Remember the old days — they were good old days, weren’t they? — when you could make a prank call from your own phone and get away with it because nobody had invented Caller ID yet?
Remember when you were at work and could look at Peter Pan guy [MIDI soundtrack alert] or whatever cute, pornulational, or craptastic corner of the Internet you felt like, because your boss hadn’t installed spyware on your computer?
And I understand there was once a time when people didn’t risk arrest by leaving the house without ID cards. Sometimes I revive the old pioneer spirit by jumping into the car, yes, without my wallet, and taking a spin around the block! Man, I’ve never felt so alive!
Well, supposedly free citizens of the supposedly free world, apparently these little erosions of your civil liberties are a mere tiptoe through the civil-liberties-erosionational tulips compared to what’s in store. The time is coming, says Wired’s Clive Thompson, when your brains will not be your own. You’d better get ready, Thompson prophesizes, for “a host of emerging technologies aimed at tapping into our heads.” What host of emerging technologies, you ask? OK, there’s hypersonic sound, where advertising physically gets inside your skull, and fMRIs, which can recognize your “racist thoughts,” and propranolol, a drug that selectively “erases” memories. Get a load of this:
Let’s say you’ve been assaulted and you want to take propranolol to delete the memory. The state needs that memory to prosecute the assailant. Can it prevent you from taking the drug? “To a certain extent, memories are societal properties,” says Adam Kolber, a visiting professor at Princeton. “Society has always made claims on your memory, such as subpoenaing you.” Or what if you use transcranial stimulation to increase your empathy. Would you be required to disclose that? Could a judge throw you off a jury? Could the Army turn you away?
Wired is shocked, shocked, at the prospect of such cognitive incursions. As though the potential for state interference in personal brains would be the first-ever instance of third-party annexation of sovereign organs. O silly, dudely Wired. Not an instant has gone by since “civilization” began when women’s uteruses have been free from appropriation by occupying forces.
Not that brain control is an outcome that spinster aunts in any way advocate, but if you ask me, the degree of human rights abuses fomented by millennia of institutionalized uterus-confiscation exceeds somewhat the hypothetical nuisance-factor of getting thrown off a jury sometime in 2024. Assuming the species hasn’t self-destructed by then.
Still, the fact that Wired reports the convening of a brain trust to sort out the legal ramifications of brain-snatching comes as no surprise. Eventually compromises will be reached which will effect the least inconvenience to honky dudes of means, with unfavorable outcomes increasingly tolerated the further down the race/gender hierarchy you go.
For example: currently in the US, well-to-do white urban women in a few states have the best chance of controlling their own internal organs; good luck finding public funding for your abortion if you’re poor, or finding a clinic if you’re rural — in nearly 90% of US counties there is no abortion facility at all. Not to mention all the bureaucratic obstacles shoved in your way by assorted state-level uterus-occupying assholes: parental or sperm donor notification, waiting periods, mandatory “counseling,” criminalization of providers, bogus pregnancy “crisis centers,” denial of access to birth control, ‘abstinence-only’ programs.
More oppression seems to be the only remedy anyone can ever come up with to fix the horrible problems caused by oppression. The state could just leave your uterus alone, but no. It must own your uterus. Wham, a host of emerging oppressions spring up to protect society’s claims, and if along the way they imprison you in some bogus biological destiny-hole, tough shit, you just gotta suck it up, lady. Or society decides that honky Jesus is better than brown Mohammed? Wham, the second-generation Iranian-American guy at the KwikMart has to plaster American flags all over his store and we get 2-hour lines at the airport, Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo.
The more oppression you have, the more oppression you need. And so forth. If the megalotheocorporatocracy were not a social order based on class oppression, jagoffs trying to get ahead in advertising wouldn’t be broadcasting ad copy into your skull; drug addicts wouldn’t assault you, thereby obviating the need to erase your memory; there would be no paternalistic governing body to “make claims” on the contents of your personal brain; and there would certainly be no Army to turn you away (although if an army decided to turn me away I’d throw a yacht party in Fiji).
Speaking of Caller ID, enough already with the Hollywood cop shows where Detective Buttmunch and his sexy, sassy sidekick (who will eventually — this is non-negotiable — star in at least one episode wherein she is captured by a psychokiller and depicted in her underwear hanging by the wrists from rusty chains in a dungeon to await her rescue by Buttmunch) get all worked up trying to “trace the call” but the kidnapper is wise to their ploy and hangs up just before the 42-second mark or whatever. It’s 2008, mediocre Hollywood cop show writers! Get a new plot device!