So last weekend I took the light rail into town. Nothing special, except for the cameras on the ceiling every 5 feet. Then I see this on a sign on the wall:

“For your safety, this vehicle is equipped with video monitoring.”

This got me thinking, how are these cameras for our safety?

Is it for your safety, or the safety of others? Is it for the “general security of the train”?

It isn’t as though the cameras will prevent someone from beating the shit out of you, or mugging you, or murdering you. If you live through whatever ordeal comes your way, all the cameras would do is show you being the victim of a crime, most likely at the hands of some unidentifiable assailant. “I’d like to present as evidence exhibit A: video footage of a man with a hooded sweatshirt attacking the defendant. Jurors, can you tell who that is? Me either.”

What the cameras could do, especially on a slow-moving light rail train, is alert authorities of any funny business before the train gets into the city. Terrorism, or something. (If that word wasn’t already overused.)

And what an odd way of justifying the cameras. “For your safety” we’ve put cameras here. How long until such justification is used to put cameras on street corners? In privately-owned cars? In houses? It’s the same justification as the train. The cameras themselves won’t prevent you personally from anything, but they will let the authorities know what’s going on and where, so they can protect you from that. And with that reasoning, you could justifiably put cameras ANYWHERE.

It doesn’t even matter, with that reasoning, if you have an “expectation of privacy.” This is typically the argument used against police searches and the like. If you can reasonably expect privacy, you cannot be searched. For example, in your car. Yet the Obama administration is (sadly) attempting to push for the tracking of cell phone data, saying that Americans have no “reasonable expectation of privacy” when it comes to cell phone data. And where do you use your cell phone? Uh, anywhere? You cannot have a conversation on your cell phone and expect privacy. (Or, at least, it’s possible that you won’t in the future.) Nonsense.

A scary precedent, or what?

Anyway, you know what those cameras are really for? Control. They also have signs in the light rail trains that say no food or drink, no spitting, and no listening to the radio without headphones. Who would listen to those rules (that don’t really hurt anyone) unless those cameras were there? Unless someone was watching them? Unless they could be easily caught and punished?

Yes, I’m sure that putting cameras everywhere would prevent a lot of crime. But is that really a world we want to live in? *cough*1984*cough*

~peace, Big Brother — I mean… RR 🙂

I welcome comments and suggestions. Comments can go below, suggestions to radiantreason[at]gmail[dot]com