“Two FBI agents knocked on my door. They told me that unless I helped them by spying on protest groups, they would put me on a domestic terrorist list. I’d love to tell you I didn’t flinch, but I was terrified.”
How can this possibly be the way that law and domestic security are pursued in 21st-century America? Will Potter’s short talk about the way in which the nation’s security agencies attempted to co-opt him, then a Chicago Tribune journalist, should send chills down all our spines. Pair this with the recent news that the Supreme Court apparently doesn’t give two figs about a journalist’s right to keep a source secret, with New York Times journalist James Risen the latest writer at risk of going to jail, and it seems like Houston, Washington, Kansas City, Denver … we have a problem.
American lawmakers are becoming ever-more Kafkaesque in their contorted attempts to reassure us that they’re working in our best interests while suppressing, cajoling and outright bullying those who might hold a different point of view, or who might perhaps attempt to question the status quo. The power exerted by corporations over politicians leads to policies that feel, frankly, contemptuous of the human rights of American citizens — and its creatures. The “ag-gag” laws that aim to criminalize whistleblowing and make it illegal to photograph animal cruelty are the latest example of a topsy-turvy system that rewards money and influence.
It’s easy to become bitter and apathetic in the face of such apparent cynicism. That’s why I’m glad to see folks like Potter who aren’t quite so ready to throw in the towel. Check out his Kickstarter campaign, which looks to combine drone photography with investigative reporting to shine a light on factory farming practices that simply cannot be in anyone’s best interest. A click of a mouse of support isn’t much, but it might stave off abject dejection at the state of the world for just another minute.