Wednesday, April 21, 2010

georgia chips ban the microchip

AJC | We often say that insanity reigns at the state Capitol.

But when we do, we do not literally accuse the people inside of letting their grip on reality slip. We simply mean that our ability to fathom their motives, or their ability to express them, has fallen short.

Referring to a politician as delusional is simply entertaining hyperbole. But it is something that becomes much less funny when a truly tortured soul bears her torment.

Last Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee entertained SB 235, the bill sponsored by Sen. Chip Pearson (R-Dawsonville) to prohibit the involuntary implantation of microchips in human beings.

In Gov. Roy Barnes’ stump speech, the bill has become a routine example of the Republican tendency to attack problems that don’t exist, and ignore the ones that do. Besides, Barnes argues, if someone holds him down to insert a microchip in his head, “it should be more than a damned misdemeanor.”

Three states have instituted bans, and others have considered the legislation. In Virginia, a bill supporter declared microchips to be the “666″ mark of the beast referred to in the Book of Revelation.

Pearson has said his motivation isn’t biblical or religious – that he is simply working in advance of technology’s next assault on personal privacy. Not unlike limiting the uses of DNA testing by health insurance companies, he argues.

At the House hearing, state Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Kennesaw), who is shouldering the legislation in the House, spoke earnestly for better than a half hour on microchips as a literal invasion of privacy.

He was followed by a hefty woman who described herself as a resident of DeKalb County. “I’m also one of the people in Georgia who has a microchip,” the woman said. Slowly, she began to lead the assembled lawmakers down a path they didn’t want to take.

Microchips, the woman began, “infringe on issues that are fundamental to our very existence. Our rights to privacy, our rights to bodily integrity, the right to say no to foreign objects being put in our body.”

She spoke of the “right to work without being tortured by co-workers who are activating these microchips by using their cell phones and other electronic devices.”

She continued. “Microchips are like little beepers. Just imagine, if you will, having a beeper in your rectum or genital area, the most sensitive area of your body. And your beeper numbers displayed on billboards throughout the city. All done without your permission,” she said.

It was not funny, and no one laughed.

“Ma’am, did you say you have a microchip?” asked state Rep. Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold).

“Yes, I do. This microchip was put in my vaginal-rectum area,” she replied. Setzler, the sponsoring lawmaker, sat next to the witness – his head bowed.

“You’re saying this was involuntary?” Weldon continued.

The woman said she had been pushing a court case through the system for the last eight years to have the device removed.

Wendell Willard (R-Atlanta), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, picked up the questioning.

“Who implanted this in you?” he asked.

“Researchers with the federal government,” she said.

“And who in the federal government implanted it?” Willard asked.

“The Department of Defense.”

“Thank you, ma’am.”

The woman was allowed to go about her business, and the House Judiciary Committee approved passage of SB 235.

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