The last thing I want to do is introduce politics into my blog comments, but I feel compelled to write about the recent State of Texas abortion law. Not about the issue or debate about abortion. You have your views. I have mine. Perhaps they are different. Perhaps they are the same. You won’t find a debate here. No, what I need to comment about are those provisions in the Texas law that asks and incentivizes (with money!) citizens to report on the activities of their neighbors.
I am old enough to remember the repressive Fascist regimes in Western Europe. I recall the Communist regimes of Russia and Eastern Europe. The Stasi in East Germany. (“One of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies ever to exist.” (Sometime look at the German film, The Lives of Others.) I also recollect the encouragement of informers in our own country during the McCarthy period.
All these government groups legitimized citizens spying upon their fellow citizens. They debased society. Ruined lives. Corrupted the social fabric. Made people fearful of one another. Killed people.
I beg you to imagine the devastation such an informing action would have on a Texas high school student.
My further point here is that at some point this kind of spying and informing activity—in these circumstances—turns to books and what people were reading. Not so very long ago, here in Colorado, an agency of the US government wanted to know what books an individual purchased from a bookstore. The US Supreme Court rejected that particular line of inquiry. I have no doubt such an inquiry will happen again.
To create a society in which people are paid to spy upon one another, be it for politics or the books they read is abhorrent to me. As a citizen, as a writer, I feel obliged to speak up.
As the old saying goes, “Freedom is never free.”