Friday, January 25, 2008

A Little Stasi in Us All

East German Prison
Saint Reagan took those evil commies down and made the world safe from these kind of prisons.

United States Prison Cell at GitMo
The easily accessed window and bright lighting make solitary confinement so much more humane. I am so proud of my country.

We watched a movie from Netflix last night, "The Lives of Others." It was about the former GDR, East Germany. (Feels like a million years ago that the wall fell, doesn’t it. We were all so optimistic back then. End of Cold War, Mutual Assured Destruction, proxy wars the beginning of peace dividends, spreading of democracy and our global influence. What happened?) Anyhow the movie was set in the early 80’s and was about the Stasi, the secret police whose goal was “to know everything" and how they controlled the country and the effects of this control and secrecy on the watchers and the watched.

The story followed a Stasi agent and a playwrite. The agent was covertly watching the writer who was deemed OK by the government. Eventually he is transformed into not being OK and speaks out against the censureship and governmental control over the arts. It was a very well done movie. And certainly there are always parallels to the present that make you connect with the characters but it seemed rather close at hand. Wiretaps, surveillance, torture, secrecy, stupidity, ideological certainty and state sponsored paranoia. Same as it every was.

Tracy was a little sleepy during the last half; she doesn’t do well with plot driven movies, especially political thrillers. She likes to feel the movie. So I don’t think she was in total control of her facilities, and she was being her contrary late-January self when she flippantly said, “Those damned people should just shut their yaps. They didn’t have it so bad. If they were in Russia or China they would have been shot.” Wow, Dr. of English Literature and poet Philpot, daughter of a lesbian, feminist and green party member, interesting thinking. She spent the next 10 minutes of the movie or so trying to retract or reformulate the statement until she fell asleep on the couch. Even under assault of rapier wit and intellect, she wasn’t really engaged.

My point is Tracy doesn’t really believe that in her heart, but the idea easily takes a root in all of our brains’. I am sure I have said such things about similar situations, matter of fact I think I did even last night. It may take a late night movie, in a warm house, after a couple of beers, feeling kind of sleepy, stressors such as these to break us down but I think we all have a little Stasi in us.

But the smart amoung us realize that this is why we have laws, that Constitution thing that ensures rule of law and that NOBODY can make that kind of judgment stick on someone else. Checks and balance on our government and on our dark impulses. That whole system is working pretty well, right?
“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

Not sure if the above quote is true but......

Just keep quite and you will be OK.


Anonymous said...

.... I like that part about the beer, and the warm house and all, and feeling really sleepy, and then Amy always elbows me and says, "wake up"! and then we have to get our boots on, which always gives me a BIG head rush and then walk home in the cold and snow and I'm glad we don't have laws against that yet.

Anonymous said...

We done made our own law, son. And dozing on other peoples couches and BIG head rushes are required of all citizens. We have to develop our strengths. Amen