I was browsing at Ace of Spades HQ and a story there by Maetenloch about law enforcement officers harassing photographers caught my eye because it mentions a case about a Maryland man — who lives near me — who is on trial for videotaping his own arrest for speeding on his motorcycle. This is an issue that Instapundit, aka law professor Glenn Reynolds, follows and Maetenloch linked a piece by Prof. Reynolds published at Popular Mechanics a week ago. Here’s what caught my eye (boldfacing mine):
Not surprisingly, police tend to be particularly sensitive about being photographed themselves. And many of the cases cited by Manning involve officers discouraging citizens from filming them while they go about their duties. Though one can understand their skittishness, the fact is, our ability to document the actions of public officials is an important freedom, one that can serve as a check against abuses.
Police and prosecutors in Maryland have been taking a particularly hard line. In one case, motorcycle rider Anthony Graber left his helmet cam on while he was pulled over by a state trooper. A grand jury indicted him on several violations of the state’s wiretapping laws. If convicted on all charges, Graber could face up to 16 years in prison. In alleging that the GoPro video camera on Graber’s helmet constituted a “surreptitious” wiretapping device, prosecutors are making the claim that a person recording his own arrest is violating the police officer’s right to privacy.
This is the sort of thing you might be tempted simply to toss in the crazy file. But, in fact, this is one of the comparatively few issues that could merit a new federal civil rights law. Under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, Congress is empowered to pass laws protecting civil rights against infringement by state and local officials, and that seems to be what’s happening here. A clear federal law would limit cases, like Maryland’s, in which local officials use their power to harass those who might keep an eye on them. Passing such a law would make us all safer.
So lesbians and gays are supposed to fight state-by-state for equality — which conservatives advocate because they know it will be an exercise in futility — but PHOTOGRAPHERS merit a federal civil rights law? GET IN LINE, PHOTOGRAPHERS!
In the same spirit, I invite GOProud Chair Christopher R. Barron to resign from GOProud for his stupefying failure of vision and leadership in his exhortation this week in The Advocate for gays to abandon the fight for same-sex marriage equality and instead become fiscal conservatives:
While the debate over marriage continues, we as a community should support pragmatic reforms that will reduce discrimination against gay and lesbian couples while at the same time strengthening these systems for all Americans.
It is time for the self-appointed leadership of Gay, Inc. to recognize that with leadership comes responsibility. If you claim to speak for the gay community, if you claim to set the agenda for our community, then you have a requirement to make sure you support legislation and policy initiatives that would improve the lives of gay and lesbian Americans today. It is time to abandon marriage or bust.
No, Mr. Barron, it is NOT time to abandon the quest for same-sex marriage equality. However, it IS time for people of real vision and leadership and courage to point out that EQUALITY for lesbians and gays is indeed a matter of the liberty that conservatives purport to hold sacred and that equality is only real when it is federally guaranteed. Criminy, if the liberty of photographers deserves a federal civil rights law, then the noble aspirations of lesbians and gays to marry, serve in the military, adopt children and to be free of discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations DESERVES A FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS LAW FIRST.
Lesbians and gays are a natural constituency of fiscal conservatism because discrimination forces so many of us to become self-employed as individuals or as small business owners. In addition, we know we cannot look to the government for handouts. There are two reasons that there are not more lesbians and gays who are fiscal conservatives — first, social conservatives use the government to force us into second-class citizenship in a deliberate effort to destroy as many gay and lesbian people as they can, and second, social conservatives drive lesbians and gays out of the conservative movement.
So, rather than calling on gays and lesbians to be second-class citizens in perpetuity and fight for the causes of a movement that intentionally destroys our lives, why not call out the conservative movement and explain how many of our conservative goals of improving the morality of individuals and society will be met by the socializing benefits available only to first-class citizens AND how much easier it will be to get the programs advocated by fiscal conservatives enacted into law AFTER gays and lesbians get a federal civil rights law ensuring our equality. This would gut the Left because it would take from them a constituency whose priorities they have vowed to stall forever and yet who performs prodigious amounts of labor and donates even more prodigious amounts of cash — all in quest of the birthright every other American takes for granted: EQUALITY. Nothing would expose the Left as a fraud faster or more effectively.