En Words

A place to talk about words - whether from books, stories, magazines, brochures, or matchbook covers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Technology Becomes a Whipping Boy

In discussion about privacy or intellectual property, you're bound to come across the following statement: "Technology has outstripped the laws dealing with the subject." But I think that's simply a stylish thing to say, because typically the argument is used in favor of why traditional limitations on human action should be removed. Technology makes it easier to do many things, good or bad. However, it doesn't generally change the inherent nature of those actions. If I can use someone's copyrighted material more easily without permission, that doesn't make it right, only more convenient to steal material. If I can easily look into the deep recesses of a person's life without restraint, I'm nothing more than an efficient and effective peeping Tom.

The problem is not that the law is so out of date with technology, but that technology tends to give people the opportunity to more easily show their true colors. Then when we don't like what we see, some apologist comes along, says that the problem is what we see should be acceptable because technology enables it, and laws are simply short-sighted. They rarely are. It's people that lose sight - of ethics, honor, and propriety.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wolfowitz's Lawyer Stumbles Upon Defense

In a Washington Post story, there is a quote from Robert S. Bennett, the defense lawyer hired by Paul Wolfowitz, president of the World Bank:
"He is not going to resign," Bennett said after meeting with Wolfowitz this weekend. "His mood is just fine. . . . He feels people are trying to interfere with his job to get at world poverty, and he wants to get this thing behind him so that he can concentrate 100 percent of his effort."
Obviously he was arranging for a big pay bump for his girlfriend to keep her out of world poverty.

Now look a bit deeper into the words of this quote. People are trying to interfere with his job? No, they're questioning his propriety. And since when does the position become his job? I know this is a common usage, but I get the sense from many in power that they regard these positions as their property, not something with which they are entrusted. The attitude also shows an invisible poverty: one of the spirit, because if they had a stronger internal sense of themselves, they would probably have a lesser need to lean on the external ones. For those who think that there is no justice in this world, think of how terrible it is to feel that your existence consists solely of what others think and of the vagaries of your position in life. What would be a setback for a more psychologically and spiritually grounded person is shattering for one like this.

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