Monday, December 17, 2007

Cameras proposed to fight non-existent crime

Welcome to Buhl, Minn. Population 1,000. It's a small, sleepy community where nothing much ever happens. Indeed, it disbanded its police force in 1999.

Which is why it clearly needs surveillance cameras to keep the peace.

Local law enforcement officials are pushing a plan to place six surveillance cameras around this Iron Range town of less than a thousand people.

Sgt. Pat McKenzie of the St. Louis County Sheriff's office, which has overseen law enforcement in Buhl since the city disbanded its police department in 1999, said it'd be a tool for solving and deterring crime. But some residents are asking: What crime?

The main plan is to put cameras on the three roads into town, to ensure that any out-of-town criminals are caught in videotape as they arrive. But they'd also put cameras at City Hall, the city beach and an industrial park.

If the good citizens of Buhl want cameras, of course, they can have them. But does anyone here think the surveillance society has gotten a little out of hand?

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6 Comments:

Anonymous caracarn said...

"I've argued before that the way to settle the gay marriage debate is to get the government out of the marriage business..."
"If the good citizens of Buhl want cameras, of course, they can have them. But does anyone here think the surveillance society has gotten a little out of hand?"

Wow, Sean, stuff like this makes me think you're a Ron Paul fan. Good on you!

12/18/2007 1:54 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

No, Ron Paul is at the nutty end of libertarian -- an isolationist, conspiracy-minded supporter of the gold standard.

I'm not a libertarian -- I just can't get my head around the consequences of some of their beliefs, like their opposition to zoning regulations. But I'd support a rational libertarian. So far, none is running.

12/18/2007 2:18 PM  
Anonymous caracarn said...

I'd have to disagree with your characterization of Ron Paul, and frankly I'm surprised you would issue something so devoid of substance.
Is he "isolationist" because he wants to end ongoing wars, end the idea of preventive attacks, and pull our troops (including those in Europe and Asia) back to where they belong? We don't need to subsidize Europe's defense anymore, nor is South korea our problem. We don't need to have a quasi-empire in order to be a superpower.
I don't agree with pulling out of the UN completely, but I don't think the UN does a whole lot of good the way it is. Ron Paul believes in open, free trade and talking with mutual respect to our neighbors rather than attempting to force our beliefs on them. How is he "isolationist"?

How is he "conspiracy-minded"? What's wrong with a commodity-backed currency? What's "irrational" about him? It's easy to throw around such popular terms but no one seems to back up those charges. And yes, it's also popular among the elite, or those who believe they are elite, to dismiss Ron Paul supporters as...well...whatever.
Doesn't it mean something that so much of Paul's support comes from regular Americans as opposed to the Washington establishment? Isn't it more inspiring to see hundreds of average citizens supporting a candidate rather than a few men in suits from the beltway? The other candidates are shllls for the status quo, full of empty rhetoric. And people are tired of the same old, same old.

This is your place and I'm sorry for my haranguing intrusion. But jeez, Sean, why'd you have to be so curt?

12/19/2007 7:53 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Sorry, Caracarn: curtness was a function of time, not disrespect.

A full response requires a lot of room, so I've given it's own separate post here.

12/19/2007 1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the surveillance cameras---I have absolutely no problem with them. I can recall a few years back the little 16 year old girl being escorted across a parking lot with a man----who later viciously raped and murdered her. He would have most likely NEVER been caught had it not been for that surveillance camera in the parking lot of that car wash. He was identified by that video---caught and prosecuted. That camera saved other lives who would have most assuredly fallen prey to this psycho.

JP5

12/23/2007 7:43 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Sure, security cameras can catch criminals. That's why they exist. The question, though, is how much surveillance should we be willing to endure in order to feel safe?

In the case of Buhl, there is no crime wave prompting this. So what, exactly, are the good citizens of that town giving up their privacy *for*?

I assume you support cameras in more places than I do, but I assume you wouldn't support them everywhere: at the end of your driveway, for instance, or looking in your windows, or in bathrooms.

If you do, I'm flabbergasted. If you don't, then you understand that the question is where the line should be drawn between security and privacy.

In such a debate, I tend to value privacy more highly than you do, and you tend to value security more highly than I do.

The fact that cameras sometimes prevent crimes or catch criminals does not mean that more cameras are always desirable.

12/31/2007 5:17 PM  

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