Why I Prefer My Readers

Today I happened to read a tweet from @furrygirl:

It may seem like a childish metric, but as a general rule, you know how effective your activism is by how fiercely the state comes after you.

She should know. In 2011, out of curiosity, she sent off FOIA requests to several government agencies for her record, and got a bit of a shock:

I’d actually pretty much forgotten about it after getting form letters back from a number of agencies saying they had nothing on me – or at least, nothing they felt like releasing.  Then, I got a padded mailer from the FBI yesterday.  My FBI file had arrived!  The contents were not what I was expecting.  I don’t think I’m that terribly interesting to the government, but I have had the fortune/misfortune to have socialized with, dated, and befriended a number of wonderful people who definitely would be considered “interesting” to law enforcement.  I was expecting a few pages about my friends and lovers, but what I found was that I was physically followed by a group of FBI agents for five days of my life when I was 18 and involved in organizing a protest/campaign.

The FBI released 436 pages of intelligence related to or about me, none of which dates later than 2002.  436 pages!  Printed out, it would be almost a whole ream of paper.  And the most exciting things contained within are reports of us doing things like making photocopies, buying beer, riding the bus, and eating at a restaurant.  99% of it is mundane or mildly creepy, 1% of it is hilarious, and I hope there is something to be learned.

Basically, the FBI had spent a few days documenting her public life in mind-numbing detail. “Her sweatshirt had a skull and crossbones on the back. She was also wearing glasses.” “Observed standing up, picking up trash and placing it in trash can.” It’s the kind of stuff agents on a boring detail would write down just to prove to their bosses that they’d been on the job.

I could use this to launch a post about the depressing waste of the surveillance state, or something like that, but that’s not why I remember this post of hers. I remember it because I originally found it when I followed a link to a post by Mike Masnick at Techdirt, where he wrote about it:

When you read stuff like this, and then think back to the various cases we’ve seen of the FBI manufacturing their own terrorist plots, it really makes you wonder if the money we’re spending on law enforcement for these kinds of things is money well spent… or if the FBI really just has way too much time (and money) on their hands.

I could have used that to launch a post that said pretty much the same thing. But Masnick’s commentary is not why I remembered Furry Girl’s post either. No, I remember it for slightly more personal reasons because of a comment on Masnick’s post:

Oh, as a side note: Mike, you do understand that you basically linked yourself to porn, right? She makes her living as a porn girl, specializing in hairy and natural menstruation porn. Classy. Now you know why you are blocked in Germany.

I have no idea if that’s an accurate description of what Furry Girl does for a living, but when I read that, all I could think was: Thank God I’m not running the kind of blog where readers get upset over a link to porn. What a sad, sad blog that would be.

 

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