I mean, it would have to be a pretty large tumbrel to fit the guillotine inside, and you would need a lot of pulling power to drag the thing through the streets and still retain the cutting force necessary, but I’m sure we could be motivated to get to at least the proof-of-concept build phase based on Bobo’s latest crime against reality over body cameras on police.
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.
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.
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.
So, yes, on balance, cop-cams are a good idea. 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. Cop-cams strike a blow for truth, but they strike a blow against relationships. Society will be more open and transparent, but less humane and trusting.
The obvious response is “there’s nothing humane and trusting about shooting a guy 8 times in the back, then planting a taser on the ground next to his dead, handcuffed body” but this bulging sack of tepid mammoth crap in glasses here probably wouldn’t get it anyway. It’s difficult to argue that your right to not feel embarrassed by a body camera recording your drunken rendition of Kanye’s “Flashing Lights” somehow trumps your right not to be shot and killed, but our sacky protagonist, well he goes there, boldly leaving a trail of Santorum behind him.
Anyhoo it’ll be a challenge for the build team, I know. Let’s get to work.