Editor's comment
Eavesdropping
15 May, 2014
Before I embark on doing this funny piece today, let’s first delve into dictionaries to look up the meaning of the word “eaves” – it is the lower border of a roof that overhangs the walls of a building. So what? – One might exclaim. Patience, my dear friends, patience! Etymologically speaking, the curious word “eavesdropping” has come into English from this particular word. They say the dripping of water from the eaves of a house, or the ground on
which such water tends to fall, was the prerequisite for coining the word “eavesdropping” which has lately acquired mega meaning in Georgia. Eavesdropping! And an eavesdropper used to be a personally interested or a deliberately commissioned man or a woman, who stood on eavesdrops with the intent of overhearing what was said inside.
There are many ways of eavesdropping, especially in the modern technologically over-sophisticated world: physical ear, wiretapping, bugged phones, miniscule digital chips, mounted recorders, email, instant messaging and any other tools of communication, which should normally be as private as possible. Just another human right in action! Being fair enough, it should also be noted that broadcasting a message publicly obviates the fact of witnessing the act as eavesdropping. In older times of my memory, the shared telephone lines created a real haven for eavesdroppers, who often found themselves in a role of an inadvertent listener to somebody else’s dialogue over the phone. It usually took certain amount of honesty and conscientiousness to hang up if you accidentally became privy to other parties’ telephone conversation, but in most cases, curiosity would “kill the cat,” which is to say that a zealous eavesdropper would enjoy the opportunity with impunity. It is easy to imagine what selection of epithets might follow on part of the eavesdropped side, which would often turn into scandalous charges, reproaching an eavesdropper. Thus, eavesdropping has never been an act that was easily tolerated by people. Eavesdropping has always been considered a human act with a great deal of criminal streak to it, but it was always there. What definition would after all suit best the phenomenon of eavesdropping? One of the descriptions that I came across the other day sounds like this: “Eavesdropping is secretly listening to the private conversation of others without their consent, commonly thought to be unethical.” This clear and simple version of interpretation would definitely make sense to me, especially when I keep on reading its further explanation: “...and eavesdroppers seldom hear anything good of themselves... eavesdroppers always try to listen to matters that concern them” – Isn’t this interesting? Starting from here, I feel like going political, extremely political! Now the question is if eavesdropping was an offense, punishable by law. For instance, history has it that the Anglo-Saxon law used to punish eavesdroppers with a fine. One of the methods of eavesdropping at that time was using a small low visibility hole near the entrance to a building – as primitive an action as that – but it still was a paradigm of wrongdoing. So a human society had always reacted to eavesdropping as to any other unlawful act which was asking for punishment thereof. What is happening today in the world in general and in Georgia, in particular, concerning eavesdropping? Allegedly, bugging is a regular practice anywhere around the globe. Suffice it to mention the much talked about Watergate Scandal in the United States. America took it so seriously that even the American president had fallen victim to that most roaring criminal act of the 20th century. Well, eavesdropping, as one of the ways of facilitating one’s business is as old and ubiquitous as the world’s oldest profession itself. Georgia is part of this sinful world, isn’t it? So, I will not be surprised to hear that somebody taps, bugs and eavesdrops against somebody else in Georgia; and tapping, bugging and eavesdropping has a tendency to work in the tapper’s, bugger’s and eavesdropper’s favor. Snatching away some benefit at the expense of others is so popular among the humans! I can also admit that the recognized model of civilized relations among the humans in any country must exclude any illicit listening-in and nosing-around, but alas, humans are not perfect, and they will always seek for the ways of taking advantage of their fellow humans. Thank God, this is all liable to be punished by law. What I am trying to say is that I would not kill myself over the eavesdropping facts in Georgia if facts like this ever take place here. I have heard that the premises of one of the local TV stations in Georgia were bugged by somebody. Too bad of course! But the scurrilous comments on the issue are so funny that I can’t believe our society is this much obsessed with the eavesdropping crap. All right, let’s assume that we get lucky enough to unveil one of these illegal cases of eavesdropping and get the perpetrators “guillotined.” Would that bring to an end our overall craving for listening in to the secrets of those who we are interested to overwhelm? Most probably, not! Certainly, this does not mean that we should not investigate the anti-freedom and anti-democratic activity in this country, but let us do it without this much fuss, commotion, threats, recrimination and excitement. As I said, this is happening in the reality of any nation, and Georgia cannot stand out of the worldwide process as a pristine angelic political culture, which is free from all those human vices. That’s why, I suggest we take it easy, and let’s give a better chance to more serious priorities that are better serving the survival of this nation. Things seem to be not too perfect in Georgia nowadays. Killing the wicked habit of eavesdropping may help something but not everything! There are graver evils in our life which need to be given our time, efforts and energy. Wouldn’t it be more rational to go that way?

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