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Edward Snowden and the Death of Nuance 388

Posted by samzenpus
from the cut-and-dry dept.
Trailrunner7 writes "As the noise and drama surrounding the NSA surveillance leaks and its central character, Edward Snowden, have continued to grow in the last few months, many people and organizations involved in the story have taken great pains to line up on either side of the traitor/hero line regarding Snowden's actions. While the story has continued to evolve and become increasingly complex, the opinions and rhetoric on either side has only grown more strident and inflexible, leaving no room for nuanced opinions or the possibility that Snowden perhaps is neither a traitor nor a hero but something else entirely."
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Edward Snowden and the Death of Nuance

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  • hero (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:09AM (#46108835)

    Because a traitor wouldn't have the balls to go public, exposing him/herself.

    • Re:hero (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ifiwereasculptor (1870574) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:23AM (#46108917)

      Thanks for making the same point as the article with your "obviously Y because X". I don't think Snowden brought it. We've seen multiple times right here with Android vs iOS, Windows vs Linux, GPL vs Apache/BSD etc. People are forming opinions then sticking to them like sports teams. Nuance is out, and so seem to be reassessment and compromise. This is more evident in the US and I think it has to do with the polarized bipartisan system, but one can see it in other countries, too. I'd attribute it to the high bpm rhythm of communication and life. Too much news, too fast, the TV presenting them with headstrong showmen instead of analytical journalists because it makes for better ratings. It creates parrots who stick to a party's talking points, not critical thinkers. And, if you're being honest and really thinking about it, you can see yourself adopting such behaviour from time to time, automatically. It's somewhat concerning and probably not unrelated to the exponential growth of divorced couples. We don't know how to interact, we have firm, fixed beliefs and don't know how to deal with disagreement anymore, at least not in a productive way. All we do is drift towards those who think like we do and divide ourselves in thought factions.

      • Re:hero (Score:4, Insightful)

        by allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:03AM (#46109217)

        Nicely said. My thoughts exactly, except when mentioning US partisanship, I suppose there is also a lot of money, power, ego and ruthless self-interest involved -certainly not the "greater good" of the country- which makes this subject an order of magnitude more complex than what you outline above.
        Apart from this, I couldn't have said it any better. Kudos.

      • Re:hero (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:24AM (#46109459) Homepage Journal

        Yes and no. Maybe the notion of hero/traitor is just a social construct based on some sort of nationalistic fantasy into which we are indoctrinated from a young age. People's behavior and motivations tend to be a lot more complicated, but we want to be able to comfortably categorize a cultural figure into one role or the other.

        I get this every time I hear someone refer to anyone who served in the military as a "hero". Now, I know guys who served in the military because the choice was either that or jail and they did the absolute minimum, during peacetime, and got an honorable discharge by the skin of his teeth. But a radio talk show host would invariably call him a "hero" and say he's "making sacrifices to protect the rest of us", when in fact the guy was nothing but self-serving and spent his entire enlistment period getting drunk in base towns either stateside or in Seoul.

        And of course, if someone is a member of the opposing political persuasion, they will invariably be referred to as a traitor.

        I think it has something to do with our desire to see clear lines in life. If our viewpoints are challenged, even political viewpoints, our amygdala sends messages to the brain that our very life is in danger. This, of course, leads to some very unpleasant holiday dinners with relatives.

        We don't know how to interact, we have firm, fixed beliefs and don't know how to deal with disagreement anymore, at least not in a productive way.

        I think a great deal of this is by design. A divided society is one that's a lot easier to manage during crisis, and I think the people who rule our society prefer it that way. This great "divided nation" stuff tends to ignore that the agenda of people at the time stays the same no matter who is in power, while the rest of us are fighting over trivialities, as if our society was nothing but Packers vs Bears.

        Every bit of our news media is now party to promoting this "us vs them" mentality. And make no mistake, the corporations running those media are led by people who would deem themselves our rulers.

        • Being either a hero or a traitor requires a big act, yes, and I don't think anyone is disputing that Snowden made a big act.

