We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

George Orwell wrote of government power, “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.” He may still be right, but there’s now a decent chance someone will be there with a cell-phone camera to post it on YouTube. And exposing abuse of power is half the battle.

– The magnificent Radley Balko, who does more for exposing abuse of power than just about anyone.

5 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Fraser Orr

    Problem is that the boot is now stamping on the cell phone too. One of the most disturbing trends in law making in the US is the pressure to criminalize public officials, the police in particular, executing their authority.

    Personally, I think every cop, in fact every person on the public payroll should have a web cam taped to their forehead and have all their doings archived on youtube. Now there is a public works project I’d be in favor of.

  • Fraser Orr

    Sorry, typo, that should of course be the pressure to criminalize filming public officials doing their jobs.

    Of course criminalizing public officials doing their jobs in general does have its plus points.

  • Roue le Jour

    One of the few positive things I think I’ve realised in my life time is that “forever” may be longer than you’d like, but it’s not as long as you’d feared.

  • Fraser: I think we got what you meant. And yes, a member of the public should have an absolute right to film, photograph, or record a police officer performing his or her job in a public place, and probably also in any other place subject to being legally present in that place. (For instance, you should have the right to record any conversation you are having with a police officer in a police station).

    This trend of criminalisation of photographing police in action is a response to the technological trend that Balko refers to, though. I think the technology is winning, as it becomes easier and easier to photograph and film police, and as the technology becomes ever more pervasive and less conspicuous. And politically, we get more situations in which it becomes harder and harder to justify such laws. If a citizen has a film of a policeman committing a serious crime, and the police force claims that the film should be disregarded because it was taking illegally due to a stupid law like this, public sentiment is not going to remain with the police for long.

    Cases like this are interesting. If it were not for people filming with their phone cameras in the area, there would have likely been no investigation. (The extent to which the police lied, and ignored and otherwise covered up evidence prior to the third party film coming to light is kind of depressing, regardless). It seems though that the people doing the filming were not filming the police explicitly, though – they were just part of what was going on and what got captured. To stop this you have to criminalise all photography of public events, and I don’t think this is going to happen, even though there are clearly people in government who seem to think it would be a good idea.

  • “If you want a vision of the future, imagine The State picking the pocket of the individual, forever”