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Edward Snowden and the Death of Nuance

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the cut-and-dry dept.

Government 388

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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hero (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46108835)

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

Re:hero (4, Insightful)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about 7 months ago | (#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.

Or he's just another (-1, Troll)

mozumder (178398) | about 7 months ago | (#46108971)

Libertarian narcissist precious snowflake, of which 100% of Snowden supporters are.

We get it, your parents taught you that you were special and important and you can do anything you want when you grew up, so gubmint needs to stop getting in the way of how awesome you are!

Sorry kids, but you were taught incorrectly. Government will remain the central power in any society, not individuals. Your best bet as an individual is to figure out how you can derive your own strength from that power.

Remember, the central meaning of life is to gain power, of which everyone does in ever little thing they do.

And the biggest mistake libertarian narcissist precious snowflakes make is to think they have power over government. That is why they amusingly think their guns are going to protect them from a nuclear-armed federal government. (So funny.)

So, rather than make government weaker, which us socialists have no intentions of allowing anyways, your best response is to try and figure out how a strong, powerful government makes you more capable.

Once you figure that out, you'll figure out why government needs to be expanded, rather than limited. I would recommend you get on that program quick, as those in power have already figured out your fate for you.

In any case, one must never consider a high-school-dropout weasel to be a personal hero. He's the hero to the ignorant, not the intelligent. It's telling that no actual NSA employees support him, and these are the absolute smartest people in the world, doing far more insane innovative things than anything in private industry.

Another important tell that people are overlooking is how every single document release only confirms that the NSA is actively working hard to protect the privacy rights of Americans. Metadata is perfectly fine for government to collect. The Supereme Court has already stated so, in Smith vs. Maryland case, that metadata isn't private communications. And once it is established that metadata isn't private, government can do whatever it wants with that data. And for the actual private communications of US citizens (not metadata, which isn't private, and not foreigners, because fuck em), the NSA has filters to eliminate this data.

Think about it - if the NSA were actively trying to violate the privacy rights of Americans, why would they maintain a SECRET program to filter their data out?

Of course, the libertarian narcissist precious snowflake thinks too much of himself to think this through, so they continue to scream about how the NSA is bad.

Re:Or he's just another (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109069)

a nuclear-armed federal government

Can't tell if trolling, or if you're just that large of a dipshit.

But I'll bite. Tell me again how the Federal government would be able to deploy nuclear weaponry against its own citizens, even in the midst of a civil war, without losing every last shred of legitimacy it might have had? Yes, you'll need to account for the global ramifications.

Re:Or he's just another (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109255)

We must eradicate the terrorist insurgents to preserve our freedom!
U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Re:Or he's just another (1, Funny)

znrt (2424692) | about 7 months ago | (#46109305)

no actual NSA employees support him, and these are the absolute smartest people in the world, doing far more insane innovative things than anything in private industry.

there! so it was all a lie and they are not at microsoft!

(or ... maybe you even work for the nsa or [put equivalent gangster institution here] and are just another asshole enjoying the few crumbs of privilege and/or perceived superiority he can scrub off of what he spouts as being "deriving his own strength from power". and, you post it on ./, of course. hilarous).

Re:hero (3, Insightful)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | about 7 months ago | (#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 (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 7 months ago | (#46109363)

People are forming opinions then sticking to them like sports teams. Nuance is out

I don't know if it was ever in. I remember learning the Dialectic Method in college, the thesis-antithesis-synthesis thing, where you make your case then pre-respond to objections

It had nothing about the truth or trying to get there, and seemed to me at the time to be a grossly unethical activity.

Re:hero (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 7 months ago | (#46109459)

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.

Re:hero (5, Interesting)

Coeurderoy (717228) | about 7 months ago | (#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 (3, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 7 months ago | (#46109279)

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

Re:hero (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46108967)

We need to Polonium the treasonous asshole. He sold out his country and his people and fled to our former enemy. How much more evidence do you need? In the formative days of our democracy or the days where the Greatest Generation was running the show in WWII and after, this would not have even been an issue. Loose lips sink ships; you cut the dead weight and live to fight another day. His name will live forever with the likes of Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen and as far as I'm concerned if you put me in a room with him for an hour or so There would only be one of us leaving.

