The Buzz

Edward Snowden Plays Monopoly

Anyone three hours into a game of Monopoly will tell you that one of two things predictably happens to end the misery: 1) everyone mercifully gives up or 2) someone cheats and it becomes a landslide victory. Based on Edward Snowden's email to Russian human-rights activists sent in the wee hours of Thursday morning, one might venture to say that he's a Monopoly player of the later variety. A Moscow-based Human Rights Watch researcher, Tanya Lokshina, published Snowden's email at full in Facebook about eight hours ago:

I have been extremely fortunate to enjoy and accept many offers of support and asylum from brave countries around the world. These nations have my gratitude, and I hope to travel to each of them to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world.

Unfortunately, in recent weeks we have witnessed an unlawful campaign by officials in the U.S. Government to deny my right to seek and enjoy this asylum under Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The scale of threatening behavior is without precedent: never before in history have states conspired to force to the ground a sovereign President’s plane to effect a search for a political refugee. This dangerous escalation represents a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America or my own personal security, but to the basic right shared by every living person to live free from persecution.

I invite the Human Rights organizations and other respected individuals addressed to join me on 12 July at 5:00PM at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow for a brief statement and discussion regarding the next steps forward in my situation. Your cooperation and support will be greatly appreciated in this matter.

Sincerely,

Edward Joseph Snowden

Snowden seems to have an understanding of government that is actually child-like in its self-centeredness. Someone who breaks the law for what he thinks is right regardless of the consequences is, at best, a vigilante. What vigilante would ever logically then use the law as a shield? He has, by nature, already abandoned the values for which it stands. Like the monopoly "banker" who sneaks a large note and then dubiously questions where you got the money to buy your railroads, Edward Snowden doesn't want to play by the rules but at the same time is demanding the protection they afford. He comes off as pitiful as a board-game cheater. 

Snowden puts his own personal safety and the dignity of all of Latin America as more or less equally important: "This dangerous escalation represents a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America or my own personal security, but to the basic right shared by every living person to live free from persecution."

It's as if to whine: "It's not about Monopoly. It's about the fact that there's no way you had enough money to buy those railroads. I'm trusting you to be honest in this game. If I can't trust you to be honest in this game, how can I trust you to be honest in anything?!"

When a person breaks the law he has to face the consequences. Disobedience, even when civil, is risky. There is no Get Out Of Jail Free card for believing that breaking the law is justified. In order to enact change, one has to prove, through often-difficult trials, that such lawlessness is necessary to serve a greater moral good. This will be rather difficult for young Edward from his new condo in Siberia. (Perhaps the Russians will give him consolation kittens?)

Image: Wikimedia Commons.