Vail Daily column: Quit being so paranoid
September 30, 2013
"Those who give up liberty for safety deserve neither," Benjamin Franklin said.
Ol' Ben was usually spot on, but not always, so now that we have 24 new surVAILance cameras being installed in town next year (provided they survive the 2014 budget process), it will be interesting to see the public's response, if there is one.
As usual, I suppose, nobody will say a damn thing until after the evil government eyeballs are up and running, but then it will be, of course, too late.
So, by a show of hands, who is paranoid of what? How about you, in the tweed jacket?
"If a person is going to commit a crime, they will surely do it in a camera's blind spot, thus negating the purpose."
But if they're drunk and doing something stupid on the spur of the moment, which I would put good money down on being the leading cause of Vail Police reports, then I don't believe that's a true concern.
How about you, with the crossed arms in a bright green dress and her hair in a bun?
"It's my right to go out of my house and not have to worry if I'm being videotaped! The police or a camera or nothing like that can protect me, the crime is never stopped by this nonsense. I don't want to give up my freedom so I feel 'safe.' It should be a choice, dammit! I'm entitled to my own view, and just because you want to give up your freedom, I shouldn't have to give up mine."
Look lady, when you are in public, society expects you to behave in a proper manner, with proper being whatever is acceptable for the current culture, and only those purposely refusing to do so need worry. Besides, cameras are good witnesses and never change their story. And the last place these things are pointed is towards your windows.
You — yes, the one wearing the tinfoil hat. What do you think?
"Facial recognition, behavioral patterns, racial profiling and all sorts of stuff can be programmed into these things. And we all know the footage will be sold to corporate America so they can study us for marketing purposes."
"Damn straight! They're already monitoring our social behavior in order to better control how, where and why we do stuff. We also know they can monitor our language, too, so we can be arrested for saying the wrong words in public."
Come again? No, forget that, just take off that silly hat and listen. Yes, people will act differently when they know they are being watched. Their behavior, and in some ways their personalities, will be influenced and shaped by the all-seeing (but know-nothing) cameras. But guess what, that's part of the purpose, especially along Bridge Street after midnight, as Happy Valley is not downtown Detroit.
Seriously, if you are the type convinced that the police, or even worse, the NSA, is watching your every move, especially in public, or that it somehow infringes upon your liberties, then you must never leave your house. You're on candid camera when you walk into Wally World, when you pull into one of the town parking structures, enter the airport, eat at a restaurant, walk into a liquor store or bank, stroll into a public school and a few hundred other places around here. It's like Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin had a baby, and you're the conspiratorial-laced result.
The town is basically just trying to discourage drunk idiots from doing stupid crap late at night and, of course, help to solve the occasional actual crime. Budget cutbacks demand more efficiency, and these things work 24/7.
So like the Vail Resort videocams that have been running online for years, just be sure to smile whenever walking around town, as opposed to worrying about whether or not somebody "sees" you.
Unless you're doing something illegal, nobody really cares.
Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes a weekly column. He can be reached at email@example.com.