          • by PopeRatzo (965947)

            Being either a hero or a traitor requires a big act, yes

            Not any more. You have people agreeing that Bill Maher is a traitor and Sean Hannity is a Real American Hero.

            The words have been devalued to the point where they no longer have any meaning.

        • I get this every time I hear someone refer to anyone who served in the military as a "hero".

          Yeah. Everyone in the military is a hero, even if they didn't actually defend us from any real threat. Participation in preemptive wars apparently makes people heroes, now.

      • Re:hero (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak@nosPAm.eircom.net> on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:34AM (#46109607) Homepage Journal

        Nuance is out, and so seem to be reassessment and compromise.

        Ridiculous. Nuance and compromise are just fine. The problem here is extremism.

        Organisations like the NSA and their supporters are extremists. It is extremist to suggest that every phone call, email, web page connection and Facebook Like should be monitored and recorded by a security agency. Extremist.

        A reasonable person would suggest some communications traffic me monitored. A hardliner would demand that more traffic be monitored. But only an extremist would call for absolutely all traffic to be monitored. I'm not sure what you would call someone who actually goes about doing so.

        We're supposed to put aside the dystopian scale of NSA surveillance, and sit down to debate "both sides" of this? There is no "both sides" here. We have a one group of dangerous megalomaniacs who want to monitor all communications traffic on planet earth and -- the rest of us.

        Naunce is fine. What the NSA is doing is wrong; wrong enough to blow all nuances right out of the water. You may as well asked people to be nuanced about a man building a hydrogen-bomb in his shed.

        • A reasonable person would suggest some communications traffic me monitored.

          Hopefully these "reasonable" people of which you speak also want the government to have to get warrants. Otherwise, I can't agree that they're reasonable.

      • Nuance is out, and so seem to be reassessment and compromise.

        I'd certainly agree that is my impression of a lot of issues in the US - you seem to have two extremes with no middle ground and while I no longer live there it does seem from the outside that the problem is getting worse and not better. It exists elsewhere too but nowhere near to the same extent as the US. However with Snowden I think you have an issue that is very likely to force people to one side or the other.

        Snowden broke extremely serious laws and severely embarrassed the US government and damaged

        • by PortHaven (242123) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:22AM (#46110247) Homepage

          I'll just point out that Snowden did NOT damage the U.S. reputation in any way. Getting caught for your actions, getting caught committing a crime, the loss of reputation is not due to the one who catches but for the one committing the actions.

          The behavior of the US damaged it's reputation.

          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            Exactly and to blame Snowden is as ridiculous as blaming Assange for Blackwater, the USA CHOSE to cover up for scumbags, the NSA CHOSE to fuck over our friends by treating them no differently than we treated the USSR back in the day, all Assange and Snowden did was highlight how US taxpayer money was being flushed down the shitter.

            This is why our two party system just doesn't work, because what we've seen is there is NO party for decreased spying and less government, NONE. What we need is a "USA First" pa

      • Re:hero (Score:5, Informative)

        by asylumx (881307) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:58AM (#46109973)
        Trying to point out that he *might* be considered both a traitor AND a hero, I've gotten modded to oblivion multiple times. No wonder people drift toward one side or the other, if anyone in the middle gets systematically ignored.
      • People are forming opinions then sticking to them like sports teams. Nuance is out, and so seem to be reassessment and compromise.

        I am firmly of the opinion that people do not stick to their opinions like sports teams. And if you try to tell me I'm wrong, I'll punch you in the throat.

    • Re:hero (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Coeurderoy (717228) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:28AM (#46108947)

      Not true, and not really relevant...

      Any traitor is seen from the point of view of the "victim" if the "victim" ends up winning....

      A "traitor" is somebody who breaks the trust of whomever has trusted him(or her) in order to give power to "another" entity...

      But s/he can do this for gain (bad traitor) or "the greater good as s/he sees it" (good traitor, if his part wins ...)

      And a "good traitor" might "go public" or not depending on the situation...

      I doubt very much that ES wanted to help any of the "currently declared enemies of the US"....
      So if General Alexanders would accuse him of being a "misguided useful idiot" he might have a point, accusing him of being a "traitor" is just a way of labeling him and doing character assassination ... probably because he absolutely knows that ES is not a traitor...

