"Privacy is dead, and that's a good thing," pronounced U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in his recent address to Congress regarding the content of dictionaries currently used in federally-funded public schools. "And our dictionaries should reflect that."
According to Duncan, thanks in large part to the security policies of President Barack Obama's administration, the natural lifespan of the word "privacy" has, in this day and age, expired, and it therefore ought to be eradicated from school dictionaries.
He elaborated, "Some words that, historically, had great significance, over time lose their meaning and are gradually phased out of common usage altogether. That's why dictionaries are constantly being updated and revised. It's a natural, positive evolution."
Later that afternoon, Duncan broke it down for middle school students at New York's P.S. 83 in the Bronx. "In the past, people used to get insecure at the thought of losing their privacy. For someone to surreptitiously listen in on your conversations, walk in on you while you're undressing, watch your every move - that probably would have made you a little uncomfortable."
The students, some of whom were nodding avidly, were clearly getting the picture.
"But now," continued Duncan, "we have a whole government agency devoted to that sort of behavior. It's called the National Security Agency, and it makes American citizens more, not less, secure. In other words, lack of privacy equals safety and security."
Twelve-year-old Kai Burman, a head-of-the-class type eager to demonstrate his understanding, piped up, "So that means privacy equals unsafety and insecurity."
Malapropism aside, the remark prompted an approving smile from Duncan.
"Precisely," beamed the Secretary. "Lack of privacy equals safety and security. The National Security Agency was founded on that fundamental principle."
He added, "And thanks to Facebook, lack of privacy is not only safe and secure, it's fun!"
"It is super fun," agreed sixth grade student Caitlin Gold. She summarized her take on Secretary Duncan's explication: "Privacy is scary. I think privacy is dangerous."
Secretary Duncan placed a reassuring hand on the young girl's shoulder. "You're absolutely right, Caitlin. Privacy is extremely dangerous. But fortunately, thanks to President Obama, the NSA, and some assistance from former Presidents Bush and Bush, you don't have to worry about the dangers of privacy, because privacy no longer exists! Our current government has managed to completely extinguish any real, potential, or even imagined privacy that might threaten the security of our nation."
Caitlin's shoulders visibly relaxed as she emitted an enormous sigh of relief. "Like with polio."
"You got it," affirmed Duncan. "We've wiped out the privacy virus from the United States, just like with polio. And the next step is to eliminate the word 'privacy' from our dictionaries. After all, we shouldn't have things in the dictionary that don't exist."
"But 'God' is in the dictionary," pointed out that chronic one-upper, Kai Burman.
Duncan took the mild heckling in stride. "My point exactly," he said, turning Kai's argument on its head. "God does exist, and privacy doesn't. That's why one should be in the dictionary and one shouldn't."
Recognizing defeat, Kai changed tack. "It makes sense that we shouldn't have both God and privacy in the dictionary, since they're kind of mutually exclusive - God doesn't do privacy, right? He sees everything we do and looks over us all the time."
"Just like the NSA," chimed in Caitlin.
Duncan offered up his hands in happy acquiescence. "You know, I couldn't have said it better myself."