The GOP: On the Cutting Edge of the Late 19th Century

The GOP: On the Cutting Edge of the Late 19th Century April 13, 2015

In a week when a cop’s lie about cold-blooded murder has been exposed by the courage of a citizen who filmed the whole thing, yet another GOP pol has proposed yet another bit of insanity in the form of a law forbidding citizens from filming cops.  It demonstrates, yet again, that the GOP is not the “party of small government”.  It’s the Party of Large Government Armed to Despoil, Attack and Kill Small People.  It never saw a massively expensive gun or bomb in the hands of a Uniformed Authority Figure it didn’t love.  It’s only minor pleasures enjoyed by the poor it is scrupulous about.

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  • kirthigdon

    Cops should all be required to have body cams and dash cams turned on at any encounter with people. Add to that the number of people who now carry camera phones and you have a start toward reining in the US police state.

    Kirt Higdon

    • ManyMoreSpices

      Yes, I would go so far as to say that any physical evidence or statement gathered by the police with recording devices off or “malfunctioning” should carry a presumption of inadmissibility.

  • Andy

    Haven’t figured out the resistance to body cams, to dash cams, to filming encounters – the only folks hurt by this are “bad cops” So many police are dong a good job, that they should want to “police” themselves and remove the bad ones. As I recall the SCOTUS said that filming cops was legal by the was OK by refusing to accept challenge to an Illinois decision.

    • Joseph

      You know… I’m sort of torn on this. Precedence is everything. If we require cops to be *cammed* all of the time, the case can be made to *cam* everyone. I don’t particularly like that idea. I’m perfectly happy with how it has been: the ordinary citizen capturing bad cops doing bad cop stuff on smartphones and uploading the footage to YouTube. *That* should not be made illegal. But I’m afraid of camming the cops because I know the government won’t stop there. 1984 here we come.

      • Andy

        I fear 1984 as well, but my fear of “rogue” cops is somehow larger at this time. I think the issue is that we have militarized the police to the point where they seem themselves at war. And in the fog of war many things are threatening. If we could remove the at war concept – war on drugs, war on crime, war on fill in the blank the we might not have the need to cam the police.

  • The Lost Dutchman

    I agree that this is a terrible idea, but we should see if it gets anywhere before tarring the entire Republican party with it.

    • Dave G.

      Where have you been? FWIW, the article doesn’t get into his defenses of the bill. So it was hard to figure out why someone would propose a law like this. Noteworthy was the repeated statements in the article that criticism of the bill came from both the left and right. An inconvenient part of the article to be sure.

      • Jaybird1951

        Another example of Mark shooting from the hip to indulge himself. How does the action of one GOP politician constitute the entire party as he implies…or basically says.

  • wlinden

    You post this several days after the bill has been withdrawn.

  • D.T. McCameron

    It’s a matter of 25 feet, though, no? Pray, don’t mistake me, I’m all for watching the watchmen, but I’d say that giving them a certain berth doesn’t really interfere that much in securing justice. Especially as recording technologies improve.

    Though perhaps the issue is one of setting precedent?

    • ManyMoreSpices

      There are already laws against interfering with the police. In general, those laws are good ideas. The problem here (and really, the fatal constitutional defect) is that this bill would criminalize recording the police from within 25 feet away, but wouldn’t criminalize gum-chewing, scratching yourself, combing your hair, doing jumping jacks, or just standing still within that radius.

      A law that said that the public could not willfully come or remain within 25 feet of the police while they were making an arrest might pass muster. There could be a reasonable presumption that the police need space to do the most dangerous parts of their work, so a blanket prohibition might stand. But the cops are in no more danger when someone is videotaping from 24 feet away than when someone is standing still 24 feet away, so there’s no reason to treat the two activities differently.

  • Pete the Greek

    “or document the officer within 25 feet while that officer is performing his official duties.”
    – Having not seen the ACTUAL text of the law, just going off of this, is sounds poorly worded. Did the law say you couldn’t record anything a cops does, including things happening within 25 feet of him? Or did it say you couldn’t close under 25 feet while he’s arresting someone, etc?

    I know it is the orthodoxy here to hate pretty much everything about all police, but I would want a little clarification on this before I jump on the “She weighs as much as a duck!” bandwagon. It’s interesting to note that the distance described is very close the same as practiced in the Tueller Drill.

    The one thing I would be insistent upon would be that the person(s) who are the subject of the ‘duties’ should have the right to document/record regardless of distance. If this was directed only at bystanders, it should have been more clear. Maybe it was, I don’t know, I can’t find the original text.

    Unlike most people who comment here, including our host, I try to get a look at the actual text of a law if I can.

  • Dave

    There are reasons to oppose it. I’m not saying they are sufficient reasons. How many people here would enjoy having their entire life (or at least their workplace) captured on videotape? For cops, it does seem like a good idea, but part of me thinks that when recording the actions of all cops starts to seem like a good idea, the game is already lost.

    • Pete the Greek

      “but part of me thinks that when recording the actions of all cops starts to seem like a good idea, the game is already lost.”
      – Not necessarily. I admit the thought crosses my mind “We really shouldn’t HAVE to do this at all.” But police, be they local, state or federal, have one overwhelming point that is different from civil servants and average citizens: civil society gives them the responsibility to use force, within reason, during their duties (not worded right, sorry, in a hurry). That is an awesome responsibility and it warrants extra overwatch.

      • Dave

        I don’t really disagree…just pointing out that cops aren’t going to like the idea any more than anyone else would, and in general it’s a violation of reasonable privacy. You are right, though, that there is a overriding concern in this case.

        • kenofken

          There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in public places. Not for police, or victims or anyone else.

  • Liam

    I have personal experience with this (not as a cop). Bystanders are not only filming the police, they are filming victims. I’m not saying a police body cam is a bad idea or that bystanders should be prohibited from recording police interactions with the public. Let’s remember that the urge to take the phone away from a stranger who is filming a bleeding rape victim sobbing on the wet pavement is not necessarily totalitarian and might even be understandable. I’ve felt that urge myself.