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Eminent Domain Stuff

New London Update (2/24/06)
Coverage of the Rally at New London's City Hall (w/ pics)

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Smile, You're On City-Camera

Chicago has decided to install a new camera network that will drastically increase the government's ability to efficiently monitor public spaces. The total number of cameras will be around 2250 or so, but the big upcoming advance is in the monitoring software. Apparently, the computers will be able to recognize predefined 'suspicious' activity and alert the human monitors for follow-up. According to Mr. Huberman (whose credentials include being referred to as a "techno geek" (I kid you not)):

"The value we gain in public safety far outweighs any perception by the community that this is Big Brother who's watching," Huberman said. "The feedback we're getting is that people welcome this. It makes them feel safer.
Positive feedback, huh? They obviously didn't ask me.

Seriously though, who is currently watching is not the point. The fact of the matter is that these sorts of 'advances' have the effect of tolerizing people to the sight and the idea of cameras watching their every move. With that accomplished, who's to say that a bona fide "Big Brother" couldn't start watching? Give me one solid reason why we will certainly not end up in Orwell's 1984 nightmare. Just one.

Here's a great quote that really highlights wrongheaded thinking about this sort of thing...from the Mayor of Chicago, no less:

City officials counter that the cameras will monitor only public spaces. Rather than curb the system's future expansion, they have raised the possibility of placing cameras in commuter and rapid transit cars and on the city's street-sweeping vehicles.

"We're not inside your home or your business," Mayor Daley said. "The city owns the sidewalks. We own the streets and we own the alleys."
Wait a second. Who owns the sidewalks, streets and alleys? The City owns them. Jeeze, and all this time I kept thinking back to the old We The People thing. Hum. Guess I forgot who elected whom.

I understand and share the desire to keep the country safe from crime and terrorism. But there are a few questions that need to be answered before we all go diving headlong into an Orwellian horror story. I don't care if these cameras actually reduce crime or not. The first question that needs to be answered is: Are we willing to be monitored by video whenever we step outside of our homes? My answer is Absolutely Not! Unfortunately, I don't get a vote, right? After all, the City owns public places...not me.

The second question that comes to mind is: Are we willing to surrender our personal safety to the Government? To some extent we really have no choice. I can't do anything by myself to stop Terrorists' Master Plans. I can, however, do something to protect myself from a mugger. Namely...carry a freaking gun. I think the we ultimately end up with the ago-old choice between security/safety and freedom. The two are inversely proportional. More safety = less freedom. Think about it and remember the mindset of that one particular elected official in Chicago:

The city owns the sidewalks. We own the streets and we own the alleys."
"We're not inside your home or your business."
No. Not yet anyway.


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