Changing the world from an atheist perspective encompasses a ton of different issues. Gamer culture, philosophies of science, principles of good dog ownership…these are all atheist social change (ASC) issues. It shouldn’t surprise anyone when I say that the surveillance state is an ASC issue. This is not mission drift. Our mission should be to make the world safe for (non)believers.
In a world where (non)believers can be imprisoned for blasphemy or executed for apostasy, we can’t take an easygoing approach to social control. Without a certain amount of security — the kind of human security where private conversations are kept private and where speech doesn’t carry a death sentence — we can’t be (non)believers. We can’t be in community and we can’t be intellectually rigorous. In America, we might lose our jobs or our homes. In other countries, we might lose our lives.
Edward Snowden has been living in exile for two years because his belief in liberation technology over the power of the modern nation-state compelled him to take radical, heroic, self-sacrificing action. Two years in exile would be an enormous price for any of us to pay, and Snowden isn’t done paying. His anniversary in Moscow is presently causing the nastier corners of the Internet to rage over the US government’s inability to serve up his head on a platter — and by nastier, I don’t mean “out of the mainstream” or “insignificant.”
My (non)believer friends and colleagues, you don’t have to agree with what Snowden has done. You are permitted your
squeamishness moral discomfort about whistle-blowing and breaking the laws of Empire. But you need to have Snowden’s back, because he has yours. You, of all people, will not be free in a Panopticon.