Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's really not that Harding...

Yup, it's our old friend, Neil Harding, attempting some flawed logic to attack the libertarian position.
I love DK's suspicion of authority, believe it or not I share the same distrust of the police etc—but if you are going to defend the right to film in a public place (which I also agree with), you cannot go around slagging off CCTV like these 'libertarians' do. They are inconsistent and they must know their argument on CCTV doesn't stand up at all from a libertarian point of view.

Well, thanks for the compliment, Neil, but you must know your argument—to use your words—"doesn't stand up at all". For, as anyone with an understanding of the issues must realise, it is not the filming per se that is wrong, but the use to which that information is put.

First, there is a world of difference between someone casually filming a few minutes of footage and a systematic and constant observation of the population. Amongst other things, one might be tempted to invoke NuLabour's stalking laws against a cameraman who followed you with a camera, filming your every move and action. It would certainly be classed as harassment.

Second, the casual film-maker is not using the footage in an attempt to enforce conformity, which the government certainly is. There is a massive fucking difference between filming for, say, a news report and systematically filming the population in order to monitor their movements.

Third, one can approach the casual cameraman and ask that he does not film you and, I think, most would comply with that request. This brings the element of consent into the affair: you cannot request not to be filmed via CCTV. Apart from anything else, one never knows who's watching you through the CCTV lens (and there have been enough stories of CCTV operators abusing their powers for this to be something of a worry).

If Neil really cannot see the difference between these two types of filming, then he is even more fucking dense than I thought—and, let's face it, my opinion of his intellectual prowess was hardly the highest to start with.

UPDATE: Neil replies in the comments with, amongst other things, this...
... if you believe people have the right to film anyone they like in a public place then CCTV which is decided by a democratically elected government (with far more restrictions on them than some stranger filming you) is decidedly ok, especially when it is clearly an attempt to reduce crime and disorder.

First, we should always bear in mind that this government were elected by less than 22% of the electorate (let alone the population as a whole). Whether they claim to be democratic is, as far as I am concerned, utterly irrelevant. Not only were NuLabour elected by a minority of the citizens of this country, as a libertarian I am not interested in democracy but in liberty—as I have pointed out before. Personally, I would render the government so powerless that it would barely matter who was in charge anyway, but that is, at present, merely a fantasy.

Second, as constant studies have shown, CCTV has little impact on crime.
Under Labour the number of CCTV cameras has increased 8 times from 67 schemes with approximately 5,238 cameras in 1997 to an estimated 500 systems with 40,000 cameras in 2002. The problem is that CCTV is a placebo.

CCTV makes people feel safer but has no impact on actual crime levels or crime clear up rates. This is an overconfidence that has lead to real miscarrages of justice, luckily this is rarer than it might be because even with high quality systems it is hard to identify people from CCTV that you are not already familar with, and CCTV is very rarely of high quality.

Then there is the small matter that almost all of these supposed crime prevention schemes are themselves illegal. Real criminal know how useless they are though and have absolutely no fear of them. The law abiding however are not so lucky, CCTV may not be any good for reducing crime but they are perfectly good enough to let the operators play the peeping tom.

I said, at the top of this article, that...
... it is not the filming per se that is wrong, but the use to which that information is put.

Thegovernment have the power to control us through laws and through their own private army the police and... oh, yes... their own private army—comprised of both the Turkey Army and the actual, gun-wielding army. A lone cameraman has the ability to compel you to do... well... nothing. That is at the heart of why I don't mind being filmed by a lone cameraman (or camera crew) and why I do object to being filmed via CCTV.

Neil says, with emphasis added by me, that "I love DK's suspicion of authority, believe it or not I share the same distrust of the police etc"; apart from it being patently obvious that he does not really share my mistrust of authority—for why else would he put so much faith in a government that he would cede yet more power and liberty to?—if Neil was being sincere, he would never think to try to defend CCTV in this way because he would automatically understand why it is an intrusion.

23 comments:

Longrider said...

Indeed, it was pointed out to him by one of his commetners with the utmost clarity. A reasonably intelligent person could follow the rationale. Not Neil, I'm afraid. I still can't quite make out whether it is obtuseness in order to rationalise his continued support of Labour or sheer stupidity. Tough call.

HSLD said...

He's simply a twat. Praise jeebus that he and his kind are on their way out.

Neil Harding said...

What if the stranger you ask refuses to stop filming? Do they still have the right to film you? What about a cameraman filming someone breaking the law or asking them questions about some immoral behavour. Clearly the subject of the film has not given their consent. Is it still ok to film them? I think it is still ok and if you believe people have the right to film anyone they like in a public place then CCTV which is dcided by a democratically elected government (with far more restrictions on them than some stranger filming you) is decidedly ok, especially when it is clearly an attempt to reduce crime and disorder. Only in an irrational mind would anyone object to the CCTV on high streets or at railway stations or even in residential areas or properties where the residents and owners have campaigned to have them. It is ok to film where you like as long as it is not funded by an elected government - that seems to be your 'logic'. Well in one aspect you are correct, I really don't understand 'logic' like that.