      This still does not necessarily makes him an hero, .... or not ...

      • Re:hero (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Nerdfest (867930) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:09AM (#46109279)

        Traitor to the NSA, hero to the USA, its citizens, and those of many other countries?

        • Re:hero (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Will.Woodhull (1038600) <wwoodhull@gmail.com> on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:10AM (#46110115) Homepage Journal

          Among other things, Snowden has demonstrated that a traitor can be a hero, and that "traitor" and "patriot" are not mutually exclusive terms.

          One of the worst things that could happen right now is for Snowden to be brought to trial. There is no good outcome that could come of that. He is best left in legal limbo, his legal status undefined.

          The USA could try to strike a bargain with Snowden: give him back his passport and an ironclad promise not to extradite him or do any kind of "extraordinary rendition" in exchange for his agreement to never set foot in the USA or attempt to bring his case before a USA court. The ancient Greeks came up with the concept of ostracism for persons of Snowden's ilk. The USA should ostracise Snowden, and get on with the work of purging the NSA of those managers and policy makers who do not have the ethics needed in their positions of power, and cleaning up the mess those assholes have created.

          • by dkleinsc (563838)

            One of the worst things that could happen right now is for Snowden to be brought to trial. There is no good outcome that could come of that.

            There are at least 2 valid legal defenses for Snowden if he were actually in a courtroom:
            1. The Espionage Act prohibits releasing information that could be used to injure the United States. That requires the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the information could in fact injure the United States, not just the current administrators of the NSA or a particular program of the NSA. Since the NSA has yet to point to a single instance in which any of the intercepted information from the program

          • Re:hero (Score:5, Insightful)

            by melikamp (631205) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @01:21PM (#46112353) Homepage Journal

            Snowden has demonstrated that a traitor can be a hero

            No, he demonstrated that a hero will be called a traitor by the actual traitors he exposed.

            traitor (noun) One who violates his allegiance and betrays his/her country; one guilty of treason; one who, in breach of trust, delivers his country to an enemy, or yields up any fort or place intrusted to his defense, or surrenders an army or body of troops to the enemy, unless when vanquished; also, one who takes arms and levies war against his country; or one who aids an enemy in conquering his country.

            When did he betray USA? When he exposed massive surveillance, which is almost certainly unconstitutional? When he exposed the fact that NSA is operating without any practical oversight? Or the fact that most (if not all) of the Congress has no right to know whether they are being spied on? Or the fact that the highest NSA officials lied, and continue to lie under oath? He broke a low, granted. That makes him a criminal, not automatically a traitor. And in this instance, it also makes him a hero, since the law he broke is oppressive and should have never been on the books.

    • He's Batman (Score:5, Interesting)

      by plover (150551) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:40AM (#46109023) Homepage Journal

      He's the villain Gotham needs today.

    • Truth, Lies and Bullshit http://homepages.abdn.ac.uk/ma... [abdn.ac.uk]
    • Re:hero (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TWiTfan (2887093) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:48AM (#46109099)

      I don't believe in heroes. For all I know Snowden is a complete shitheel as a person. Maybe he beats his girlfriend, hates The Eagles, and thinks Louis CK is overrated. That said, I do admire him for having the guts to reveal what was a clear government violation of the Constitution (in the only way that would actually result in any action), and sacrificing any future he might have in the U.S. to do it.

      • Re:hero (Score:5, Funny)

        by meta-monkey (321000) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:15AM (#46110177) Journal

        What's wrong with hating The Eagles?

  • This just in... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:10AM (#46108839) Journal

    "World isn't black and white"

    News at 11. /facepalm.

    • Re:This just in... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:28AM (#46108949)
      Edward Snowden is not "central" to this debate (if you can call it that). The illegal acts of the NSA are central to the debate - Snowden is just a messenger. Only propaganda spin-meisters want to make the debate about "characters", mainly because it is completely irrelevant. No thanks for trying, Trailrunner7.
      • I disagree. A large part of the debate is about Snowden's conduct; whether it's right to share state secrets, given what the NSA is doing. Note that this is an issue not entirely dependent on whether the NSA is justified in their actions or not.