Re:hero (2)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 7 months ago | (#46109343)

We need to Polonium the treasonous asshole.

Cold Fjord, is that you?

In the formative days of our democracy...

In the formative days of our former democracy...

FTFY, you psychotic retard. :)

He's Batman (4, Interesting)

plover (150551) | about 7 months ago | (#46109023)

He's the villain Gotham needs today.

Re:hero (4, Interesting)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 7 months ago | (#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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109461)

Nope, he just did what his Chinese or Russian handler who promised him all these things, including becoming a world hero.

When someone decides to turn on their fellow countrymen and turn documents over, like Ames where rosters of employees and contacts (and their families) are turned over, those people quietly disappear and are never seen again.

So, with this in mind, there is a good possibility Snowden is a mass murderer, but is too stupid to care because he believes the propaganda from the Russians and Chinese.

Snowden is a dupe, pure and simple. At least Ames knew that people were going to die en masse due to his actions.

This just in... (4, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | about 7 months ago | (#46108839)

"World isn't black and white"

News at 11. /facepalm.

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

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about 7 months ago | (#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.

Re:This just in... (2)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about 7 months ago | (#46109167)

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... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109171)

Note the headline here: "Edward Snowden and the Death of Nuance". Not the decline of nuance. Not the end of nuance. Nuance was stabbed and left dying in the street, and it looks like Edward Snowden is involved somehow.

Re:This just in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109309)

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.

What was it that Nixon said? Something like: "Touch that scab [Howard Hunt/Watergate] and it will let out an awful lot of puss..." there was a rotting wound that was festering away long before Snwoden came along and lifted the scab.

Re:This just in... (2)

raynet (51803) | about 7 months ago | (#46108959)

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

Re:This just in... (1)

alex67500 (1609333) | about 7 months ago | (#46109121)

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

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

Re:This just in... (2)

Kjella (173770) | about 7 months ago | (#46109449)

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

Re:This just in... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46108995)

It is now. Nuance is DEAD. Dead! Says so in the summary. Not resting, injured, or awaiting a new savior. It is dead. Period. So now, welcome to your one bit future. Don't get caught dithering, either.

Re:This just in... (1)

jythie (914043) | about 7 months ago | (#46109089)

I was wondering if someone was going to point out that bit of irony ^_^

Re:This just in... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109335)

Irony? Oh, that died a while back now. We killed irony after 9-11, now nuance with Snowden, and just this morning the remote fell under the couch, so I'm stuck with a fixed sound volume, too.

Re:This just in... (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about 7 months ago | (#46109065)

"World isn't black and white"

*Gets killed on a zebra crossing!*

Re:This just in... (4, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about 7 months ago | (#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... (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 7 months ago | (#46109425)

"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.

False choice society (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 7 months ago | (#46108841)

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:False choice society (2, Funny)

korbulon (2792438) | about 7 months ago | (#46108881)

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.

Re:False choice society (1)

Coeurderoy (717228) | about 7 months ago | (#46108955)

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

Re:False choice society (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109025)

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

Re:False choice society (2, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | about 7 months ago | (#46109175)

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.

Re:False choice society (5, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 7 months ago | (#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.

Re:False choice society (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109091)

While I'd love to be as optimistic about things, at least in America, the truth of the matter is far more sinister. Humans are biologically incentivized to make easy choices, because it's more efficient. Thinking and choice really are hard on most people, so most people choose the easiest, most intellectually lazy path because it protects the ego, lets them spend more time on enjoyable things, and gives them a sense of superiority. Until we can create short term incentives to overcome intellectual laziness, I don't think you're going to see that change. Maybe a political site where you can only upvote people with the opposite political view of yours until you can prove that you're not a troll or an ideologue, with votes increasing as you increase your profile could encourage and gamify the compromise you're looking for. (Anyone is free to take that idea and run with it FYI)

Re:False choice society (2)

plover (150551) | about 7 months ago | (#46109205)

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, thanks to millions of blogs on the internet and a hundred cable news networks, you can easily find yourself getting news only from GreenieLeftistSocialistNews.com or RightWingBigCorporateNews.com and getting a message that delivers only one particular bias, tailored exactly to your worldview, with no desire to include any competing viewpoints. While the Huffington Post may not match the Spotlight in crazy unbalanced coverage, it certainly has an unabashed slant, and it's easy to see the readers are just as sure of the correctness of their ideas as any reader of the Spotlight ever was. Worse, there are no guarantees the writers for these sites ever had any journalism training, and they may not recognize the ethical responsibilities of their jobs (yes, a journalist still has the truth as his first duty.)

