Whistleblowing While You Work
Tim Shorrock’s article on the NSA Four, “Obama’s Crackdown on Whistleblowers” [April 15], points to the problem of hiring private contractors to do the NSA’s work. Shorrock also reveals the revolving door between NSA personnel and the private companies they later work for. Profits motivate these contractors and pose a huge conflict of interest, and taxpayers are picking up the tab. These corporations have no loyalty to the American people, and they do not have to answer to us. That they could manufacture a need for the surveillance of private citizens is of enormous concern.
Shorrock reports that the whistleblowers have been harassed and blacklisted for speaking out. Average citizens are also under surveillance and harassed by groups like InfraGard and other for-profit agencies. (The military has also been a part of the organized bullying and smearing of whistleblowers and peace activists, according to the ACLU.)
I discovered I was on a watch list when I was detained at the US-Canadian border. Why? I don’t know; every FOIA request I submit is denied. If my name can appear on a watch list when I have done nothing to warrant it, then anyone can be vilified and harassed. We need more whistleblowers and more protection for them.
‘Jock’ Rape Culture
I was drawn to Jessica Valenti’s “Rape—Still No Joke” [April 15], about the rape of an unconscious 16-year-old girl by two young men at a party, where the attackers and the onlookers “didn’t think anything was wrong,” proving this by broadcasting their crime on social networks. I have just learned that my 18-year-old grandniece was raped by a college football player at a party recently. No one is supposed to know about this assault—it’s a secret, a big secret kept by her family because of shame.
The attacker has been charged. My niece had to leave college because she couldn’t hold up under the harassment of the perpetrator’s teammates and others because she pressed charges. She is recovering at home without support from other family and friends because of the “no talk” rule. The rape was devastating, but barring friends and family from giving support is devastating as well. The adage “Your secrets keep you sick” applies here and could have the most severe consequence: suicide. Receiving love and care from people outside the immediate family would promote her processing this violation and is imperative for her healing.
I believe our “jock” culture is to blame, along with the media’s portrayal of women as toys to be used for the glory of men and their supremacy.
ANNA LEET (pseudonym)
Gay Marriage: Outdated From the Start?
Salt Lake City
Melissa Harris-Perry [“Sister Citizen,” April 15] makes a cogent point that gay marriage equality is important but perhaps superfluous. As a marital and family therapist for forty years, I believe that apart from marriage equality, marriage as an institution is becoming outdated. One survey reveals that around 60 percent of Americans believe marriage is an anachronism.
I expect they are mostly younger folks. Marriage has become burdened with accretions like parenting, economic stability, duty, roles and social status. Some of these characteristics are still relevant, but without the dynamism of a vital relationship between two autonomous people, marriage becomes an empty shell. I have seen the shells for years. So I don’t try to sustain the institution; I lead couples toward understanding the human need for vital, evolving connection within the “containment” of a commitment to each other, not to a social institution. That, I believe, is part of marriage equality.