"More than machinery, we need humanity."

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (and the NSA was watching)

Twas the night before Christmas, and all thro’ the house

The only sound to be heard, was the click of a mouse;

The family used their digital devices with little care,

In hopes that their wants just might be satisfied there;

The children they played on their smart phones in beds,

While visions from their apps danced in their heads,

From personal computers, to tablets, there was no cap,

All were settled in for a technologically wrought nap –

But within every device there arose a silent clatter,

Yet none in the sleepy house knew what was the matter.

But whether on Apple or Windows, with every app flash,

Every detail was logged, bound tightly as if with a sash.

There had been that wise lad – named den after snow,

Who had tried to give warning of what happens below

The surface of the devices – if pulled back would appear,

A surveillance apparatus, real, unlike Santa’s reindeer,

And they capture all of your details ever so quick,

But, the ones doing the watching? It isn’t St. Nick.

In pursuit of the “needle” is how they explain why they came,

Yet they gathered the haystack, too, so now they’ve your name:

From your e-mails to your GPS to your favorite online vixen,

They captured it all whether your name is Donder or Blitzen;

From the sites that you visit, to posts on your Facebook wall!

Quite regardless of your identity. Why they’ve captured it all!

For the information you create by keystrokes and taps do fly,

Through surveillance systems that pull your details from the sky;

So from this idyllic little house such information always flew

Beneath the gaze of St. Nicholas? Perhaps. But the NSA too:

Thus this electronic family could scarcely hear on the roof

The slight, albeit metaphorical, step of big brother’s hoof.

As they tapped away merrily, unaware who might be around

Through the Internet connection NSAnta came with a bound

Clad in cameras, wires, and screens, from his head to his foot,

And his wears were all tarnished from burnt civil liberties’ soot

The very latest digital devices were flung on his back,

And like a grinning tech salesperson he opened his pack:

The screens – how they twinkled! They would surely make merry,

All the people focused on the toys which glistened like a cherry,

Every new OS, ToS, platform and device presented with a bow,

For NSAnta knew that few had listened to Mr. den after Snow;

The remnants of law NSAnta ground between his teeth,

Giving his actions the protection of a quasi-legalistic wreath.

His reach had grown broad, he had an information stuffed belly

As the family kept tapping he laughed like a bowl full of jelly:

NSAnta was bloated and venal, more a foul troll than an elf,

But mark my words he’s watching – yes you, but also myself.

But the wink of his screens, the digital whispers in your head

Should inform you clearly that tech gives you plenty to dread

For spying on everyone and all, why that’s NSAnta’s work

And from our tech addictions we need to break with a jerk

For there should be a foul scent disturbing your nose

For it’s our own foolish tech from whence all this rose.

Though a promise of reform and legality may be a pleasant whistle

be not distracted by the flowery head, watch for the prickly thistle

For as he speeds off NSAnta laughs when just out of sight –

If you do nothing at all, to your civil liberties a good night!


(the above poem is based on Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” [1823])

About Z.M.L

“I do not believe that things will turn out well, but the idea that they might is of decisive importance.” – Max Horkheimer @libshipwreck

70 comments on “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (and the NSA was watching)

  1. adrianagallina16
    January 1, 2014

    Reblogged this on In the City… and commented:
    Civil liberties must be protected, watchdogs on government are needed, journalism will never die

  2. deathearly
    January 2, 2014

    Haha totally agree with this

  3. butterflycath
    January 3, 2014

    I really, really love your poem. You read any Roald Dahl? Looks like it, really funny and quite revealing about the world around us.

  4. infamousblogger
    January 4, 2014

    that poem inspired me to get rid of my iphone and buy me a basic phone. Who needs all this technical crap anyways like online games, online social media, youtube, music, and other junk.

  5. C. L. Swinney
    January 5, 2014

    Reblogged this on C. L. Swinney's Blog and commented:
    Always watching…

  6. mmorado
    January 7, 2014

    That was awesome!!

  7. tonydmesser
    January 7, 2014

    Reblogged this on Abandon Your Faith and commented:

  8. jesuswasaprimate
    January 7, 2014

    What a delightful read.

  9. liberteanow
    January 8, 2014

    Reblogged this on LiberTeaNow and commented:
    Interesting Poem about the NSA

  10. C. Speight
    January 9, 2014

    Sad that people have been fooled so thoroughly and, thus, can’t recognize the truth.

  11. onclesophocle
    January 12, 2014

    Tremendous ! Seems our present real world is far beyond Orwell’s “1984”. It’s time all the citizen around the world act for laws to curb the governments’ willings to play with civil rights.

  12. onclesophocle
    January 12, 2014

    Sorry : all the citizens.

  13. Pingback: The Banality of NSA Reform | LibrarianShipwreck

  14. criticallyponder
    January 26, 2014

    Clever and amusing yet blindly incorrect. Check out my take on the issue.

    • TheLuddbrarian
      January 26, 2014

      Thank you for reading. I’m glad you found it clever and amusing. As for “blindly incorrect”…on that matter I’m afraid we must disagree (although you also seem to disagree with a whole host of groups who have reviewed these surveillance programs). That being said, I doubt there is anything to be accomplished by setting up a sparring match. Thus I shall simply say that I see your Washington quotes and reply with Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

      • criticallyponder
        January 26, 2014

        Very good quote! Although I prefer Washington over Franklin, I will ask you to research Franklin while he was an ambassador to France and lied and deceived them multiple times to help the U.S. Also, his forged letter to the Prussians is interesting. Some would say he was our first covert operator.

  15. Pingback: Happy Birthday! We’ve been sinking for one year (and counting)! | LibrarianShipwreck

  16. jordanmayr
    February 10, 2014

    Reblogged this on Social Media .

  17. Tinachii Sakura
    May 7, 2014

    This was very thoughtfully written and I commend you for your very true work. 🙂 It’s reminded me how fragile our privacy is. And I’ll be more careful.

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This entry was posted on December 24, 2013 by in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Government, Humor, Privacy, Surveillance, Technology, The Internet and tagged , , , , , .

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