Oddly enough, sites like Slashdot occupy a unique position that may actually help. While editorial "integrity" here is a long-standing running joke, it brings together news about technology from all over the political spectrum. The articles are reposted from both the right and left points of view, and readers can at least get an occasional bit of perspective from "the other side".

Re:False choice society (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109371)

While editorial "integrity" here is a long-standing running joke

Perhaps if they could decide whether they're running or standing...

Re:False choice society (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 7 months ago | (#46109471)

The articles are reposted from both the right and left points of view, and readers can at least get an occasional bit of perspective from "the other side".

The comments help with that, too. Especially when the commenters are willing to engage with people who disagree. That happens here more often than most places I've seen.

Re:False choice society (2)

alexhs (877055) | about 7 months ago | (#46109219)

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 is saying, is what the society is saying, and the feedback loop (through the audience / financial incentives) ensures that this works consistently.
_ if you don't notice debate polarization in the population as a whole, it probably means that they just don't really care.

Re:False choice society (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 7 months ago | (#46109359)

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.

Which is even sadder because the media, if properly done, can be an effective check on government power and corruption. Fighting these requires people to be informed. The government's obviously not going to inform us of their abuses so we need someone else to. The media SHOULD be finding abuses like these and bringing them to light. Instead, we get an interview with a member of Congress on the subject of the NSA cut short [rt.com] because there's "breaking news" about Bieber. Unless he had just revealed that he's an alien from another planet - complete with iron-clad proof - those priorities were seriously out of whack.

We NEED the media for society to function in a healthy manner. We just need the media to act properly and they for the most part aren't. There might be pockets of actual journalism left, but they are increasingly being pushed aside by OMG BIEBER journalism and "We'll skew the facts to fit your already established political views so you don't need to think" journalism.

Fact of life #22 (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 7 months ago | (#46109155)

No matter what you do or think. Someone, somewhere, will have a problem with it.

Re:False choice society (1)

Racemaniac (1099281) | about 7 months ago | (#46109423)

Great comment :)

I completely agree with you, the endless battle between left and right is really annoying me lately, because it's indeed a false choice that doesn't make any sense. If you talk with people from both sides, in the end they want exactly the same thing, so what makes them left or right? mostly their position in society.

People who like to be in control, don't need or want to rely much on others, and don't need anything from society will choose right wing, because it's in their best interest, more social people, but also people in weaker positions or who prefer to collaborate more are more likely to go left wing since it's in their best interest.

I find myself a bit in the middle knowing people from both sides well, not really feeling much affinity with either side, and just getting really annoyed with both sides >_. Since i have a masters degree, and a good job, i'm more likely to vote right (well, europe style right, which is still pretty left for america), since it's more in my day to day/financial interests, but i don't really like either side that much, and neutral territory doesn't exist (and isn't allowed to exist anymore) -_-...

I also hope this nonsense will in the near future come to an end, as more and more people must get bored of it, start seeing trough it, and will want actual meaningful discussions and get people to vote for that aren't just a living stereotype of what right/left wing is supposed to be...

Really? (5, Interesting)

Sockatume (732728) | about 7 months ago | (#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.

Re:Really? (1)

Coeurderoy (717228) | about 7 months ago | (#46108989)

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 !" ...)

Re:Really? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 7 months ago | (#46109173)

If we want to talk about the vox populi, then that's another story, but the article is about the organisations involved and their supposed eagerness to polarise the issue. I can't say that the Snowden side has done much to make a martyr out of him except provide the documents.

