Clayton Gillis: “You know, someday we’ll be cross-indexed on computers not only according to our individual traits and characteristics, but also as we relate to various groups we may play a part of…job force, church force, political force.”
Sam: “Well, it does sound to me like you’re rubbing up against a few personal freedoms there. You know, spread-eagling a man’s thoughts and life across a machine.”
Clayton Gillis: “The Constitution of the United States was devised to accommodate change. We give up certain freedoms in return for protection. Now society can protect us from crime and criminals. That, in itself is a new freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. We get something…we give up something. That’s progress .”
The dialogue quoted above sounds like something that might be traced to a movie made in the 1990s. Or, possibly, to a TV show that managed to eke out a spot on a network lineup somewhere between the overdose of reality shows that marked the early 2000s. Certainly the little snippet of conversation taking place between Clayton Gillis and someone identified only as Sam has all the earmarks of post-AOL American civilization.
Even more to the point, the dialogue quoted above might actually be an excerpt from official government document or transcript from a Congressional hearing in the days following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Who is Clayton Gillis, exactly? One of the underlings of Bush and Cheney put in charge of dismantling the First Amendment so they could spy on Americans at will and without the necessity for warrants or otherwise detested Constitutional protection against eavesdropping?
Or maybe Clayton Gillis is some goon from Google who is explaining why that company’s continued intrusion into the privacy rights of individuals almost seems to exploded into a court proceeding on a monthly basis. Just exactly who are this Clayton Gillis and the man named Sam who raises concerns about the personal freedom at risk when computers are used to collect and collate data on tracking a person’s life based on their character traits?
Would you believe that the conversation quoted above that foresaw the excuses forwarded by the Bush and Cheney administration and further deepened by the Obama administration that improving our security meant relieving us of our right to privacy comes from an episode of “McCloud”? Would you further believe that this episode of “McCloud” that foretold with a specificity and clarity that puts Nostradamus to shame the rise of Creepy Uncle Google poking his nose into every single facet of your life as a way to reduce your humanity and dignity to the size and complexity of a Universal Price Code aired on October 14, 1973!
The episode is titled “Butch Cassidy Rides Again” and manages to tie its convoluted plot all the way from the last desperados of the Wild West to the Bush-Cheney-Obama nexus of NSA intrusion in the cell phones and internet surfing that was unthinkable at the time of airing to the ability of creepy Uncle Google to commodify people who have never even directly used one of their services. Thanks to Creepy Uncle Google, we are all cross-indexed on computers according to individual traits, characteristics and as a result of political forces .
Thanks to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s insidious plan that began well before any plane crashed into the World Trade Center, enough Americans were easily enough duped into buying their propaganda about the necessity to give up certain freedoms in return for allegedly greater protection that the genie let the bottle long enough. The only thing that Cayton Gillis go wrong was that we would have freedom from fear. In fact, it was precisely a mostly manufactured fear that never really existed that resulted in our losing freedoms in the blink of an eye that had only been gained over the course of thousands of years of struggle against the very same kind of authority that Bush and Cheney assumed they were entitled.
Who is Clayton Gillis? Clayton Gillis is a character who working for Brinkman Securities. A heuristics analyst who feeds data into a computer in order to get even more important data out of it. Clayton Gillis is every NSA data miner who reads your emails, listens in on phone conversations and treats you like a criminal suspect when you have done nothing wrong. Clayton Gillis is your Creepy Uncle Google statistically compiling information about you based on every single topic you search the internet for and ever single bit of information on a page that search lands on–whether it actually contains anything of interest to you or is just another blind alley that makes up so much of the first page to come up after a Google search–in order to sell that information to millions of other creepy salesmen–which is basically what Google is–so they can try to sell you stuff.
The TV cop show “McCloud” was never considered particularly groundbreaking stuff at the time it aired. But today it s episode titled “Butch Cassidy Rides Again” stands as a towering bit of prescient prognostication of a future most viewers at the time could not possibly have imagined possible.