Writers’ Writing They Don’t Want To Be Read
Writers can’t have control over who reads their published work. To publish is to choose to make public. However, they should have control over what work they do not wish to make public. What one doesn’t choose to publish is private, and nobody’s bloody business.
As we learn more and more about the extent of government surveillance, it becomes apparent that not just writers, but everyone, lacks control of what they wanted—and naively believed—to be private. It is like censorship has been flipped on its head. Censorship prevents writers from making their work public. This ubiquitous governmental spying prevents writers from being able to keep anything private.
Amnesty International and the writers’ organization, PEN, work to free writers who have been imprisoned for what they’ve published. Now these organizations also have to work to free writers who are being persecuted even for what they didn’t choose to make public.
It isn’t just writers that should be concerned with this Stasi-like invasion of privacy. James Bamford in a recent piece for The New York Review of Books, quotes what U.S. senator Frank Church wrote back in 1975 about the NSA’s increasing power…
“There would be no place to hide. If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know… That is the abyss from which there is no return.”