Re:Really? (2)

synapse7 (1075571) | about 7 months ago | (#46108997)

Maybe I don't get it, but seems to me apposing Snowden's actions is like supporting communism, 80s style.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109093)

You made me look up "appose"! I think you mean "opposing".

Re:Really? (0)

cold fjord (826450) | about 7 months ago | (#46109315)

Apparently you've never heard of Kim Philby, and yes, you don't get it.

Re:Really? (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 7 months ago | (#46109071)

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?

Re:Really? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 7 months ago | (#46109245)

Even a continuum has extremes.

Re:Really? (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 7 months ago | (#46109419)

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?

Is it really? In this debate the black position is complete surveillance 24 hours a day 7 days a week of every citizen and everything he/she does and controlling what information the citizenry has access to at all times (in the name of national security and protecting the children of course). The white position is a complete end to all surveillance activity. Neither position is attainable, the question is simply where do we end up when the fight between black and white ends and the dust settles? Will it be dark-grey or off-white? It all depends on how fiercely the architects of the modern police state such as the NSA/FBI/CIA/MI6/MI5/Specialbranch are opposed by the citizenry ... i.e. it all depends on how apathetic the citizenry is.

Re:Really? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 7 months ago | (#46109479)

I think you're limiting your "People who say X" groups a little too thinly. The Guardian is a liberal newspaper that makes a point of being liberal in its pick of agendas rather than in being partisan in its use of facts. As a result, the Guardian will say (ourside of opinion pieces) "Here's another package of stuff about what the NSA is doing that we got from Snowden" rather than "HERO SNOWDEN UNMASKS TEH EVIL NSA!!"

As for the Post, it's crippled by the US media obsession with believing that objectivity = reporting both sides equally ("Views on shape of the world differ" as the old joke goes.) It cannot make any claims about Snowden's heroism or even play up the degree to which Snowden has risked his future livelihood because there are people opposed to what he's done.

That doesn't mean, however, that there aren't large numbers of people running around saying he's a hero.

On a seperate note, I notice this is the 500,000th article about Snowden on Slashdot's front page posted in the last hour alone: is it time that we put up a Kickstarter to create a file for 3D printers to produce our own Snowdens? We could use bitcoins to fund the entire thing..

maybe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46108849)

Snowden perhaps is neither a traitor nor a hero but something else entirely.

maybe he's a gay nigger

Re:maybe (0)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | about 7 months ago | (#46109311)

There seem to be recurrent posts concerning the sexuality of african-american men on Slashdot. I wonder, is this a way for you to express your fears, or rather, your secret desires and wildest dreams? Maybe you should visit a gay bar and approach a black man, to get to the bottom of it. Life is short and you might miss out on things which you may come to regret for the rest of your life.

Don't dream it, be it.

No negotioation (1)

TempleOS (3394245) | about 7 months ago | (#46108851)

Does God settle out of court? Hell no! God is fucken God almighty! Unconditional surrender, obviously, the hell are you thinkin, nigger?

Re:No negotioation (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 7 months ago | (#46108865)

Does God settle out of court? Hell no! God is fucken God almighty! Unconditional surrender, obviously, the hell are you thinkin, nigger?

If you believe that Crap then wasn't sending Jesus to undo the sentence for eating the apple settling out of court?

Re:No negotioation (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | about 7 months ago | (#46109005)

Not to mention that in the Gospel of Mathew Jesus specifically advises people to try and settle court cases rather than pursue litigation whenever possible !

A nuanced opinion of Snow (0)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 7 months ago | (#46108855)

What Snowden did was bravery bordering on foolishness.

The saddest part of the tale is that he would take it all back now if given a Mulligan.

Re:A nuanced opinion of Snow (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46108887)

No he wouldn't. He has stated he would do it again explicitly.

Re:A nuanced opinion of Snow (0)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about 7 months ago | (#46108927)

And snowden fits the normal type of sigint/elint worker who gets into trouble look at most of the previous cases at the NSA and GCHQ - young inexperienced milatery types seem to be the ones that leak secrets or get trapped by the KGB/FSB/GRU.

