For sometime now I have been reading quite a bit about an increasing number of people who have been victims of police harassment or even arrest for doing something that is well within their rights to do regardless of what country they live in. What have they done to deserve this treatment you might well wonder.
It is a simple as taking pictures in public places.
While most of the incidents do involve police being photographed in public place there are an equal number of incidents where this is also happening in public institutions. In these cases it is the private security guards who are forcibly ejecting people from the institutions while demanding that the photographs be deleted or that the memory cards be handed over. These actions against people taking photographs in public spaces has been increasing with the most common excuse for the actions being “since 9/11”.
What is really amazing though is that as important as this trampling of personal rights is the whole issue has barely caused a ripple of interest within the tech blogosphere. That is until this week when Thomas Hawk; a favorite photographer in the social media circles, got thrown out of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) for trying to take pictures in an area that specifically allowed it.
Well you would have thought by the reaction throughout the social media part of the tech blogosphere that the world had come to an end that the world’s biggest injustice had been done. There were calls for the director of MOMA’ visitor relations head among other hot air blathering. Well I hate to tell you bunch of myopic tech bloggers this has been going on for a lot longer than since the day Mr. Hawk got thrown out.
The fact that it takes one of their own to have their rights trampled on before something like this becomes important shows just how narrow of focus the tech blogosphere really is. One almost has to wonder that if this hadn’t happened to Thomas Hawk if even today anyone in the social media circle would have even given a shit about the issue. As it is next to the conversation about John Edward’s not keeping his pants on this thing with MOMA is a hot discussion point on places like FriendFeed.
At the end of July I wrote a post about this very thing where I related the story of Carlos Miller and Adam Kokesh both of whom are in court battles after being arrested by police for taking pictures in a public place. Between the comments on the post itself and then on FriendFeed a total of 7 people had enough of an interest in the matter to leave any sort of comment – mind you none of the comments contained any kind of outrage that this sort of thing was happening. I followed that up a couple of days later on FriendFeed where I shared a link to Carlos’ current blog post where he was asking for help and that rapidly disappeared from the front page and has yet to see a comment.
I am sorry that this has happened to Thomas Hawk and it is something that should never have happened in the first place. As well I am glad that finally something has taken the blinders off the tech blogosphere in this matter. However it is a sad statement that it does take something like this to happen before we realize that being locked up the way we are in our little corner of
the web isn’t a good thing. We need to wake up to the fact that we don’t exist in just the closed ecosphere of the tech blogging world.
It is this type of closed world myopia that makes it so easy for the rights we hold dear to be taken away slowly from us. We become so preoccupied with our little insular worlds that we forget that there is a bigger world out there and more important issues that some startup having a business model or not. One has to wonder is the same events happened today whether this famous picture would have seen light of day.[top photograph courtesy of Carlos Mill - Photography is not a crime]