In the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), by George Orwell, the Thought Police (Thinkpol) are the secret police of the superstate, who discover and punish thoughtcrime, personal and political thoughts unapproved by the regime. The Thinkpol use criminal psychology and omnipresent surveillance via informers, telescreens, cameras, and microphones, to monitor the citizens and arrest all those who have committed thoughtcrime in challenge to the status quo authority.
And right on cue, the modern-day version of the Thinkpol emerges, brought to you by another of the Alphabet Gestapo, our comrades at the Department of Homeland Security:
MDM is a term developed by the DHS Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to replace the old-fashioned phrase “foreign influence.” Now let us caveat that the U.S. government does indeed have a responsibility to monitor and to identify foreign influence operations. This was the remit of the Reagan-era Active Measures Working Group, which worked tirelessly to identify Soviet lies being spread to undermine the United States’ global standing in the world, and then countered them with the truth.
But under the latest iteration, DHS is no longer concerned solely with enemy lies spread abroad, but increasingly with information spread by “domestic threat actors” (read: American citizens). And no longer are they merely concerned with disinformation, false material spread to manipulate an opponent, but with misinformation, which DHS considers information that is false but not intended to cause harm, and “mal-information,” which means information which is true but the government considers harmful anyway.
I added the emphasis, because that’s an extremely interesting concept. A couple of interesting questions arise from this.
- Who defines what is “harmful”, and by what parameters?
- What are the penalties for disseminating this so-called “mal-information”?
- Should the DHS be abolished?
- Has anyone in Congress done anything to stop this? and
- Has the time come for us to begin the mass hangings?
I need to get over to the range. Excuse me.