Re:A nuanced opinion of Snow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109133)

By the letter of what Snowden signed, he is a criminal. Most individuals working with government information must sign many non-disclosure agreements, with wording such as "punishable by termination or imprisonment." That said, there are other avenues he could have taken to blow the whistle and not have to run halfway around the world. Who knows whether those would have had the same effect or not. Occasionally you'll run into a manager who wants to make sure his image is squeaky clean, so he'll push any problems under the rug.

Legally, Snowden broke the law and, according to the law, should be brought to justice. Morally, he started the global conversation he intended. We'll see if change actually happens

Nah (2)

oldhack (1037484) | about 7 months ago | (#46108879)

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.

Re:Nah (0)

Megol (3135005) | about 7 months ago | (#46109007)

Anything not US == devils? Are you a fundamentalist?

Even non-US leaks are useful as they show that the NSA lies and spies even to/on co-operating nations, that they use the gained intelligence to do things not in their charter (industrial spionage) and that they just doesn't care what they are allowed to do - if it's possible they do it.

It's a literary reference (1)

Entropius (188861) | about 7 months ago | (#46109077)

"Deal with the devil" isn't meant to be taken literally; it's a reference to all the Faust-esque stories out there.

US Politics (2)

Coeurderoy (717228) | about 7 months ago | (#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"

Re:US Politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109079)

Or alternatively telling that just maybe the process ES used was not the right one will put you "in bed with koukou warmongers"

Well, the more diplomatic way to treat that opinion is to see it as being uninformed. The "right" process was also tried, not by Snowden but by others. It didn't lead to headlines since it was ineffective and the information never reached the people.

There are extremely polarized discussions where both sides are going to the extreme where they could meet a middle ground. One of them is gun control.
The discussion regarding Snowden isn't really one of those. There is just the side of the people and opposing that is the government shills with their cover-up.
No-one honestly believes that Snowden is a traitor or ever had the intention to be a traitor. Some people argue that he should be punished regardless but that is more of a philosophical standpoint about civil disobedience and upholding laws that can be discussed without brining Snowden into it.

The story is always about the person (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about 7 months ago | (#46108889)

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.

Re: The story is always about the person (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46108961)

No. Snowdens leaks are old now and nothing has happened. If anything this is confirmation that the powers that be can get away with whatever the fuck they want

People like to be divided (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46108921)

Taking sides seems to be the way of American culture these days. If a subject ain't divisive, it ain't news. Snowden is no different than scientific research, urbanization, abortion, welfare, drone surveillance, labor unions, farming, and the myriad other issues people line up on either side of. How often do people take the middle road, or the path less traveled on an issue, compared to the path of least resistance of aligning on one side or the other?

Perhaps this isn't the place to bring it up, but in all of these surveillance state and Snowden release articles, I don't see many people asking what I think are much more important questions:

If these revelations are almost all timestamped from 2009-2011, what new and scarier capacities have the relevant parties (NSA, GCHQ, primarily) developed since?

The people managing the Edward Snowdens within these organizations, and their bosses, must think about the implications of collecting so much data. What's the end game using these wildly advanced surveillance and data collection/storage capabilities? It's most certainly not about (or no longer about) something as relatively simple, ambiguous, and short-sighted as thwarting the very rare threat of "turrism." I suspect there's some longer, much more insidious play, but I can't quite grasp what it might be.

Nuance. (1)

korbulon (2792438) | about 7 months ago | (#46108923)

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.

Not mutually exclusive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46108937)

All these terms are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I have no problem accepting the view that Snowden betrayed his government by his actions, making him a traitor to it. I also have very little problems with these action to be classified as the actions of a hero.
Betrayal of the corrupt, warmongering, anti-privacy, bullying US government is something to aspire to for every American.

Something else entirely? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46108939)

Like an alien?

Re:Something else entirely? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 7 months ago | (#46109049)

Like a messenger. Focus in the message that is by far the important thing. Who cares how is dressed the mailman if the letter he brings tells you that your world is about to end?

Re:Something else entirely? (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about 7 months ago | (#46109113)

Focus in the message that is by far the important thing.

The message is extremely important, yes, but so is his conduct. That's what half the debate is about. He may be the mailman, but if he's opening the mail and delivering it deliberately to the wrong hands, the message itself is not the only relevant factor.

