Ayn Rand said it well in this statement:
"The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities."She also said
"Any alleged "right" of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right. No man can have a right to impose an unchosen obligation, an unrewarded duty or an involuntary servitude on another man. There can be no such thing as "the right to enslave". Strong words from an articulate woman.When it comes to a philosophy that summarizes this in a way to live, Thomas Jefferson said it thusly:
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.
Yesterday I received a message through chat from a friend of this blog and myself, Hector Portillo. Hector has a blog, The Electric Eye. Hector was one of my first readers and has engaged me in very meaningful conversation that has had a profound effect on some of my ideas. He's a very intelligent young man and we keep in touch as they say. Anyway, Hector sent me this link, Are cameras the new guns? from Gizmodo. Probably knowing how pro-second amendment and individual rights oriented I am, he sent this to me for comment.
In the United States, most states are what they call single party consent states. Usually this means that if I am involved with a conversation or interaction, I can record it without the other members consent. In 12 states, the consent must be from all members involved in the conversation.
After reading the article, I have come to the conclusion that some police in all party consent states have come up with the bright idea of using this law to cover their asses. This is what happened in one case:
On March 5, 24-year-old Anthony John Graber III's motorcycle was pulled over for speeding. He is currently facing criminal charges for a video he recorded on his helmet-mounted camera during the traffic stop.
The case is disturbing because:
1) Graber was not arrested immediately. Ten days after the encounter, he posted some of he material to YouTube, and it embarrassed Trooper J. D. Uhler. The trooper, who was in plainclothes and an unmarked car, jumped out waving a gun and screaming. Only later did Uhler identify himself as a police officer. When the YouTube video was discovered the police got a warrant against Graber, searched his parents' house (where he presumably lives), seized equipment, and charged him with a violation of wiretapping law...
Wow. And the story Continues:
2) Baltimore criminal defense attorney Steven D. Silverman said he had never heard of the Maryland wiretap law being used in this manner. In other words, Maryland has joined the expanding trend of criminalizing the act of recording police abuse. Silverman surmises, "It's more [about] ‘contempt of cop' than the violation of the wiretapping law."
3) Police spokesman Gregory M. Shipley is defending the pursuit of charges against Graber, denying that it is "some capricious retribution" and citing as justification the particularly egregious nature of Graber's traffic offenses. Oddly, however, the offenses were not so egregious as to cause his arrest before the video appeared.
Almost without exception, police officials have staunchly supported the arresting officers. This argues strongly against the idea that some rogue officers are overreacting or that a few cops have something to hide. "Arrest those who record the police" appears to be official policy, and it's backed by the courts.
Interesting. There have been incidents, according to this article, where police have been willingly videotaped without explicit consent and did not interdict or prosecute the videographer, such as when the police are doing something positive, heroic, etc. Do news people get releases from police? I don't know, but I bet not.
What makes these cases interesting is that they do rely on law that is clear and can be used to justify their actions. The question of privacy is a valid one, but I haven't seen the police exercise such concerns with the cameras in their cars, speeding and red light cameras, and certain municipalities that have installed cameras to monitor the public, including police, as in New York City and Chicago. In all these cases the police seem to go along with the program.
What seems res ipsa loquitur about this is that their actions are self-serving. We have seen many cases where police brutality has been uncovered with video and if it were not for the video, such abuse would have gone unpunished. It's an interesting juxtaposition of rights here, and if I had to take a stand, it would have to be on the side of the public. The police work for the government and as such an agent thereof with powers that extend beyond the average citizen, come under a higher level of scrutiny and a set of standards. An individual in society should be able to use any means to document interactions with these agents of the government as a protection of their rights. I might have a slight difference of opinion if police were against red light and speeding cameras, as well as cameras in public. They are not. They are also not against cameras in their own cars, which we have seen malfunction at certain times. What I would like to see happen is the thin blue line go away. This fortress mentality has not served police well and this type of enforcement we see here does not serve them well either. They seem to forget they serve us. Since when does the servant become our master? Let me know what you think.
Thank you for reading this blog.