point of trying to limit the political power of selected groups ought to make you seething angry. Never mind whether you agree with the group. The very fact that it would single out any group shows yet another example of government power not only run amok, but which has been appropriated for diabolical purposes.
The president has said, at least, that he is angry. I guess we'll see just how angry as this story unfolds and we find out who was behind it.
Exhibit B: The secret collection of Associated Press phone records.
This you've heard less about, but it ought to scare you just as much. The Justice Department, in investigating a government leak that involved a terrorism case, apparently took a couple of months' worth of AP phone records, and then told the news organization about it much later -- which is apparently legal now under our surveillance state laws that make us all "Patriots."
This is not the Soviet Union. When did spying on the press via seizure of records without a warrant become acceptable?
Exhibit C: The FBI's crusade to make it easier to read your email.
And your text messages. And to look at whatever you've stored in the cloud. And it would like to do it in real time.
The law that allows the feds to tell telecom companies to provide records and monitor communication for the FBI also prevents the FBI from reading those messages in real-time. Instead of making Google give the bureau copies of your emails, it'd be a lot easier if they could just read them the moment you send them. So they'd like Congress to get right on fixing that.
These are not minor events. The erosion of our rights in the name of security continues, and it seems no one is willing to put even the flimsiest of silt fences up to stop it.
At the end of "1984," the main character -- originally an enemy of Big Brother -- has been brainwashed and tortured to the point that he now believes he loves Big Brother.
Well, I don't love Big Brother. I don't even like him. And I don't want to end up in a room one day with a rat stuck to my face while the Thought Police try to persuade me otherwise.
But I'm afraid that's where we're headed if we don't put a stop to this kind of abuse.
Email Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.