On Monday night, I took two of my children to the Judge Napolitano/Ron Paul evening at the Ohio State University (a fantastic evening, by the way). During one of the segments, Napolitano asked a panel of young folks how they would respond to this common defense of the ever-more intrusive state:
Judge (paraphrased): What would you say to someone who says, “What do I care, I have nothing to hide?”
After mulling this over, if ever asked that very same question, my response is now: I do have stuff to hide. That’s why I close bathroom doors, pull bedroom blinds and wear clothes. And no one (save my wife) has any business in any area I declare to be private (including my property and areas where I have contracted with others to keep my private stuff private). The state and its agents included.
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Napolitano’s question is an important one. The "I have nothing to hide" response is used time and again by folks who I now see as exhibitionists — exhibitionists for the state. These folks see nothing wrong with opening their private lives to the state — they have nothing to hide.
So the very same folks who pull their blinds to keep the leering eyes of their neighbors out of their bedrooms open those very same blinds to those very same neighbors when they (their neighbors) act as agents of the state. And those folks do so as if a state badge transforms their neighbors into something other than voyeurs — as if the badge makes it all OK.
But the badge is only a sign that the power of force is standing behind the one wearing it, and leering. It should be a point of real concern, not security.
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Look, if I left my bathroom door open, you would certainly think me odd. Wouldn’t you wonder why I want to expose my private matters to the world?
I could say, "Since I am not committing a crime, I have nothing to hide."
Would you buy that line? Would you simply shrug off my actions? Would you feel safer in the presence of someone so open about his peaceful intentions? Would you?
I wear clothes for a number of reasons, with protecting my privacy at the top of the list. Yet I am forced to virtual strip before ogling TSA agents as if I have nothing to hide. But that is the very reason I dressed to begin with.
I desire to hide from my neighbors acting as neighbors, as well as my neighbors acting as agents of the state. I desire to hide.
There are inane responses to questions regarding state interventions. But the "I have nothing to hide" response is the most inane of them all. You have something to hide. We all do. And what we hide is our own business — it is personal.
The next time some exhibitionist for the state claims they have nothing to hide, call them on it. And hopefully they will learn a little lesson.