Has anyone noticed the proliferation of public CCTV cameras lately? There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of cameras that litter the public domain. Highways, sidewalks, public buildings and some hidden in statues. Video surveillance has breached the confines of municipal business districts and have been slowly imported into the most obscure towns and residential areas.
Video surveillance is nothing new. Video surveillance, as we know it today, made its debut in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1966 and has received its blessings in the Supreme Court and moreover, has expanded under a slew of hastily prepared crime packages and ‘Acts’ under various presidential administrations since 1968; http://library.ca.gov/crb/97/05/ video surveillance under Clinton’s Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 a.k.a. the Crime Bill; was greatly expanded. Since 9/11, CCTV cameras have sprung up across American like fields of mushrooms under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Military contractors and corporations, who were preoccupied with supplying the military with these types of wares during the Cold War, have now, found a new buyer-law enforcement. The focus here is safety and security. Originally, a small segment of society who, were initially dismissed as ‘conspiracy theory paranoids, have now been joined by publicly recognized organizations such as Amnesty International and the ACLU in regard to privacy issues, the seemingly gradual erosion of civil liberties in the name of public safety. Question. Where does privacy end and security begin? Is there a happy medium in which both can ‘peacefully coexist’? Is freedom real or is it another noble social construct of the 17th and 18th century European thought?
According to Merriam Webster’s the definition of liberty and freedom are “freedom from external or despotic control”. Thanks to a corporate control media and the benefit of public school indoctrination, since birth, people have been deluded into believing that ‘freedom’ exists however, we all know that some folks are more socially and politically freer than others.
In order to accomplish this amazing feat of surveillance, what ingredient is necessary? FEAR. Fear of being alone and helpless is an atavistic response to the hostile environment in early humanity. Fear is evolutionary as well as ingrained into the human psyche. What’s scares people the most today? Crime. The inflated fear of crime wins out every time. The exaggerated fear of crime even wins out over major economic and employment concerns. Many, if not most, politicians build entire political platforms on the issue of crime. If you don’t believe it, then carefully listen to your local political candidates in November. Presently (2010), I do believe that employment issues and the state of the economy will win the day, at least I hope so.
Fear of something campaigns, whether real or imagined, are the central most galvanizing factor that cements societies. Why else would the state exist? What would be the function or purpose of the state without exaggerated and manufactured fear mongering campaigns? Fear of the unknown. Fear of anything that’s not routine. Fear of the outsider. Fear, for most part, of anything or anybody different. Fear results in the infamous of a media politically mixed cement we have come to know as the War on _ _ _ _ _ _ _. You fill in the blanks.
Aside from the politicorporate manufactured ‘sky is falling’ soap operas that grace our TV screens daily, there however, were studies that were conducted in San Francisco that have concluded that the use of cameras “did not reduce violent crime in the immediate area“http://www.muniwireless.com/reports/sf-video-study-2008.pdf. The ACLU has arrived at a similar conclusion http://www.aclu.org/images/asset_upload_file708_35775.pdf .So why then, are there thousands of cameras everywhere? To be monitored 24/7 for our own protection and safety? The old public safety routine? Well if anyone is familiar with just a little bit of general world history of the 20th century, you will know that the state, which plays off people’s heightened and sometimes unfounded fears and insecurities, if left unchecked, will commit all types of horrible acts upon their own citizenry in the name of public safety. Most surprising is that these acts would not have occurred without consent from its own citizens.
Each historical ‘war on something or somebody’ for example, has resulted in the restriction of personal choice and the gradual erosion of civil liberties. Personal crusades have their foundation in fear. Whether it be War on Native Americans people or fugitive slaves of the colonial and post-colonial periods or the War on ideologies such as abolitionist, populist, labor, anarchist or communist movements of the 19th and 20th centuries or even decrees that attempt to prohibit behaviors such as alcohol and drug consumption such as the current War on Drugs, are historical fact and have done more social, moral, spiritual, economic, and political harm than good. If you don’t believe it, just look at the over 2,000,000+ people in the nation’s prisons and jails, not including an additional 4-5+ million on parole or state correctional supervision. What happened to “If it harms none then do as thy will”? I’ve heard that somewhere before.
Once formal legislation, codes, statues, decrees, and controls are established and effectively implemented, they are never completely repealed nor abolished. Executive authority is and always has been expansive. Now we have the ‘war on terror’ which is destined to by some to be a generational affair? How do you declare a war on a tactic? How did the voting public arrive at this dissonance between safety and liberty? Impasse’ you say. Well, in this instance, I’m glad to tell you that government, like it or not, does not do anything without consent from it’s subjects. Plain and simple. Your vote and your taxes are a form of consent for self serving and self important people to legislate oppressive codes and to erect Constitutionally questionable bureaucracies to make certain that their orders are carried out. Your vote is a form of support and your taxes fund the whole scam. How else could government do anything without your consent?
I love and jealously guard my privacy to the best of my ability. Do I or anyone else want to be pegged as a suspect as soon as we enter in the public domain? Unfortunately, Yes You Are. Do I want to be an eternal part of some police database for just being outside? Sorry, You Already Are. Do I feel safer with my daily dose of government scrutiny? NO. What happened to the foundation of American jurisprudence of innocent until proven guilty? I don’t think it exists or has it ever? I don’t know. Remember I asked whether freedom was real or a social construct? Given the political gravity of the present, it’s all in your head. Be careful what you ask for. The devil might just give it to you.
More to come….