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article imageOp-Ed: Batman prophesized NSA spying

By Cameron Christner     Dec 16, 2013 in Politics
Remember that scene in the second Christian Bale Batman movie, “The Dark Knight,” when the vigilante reveals to Lucius Fox a machine capable of accessing every cell phone throughout Gotham city? Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
Anyways, the prototype effectively allowed Bruce Wayne to spy on virtually the entire city, including all its inhabitants.
Now, while the events in the movie are, of course, fictional, the machine, its purpose, and its capabilities are shockingly reminiscent of the NSA spying apparatus that continues to operate in society today.
The question that has plagued us all over the past few months is the question of whether or not we are willing to sacrifice liberty for safety and security.
Like the NSA, the machine in the movie grossly violated the peoples’ right to privacy, but was it worth it to stop a terrorist like the Joker?
After all, without that spying apparatus, our hero could never have found, let alone defeated, the Joker before he had killed thousands.
But we forget one important aspect of the story: that before Bruce Wayne went on his hunt for his arch nemesis, he was warned.
Lucius Fox, wise as he was, warned Wayne about the dangers of such an apparatus existing. He warned him that it was too much power, and Wayne knew it. That’s why he made it so that the only person who could use the machine was Lucius Fox, the person he trusted most of all.
So the lesson here is that while privacy-killing machines may be necessary to stop terrorists, the power to spy on millions creates, in the end, a more dangerous world.
Imagine, for a moment, if the prototype in the movie fell into the wrong hands. The Joker’s, for instance. Imagine the damage it could do. Then again, in the hands of a man like Lucius Fox, the machine could be very effective.
But again, we see the wisdom of Lucius Fox. After the Joker had been defeated and Gotham saved, Fox destroys the machine, never to be used again.
You see, Fox knew one important aspect of human nature: the corrupting influence of power. He knew that if the machine had remained in his control, that enormous power in his grasp, he would have eventually been corrupted, perhaps becoming just as bad as the Joker himself.
As to how this pertains to the NSA in our own reality, I think the answer is pretty clear. If we start using the tools of a tyrannical regime to catch terrorists, then we become the terrorists ourselves.
Like wise old Lucius Fox, we must destroy the machine, lest it fall into the wrong hands or be corrupted. Or, at the very least, we must give this monumental responsibility to an institution more trustworthy than government.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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