“Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just.” — Blaise Pascal
Unfortunately for us, an idealistic view of the world as envisioned by Blaise Pascal sometime in the mid-sixteenth century is still not a part of our everyday reality. Case in point: Rampant, unhindered, and unquestioned acts of cruelty carried out by the gatekeepers of our society — against the same people they have sworn to serve and protect. That person is you, the citizen.
The last time this issue created controversy was when the UC Davis pepper spray incident happened during the OWS movement. Now, a pro-libertarian group called Truth Be Known on Facebook has released a video compilation which displays many such incidents of life-threatening violence conducted against the citizens by the US police.
How long does this go unquestioned?
The fact that with power comes the tendency to abuse it is not only an old dictum, but rather a well documented fact as ascertained by the Standford prison experiment and cited by Malcolm in his book, “The Tipping Point.” But just because a tendency exists that makes people act out in ways out of their conscious control does not in any way mean that we should just set the matter aside and call it a fact of life. So, what can we, the citizens do about it?
This is where technology steps in
Most of is use gadgets these days like smartphones and tablets which are capable of video recording. It’s a known fact that creating awareness is the first step towards changing anything. Think about it, if someone hadn’t taken out their camera phone and recorded the UC Davis incidents, or all the other clips in the video above — I wouldn’t have written about it — and consequently, you wouldn’t have read about it. The issue then, goes entirely unnoticed.
Perhaps for the first time ever now, every citizen has the power to create and broadcast their reality to a larger audience, with the helps of tools and mediums made available by technology. Why don’t we do it?
On the subject of legality
In August last year, The First Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a ground-breaking decision defending our right to videotape the police and other public officials as they engage in their official duties. The story as covered by The Boston Globe, excerpts from the court proceedings:
“”[T]hough not unqualified, a citizen’s right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public space is a basic, vital, and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment.”
So now with that resolved
If you see something, film something. Don’t be intimidated. You have the right to record police in public. The freedom of press begins, with you.
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About Vishveshwar Jatain
VJ is the associate editor of wireframe. He loves writing, cooking, technology, life hacks, weird people, strange things, and his alone time. When not creating a ruckus about the rampant misuse of apostrophes, he can be found writing stories about startups, entrepreneurship and social web.