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Photography v. Fascism in the UK


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#1 Hiroyuki

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 11:18 PM

It seems to me that "terrorism" has become an excuse for politicians to exercise their natural inclinations towards fascism, ie. to arbitrarily control the population and stop anything that might hamper the authorities doing whatever they please.

Next week sees the enactment of a new law in the UK which can have you jailed as a terrorist simply for taking a photograph of a policeman (tourists to the UK please note!) What does this mean for situations where someone sees a policeman exceeding their authority and decides to take a picture as evidence? Now they could be arrested and jailed simply for trying to uphold the law, and the photos would probably be destroyed on the spot. (This has already happened several times in the last year alone, e.g. a person was arrested and held in custody for several hours simply for photographing a police car that was parked illegally whilst the officers bought a takeaway meal) but in the past the police got told off for it. Perhaps this "inconvenience", that taking a photograph has not in itself been illegal, is why the new law is coming in?) Or what about someone who simply wants to photograph a tourist attraction which has police patrolling it?

But after a year in which photographers have been systematically harassed and assaulted by UK authorities (for many examples from the first half year alone, see this article) in events more normally associated with Soviet Russia or places like Turkey, Iran, or China, a fightback has finally started. A mass demonstration is being organised for Monday 16th Feb. to assert photographers' rights. Of course, not everyone is a photographer. But we all know what that means: "I wasn't a communist/trade unionist/Jew/Muslim so I didn't think it important to protest...." First they've come for the photographers. But next it could be the cyclists, the anglers, the atheists....

Anyhow here's some links to articles about the demo by organisations involved (or who are at least cheering the fledgling forces of anti-fascism on):
Amateur Photographer magazine
British Journal of Photography
The Register (probably the UK's most respected technology news site).

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#2 franzoir

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 12:10 AM

Well this is just a representation of the times we live in. I think particularly Terrorism resonates more with UK beucase it wasnt so long ago UK was being bombed by the IRA. Now we have to deal with homegrown terrorist amongst others because of political alliances that have been made. I think this generational wave of terrorism has become a sensitive issue for the UK and gotten to the point where we are so scared we dont mind if our civil liberties are being erroded. Introduction of ID cards and policies like 90 day terror bills which would have been dismissed as too authoritarian 20 years are now real possibilities.

Less people are being tried for the crimes they actually committed and more under the Terrorism act of 2000. If you comit arson the crime can be upgraded to terrorism which is likely to get a heavier punitive response.

As for Photography, that has always been a sensitive issue besides terrorism. For issues like violating intellectual property rights and stuff. I think its a bit unfair that you narrow it down to UK alone. This is happening all over the world. I remember a case of a british planespotter who went to Spain to take a few pictures of spanish airplanes when he was arrested under suspect of terrorism. Luckily he narrowly avoided a 25year jail sentence. So you see its not just Britain. I dont think race plays a big factor interms of questionable behaviour. Ofcourse if your asian your more likely to be arrested for terrorist activity but in general authorities dont care if your white/black/asian/green or purple. They are just following orders regardless.

Ofcourse people have the right to take photos and its a shame the culture is under threat by recent terrorist scare. However, its a delicate line the goverment has to play. We have freedom of speech but if i say "Lets kill all children" ofcourse people arent just going to let it go.

Generally though it does seem a bit extreme that you can be arrested for taking the picture of a policeman. You have to weigh it up though. Is it worst being tried as a terrorist just because you wanted a picture of a policeman. Ultimately, no. There are plenty of other subject matter in the world to take pictures of. It comes down to people not wanting their actions to be restricted even if its for the greater good. On the other hand if the government doesnt take more controlling measure then people will criticise it when a crisis happens. Its a delicate balancing act to which no one holds the solution to. It all come down to judgement if you ask me but thats only me.
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#3 Hiasubi

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 11:27 AM

QUOTE (franzoir @ Feb 15 2009, 01:10 AM)
On the other hand if the government doesnt take more controlling measure then people will criticise it when a crisis happens. Its a delicate balancing act to which no one holds the solution to. It all come down to judgement if you ask me but thats only me.

Yeah but thats just because we a fickle nation when it comes to a crisis imo.

But you do raise a good point, as much as this is kinda stupid to many, if something were to happen in the future eg Scotland Yard got suicide bomber or something thanks to Terror Suspects photograpgh police movements ( i knwo ths is farfetched but still). If the public then found out that Terror suspects were openly taking photos, then all you will read and hear is the pblic complaining that nothing was done to stop this.



#4 monsta

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 03:00 PM

QUOTE (franzoir @ Feb 15 2009, 12:10 AM)
Well this is just a representation of the times we live in. I think particularly Terrorism resonates more with UK beucase it wasnt so long ago UK was being bombed by the IRA. Now we have to deal with homegrown terrorist amongst others because of political alliances that have been made. I think this generational wave of terrorism has become a sensitive issue for the UK and gotten to the point where we are so scared we dont mind if our civil liberties are being erroded.

I don't think this issue can be limited to just the UK. Many countries civil liberties are under threat from various new anti-terror legislations. It's really just a big balancing act. If we give the citizens more freedom and monitor them less closely then security will become weaker. On the other hand if monitoring increases it is likely that our liberties will be effected but society will be safer. In this current climate of terrorism people are putting a higher emphasis on security so it's not completely surprising that peoples' freedoms have been adversely effected.

QUOTE (franzoir)
Ofcourse people have the right to take photos and its a shame the culture is under threat by recent terrorist scare. However, its a delicate line the goverment has to play. We have freedom of speech but if i say "Lets kill all children" ofcourse people arent just going to let it go.

Freedom of speech is allowed but only if it does not incite racial hatred. Then there's stuff like libel and slander. Speaking of libel the UK has one of the toughest laws in libel in the world. To the point where people say it is unnecessarily limiting free speech and only serves to protect the interests people/organisations; damaging public interest on the whole. So even with speech there are balances to be made about freedom and offending other people.

QUOTE (Hiasubi @ Feb 24 2009, 11:27 AM)
But you do raise a good point, as much as this is kinda stupid to many, if something were to happen in the future eg Scotland Yard got suicide bomber or something thanks to Terror Suspects photograpgh police movements ( i knwo ths is farfetched but still). If the public then found out that Terror suspects were openly taking photos, then all you will read and hear is the pblic complaining that nothing was done to stop this.

I don't think photographs should be enough to convict people of terrorism. It can be used with other evidence to build up a case, but on it's own, it is meaningless. If people went down this route any tourist could take a photo and be arrested for terroism which would lead to unnecessary burden on the police force as they would arrest thousands of people. What's more many innocent people would be convicted which would result in people losing faith in the system.

In any case only professional terrorists would carry out such a operation so it is likely they will have more damning evidence i.e. blueprints, list of people working, travel documents etc etc. I doubt adding pictures to that list will make much difference and it is unlikely this bill would be the difference between failure and success. So I think it is a bit pointless and will only harm people in a negative way.

People should not be too hasty, even in critical times as hasty decisions rarely make a situation better and often make it worse. The police should try and learn from the Jean Charles de Menezes case. If they go down this route they are bound to repeat the same mistakes again.

#5 Patrick5087

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 02:36 AM

there is freedom of speech but there is also just plain outright stupidity.

and I think the whole law against taking pictures of police is one step too far. Also the fact that police seem to be on that case in numbers is disturbing imo.

I hope that law gets pulled back soon.

From your brothers in The US.

Edited by Patrick5087, 09 June 2010 - 02:37 AM.





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