Can Satan Save Students from Gov't Electronic Monitoring?

Conservative Republicans in Texas and the ACLU are fighting against a proposed government regulation that would make high-school students carry RFID cards for location tracking.

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A Texas high-school student went to court to stop the government from requiring her to wear a location-monitoring badge while she is at school. Her reason why she shouldn't have to wear the badge: It carries the "mark of the beast," and wearing it is tantamount to "submission of a false god."

Andrea Hernández, 15, attends school in San Antonio, Texas. This fall the school district is set to try out student-ID badges with locator chips in them that will let administrators track the whereabouts of 4,200 students with GPS-like precision. It is distressing that Hernandez and her parents were apparently the only ones who were upset by this.

"When Hernández and her parents balked at the so-called SmartID, the school agreed to remove the chip but still required her to wear the badge. The family refused on religious grounds, stating in a lawsuit that even wearing the badge was tantamount to 'submission of a false god' because the card still indicated her participation."

The student apparently believes all such systems are inherently satanic, making this a First Amendment freedom-of-religion issue. Fortunately, this odd belief has not deterred others, notably the Texas ACLU, from getting involved on more rational grounds.

"The ACLU has monitored the expanded use of RFID technology with students.  We have opposed such efforts because we don’t want to see this kind of intrusive surveillance infrastructure gain inroads into our culture, and because it is against American values of privacy and freedom to teach children to accept intrusive surveillance technology."

When it comes to the law, I think the Fourth Amendment trumps John 13:15.

Similar systems have already gone into operation in high schools and colleges around the nation to slight opposition. ThingMagic, which makes these systems, is arguing for:

"placing RFID readers on school busses, tagging students’ backpacks and integrating the data into an attendance and transportation monitoring system. The goals? To keep track of young school children in an effort to reduce the chance they get on the wrong bus, get off at the wrong stop, or are left on the bus after a route is complete. Seems like a good idea for kindergarten and elementary school level kids, and most parents seem to be in favor of the idea."

This is unnerving rationale. There are many other human-based solutions to these problems and school districts have been using them for quite some time.

I do not believe that, as some on the Right have said, this is an intentional effort to get people used to carrying ID cards at all times; that's just an unfortunate byproduct.

The notion of Americans being required to carry government ID is deeply offensive to many, but maybe not enough people. While many Conservatives and Libertarians believe they are the only ones who oppose the idea, it is not true. The opposition to the ongoing erosion of our civil rights is a bipartisan issue. Anyone who is doubtful should read Charlie Pierce–probably the angriest and smartest person on the Left–on the President’s evisceration of due process in ordering the assassinations of Americans labeled as terrorists.

Unfortunately eroding these civil rights is also a bipartisan issue. President Obama is carrying on and increasing policies set in place by President Bush after 9/11. It was a bipartisan vote in Congress that passed The Patriot Act, and its most pernicious powers have been renewed since then.

I don’t know how many people are upset by this or are even paying attention to it. I do think the number is growing… and now we have Satan on our side.

Happy Devil image via CHÉ L'ÉCOSSAIS

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