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Article Archive >> Business

Smile, You’re on Candid Camera

by Vikki Nelson


I have a friend, Art Downs that lives in the Annapolis area and he writes me some of his best works, so I will paraphrase some of his writings in this pointed observation.

We have Big Brother in Maryland - of course you all know that. We are observing an increased zeal to place government video cameras everywhere in the state. Allegedly it is for our own protection. There were first the red light cameras and then cameras to issue speeding tickets.

In the District of Columbia, where the local government displays ineptitude in almost everything but the issuing of parking tickets, such cameras have proven to be a revenue source. Should Maryland follow the example of the Dismal District?

Some people advocate incremental (but irreversible) sacrifices in privacy and freedom in order to achieve some questionable advantage in safety or security. There have been classic warnings against contemplating such exchanges. Still, many legislators make their attempts to create a more restrictive Nanny State.

Some simply say, follow the law and you have nothing to fear. In the case of the red light cameras, there may be a pit of a point. But when the timing of the amber light is reduced to maximize tickets, one can question whether the motivation is safety or revenue. Such cameras may also prove to be a threat to safety. Overly cautious drivers may break suddenly as a light turns amber even though they have ample time to clear the intersection. The results should be obvious.

Some advocates of “speed cams” make similar arguments. Obviously, this is the crowd that dawdles in the left lane on the Interstate and wonder why some pass them on the right with an occasional rude gesture. Most traffic on major roads moves at 10 mph over the posted limit. This would seem to indicate that the limits were set too low. Typically, police officers will be moving with the flow. There will be the occasional “Dudley D-Right” type that will be creating a tail of traffic behind him as he travels the posted limit. He creates a moment of joy as he turns off and the temporary traffic jam dissipates.

Yet while some money-hungry legislators look for new ways to pay for expanded pork (and past prolificacy) and justify it in the name of “safety,” does anyone really care about privacy?

This disdain for a basic and natural right is rather ironic in a state with a unique “wiretap” law that was concocted to protect lying and/or crooked elected officials and has also been used to aid the cause of a multiple murderer.

Perhaps some animals are more equal than others.

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