Gene Healy on the Futility of Deputizing Everyone To Stop Terrorism


Castles, Capes & Clones CC BY

"If you see something, send something." That's the slogan for Ohio Homeland Security officials' spiffy new "Safer Ohio" smartphone app, whose release coincides with the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. It's "Ohio's multi-function mobile public safety tool," the department brags; concerned citizens can use it to snap and submit camera phone pics of anything that raises their hackles, thereby "report[ing] suspicious activity directly to the state's round the clock public safety intelligence analysts." Gene Healy argues that campaigns like this one for citizen vigilance that began in the subways and is now migrating to our iPhones seems to have done little besides generate an atmosphere of perpetual, low-level anxiety and excuses for official harassment. That's the sort of threat we could stand to be more vigilant about.