Longrider said...

What if the stranger you ask refuses to stop filming? Do they still have the right to film you?

Yes. That is how the law stands.

What about a cameraman filming someone breaking the law or asking them questions about some immoral behavour. Clearly the subject of the film has not given their consent. Is it still ok to film them?

Yes. That is how the law stands. Define immoral behaviour.

...if you believe people have the right to film anyone they like in a public place then CCTV which is dcided by a democratically elected government (with far more restrictions on them than some stranger filming you) is decidedly ok, especially when it is clearly an attempt to reduce crime and disorder.

That they are elected is neither here nor there - as we all know they were elected by a minority and have no mandate - but that's another issue and outside of this discussion.

The plethora of CCTV is designed to monitor the population without just cause, to treat us all as suspects who must be constantly watched in case we misbehave. This is not an appropriate role for the state - at least not in a liberal democracy. That some people might commit an offence is hardly a justification.

It is entirely appropriate that the state operates under greater restriction than the individual because the state is the servant and the individual the master.

Well in one aspect you are correct, I really don't understand 'logic' like that.

You have consistently demonstrated that you don't understand any logic.

As HSLD points out; thank fuck you bastards are about to be kicked out. Can't come soon enough.

Anonymous said...

Socialists have nevert gotten over the "government/society" thing.

Common Sense said...

This is Labour 'stooge' material.

1. 'We can do anything we want - we're a democratically elected government.' Forgetting, of course how much Labour have subverted democracy.

2. 'Clearly an attempt to reduce crime and disorder.' Oh pull the other one, if Labour were serious about crime and disorder there are many more obvious things to do. And yet knife crime goes up - so get rid of all CCTV, it's not working is it?

3. 'It is ok to film where you like as long as it is not funded by an elected government - that seems to be your 'logic'.' You've just failed your critical thinking test, the items starts with 'For, as anyone with an understanding of the issues must realise, it is not the filming per se that is wrong, but the use to which that information is put.'.

Got that Neil, the use to which it is put. Most people filming a street scene are not going to use it to control people - an authoritarian government, who have subverted democracy for their own ends and sold us out to all and sundry eg Muslims, Eu, are highly likely to do just that.

We don't trust Labour because they are traitors to the British people - to you understand that!!! And if they had an ounce of decency, they would realise that they are not wanted anymore and put themselves up for election. If, that is, they really believe in democracy.

leg-iron said...

What if the stranger you ask refuses to stop filming? Do they still have the right to film you?

Not so much they have the 'right to film', more that you don't have the 'right to stop them'. Neither do the police. They aren't harming you by filming you. Nobody seriously believes that soul-stealing stuff any more. You can't claim invasion of privacy if you're walking around the street. It's a public place.

If the cameraman followed you home and filmed through your windows, then you would be right to call the police. However, that's far easier to do with a high-mounted CCTV camera, as the last link in 'peeping tom' in the article demonstrates.

What about a cameraman filming someone breaking the law...

The police would be happy to have a copy, I'm sure. I think they can, in fact, seize the camera as evidence.

...or asking them questions about some immoral behavour. Clearly the subject of the film has not given their consent.

If a cameraman asked me questions I didn't like, then either I'd agreed to the questions beforehand or I wouldn't answer. He can film me not answering all he wants. Its certainly not clear that the subject has not given consent. If he didn't consent, he'd move along rather than talk to the camera, surely?

You can see people taking photos in the street all the time. I do it. Many people do it. What you don't notice are the CCTV cameras - a lone photographer is obvious, more so if he has a tripod. CCTV is designed not to be noticed.

Another big difference is that most street photographers would be happier if the people just got out of the way, whereas CCTV is specifically aimed at people.

I'd much rather be photographed by someone visible than by someone anonymous behind a bank of screens.

Especially as the lone photographer just wants an image, whereas the CCTV crew are actively looking for any tiny transgression so they can send in the heavies.

Nick M said...

"asking them questions about some immoral behavour"

WTF! CCTV is supposed now to combat immorality as well as crime!

Neil/ I'm gonna be twice as immoral as I ever have been you cunt.

Anonymous said...

If the proliferation of CCTV had happened under a Tory government and if the Tories were creating pseudo-plods for the express purpose of harassing innocent citizens, somehow I don't think old Neil would be quite so supportive of them nor quite so condemnatory of those us for whom "civil liberties" aren't just a chapter in a history book.

