Sunday, June 24, 2007

no transparency, no accountability, no freedom

Last month, Brian Kelly of Carlisle, Pa., was riding with a friend when the car he was in was pulled over by a local police officer. Kelly, an amateur videographer, had his video camera with him and decided to record the traffic stop.

The officer who pulled over the vehicle saw the camera and demanded Kelly hand it over. Kelly obliged. Soon after, six more police officers pulled up. They arrested Kelly on charges of violating an outdated Pennsylvania wiretapping law that forbids audio recordings of any second party without their permission. In this case, that party was the police officer.

Kelly was charged with a felony, spent 26 hours in jail, and faces up to 10 years in prison. All for merely recording a police officer, a public servant, while he was on the job.

Fox News (believe it or not)
This is another one of those "What?!" moments for me. Can anyone think of a good reason that the police wouldnt want their behavior recorded? Okay, I can come up with some, too*. But here's the thing, they are public servants, and whether they like or not, they are accountable to us, and if that involves videotaping rather than cop said/accusee said testimony (and we know who will win that one), well, that seems like a perfectly fair way to do things.
But apparently not.
Now, this poor shmuck will have to spend thousands of dollars, both his own and (if he's lucky) others', to defend himself from a bogus application of the law, with little or no guarantee that he wont lose. In all probability, considering the current political climate that Authority = Correctness (i.e., that old and distinctly un-American idea that Might Makes Right), he probably will lose.
Keep an eye on this case, because it's a canary in our American Coal-Mine.

props to Contrary Brin

* Admittedly, I dont want people recording me. Then again, I dont have an abusable power over anybody (except my own children, who'll have plenty of room for revenge when I'm older).


United We Lay said...

But confrontations between citizens and officers of the law should be able to be taped by the citizens for purposes of self defense or protection.

daveawayfromhome said...

absolutely. I certainly dont think they have any right to stop us, nor to charge (felony) anyone for doing it.