The question isn't about Snowden (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46108945)

and neither are the answers. The implied question is whether it was right or wrong to publish these documents. It isn't a matter of Snowden's personality or his motives. So by saying Snowden is a hero or a traitor, people give their opinion on the actual subject: The revelations about the surveillance. Can you have a nuanced opinion about that? Sure, but in the end you decide whether these things should come to light or not, and that's a binary decision.

Balance (4, Insightful)

Vintermann (400722) | about 7 months ago | (#46108951)

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

Death of Meaning (2)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | about 7 months ago | (#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.

Re:Death of Meaning (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about 7 months ago | (#46109199)

What you're describing is the use of implicit meaning in language in order to convince people of a point. Such a technique is known as rhetoric, and it's been around roughly as long as language itself.

Re:Death of Meaning (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 7 months ago | (#46109447)

Not to Godwin this thread, but I see the same thing with people referencing Nazis or The Holocaust. Whenever someone wants to refer to someone as being bad, they call them a Nazi. Obama is doing X that the GOP doesn't like? Call him a Nazi. The GOP advances policy Y that the Democrats don't like? Say that this is the Holocaust all over again. It's all rhetoric, of course. Neither side is really marching people en masse to their deaths. Neither side wants to see the obliteration of an entire group of people by violent means. However, Nazi and Holocaust are universally recognized as "Very Bad Things" and if you can tie something to those in people's minds, you can gather opposition to them. It's abusing the memory of those horrible events for political gain. In the process, it weakens the memory of how bad they were and polarizes the debate into an "us vs. them" mentality with no room for compromise.

snowden is still nsa (1)

superwiz (655733) | about 7 months ago | (#46108963)

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 was probably the most obvious exercise of this pattern. Here's a psychologist explaining the experimental evidence which demonstrates this pattern: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

Not around here (3, Funny)

TheloniousToady (3343045) | about 7 months ago | (#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.)

That is the alarming growth of extremism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109017)

As easy as it is to keep labeling terrorists as "extremists" only, we are all turning into extremists. Divisiveness has become such a huge part of our daily life that everything has to be one extreme pole or another. Common ground, understanding, compromise, etc. are forgotten concepts. Division makes it easy to sell to a group, it makes appealing to a group politically much easier, it makes ruling a populace much easier. We are letting this happen to ourselves. Instead of quickly flying to one extreme or another, realize that there is a vast middle ground and aim for somewhere in there.

/. a microcosm (2)

lophophore (4087) | about 7 months ago | (#46109031)

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.

no longer an ordinary citizen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109045)

highly prosecuted & persecuted. nominated for peace prize, getting offers of reconciliation etc... world wide. do we not already have words to describe that type of folks?

we never get to applaud anymore? http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=scott%20olsen&sm=3 not even allowed to use chalk... outdoors...

Lies, damned lies, and links (2)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 7 months ago | (#46109053)

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.

You don't have to incorporate opinion (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 7 months ago | (#46109059)

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 government?

Something else entirely (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109067)

Snowden perhaps is neither a traitor nor a hero but something else entirely

Is he actually a woman trapped in a man's body? Has he asked to have his name changed to Jenna?

He is just a sexulaly deprived geek.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109083)

Having nobody to fuck, finally he can fuck Uncle Sam as much as he wants and any time he wants.
Uncle Sam actually likes that and even offered him to go out to a nice room in Gitmo Hotel.

slashdot crowd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109085)

the loss of nuance is only in the readers of this article, namely Slashdotters, to impune this to the wider educated populace is an affront. Believe it or not mature and educated individuals of moral character "get it", get it? In fact were most likely aware of NSA surveilance long before it was outed by the national media circus. After all it was common knowledge reported in public domain, although non specific to details on how it was being done. And, gee, what's changed, really?

meant well, broke the law, should be punished (4, Insightful)

lophophore (4087) | about 7 months ago | (#46109147)

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.

Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109191)

Was anyone else thinking that they were talking about Nuance software and wondering what the two had to do with each other? Capitalized words change the nature of the word if it's not meant to be a capital.

