Have my DNA, you’re welcome

I think it’s interesting how there is a confusion in libertarian thinking. This jarks back a bit to what I was saying a couple of weeks ago about the universal paranoia that greeted the very suggestion that a phone directory of mobile phone numbers might be compiled. In the same way, there was a hoo-ha last week about innocent people worrying that the state was holding on to their DNA. I cannot myself see how this is rationally different from the state issuing me with, as it did, with a National Insurance number, the better to keep tabs of my my eventual pension entitlements. Nobody (all right, I bet there are some) goes around protesting that their drivig licence can be traced, and that it is distinct to them.

I am not very worried, either, about CCTV cameras, although I suspect them of being a bit of a waste of money. But we have all got used to their use in the disclosure of who might or might not have committed a murder. We have all seen, about a gazillion times, the images of Princess Di walking through a revolving door into infinity. It told us nothing, really, other than that she was calm at the time. Mot CCTV cameras also tell us nothing. But they have been known both to exonerate and eliminate suspects, just as they have been known to catch the guilty. I might baulk at people being to read my email or tap my phone, on the basis that I might be deemed a spy, or a supporter of Sunderland FC, and this might be held against me (there was huge amusement in the Newcastle papers last week when Sunderland FC’s only real local lad was had up for speeding away from Newcastle. He argued – with some success, in that his penalty was slight – that he feared he was being chased by Newcastle FC fans (it turned out to be the police). A cartoon in the Newcastle Journal showed a speeding driver being pursued by the Grim Reaper in a horse and cart, and telling his passenger ‘They’ll never believe this in court.”

I digress. What I’m saying is that I am not sure I want people to know what I think, and that I would like the freedom to express myself privately. But I cannot see how my DNA profile is compromising me any more than a record of my blood type would do (I don’t actually know what type I am, and might be well-advised to find out). I have no intention of committing a crime, particularly a violent crime, and if something happened to change this, then I would feel properly nabbed if I had left my DNA at the scene of the crime. All this fuss about not having your DNA recorded strikes me as being unjoined thinking. The state has a right to know who you are, if it will help protect your fellow citizens. It has some right (although this is more problematic) to know where you are, although I think there should be some justification for this. It has no right to see or hear what you are whispering to a friend.

If there was a van came round for a sample of my DNA, I would donate it. Organisations like Liberty, which I admire very highly, surely need to focus on what it is dangerous and totalitarian for the state to have hold of.


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