Sunday, October 18, 2009


I think it may be time to put away words like privacy and talk more about how we all just get along.

Today's The New York Times carries a discussion of some sort - I have not read it yet - about electronic records and whether there are adequate privacy "safeguards", another word I think deserves some sleep.

I am reminded of learning a long time ago about how juries worked at the beginning here and elsewhere. Jurors were picked not because they knew nothing about the accused or the parties in the case, but rather were picked because they were ordinary citizens of the community who may very well know much about the case, about the parties, etc. That was the idea behind a jury of ones "peers".

Now, we try to seal ourselves into artificial and pretty uncomfortable cocoons with layers of HIPAA (or whatever the initials are), yelling and screaming about our rights to privacy, and just fear of the people around us.

Well, I think it is time to recognize that we are all probably better off if we know a lot more about one another and are ready to help us all deal with our many problems.

We are better off knowing that a neighbor takes a special medicine in case an emergency arises.

We are better off knowing that someone is buying too much alcohol and that maybe someone ought to ask why.

We are better off knowing that the kid down the street has been arrested twice for speeding.

We are better off knowing that the person three streets over was convicted of a crime 5 years ago.

Sure, there are "privacy" arguments to the contrary, but they are arguments of principle for the most part and largely knee-jerk in their articulation.

The arguments in favor of all living better together are, in my mind, so much stronger. I think we should respect someone's wishes not to be bothered, but I'd rather have the facts about why we want might want to bother someone than to have it happen on fear and speculation as is usually the case today.

Let's substitute family for privacy and try to live like one.

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