        • Re:This just in... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:39AM (#46109693)

          I disagree. A large part of the debate is about Snowden's conduct;

          Only when "propaganda spin-meisters" are crowing away to all who will still listen. It is not a debate when discourse limited and narrowed to concentrate on the messenger rather than the much more important message. It is a well known propaganda technique for deflecting and distracting from the real issue at hand - i.e. the illegal acts of the NSA and the incompetence/malice of the politicians who give them free reign.

    • by raynet (51803)

      Yeah, I hate these binary people, the truth is that the world is ternary.

      • Yeah, I hate these binary people, the truth is that the world is ternary.

        Yes.
        No.
        Maybe.
        (cross out as appropriate)

      • by Kjella (173770)

        B5 fan? "Understanding is a three edged sword: your side, their side, and the truth."

      • Yeah, I hate these binary people, the truth is that the world is ternary.

        Simple viewpoints for simple people.

        Reality has shades of gray, colors, musical notes, smells and temperature ranges, just barely getting started.

        Unfortunately, that's just too much for most people, it seems. So they invent a shadow projection of it all and live in the shadows.

    • "World isn't black and white"

      *Gets killed on a zebra crossing!*

    • Re:This just in... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jythie (914043) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:46AM (#46109075)
      Sadly, so many people believe to their core that the world is black and white that it is kinda news. News they will discount and then ignore,....

      Simple ethics are REALLY important to many people, they build their whole framework on the basic idea and interpret not only the actions of others but their own behavior through it. Adding in complexity opens up the possibility that they have in the past acted unethically, which makes them uncomfortable.
    • Re:This just in... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:21AM (#46109425) Homepage

      "Either you're with us, or you're against us." -- hardly invented by G. W. Bush

      There's a reason it's called the silenty majority, the extremists on either side of any issue tend to get extremely vocal. In a shouting match with "No, black!" "No, white!" "No, black!" "No, white!" suggesting "Umm... gray? Green? Yellow?" will get you carved to pieces by both sides for insinuating that it's not [black/white, depending on who's doing the carving]. See vi vs emacs for further examples.

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:10AM (#46108841) Homepage Journal

    How have people not noticed that we live in a society where EVERYTHING is a false dilemma. EVERY debate we have politically is a false choice.

    The biggest one is this constant claptrap of socialism vs. capitalism. If you think that we should have a national health system immediately you have a backwards yokel yelling about socialism. The U.S. isn't pure capitalistic and never has.

    Every debate is derailed because there is someone that can't think in a shade of gray. If you want to do something that a business doesn't like then you are anti-business. Conversely if you want to help a business then you're a capitalistic pig.

    We really HAVE to get past this if our society is going to move forward. The answers are almost never at the ends of the spectrum.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by korbulon (2792438)

      How have people not noticed that we live in a society where EVERYTHING is a false dilemma. EVERY debate we have politically is a false choice.

      The biggest one is this constant claptrap of socialism vs. capitalism. If you think that we should have a national health system immediately you have a backwards yokel yelling about socialism. The U.S. isn't pure capitalistic and never has.

      Huh. Spoken like a true LIBRUL.

      • Just to make sure, you're joking right ? the GP did make a rather correct point ..

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Isn't it sad that you have to ask nowadays?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by zippthorne (748122)

        They're not liberals.

        They're slavers and feudalists. They want to cement the power of the powerful by taking control of all aspects of our lives. They do it in the guise of charity, to numb us to the autonomy they are taking away a bit at a time.

        You can identify liberals by what they want to do - they want to legalize things for individuals; they want to increase liberty.

    • by SirGarlon (845873) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:24AM (#46108929)

      I don't think that represents the mentality of society as a whole. Just the media, because their financial incentive is to lock in an audience by tailoring their message.

      The sooner we realize that's poison to civic discourse, the faster we'll get back on track to a functioning democracy.

