For once, I’m actually hoping for the Tea Party and the religious right to swoop in and go berserk. If there’s anything that both liberals and conservatives can agree with, it’s that forcing people to carry RFID (radio frequency identification) tags that will allow someone (anyone, really) to locate and track them.
In Texas (TEXAS!!), two schools, John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School implemented the trial run for the tags that are eventually slated to reach 112 schools and almost 100 thousand students. The idea is to combat truancy that costs the schools money on a daily basis. The fewer students who miss class, the more money the state allocates to the school. The idea is sound but the invasion of privacy is total. Having security personnel know that (for example) a 16-year-old girl is alone in a bathroom or alone in a wing of the school after hours seems like a phenomenally bad idea.
To make matters worse, instead of offering incentives to wear the badges at school, the administration threatens sanctions and restrictions of privileges.
Via Huffington Post:
Parents and students from the schools spoke out against the project last month. But now, WND is reporting that schools are taking the restrictions one step further.
John Jay High School sophomore Andrea Hernandez refuses to use the new IDs, citing religious beliefs and instead sticking with her old badge from previous years, calling the tracking devices the “mark of the beast.” She tells Salon that the new badges make her uncomfortable and are an invasion of her privacy.
But to add to her restricted school grounds access, the teen says she was barred from voting for homecoming king and queen.
“I had a teacher tell me I would not be allowed to vote because I did not have the proper voter ID,” she told WND. “I had my old student ID card which they originally told us would be good for the entire four years we were in school. He said I needed the new ID with the chip in order to vote.”
Just for clarification, equating RFID to the “Mark of the Beast” is not a new idea but has been part of the “conspiracy” groups mindthink for years. There’s a reason HuffPo is quoting WorldCuckooNetDaily. However, this is one of those rare instances where I agree, not on the religious aspect, but on the less-than-honest impetus behind tagging kids. I’m actually in favor of tagging young kids (under ten) and particularly certain kinds of disabled kids. As a parent of a nonverbal child with autism that likes to explore, taking him out to a crowded venue is an exercise in barely concealed terror. On the other hand, tagging kids that are old enough to understand that they’ve been tagged smacks, not only to me but many others, of a form of indoctrination. To paraphrase the marketing methods of religion and cigarettes: Get ’em while they’re young.
It makes it even more disturbing that threats of exclusion are used to coerce children. Children, of course, are extremely susceptible to peer pressure so it’s all kosher, I’m sure.
Hopefully, once the ACLU gets involved (how could they not?) this won’t automatically make the Tea Party support what is the most obvious case of “big government” conceivable. Some things transcend partisan politics and the slippery slope to mandatory RFID for everyday people is something to be guarded against vigilantly. It’s bad enough our phones can track us via GPS, but to allow the government to do so 24/7? Unthinkable.