An open letter* to the GCSB.
The actual number could be much greater, given that you lot don’t seem to be very good with things like truth-telling.
I very much doubt that I am one of the 88, because I’m far too comfortably middle-class to be a threat to the realm or to white people generally. But perhaps you need to take another look at me.
I would of course be outraged were I to discover that you were intercepting my communications. Absolutely outraged. Eventually. Once the thrill of being regarded as a subversive had worn off.
I will never consent in any way to any such monitoring of my communications, so please don’t regard this post as some sort of implied consent to your activities, and please don’t think that if I catch you at it I won’t take action in the courts against you. Even though you and I know that I’d probably never find out what you were up to, and even if I found that you broke the law you’d just get the law changed to make everything you did legal.
So why is it that I think you need to be monitoring my communications? Let me explain.
It goes back a few years. During my university days I had a brief fling with student politics, which no doubt at least brought me to the attention of your sister organisation the SIS. More troubling still, during that time I met a number of foreign students from all around the world, some of whom may have even visited Middle-Eastern countries (excluding peace-loving Israel, which as we all know doesn’t count).
I also have a number of crimes to my name, serious crimes against the safety and security of our realm and against the vital strategic interests of our closest allies. Nowadays I’m a respectable technology and IP lawyer, but once upon a time I had utter disregard for the sacred copyright interests of our American friends. I’m not proud to admit it, but I cheated and I stole. On more than one occasion in the 1990s I copied some of the CDs of my friends onto cassette tapes, in order to avoid having to buy the music new. This was before the eras of digital downloads, and the sound quality was never flash, but for a struggling student it meant not having to spend thirty bucks on a new CD.
I’m not proud of what I did, but the authorities never got me. I’m also not proud of the musical choices I made during that dark period in my life, and I wish I could turn back the clock. But would it have turned out any different if I could do it again? No, I’m fooling myself. That prog rock obsession during the ’90s wasn’t exactly a passing phase.
This brazen copyright theft, disgusting as it was, was not confined to music. I feel almost certain that my use of various software products during the 1990s breached the terms on which those software products were licensed. Not only was I robbing the music industry, but I was depriving Bill Gates of much-needed income.
I suppose it would be easy enough for you to say “as awful as those things are, they’re in the past,” but, no, not everything is in the past.
You see, I run this subversive little website. It attempts to poke fun at our government, which in itself is no big deal because, hey, this is a democracy, right? But I’ve also been known to have a crack at the opposition parties on the odd occasion (although, to be fair, not as frequently). Do you see the problem here?
If I was just being a tiresome partisan hack, like some of the more well-known political bloggers who I won’t name (Hi David! Hi Cameron!), I’d be wilfully blind to my own team’s flaws, considerable though they are. But, no, I’m attacking that lot too. This makes me the most dangerous form of subversive: the person who is politically vocal while having little or no loyalty towards any of the parties in Parliament. That makes me an outsider, a radical, a threat to the established order of things. Could I even be a terrorist?
I have also been known at times to express dismay or concern at the conduct of our police and security forces. Which kind of makes sense if I am a terrorist, because if I were a terrorist I’d hardly be a big fan of the people going all out to stop terrorists. Therefore, because I am critical of the people trying to stop the terrorists, the obvious conclusion is that I must be one.
I can picture it now. Someone in your office is running about crying “here’s one! Get a warrant! Quick! He’s about to blow!” But there’s no hurry. I was in Wellington on Wednesday and I even walked right past the Parliament Building, and if I was going to strike any time soon then that would have been the ideal time for me to do so. Instead of running into Parliament’s foyer crying “allahu akbar!” I settled for a flat white and a nice bit of quiche at one of the many Mojo cafes around the place.
So settle and take your time. Do it right and, make sure it’s legal. Wait till the new law passes, so you can spy on me without worrying if you’re breaking the law.
But don’t leave it too long. Because I haven’t told you the worst thing about me. I’ve having dreams. Bad dreams. My sleep is unsettled, and I’ve become cranky and (even more) unpleasant to be around.
In these dreams I picture myself on top of a high mountain, and below me are thousands of people. They are staring up towards me, their arms raised, and they cry out in exaltation as I speak to them. I never remember what I tell them, but it’s pretty clear to me that I’m in the early stages of developing a messiah complex.
I wouldn’t be the first person to think he or she is God’s gift, and we actually have a number of these people in charge of our country. On the other hand, this troubling megalomania, when combined with my latent terroristic impulses and past history of copyright infringement, suggest that I must be watched, carefully watched.
Just don’t let me catch you at it, and don’t ever think that I am consenting to anything. While I would be honoured to be regarded by the true enemies of democracy as a subversive, I must feign outrage at the merest possibility that you would consider me a target.