Re:Confused (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about 7 months ago | (#46109253)

What do you think this is, a site for techies?

We've seen this before (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 7 months ago | (#46109263)

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

We've seen this before; it's called false balance [wikipedia.org] .

assertive spiritual metox side effects to try for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109317)

digits are nearly meaningless unless the author uses the language of the heart? just more S&M never a better time to consider ourselves in relation to one another & our lonely spirits...

Nuance Doesn't Exist Now (2)

Akratist (1080775) | about 7 months ago | (#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.

The 3rd option! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46109483)

I see other posters have already covered the black/white rhetoric, the false choice scenario, and removal of the rose colored glasses. My suggestion falls a little on the 3rd example there, but bare with me.

Snowden and what he has done, is best described as an inconvenience. But not in the way you think. He has moved the spot light to alliances, and an information sharing infrastructure, that has likely been in place for more than 40 years. That isn't necessarily the big reveal. The big reveal, is that, that infrastructure, is wholly used for acts that generations of children have been taught, that this country doesn't do. Spy on its own citizens. He has shown the light that the US Government, administration to administration, really does only care about power, control and money. That the core values preached by the founding fathers, taught in 8th grade Government class to millions of kids for the past 100 years, are to be trampled and cast aside. In short, he has shown America to be a farce. That the emporer, truly, does not wear clothes. And that it's not a king at the top, but a very large corporation that colludes individually, and as a whole, keeps its position secured.

That's the inconvenience. That even if we replaced most of the Senate, or Congress, or even put a semi-transparent POTUS in place, the machine is too big to fix overnight. It's that convenience, knowing that there is no simple solution that a piece of legislation that can reorder it all, showing that true failure of America, is what most people have a problem with. It's not that we invade countries abroad, or that we're hypocritical, despite us losing moral ground in the last 2 decades, or that we likely never had any to begin with. It's that when it comes down for our system of Government to knuckle down, and implement changes that the majority of people in the US know are better overall, and that the politicians themselves know are overall, they simply won't do it. Weak will? Fear of the unknown? Corruption? Legislative complexity? Skewed unimportance? There are others like line item, and Citizens United ruling that makes things worse, but those are only accomplices to the bigger problem.

And what is that you might ask? That as of right now, our system of Government, isn't working. Sure, it keeps the trains running, and it got us to where we are today, and WWIII hasn't commenced, but can you say with a straight face that things are right and just in the US? Can you say that the behavior that has come to light, against you, will get better in the present, or near future? No, you can't. No one can. That's the inconvenience. That's the limitation that Snowden has brought to light. That the majority of us have no say in the scheme of things. Our power is impotent. Yes, we can cast a vote, and that itself is a power, however there's a problem there. That power? Our little vote, is on a timetable. And it isn't something that can be changed.

I don't want to sound pessimistic, or defeatist, or even anti-American. That isn't my point. My point is that, what Snowden has shown, has made a lot of people uncomfortable. Other than that powers that be. He's shoved the unthinkable, right into the face of people who would have rather had their head in the sand. And now they're faced, without a corner to go to, to decide just how they want to participate in the country that they so vocally love. They've been forced to join the discussion. And that, is an inconvenience.

Everybody's a hero (1)

wytcld (179112) | about 7 months ago | (#46109499)

Look, Hitler was a fucking hero, to the Germans. There's no ultimate, single, universal scale of heroism. This isn't all being judged in God's eyes, and He isn't telling us who the heros are. Caesar was a hero, to the Romans, but not to the followers of Christ. That said, we owe more of the modern world to Caesar than we do to Christ. So we should render unto Caesar some credit for that.

There are some clear cowards in this story. It's cowards who spy and lie. God has personally identified these cowards to me. But heroism, by contrast, is always relative to point of view. Charles Manson was a hero. Justin Bieber is a hero. The congressman threatening to throw the reporter off the balcony was a hero. And everyone who is a terrorist to us is a hero to other people. Similarly, our heroic troups are terrorists when they enter civilian homes at night and kill the people there.

This doesn't mean there aren't "real" heros and terrorists. Just that the reality of both depends on who you are, and where you're looking at them from.

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