March 6th, 2006



Two middle-schoolers (one sixth grade, one seventh grade, in different schools of the same corporation) were telling me in Sunday School yesterday about the current events newsrag that gets handed out in their classes. Either the kiddie news or their teachers' interpretations have told them outright that the President is spying on US citizens, and might very well be breaking the law.

I was staggered. We spent a considerable time talking about this, rather than the lesson I'd planned. We talked about data mining, about how nothing you do on the internet or say on a cell phone is as private as you think it is, about how the spooks use algorithms to find combinations of words published electronically, and how that was no more "spying" than what marketers do to try to sell you stuff. Then we talked about probable cause, wiretapping, the President's war powers, Congress's desire to make-it-legal-if-ain't-already, and how some things are still open questions (not that you'd know that from what you're being told).

How, exactly, the controversy over how we spy on Al Qaeda sorts itself out is not something I'm too concerned about. Committees will hold hearings, laws will be passed, and the world will go on about its business. But to feed this kind of Bush-is-spying-on-you crap to kids is unconscionable! But then, I remember the edjumacators of my generation trying to "engage" us as youth on such current subjects as the Vietnam War. I lost whatever respect I had for the people who run public schools in junior high: even at twelve years old, I could see through their propaganda.