      • by plover (150551)

        Can we overcome that anymore? It used to be we all had to share the same media: there were only a few TV channels and a few newspapers to choose from. And yes, they were "slanted", but most editors realized they had a vested interest in at least catering a bit to everyone. There were exceptions, of course, with yellow rags like The Spotlight, but the rest of the population recognized the people who read them were the rabidly crazy conspiracy theorists, and they never became credible sources of news.

        Now, t

        • by s.petry (762400)

          In defense of the "Majority" what has been happening in media should be expected. As you point out, "News" used to keep things in check (at least to some extent). People are searching now for alternative media because the media is all on the same team and covering and distracting, not keeping the corruption in check. The "established media" gives big business the same benefits they give the Government.

          The majority has figured this out. Not only is Congress and the Presidents trust at an all time low, bu

      • by alexhs (877055)

        I don't think that represents the mentality of society as a whole. Just the media, because their financial incentive is to lock in an audience by tailoring their message.

        It is the society as a whole. Well, 90% to 95% of it. You and and your friends are probably educated people with critical thinking, but you're only a tiny part of "society".

        You have to consider that:
        _ even educated people can be subject to echo chamber, with the result of being wrong in good faith;
        _ some educated people are being wilfully deceptive, because they have some personal interest in doing so;
        _ media are propaganda. Most people don't go out of their way to check sources. What the media as a whole i

        • by asylumx (881307)
          Agreed. Blaming the media is just another excuse. It's the same as how Congress's approval rate is extremely low, yet in the last election most seats didn't change hands. In both cases, people are saying "everyone else is the problem, not me!" -- they said "vote out your incumbents" but still voted for their incumbents claiming their incumbent isn't the problem. They say "The media is bad!" but the still watch the same channel they always did, claiming their news source is better than the others.
          • It's the same as how Congress's approval rate is extremely low, yet in the last election most seats didn't change hands. In both cases, people are saying "everyone else is the problem, not me!" -- they said "vote out your incumbents" but still voted for their incumbents claiming their incumbent isn't the problem.

            What makes this complicated is that I think that's a reflection of America. My congressman _is_ a really good representative for me: he's a smart gay liberal who has started several successful tech companies. I vote for him because he's doing stuff I like. My aunt's congressman is a good representative for her: a pro-life, pro-gun conservative creationist pastor. She votes for him because he's doing stuff she likes.
            We'd like to think that there's a logical disconnect between "congress is crazy" and "my

    • No matter what you do or think. Someone, somewhere, will have a problem with it.
    • How have people not noticed that we live in a society where EVERYTHING is a false dilemma. EVERY debate we have politically is a false choice.

      The biggest one is this constant claptrap of socialism vs. capitalism. If you think that we should have a national health system immediately you have a backwards yokel yelling about socialism.

      Kinda like how, if you point out the flaws in a proposed national health system, some self-righteous asshat immediately calls you a 'backwards yokel?'

      Yea, I think it's really stupid when people act like that, too.

  • Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:10AM (#46108847)

    I can't say I've seen a non-editorial account in the Guardian or the Washington post that paints Snowden as a hero. Certainly not to the same extent that the NSA and GCHQ paint the very acknowledement of the documents' existence as treason. One side is stating cold, dry, unpleasant facts, while the other is engaged in a bunch of red-faced howling about traitors and national security.

    • Did you try to discuss the point with "people", the situation reminds me an old caricature about the "Dreyfus Scandal" end of the 19th century.
      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi... [wikimedia.org]
      (caption reads: A family Diner: "First of all let's not speak about the affair!" / "They did speak about it !" ...)

    • by synapse7 (1075571)
      Maybe I don't get it, but seems to me apposing Snowden's actions is like supporting communism, 80s style.
    • Wow, did you really not just notice the tremendous irony in your black-and-white portrayal of the situation...in an article that says black-and-white portrayals are precisely the problem?
  • by oldhack (1037484)

    We laud Snowden exposing NSA spying on citizens, but on the foreign actors. But then, the guy is a refugee now, and I suppose he has to throw a few bones to those who may consider giving him an asylum.

    In the end, it tells us we need better whistle-blower protection laws, so that the next Snowden needs not flee abroad and bargain with the devils.

