The World is Crashing
The Government is Coming for Us
"And if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there’s always soma to give you a holiday from the facts. And there’s always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering. In the past you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now.
The Surveillance State
George Orwell’s 1984 warns of an impending surveillance state. However, many argue that the surveillance state has already arrived, especially in a post 9/11 period. There is an unanimous opinion that a surveillance state would be rejected by the people, possibly even violently. That may not be the case. In the United States, there is a separate court system that deals exclusively with NSA surveillance, approving nearly every request for anonymous surveillance with impunity. The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA PATRIOT Act), which allows the various branches of the U.S. government to research and “obstruct” any person, group, or idea believed to support or advertise any domestic or foreign terrorist activities, was passed with overwhelming support in the House of Representatives and only one member voting against in the Senate, with one abstention.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) is a panel of judges that approves nearly every single request to snoop that the NSA asks for — in fact, “1,856 applications in 2012 to the FISA Court for electronic surveillance and physical searches for "foreign intelligence purposes," the Justice Department said. None were denied, but 40 were modified to some extent. Only one such request was withdrawn by the FBI, (“What is the FISA Court”). The Court’s eleven judges are appointed unilaterally by Chief Justice John Roberts. And what shows the covertness of the court is that the location where the judges meet is secret. The PATRIOT Act amended many sections of existing laws, allowing the surveillance and wiretapping of a specific person or facility without warrant, statement of purpose, or identity of the suspected terrorist.
George Orwell wrote 1984 in 1948 — 66 years ago. Yet, the system he warned of, of incessant government spying and of limitless surveillance, has been in place for decades (or even a century, depending on one’s interpretation).
These are not the only ways for the American government to spy on its citizens: the NSA has PRISM and the Hemisphere Project; the FBI Magic Lantern and CIPAC; and even the Postal Service has its own surveillance program — Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program. Having these programs does constitute a dystopia. They have functions in society and keep us protected. It is a dystopia because, like in 1984 there are no limits on the government’s surveillance programs. The argument that the safety of the community outweighs the loss of individual freedom was only true until a certain point, and I believe we have crossed that point.
Claudia. "What Does the PATRIOT Act Allow the Government to Do?" The UltraViolet RSS. N.p., 20 Oct. 2013. Web. 04 Dec. 2014. <http://www.theultraviolet.com/wordpress/2013/10/what-does-the-patriot-act-allow-the-government-to-do-2/>.
Mears, Bill, and Halimah Abdullah. "What Is the FISA Court?" CNN. Cable News Network, 17 Jan. 2014. Web. 04 Dec. 2014. <http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/17/politics/surveillance-court/>.
Purple Pills by D12 and Brave New World
D12, a rap group which has Eminem has its lead rapper, produced a song called “Purple Pills,” released in 2001. The song is mainly about drugs and how it effect their actions. This is similar to Brave New World in that taking drugs — soma and pills, respectively — makes the users numb, disconnected from society and their own humanity. In the song, they rap about murder, licentious behavior, and general lawlessness as a result of taking “Blue and yellow purple pills.” This is clearly similar to Brave New World in that after taking soma, the similar results occur, especially licentious and immoral behavior. After taking soma during the Solidarity Service, Bernard participates in twelve-person orgy. In the song, similar sexual behavior results after taking colorful pills. “A gramme is always better than a damn . . . A gramme in time saves nine . . . One cubic centimetre cures ten gloomy sentiments . . . Everybody’s happy nowadays . . . Every one works for every one else . . . When the individual feels, the community reels . . . Never put off till to-morrow the fun you can have to-day . . . Progress is lovely” (Chapter 6, Huxley), a sleep-teaching saying in the book, is similar to the gist of “Purple Pills.” Any issue that arises in the song’s storyline is always solved with a dose of drugs. Both the book and the song advocate drug use in order to solve our own personal problems and both advocate untenable, vile behavior. The theme of Brave New World is based on government-supported drug use of soma and how it results is widespread, emotionally-disconnected sex. The theme of “Purple Pills” is the same.
Genetically Modified Organisms Are Not All Dangerous
Genetically Modified Organisms have been solidified as evil in the minds of those who are conscious about his or her health. Entire new agricultural industries have sprouted from the seeds of organic and “natural” (in quotations because there is no definition of natural, so many unnatural foods are advertised as natural) companies, claiming GMOs are inherently dangerous to our health and environment. However, research shows that this is not true. GMOs has saved millions of lives by making agricultural products grow more efficiently and reliably. GMOs have made food cheaper for consumers, especially for the impoverished. GMOs are also very common in our daily lives as well, so those complaining of the dangers of GMOs are likely consuming GMOs themselves.
The world’s population currently sits at 7.125 billion people, 22.5 times the population of America alone. And by 2050, the population is expected to grow by two billion people ("Core Truths: 10 Common GMO Claims Debunked"). We have to find ways to feed the ever growing population, and GMOs are one of the quickest ways to achieve sustainability. GMOs have already significantly boosted crop out-put, saving an estimated billion lives already. Genetically modified organisms allow for more efficient growth of crops. They allow farmers to plant seed genetically resistant to natural poisons of pests and more resilient in their sustainability in environmental extremes. Most importantly, they drastically reduce the burden of food production on land. Otherwise, the world hunger crisis would be much worse.
More than 90% of soybeans and 80% of corn and cotton planted in the United States are genetically modified organisms (“The Incidental Economist”). The notion that GMOs or so dangerous that the FDA must stop them is false. GMOs have already been approved for mass consumption because they have posed no risk to society and public health. Many people believe that messing with an organism’s genes and DNA is dangerous; however, they must keep in mind that this occurs naturally. This is how DNA mutations arise and evolution marches forward. For those mistrusting of government research and ignoring the FDA’s findings, the Institute of Medicine, a non-profit, non-governmental organization, concluded that “there was no evidence that GMO food posed any greater danger to people that conventionally grown crops (“The Incidental Economist”). Since the European Union has stronger consumer protections and regulations in place than does America and most other countries, I will leave this bit of information here: “The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that by technology, and in particular GMO's, are not per se more risky than conventional plant breeding technologies” (“A Decade of EU-Funded GMO Research”). A quarter century of research has exonerated GMOs. The American Medical Association, the US National Academy of Sciences, British Royal Society, and the World Health Organization all concur with the European Commission’s findings.
Scientific, hard data proves that genetically modified organisms are safe for human consumption. While there should be strict regulations on the production, sale, and use of GMOs, that does mean the government should ban them.
Abdullah, Halimah. "What Is the FISA Court?" CNN. Cable News Network, 17 Jan. 2014. Web. 06 Dec. 2014. <http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/17/politics/surveillance-court>.
Borell, Brooke. "Core Truths: 10 Common GMO Claims Debunked." Popular Science. N.p., 11 July 2014. Web. 06 Dec. 2014. <http://www.popsci.com/article/science/core-truths-10-common-gmo-claims-debunked>.
Carroll, Aaron. "The Incidental Economist." The Incidental Economist. N.p., June 2014. Web. 06 Dec. 2014. <http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/healthcare-triage-gmos/>.
GEOGHEGAN-QUINN, Máire. "A Decade of EU-Funded GMO Research." European Union, 2010. Web. <http://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/pdf/a_decade_of_eu-funded_gmo_research.pdf>.
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: Harper & Bros., 1946. Print.
"What Does the PATRIOT Act Allow the Government to Do?" The UltraViolet. Marlborough School, 20 Oct. 2013. Web. 06 Dec. 2014. <http://www.theultraviolet.com/wordpress/2013/10/what-does-the-patriot-act-allow-the-government-to-do-2/>.