45 reasons why I think twice despite the First Amendment
Poet Maya Weeks explores the 45 reasons she thinks twice, despite the protections afforded to her as an American.
25 Apr 14

(Image: Bplanet/Shutterstock)

(Image: Bplanet/Shutterstock)

(Image: Bplanet/Shutterstock)

(a list poem)

Because if you’re an artist, you never know where you’ll go.
Because you need a personal identity number to send a package.
Because an IP address is not a perfect proxy for someone’s physical location, but it is close.
Because I do most of my research online.
Because there hasn’t been a proper rain in California in over three years, and this year may be the driest in the last half millenium.
Because the burning of fossil fuels is destroying our atmosphere.
Because persistent cookies are stored on the hard drive of a computer until they are manually deleted or until they expire, which can take months or years.
Because tracking cookies are commonly used as ways to compile long-term records of individuals’ browsing histories.
Because server farms require massive amounts of energy.
Because the friend who wanted to send the email “Photos from Taksim Square” couldn’t until she changed the subject to “Paris Vacation Photos”.
Because the line between “public” and “private” is tenuous at best.
Because the ACLU is doing its best.
Because a webcam’s images might be intercepted without a user’s consent.
Because a surveillance program code named “Optic Nerve” was revealed to have compiled and stored still images from Yahoo webcam chats in bulk in Great Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters’ databases with help from the United States’ National Security Agency, and to be using them for experiments in automated facial recognition.
Because it’s sketchy to be a Communist.
Because the Defending Dissent Foundation is all kinds of busy.
Because the U.S. army actively targeted nonviolent antiwar protestors in Washington in 2007.
Because I saw it on Dronstagram.
Because everything will or might end up on the internet.
Because the internet is a wormhole full of parasites.
Because I am trying to connect all of the dots.
Because free speech is a tinted mirror.
Because all mediated information is processed, edited, and altered.
Because Wally Shawn had to bring his play to Glenn Greenwald since the journalist who broke the story about Edward Snowden can’t return to the United States.
Because the author risked his freedom and physical security for the truth.
Because artistic solidarity is framed as criminal complicity.
Because how could I forget that language is always political?
Because Chelsea Manning is still being misgendered.
Because the personal is always political.
Because it’s not just the major political players.
Because of the metadata collection.
Because a local surveillance hub may start out combining video camera feeds with data from license plate readers, but once you have the platform running, police departments could plug in new features, such as social media scanners.
Because the Domain Awareness Center’s focus has been not on violent crime, but on political protests.
Because the collapse of the economy and the devastation of the environment are two sides of the same coin.
Because of the NSA’s presence at UN climate talks.
Because of the vested interests in the oil industry.
Because tell me something I don’t know.
Because my personal information is probably being used not just for advertising purposes.
Because despite Facebook’s rights and permissions policies, I still want to share with my friends.
Because Pussy Riot was imprisoned.
Because the Trans-Pacific Partnership would rewrite rules on intellectual property enforcement, giving corporations the right to sue national governments if they passed any law, regulation, or court ruling interfering with a corporation’s expected future profits.
Because I don’t know who is making money off of my information.
Because Abstract Expressionism was funded by the CIA.
Because of the time-honored tradition of governments keeping tabs on artists.
Because we don’t want jobs, we want to live.

This poem was posted on April 25, 2014 at

By Maya Weeks

Maya Weeks is a poet.