April 15, 2015

Oh, David Brooks' delicate sensibilities have been jarred once again. Bobo wants all you gentle readers to know that copcams spell the end of privacy and civility as we know it.

In Brooksistan, everyone trusts the police. Little children skip down the street and wave hello to the nice officer who knows each and every one's name. (None of them are brown children, of course...)

Putting a camera on the police officer means that authority resides less in the wisdom and integrity of the officer and more in the videotape. During a trial, if a crime isn’t captured on the tape, it will be presumed to never have happened.

As if this is somehow wrong. Perhaps he should rip those rose-colored glasses from his face and have a look at what happened to Walter Scott, or the man in Arizona who found himself on the wrong end of a cop car.

Cop-cams will insult families. It’s worth pointing out that less than 20 percent of police calls involve felonies, and less than 1 percent of police-citizen contacts involve police use of force. Most of the time cops are mediating disputes, helping those in distress, dealing with the mentally ill or going into some home where someone is having a meltdown. When a police officer comes into your home wearing a camera, he’s trampling on the privacy that makes a home a home. He’s recording people on what could be the worst day of their lives, and inhibiting their ability to lean on the officer for care and support.

Cop-cams insult individual dignity because the embarrassing things recorded by them will inevitably get swapped around. The videos of the naked crime victim, the berserk drunk, the screaming maniac will inevitably get posted online — as they are already. With each leak, culture gets a little coarser. The rules designed to keep the videos out of public view will inevitably be eroded and bent.

Perish the thought! Those trustworthy law enforcement types leaking copcam videos? Say it isn't so.

As always, Driftglass does a better job of ripping this nonsense than I can.

As usual, "most people" are idiots who need to have their reality Brooksplained to them by the lord of the manor. So sit the fuck down and listen, peons:

All these concentric circles of privacy depend on some level of shrouding. They depend on some level of secrecy and awareness of the distinction between the inner privileged space and the outer exposed space. They depend on the understanding that what happens between us stays between us....

Cop-cams chip away at that. The cameras will undermine communal bonds. Putting a camera on someone is a sign that you don’t trust him, or he doesn’t trust you. When a police officer is wearing a camera, the contact between an officer and a civilian is less likely to be like intimate friendship and more likely to be oppositional and transactional. Putting a camera on an officer means she is less likely to cut you some slack, less likely to not write that ticket, or to bend the regulations a little as a sign of mutual care.

Spoken like a man who has never had to pee into a cup or been strapped into a lie detector as part of his interview for a minimum wage job. Or had any adult transaction with the po-po that wasn't straight out of turn-of-the-last-century upstairs/downstairs British detective fiction where the same copper who could be sacked by the lord of the manor* not knowing his place, could turn around and all but pistol-whip the maids and man-servants because class.

But the real hilarity comes in the last paragraph:

But, as a journalist, I can tell you that when I put a notebook or a camera between me and my subjects, I am creating distance between me and them.

Mr. Brooks performs many functions on behalf the rich and powerful.

Journalism is not one of them.

Hand Brooks a set of pearls, please. I think he is feeling the need to clutch them.

Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.