  • by Coeurderoy (717228) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:19AM (#46108885)

    I suppose that the lack of "nuanced" approach to "the right attitude re: Snowden" is really a symptom of the "discoursive radicalisation" of US politics...
    The more the Right and the Extreme Right parties in the US monopolize the political discourse, and are really very very close in anything that really matters, the more the supporters of each part of the political theater demonize the other part.

    So telling that Edward Snowden was not a traitor in act or intention since his actions really didn't put the US in jeopardy, and he didn't want to, but wanted the US to change it's policies is not compatible with being conservative, nor even with being "responsible" in the current administration, since it would be a critic of the current president, and critics are not acceptable ever...
    Or alternatively telling that just maybe the process ES used was not the right one will put you "in bed with koukou warmongers"....
    In practice "not hurting anybody sentiments" makes it impossible to have any sane political discussion in the US except with a very small set of open minded persons who are able to disagree with you without thinking that this makes you a bad person, and are even able to believe that you or they might, just might change their mind if we go on discussing...

    I just hope that at some point enough people in the US will agree to vote for anybody except somebody who was already elected, and then maybe they will talk together about "what should we do next ...."
    but not holding my breath, for the time being it's just "YACOMTIE" (Yet another country only managed through its economy"

  • Valerie Plame, enough said.

    Actually, the good news here is that there is a widespread discussion about the story. And it looks like something will come of it.

  • Mate, it's us versus them and it's always been this way. And if you don't believe this then you can go fuck yourself.

  • Balance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vintermann (400722) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:28AM (#46108951) Homepage

    Seeking a false balance between the truth and the lies, is a common strategy when the lies have failed.

  • by jbmartin6 (1232050) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:29AM (#46108953)
    I think of it as the death of meaning. People nowadays rush to use words purely for their emotional flavor regardless of their meaning. Sort of like how "terrorist" now gets applied to all sorts of stuff that has nothing to do with attempting to spread terror. "Racist" or "sexist" have no meaning other than something a victim group doesn't like. In Snowden's case, calling him a traitor is absurd. No matter what you think about what he did, he didn't aid and abet the enemies of the US. That's what "treason" would mean in this case, it is very specific.
  • The building in SLC is so large, you can see it from space. Everyone knew about it. NSA just needed to make sure it was operating without a risk of a future shut down. They manufactures the Snowden controversy the same way all political scandals are manufactured -- first you are presented with the false choice that absorbs all the steam of opposing public opinion and then you are presented with the real choice of what they want to do when everyone is too jaded to oppose it. Harriet Miers/John Roberts wa
  • by TheloniousToady (3343045) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:33AM (#46108975)

    the opinions and rhetoric on either side has only grown more strident and inflexible

    It's a good thing that doesn't happen around here. Luckily, extreme opinions here are moderated by moderate moderators whose moderation moderately moderates the most immoderate opinions and rhetoric, no mater how strident and inflexible they may be modulated.

    leaving no room for nuanced opinions or the possibility that Snowden perhaps is neither a traitor nor a hero but something else entirely

    Can Snowden be called anything but a first-class patriotic hero of the highest order? Say what you will, but I, for one, ain't ever gonna buy it.

    (Note for immoderate moderators: the preceding was satire, not trolling. Please don't take it personally.)

  • by lophophore (4087) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:41AM (#46109031) Homepage

    God forbid you offer "nuanced" opinions on /. -- you'll get downmoderated as a troll. There is no tolerance here, even though most of the readers and moderators would tell you they are very tolerant.

    People have their prejudices, and those color their views on every bit of information they receive, and if your opinions don't agree, then you must be the idiot. This is as true on /. as in the real world, though perhaps it is more obvious here than in RW, the vitriol spewed in various flame wars here go beyond what would be considered "fighting words" if uttered to a person's face.

  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:44AM (#46109053) Journal
    I gave the article the benefit of the doubt until I got to this line.

