Privacy … Really?
What’s privacy? It’s quite easy, it’s everything that’s not in the public space. But public space is the reflect of our society. What you see in the public space, is the reflect of the society.
That’s exactly why cities try to hide homeless people, or – at least – send them in places where people won’t see them. To display something that is better than the reality. To hide things that would be shameful. To hide their failure or what they think is not proper.
And this is the main issue regarding privacy. What people are expecting to keep for themselves is what is judged by other as "non proper" or "inconvenient" or "indecent". What you’re supposed to keep private are the things that do not conform to someone idea of proper behaviour.
Privacy is not chosen, it’s enforced. It’s enforced by a dominant and oppressive system, whatever it is. Most of the people have nothing to hide. And that’s probably true. They have nothing to hide, because their behaviour is the one that follow the dominant moral code, the dominant comportment. And then, what they’re doing doesn’t interest anyone else but them; and I’m not saying they’ve got shitty life they just have a life similar to the life of everyone around them.
But if you’re not on this side of the world, then people will ask you to keep things in private. To behave. To not expose yourself. To not claim what you are.
When you says to someone to keep things private, you refuse their right to be.
And that’s why privacy sucks. It sucks when you asks my suicidal and depressive trans-gender-fluid friend who express themselves on social space to keep their pain for themselves because it’s improper. It sucks when you asks my friends to hide their love because they have the same gender while you’ll expose your heterosexuality without being ashamed. It sucks when you says to a woman whose body has been exposed that she should have keep those pictures private or that she should be ashamed to dare exposing herself.
You’ll say that you have a right to privacy. Except that people going fine, tells it – whatever the consequences on their neighbour or friends. Except that male genitals are basically exposed everywhere without consequences for them while a nipple is indecent in the public space – which means that having a female body is something that you should be ashamed of. Except that you can demonstrate your affections to the people you love while me or my friends can’t because we should keep that private.
Privacy is Censorship
In the end, privacy is censorship. It’s an argument used by oppressors to force oppressed people to conform to an oppressive form of society.
Asking to someone to be decent, discrete or to conform, is forcing them to behave, to not express themselves. To not define themselves. People who should have privacy, are the ones who do not conform to your vision of moral. It’s women, queers, sex-workers, porn actors and actress, etc.
And this is a form of censorship. And censorship is the oppresser’s tool. And it sucks. I oppose censorship not because of freedom of speech, but because of freedom of self-determination. I need words to define myself. And by censoring them, by forcing me not to use them, you remove me the possibility to define, to exist in the public space.
If you do not have the words to define an idea, then you can’t formulate this idea – that’s the whole purpose of novlang in 1984.
The interesting part of that is: if you need a law to censor something, then this something is named and then exist. It’s like in Inception (the movie), where the character played by Di Caprio states that:
If I want you to think about elephants, I just have to tell you not to think about elephants.
(And now, all my readers re thinking about elephants)
For instance, the word nigger/nigga has been used to discriminate against afro-american people. But some of them used took back control of this word, and reappropriate it to define themselves. They use it to define themselves. They exist because this word exist, and yes it leads to discrimination but it has a name and then you can fight it.
You can’t fight what you can’t name. And forbidding the use of specific speech do just that. It makes groups and communities unable to exist. Censorship doesn’t protect minorities. Freedom of self-determination does. Yes, it means that you’ll have hate speech. And yes, hate speech should probably be sanctioned in some way. But you must be able to discuss it.
If you cannot discuss racism, or fascism, or sexism then you can’t fight it. That’s why most of the teachers – at least not the creationist one – do oppose censorship.
But … Privacy is a human right?
Yes it it. It’s written in the UDHR and it’s the 12th article. The thing is, this declaration is not directed to citizen. It’s not meant to be implemented by them. It’s directed toward state, and it’s supposed to be what they should do, and to protect citizens from states – the way constitutions do.
And, for the sake of the argumentation, I’ll quote it here:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attack upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attack.
It basically state that you shouldn’t asks me to behave. To keep things private. To be decent. That you shouldn’t attack my honour or that I shall not be treated differently by the state – hence the society – for what I am.
The privacy defined here, is the one that you use to shelter yourself from discrimination of states or oppressive groups. It’s the survival mechanism one should not need to use, but sadly exist because there’s enough bigot out there in the world to threaten your life – think being openly gay in Uganda for instance.
Privacy in this context is a shield. However it disable you the right to being seen as what you are. It removes you the right to be. To define yourself. It’s a crappy shield, but it can makes you living.
And that’s why it’s important to be able to activate some sort of shielding, because you can go in jail for that. Or being killed by fascists. And as a human you have the right to protect yourself.
But if anyone else can define themselves in the public space, and if I can’t, if you ask me to be decent, you’re basically denying me the right to exist. You’re violating this 12th article that you claim to defend. And you’re doing that because you do not need privacy.
On the internet, being a white hetero cis-male means that you really do not need privacy. You won’t be ashamed because you had sex. Or because you exposed your body. Or because you demonstrate affection to the person you love. Privacy isn’t of any use to you, because you’re on the privileged side of an oppressive system. You won’t be beaten up because you were indecent. Or non-conforming to the society.
So, no more Privacy?
No. Sadly, we might need privacy. As I said beforehand, it is a shield from repression. Shielding yourselves is, however, denying what you are. It’s validating the oppressive society you’re leaving in.
If you want to fight that, then you need to abandon your privacy. Because you need to publicly exist. Also, that’s how you’ll find support among people going through similar issues. That’s how you can fight oppression. By existing in the public space, not only in the private space.
And if you do not belong to an oppressed party, then you do not need privacy, for you’re not going to be assaulted just because of what you are or think. You do not have privacy because it interest no one, because you’re in the "normal life" area of the world.
So yeah, we must fight for people being able to have a privacy. Because they could die if they have not. But no, you can’t asks me to being decent. Or to keep things private.