Losing Our Freedom to the Digital Pinkertons - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Losing Our Freedom to the Digital Pinkertons
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Actors Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, and Judd Nelson in “The Breakfast Club” (IMDB.com)

My parents called it majoring in the minors. I call it the “high school hall-monitor” school of governance. Way back in the eighties, children were given more freedom. My own kids were shocked by the show Stranger Things. The idea of just taking off and coming back and kids inhabiting their own world and parents doing whatever parents did seemed foreign to them. But that’s the way it was. At my high school, we had “open lunch.” That meant that from noon to 1 p.m. we could drive or walk off campus to get food and come back. Sometimes kids didn’t come back. Sometimes kids didn’t come to school at all, and parents, like Ferris Bueller’s mom, found out that their kid had been playing hooky and had missed multiple days. Once caught, the kid would get detention or Saturday School (à la The Breakfast Club) or in-school suspension or old-fashioned suspension.

Detentions were given out like candy. I got one or two myself, and I was an achingly squeaky-clean student. On the honor roll, and in the honors society, student government, orchestra, track and field, and basketball, I was a busy nerd. I remember sitting glumly with the other kids, a whole classroom full, anxious about how I’d get home because I couldn’t take the bus. Detention punished the student and the parent.

How could one get a detention? There were myriad ways. The list was long: smart off to the teacher, produce a bunch of late work, refuse to turn in homework, fight in the hallway, park in the wrong place, and on and on. But the No. 1 way to get a detention? Get caught in the hallway without a hall pass during class. The Pinkertons would get ya. They were there, lurking around every corner. Our school had only two, but they had the ability to multiply themselves, Matrix style, and be everywhere all at once. How they could monitor the parking lot and every bathroom was a mystery, but they managed it. And no, we didn’t have cameras in the school.

It’s easier for the government to harass generally good people and try to make them look like villains than it is for them to deal with actual villains who have vast empires of wealth and attorneys to defend themselves.

Across from the high school, not on the property but within view of it, was Burnout Corner. Burnout Corner was where the druggies and smokers hung out. Some were mean. Some were strung out. Some, at the ripe old age of 17, had seen it all and had already given up on life. Their drug of choice was pot (the old-fashioned mild kind, not the supersonic stuff around now). They had long, stringy roadie hair, sallow skin, and surly attitudes. No one messed with them, not even the Pinkertons.

From the burnouts, I learned a great life lesson: The authorities don’t like bothering themselves with the difficult cases. They ignore them. The Pinkertons were all over the girl running to the bathroom because her period had started and she didn’t have the time, or the emotional courage, to get a hall pass. The guy who suddenly got explosive diarrhea? Yeah, the Pinkertons would find him. Meanwhile, the burnouts sauntered into school late every day, cruised into class, and sat in their favorite chairs because no one dared cross them. Their power was total. Teachers said nothing. Principals said nothing. The rent-a-cops said nothing.

America and the world are run by the Pinkertons now. Their vast surveillance state watches everyone, everywhere, all the time. The default position is that you, dear citizen, are a criminal. Six-hundred-dollar transactions are hall monitored now. Kill switches are now mandated in cars. The government wants the ability to find you and will hunt you for its $20 in taxes. Meanwhile, the world-class burnouts will hide their money and be let off. No one will even bother them.

People like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, who’ve gotten exceedingly wealthy while in Congress, doing nothing besides hectoring everyone else, will retire in luxury, having insider-traded their way to fabulous lifestyles. Meanwhile, average Americans will be spending their extra time in detention (in the Jan. 6 protesters’ cases, literally) and spending their pennies defending themselves from an all-powerful Pinkerton state.

It’s easier for the government to harass generally good people and try to make them look like villains than it is for them to deal with actual villains who have vast empires of wealth and attorneys to defend themselves. A guy like Sam Bankman-Fried, who said he had only $100,000 to his name, could secure $250 million to cover his bond needs. Dealing with Bankman-Fried will be a pain for the FBI. He’s powerful and connected and looks like a deranged pothead who spent too much time in the shrooms.

“Sam Bankman-Fried and Other Turkeys,” editorial cartoon by Yogi Love for The American Spectator, November 29, 2022, spectator.org

Just like in high school, there are two tiers of justice. It’s gotten worse. It’s a sign of the weakness of the various world regimes that they’ve upped the hall monitoring while ignoring the murder, theft, drugs, and border invasion. The people of the West are seeing their freedoms evaporate one by one. Meanwhile, criminals are emboldened. Heck, the worst offenders are elected officials themselves.

The only solution to the Pinkerton problem? The “good students” need to make life difficult for the police state. Don’t help these lazy psychopaths by buying electric cars, a Google Home, and a “smart” thermostat. Minimize exposure to surveillance. This, of course, is increasingly difficult. When banks are reporting tiny transactions to the IRS, no one is safe.

It’s a strange thing to realize that I had more freedom as a high schooler than I do now as an adult. In the eighties, we could come and go as we pleased. There were no location services, no ever-present cameras picking up one’s whereabouts and transmitting the information. There were only the Pinkertons, monitoring the halls of the schools. Now, with their vast digital army, they’re everywhere. The people who should be monitored have mysterious tech failures (Jeffrey Epstein and Paul Pelosi, for example), and those who should be free are spied on by their own government.

As Americans sit in detention, do they realize what they’ve lost?

Melissa Mackenzie
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Melissa Mackenzie is Publisher of The American Spectator. Melissa commentates for the BBC and has appeared on Fox. Her work has been featured at The Guardian, PJ Media, and was a front page contributor to RedState. Melissa commutes from Houston, Texas to Alexandria, VA. She lives in Houston with her two sons, one daughter, and two diva rescue cats. You can follow Ms. Mackenzie on Twitter: @MelissaTweets.
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