    Though he started by revealing NSA collection programs that some judges have now declared illegal [threatpost.com], such as the metadata program,

    Following the link, one finds another article on the same site which states:

    For those who do not understand what that says, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is not a part of the judicial system and is not "some judges". The PCLOB can claim something is illegal until they are blue in the face, the ONLY part of the government that can make a determination that something is truly illegal is the judicial branch. The executive branch can believe a program is illegal and not implement or end it. But, it can't determine actual legality. If it could, then anyone who did anything the executive branch said was illegal, this means anyone ever charged in federal court, would be automatically guilty. There would be no need for a court or judges and we would be ruled by a totalitarian king, not a president.

    This factual error, which appears to me to be a deliberate and outright lie, invalidates the author's entire line of reasoning and calls into question all the premises upon which it is based.

  • Opinions are like assholes, everyone's got 'em. However, they are *just* opinions and thus should not be incorporated into your decision making process. Even the grossly ignorant have opinions after all, should we start incorporating those in to the equation too?

    Snowden's status is remarkably simple; The US government is violating the 4th amendment. Snowden exposed this at great risk to himself. ie; Hero.

    Of course with Snowden being the hero and patriot in this little tale, what does that make our gover

  • by lophophore (4087) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @08:55AM (#46109147) Homepage

    General Keith Alexander. Meant well (trying to protect Americans), lied under oath to congress, violated federal laws. Knew it was wrong. Should be punished.

    James Clapper. Meant well (trying to protect Americans), lied under oath to congress, violated federal laws. Knew it was wrong. Should be punished.

    Edward Snowden. Meant well (trying to protect Americans), stole and released classified materials, violated federal laws. Knew it was wrong. Should be punished.

    The fact that Snowden is being pursued for what he did, while Alexander and Clapper appear to be getting off scott-free is the biggest hypocrisy ever.

  • by Akratist (1080775) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:25AM (#46109473)
    Nuance requires looking at both sides of an issue, weighing the information, then coming to a conclusion that there are situations which don't fit a template. In America, our educational system is reduced to teaching to the test, so only basic pieces of information matter. Critical thinking is discarded, because it does not produce good semi-automatons who trot out every two years and fill in the bubble next to a D or an R. All thought has to be as part of a template, because we are urged to give up our individual identities, priorities, and heuristics to become sheep-like consumers, citizens of sports-team and music "nations," and so on. Really, to be honest, to understand the Snowden situation requires having enough depth and background in political history to see where mass surveillance inevitably leads, the dangers of the state which grows too large, etc, and then to be able to analyze the present stage by using those facts to form some sort of model. Sadly, that's a skill which is vanishing in America, because we have been on top so long that few people feel "hungry" enough to learn and think for themselves.
  • by thomst (1640045) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:27AM (#46109501) Homepage

    The article [threatpost.com] to which this piece points is an opinion piece. The author points out that Snowden's "latest revelations" may compromise current field operations and/or operatives.

    The central problem with that claim is that SNOWDEN HAS MADE NO NEW REVELATIONS. *All* of the revelations from "Snowden" are actually revelations made by one or more of the journalists to whom Snowden gave copies of his stolen documents. All of them. Snowden himself has refused to reveal ANYTHING that THEY have not already published, on the grounds that he considers himself to be unqualified to properly strike the balance between preserving national security and revealing information that is clearly in the public interest. Instead, he has left it ENTIRELY up to the journalists to whom he gave the information to make those decisions.

    But don't take my word for it. Listen to the man himself. [magnet]

  • by idontgno (624372) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:42AM (#46109745) Journal
    No, wait, polarization massively sucks!
  • by Sporkinum (655143) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:47AM (#46109823)

    My first thought with this headline is what did Snowden do to kill Nuance, the speech recognition company?
    Then I realized they capitalized a wrong word.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:49AM (#46109841)

    Who gives a flying fuck about what entirely different thing the messenger is? You don't shoot the messenger, why would you over analyse the messenger? This is the crux of what makes ad hominem a fallacy. THE MESSAGE IS MORE IMPORTANT. The leaks revealed that our worst fears had come true. Everything else is bullshit indirection.

    Focus on the solution, not the problem.

  • by trongey (21550) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:02AM (#46110015) Homepage

    A few months ago I ran across a study about the polarizing effect of internet forums. As I understood the theory, they thought that we all have these black/white ideas, but they're normally moderated by social interaction. Unfortunately the ease and anonymity of internet communcation allows us to express the exremeties of our beliefs without any social cost.

