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Big Brothers’ Big Brother

by James Lileks

Nothing sums up the demographic that went gung-ho for Obama like this: A Pew Research Center poll said that young people were the least likely to know anything about the NSA/PRISM story, and the most likely “to say they highly value their privacy.” If you told them the scandal’s particulars, they might pause from posting blurry cell-phone photos from Tequila Jello-Shot Nite on Facebook or Instagramming a picture of dinner with a location tag that tells everyone where they were at 7:03 p.m., and say, “Violating my privacy? The government? That’s my job.”

Young liberal voters may be unhappy about snooping, at first. If you believe the primary function of the government is to ensure small-business loans for cartoon Julias who want to hand-craft artisanal same-sex-wedding cake statuettes, then the idea that there are agencies devoted to surveillance and counterespionage is disheartening. But they’re realists: This stuff was always going on, and there’s only so much of the Augean stables the Hercules-in-Chief can shovel in five years, they’d say.

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