Monday, July 26, 2010

Trampling on First Amendment - AGAIN

Today's Washington Post has an interesting article - Freedom of photography: Police, security often clamp down despite public right (7/26/10) whereby, yet again, a uniformed officer detained someone taking photographs. Yet, a directive from the New York City police reveals what common sense tells most of us already about photographing buildings like this - "practically all such photography will have no connection to terrorism or unlawful conduct", according to the article.

While I don't know much about the photographer, Matt Urick, it seems from this report that, yet again, the police have over-reacted. Yet, the police, in trying to acknowledge the photographer had the right "Some people will figure, 'I have a right to take pictures,' and we are not arguing with that", said the President of the DC lodge of the Fraternal Order of the Police, but he then is cited as saying "An officer also has a right to his or her safety and to control the situation", and that's just such a far-reaching statement that it begs arguing. Cameras don't impinge on an officers safety, and to suggest that anyone has the right to "control the situation" is akin to the persuasive attempts by the gestapo to control situations. What "situation?" No officer can take away a constitutional right unless the excercise thereof could take away someone elses' constitutional right. The proverbial "your right to swing your fists wildly stops at the tip of my nose" comes to mind. Thus, the photographing done by this photographer was well within his rights.

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Rich Green said...

Last week (week of August 22nd) I was at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC at 6:30 AM photographing the monument. As usual for me, I was snapping away, varying my lenses, hand holding and bracing myself against the columns when an officer came up to me and asked if I was working an assignment. He asked me the expected questions - who I was (wanted ID), why I was taking so many photos, where I was staying, etc. - but, while he was serious, he was never rude or belligerent. The event only lasted a minute or two, but I can't help but think - the terrorists have won. Before 9/11, no one would be questioning me unless I was doing something illegal. And the government is damned regardless of the situation. With the underwear bomber and the Times Square (NYC) bomber - we are lucky they failed - the government is criticized for its bungling the situations (it was a street vendor who spotted the suspicious vehicle in Times Square). And when the police do question someone (like me) we suggest they are nazis. To be clear, I didn't like being questioned - it was an uncomfortable situation - but what is the middle ground?

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