Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

big_brother_theaterFrom the department of well, duh:

prosecutions are a form of social control to discourage criticism of the police or simple dissent.

Gizmodo has a great piece that highlights a fun new trend in law & order: the courts and some legislative bodies are beginning to cave to pressure from bullies in law enforcement to outlaw citizens filming the police in action. This comes, of course, after several examples of outrageous police behavior being documented either by the victim or by 3rd parties, which helped exonerate an innocent victim and/or made it necessary for law enforcement to own up to the fact that one of their own broke the law.

That’s all so very, very inconvenient. And so, rather than try to deal constructively with the fact that cops like NYPD heavy Patrick Pogan are totally out of control, the cops have instead decided that the pesky witnesses who might spill the dirt on the cops’ dirty behavior must Shut. The. Fuck. Up. So, they’re aggressively prosecuting anyone who film the cops as they taser people with epilepsy, shoot unarmed people on trains etc. etc. That’s not to say that all cops do that, of course, but if their knee-jerk reaction when more and more of their illegal behavior is exposed is to seek to quell the exposure rather than address the behavior… well, it makes you question whose best interest the police are really looking out for here.

The Gizmodo article mentions a couple of recent examples, but I couldn’t help but think of perhaps the most seminal moment in excessive police violence: the beating of Rodney King — that video from waaay back in 1991, which triggered race riots across Los Angeles. I’m sure the LAPD — whose track record on these matters is notorious, just like that of the cops in New Orleans — would love nothing more than to arrest anyone who happened to film their approach to law enforcement. Or take Barry Cooper, ex cop who decided to make a concerted and highly successful effort at busting the profoundly, painfully bent cops in Texas — and of course promptly made himself a target of their spiteful vengeance.

Yes, this is a real case of watching the watchmen — they cannot be allowed to act with impunity precisely because they’re hired by us to watch us. And if they feel compelled to protect themselves from supervision and scrutiny by using their powers against those who catch them in the act of behaving abdly, then there should be greater cause for concern than ever about their conduct and perception of being above the law. One first step towards totalitarianism is elevating the system itself and its henchmen above reproach, criminalizing and persecuting those who question authority merely for their act of asking questions or having proof that the system and its operatives is far from perfect.

This is not much different than what the Obama administration is doing with regards to whistleblowers. True to his newfound form, rather than deliver on his promise to protect and encourage whistleblowers, Obama is instead pushing the DOJ to persecute anyone caught tattling, and so, instead of dealing with pressing issues like corruption and criminal negligence within the government (viz. the complete flunkies who apparently ran — and still run — the MMS under corrupt flunkie supreme, Ken Salazar) Obama has instead decided to actively work to shut down those pesky noisemakers who try to raise the alarm. That is not Change we can Believe In, it’s the emperor refusing to acknowledge that he’s naked, and sending a lynch mob after the little boy. 

Oh, but there are so many cameras around, surely everything will be documented anyway… ah, but remember who has first dibs on most security camera footage: law enforcement, or at least private security agencies who have every reason to suck up to the cops. I’m sure they’d be more than willing to make a problematic piece of footage disappear, while handing over anything incriminating when asked by an officer who realizes that he screwed up when he kicked around some kid for no good reason.

One word for all of this: wikileaks. Or, in this case, Copwatch. The more you realize where we’re headed the more important becomes the services of something like wikileaks — and, as a corollary — the internet itself. Which is why, of course, the Powers That Be would very much like to reign back control, eliminating net neutrality and “police” the web. But Big Brother wouldn’t just be weeding out Russian kiddie prOn, no, he’d also take out the occasional site that, well, just isn’t right for us. For our own good, of course. Sure, there are some total flakes out there, anarchists who see police brutality everywhere. Ignore them, dismiss them as litle more than misguided lefties with a penchant for “sticking it to the man.” But if the police have nothing to hide, then why are they so actively trying to remove any witnesses from their actions?

Update: Well, looky looky — now someone with a cell phone managed to snag footage of the US border patrol protecting the homeland executing a 14-year-old and completely discrediting the FBIs lame lies. I’m guessing we’ll have legislation on a federal level banning cameras within the week.