Thursday, January 04, 2007


You must have been noticing, Bush, how everything is showing up on videotape these days. Maybe I have the techonology wrong, but digital or otherwise, it's moving pictures that keep popping up to document almost everything you can imagine--and a lot you can't.

This thought, this morning, provoked by yet another replay of the telephone video of the disgraceful events surrounding Saddam's hanging, the insurgent-released images of those four American contractors abducted weeks ago and--from the sublime to the ridiculous, the Today Show interview of the store clerk attacked from behind through the wall of his convenience store by a marauding SUV. (Have you noticed, in fact, how those SUVs seem to be going wild these days? There has been a remarkable surge--excuse the word, Bush--of videotaped SUV intrusions through the walls of department stores, automobile display floors, Seven-Elevens... It's amazing. You'd almost think these vehicles are beginning to declare war on the human species. An idea for a sci-fi thriller? What do you think?)

The ubiquity of cameras is something I don't think most of us would have imagined twenty years ago. I've been reading about the those security cameras they have installed at virtually every street corner and tube station in England, and am uncomfortable about this "1980" (eat your heart out, Orwell: you overestimated by at least twenty years!) version of what I still consider to be my home country. Now everyone can have his or her personal means to make a visual record of anything they care to, from intimate porn in the bedroom to the car crash at the local intersection and this week's blizzard, hurricane, or tornado.

All of which leaves me feeling more than a little spooked, Bush. I don't know about you--you must be used to cameras pointed at you everywhere--but I happen to value my privacy. One of the founding principles of this country was surely that we each have the right to what I read described the other day as our "bubble"--that small, and apparently decreasing personal space in which we can feel at home, unwatched, free to be exactly who we are. I don't honestly know whether I would have preferred to remain ignorant of the sectarian barbarity that characterized the final minutes of the miserable existence of Saddam Hussein, but I know that the implications leave me more than ever exposed to the prying eyes of the contemporary world.

1 comment:

PK said...

I read this earlier and finally came back. It's difficult, in my mind, to say no to the 'Sneaky Pete's', yet on the other hand I don't want the cameras everywhere. I notice that it is helping over there to combat crime, and I notice over here, it is stopping more people from going through yellow and red lights. Knowing they have your license number is a good deterrent. So where do you draw the line? I'd like to see them in parking lots where women are being abducted. They have caught a few men and were able to bring them to justice with these cameras. Isn't this a good thing? I don't know where that line is, but I hope they figure it out. Good post Peter...