  • by rbrander (73222) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:08AM (#46110097) Homepage

    When Krushchev said "we will bury you" at the UN, he *meant* "we will be around after you are gone" like "a son buries his father". It was a common Russian expression, and we had access to fine, nuanced Russian translators. Instead it became this famous threat of nuclear Armageddon, please pass the collection plate for more nukes of our own.

    You can see similar rush-to-exaggerate in rhetoric that led up to WW1. I'm trying to think of a time when leaders in particular did NOT want to paint their side of a political dispute as heroism and the other side as villany. Coming up dry. Anybody? Is there a history major in the house who can point to us some long-lost "Age of Nuanced Political Dispute" ?

    • by Arker (91948) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:08AM (#46110857) Homepage

      "When Krushchev said "we will bury you" at the UN, he *meant* "we will be around after you are gone" like "a son buries his father". It was a common Russian expression, and we had access to fine, nuanced Russian translators. Instead it became this famous threat of nuclear Armageddon, please pass the collection plate for more nukes of our own."

      And more recently when a certain Persian was widely reported to have said "Israel must be wiped off the map" (and people still repeat this every day) what he actually said is reported by competent translators as more along the lines of "the regime occupying Jerusalem will one day vanish from the pages of time."

      It's nothing new. War is a racket, and that means it has a marketing department.

  • by PortHaven (242123) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:32AM (#46110387) Homepage

    The Founding Fathers were considered traitors by the British.
    Patriots by the Colonials.

    Snowden is considered a traitor by NSA and government cartal and the Americans that support that system.
    Snowden is considered a hero and patriot by Americans who believe in liberty and that our government should not be abusing power.

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:58AM (#46110737) Homepage

    Be careful here. We must distinguish the difference between "extreme" and "principled."

    Snowden's initial leak showed violations of the law and the constitution. If that was his only leak, lots more people would call him a whistleblower. But other leaks by Snowden show perfectly good, legal, constitutional countintelligence programs. It is perfectly valid to say he is a whistleblower for one leak but a traitor for the other. THAT ISN'T NUANCE.

    Nuance is "a subtle difference in or shade of meaning, expression, or sound." If one leak was completely black, and another completely white, we should not mix them together and call the result gray and nuanced. If someone murders person A then saves person B, we don't compromise and call it manslaughter. We say they are guilty on one count, and not guilty on another. We need to look at Snowden this way.

    Do we have a lack of nuance, or a lack of principles?

    In the US, we have a constitution that lays down the basic theoretical philosophical principles of government. People who react loudly when the government violates those rules are principled. Principled means "acting in accordance with morality and showing recognition of right and wrong based on a given set of rules." Principled is not the same as extreme. Being principled is a good thing. If you are outraged by what the NSA did, do not let someone label you as "extreme" in order to bargain you away from your beliefs.

    But we have people in this nation who want to be able to get away with this stuff, while still claiming to follow the rules. They want the issue to look "nuanced," so that there is wiggle room to violate the principles. Do not let the "nuanced" view turn into a slippery slope that the government uses to skirt the law and erode the constitution.

    From the article:

    Saying that there may be some middle ground or grey area is seen as a sign of weakness, of moving off the party line.

    That is true. People need to be able to change their opinions, or not forced down an extreme side. That tendency is why we have these two ridiculous parties in America. People follow banners more strongly than they follow principles. But Snowden's leaks are not about party. It isn't flip-flopping to say leak A is one thing and leak B is another. These leaks are about our principles. This is not the time to back down. Back down on gray things like immigration, healthcare, spending, and tax codes. But for this one, follow the principles.

  • by tchdab1 (164848) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @12:13PM (#46111615) Homepage

    He's not a traitor, or a hero, he's a whistleblower.
    He points out what appears to be wrongdoing, and it's up to our system of justice to determine if that's true and fix it.
    After he points it out, the issue stops being about him. Except for people who are offended that they've been made accountable for crimes, and try to make the issue about him instead.

"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." -- John Wooden

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