Therein lies the problem with Neil and his fellow-travellers. For them a question is never debated on its own merits - instead all questions can be devolved to a simple binary division: is this Labour Party policy? Y/N

If Y then pants-wetting endorsements of party policy follow. If N then they proceed to lynch the evil Thatcherite Nazi Paedophile Zionists who dare criticise the diktats of the Politburo.

Their slavish obedience to the party line, their proud ignorance, their failure to understand the concept of objectivity, their rabid frothing-at-the-mouth partisan hatred of anyone who doesn't mouth the latest party slogans - it's all 1984 and it's all so fucking tedious.

Neil, go and slather Broon's pole with your drool. Go slide up and down the greasy pole of Millipede's depravity. We're not interested in your latest instalment of "Why Labour is right about everything!", so you might as well go and put your mouth to use somewhere it might be appreciated (i.e., in the pants of Labour Party apparatchiks).

Anonymous said...

All power to the glory of Neil Harding! He will protect us from immorality! He will uphold virtue! He will vanquish vice!

Lead us now, Neil Harding, to behead and stone all the whores and harridans who go unveiled!

Old Holborn said...

When the State allows me to monitor them wherever I like, I will allow the State to monitor me wherever it likes.

At the moment, the State may do as it pleases and I may not. I have to ask to film on the States property (or it is simply forbidden), yet it can film me anywhere it choses (including my bedroom), listen to my phone calls, read my mail and email, watch where I travel, check how much I earn and what I spend it on, look at what I voted and bug my house. WITHOUT EVEN ASKING.

I demand the same in return. Or is that too much to ask?

The State is not your friend Neil. It may be an enemy of your enemies but it is certainly not your friend

vervet said...

Anon @ 4:09pm ..... why be anonymous ... such an incisive and well written post.

Pin your colours proudly to the mast.

Robin said...

How many CCTVs are there in the Home Office ?WE could have one trained on every mandarin as he sits at his desk, monitoring him for performance. If he`s got nothing to hide..etc..

Anonymous said...

As much as it pains me to say it, I disagree with both DK and Neil (although I obviously share DK's distrust and loathing for the state).

Anyone has the RIGHT to film on his own property by virtue of the fact that the property belongs to him and thus he can exercise free will over it.You have a right to film in your home or back garden because noone my use violence against you as the rightful property owner. Any attempts by the state to prevent you from filming from your own property would be criminal. (As is stands, its perfectly legal to do so). I dont think even Neil disagrees with that.

Things become trickier when we talk about "public" space. Why? Because the word "public" tricks us into thinking that property rights no longer exist, when they must do, since someone has to exert control over town centers like the one we've seen in the video. Public space is just private property owned by a group of people calling themselves the "government". They decide what and who may use their property just as any other owner does. They have a MORAL obligation to take our views into consideration seeing as they are property owners thanks to our voting them into power.

CCTV in a shopping street is just as legitimate as a tourist taking photos or a private security camera, IF we consider the government to be the rightful property owners of this space. The question then becomes, did and does the government acquire property and maintain it through non violent means, or did they use violence and coercive force?

In short, CCTV is not the problem, it is a matter of property rights and the state acquiring land and wealth through coercive force. Just like everything else.

Some people would be happy to have a camera or two, just to provide a minimum level of security, others would prefer no cameras at all. If property rights were respected, and the property owners had to maintain and look after that property, market forces would find that happy balance that no government department can hope to acheive.

The Great Simpleton said...

A pound to a piece of shit that Niel does a volte face as soon a Tory Govt is elected.

leg-iron said...

Public space is just private property owned by a group of people calling themselves the "government".

And there I was thinking that public space was owned by a group of people calling themselves 'the public'. You know, the ones who paid for it.

Silly me.

Jones said...

Sooo, if anyone is not allowed to film or take photographs, then by Mr Harding's own insane statist logic, then nobody should be allowed to film or take photographs. How does this square with the presence of ubiquitous CCTV cameras on Britain's streets? Does this in turn make CCTV coverage unlawful?

Incidentally, 'immoral' is a very loose term. People kissing in the street (Even husbands and wives) can be thought 'immoral' by certain zealots. Is this one of the 'immoral' acts to which Mr Harding is referring? Would Mr Harding say that Gay people kissing in the streets is immoral? Some might disagree, violently.

As for the 'plastic' who told someone they should stop taking pictures in your previous post; he's a fool and well outside his remit. Whoever hired him should be fired.

roger alton said...

Neil means well. But you are pissing in the wind engaging in dialogue with him, though. He is as thick as Gary Elsby albeit with better manners.

I think your filing system is spot on:
"disingenuous cunts".

Old Holborn said...

What Leg Iron said

Public spaces are just that. Owned, paid for and maintained by the public and it's servants. Just because the State decides it owns them doesn't make it true.

Anonymous said...

And there I was thinking that public space was owned by a group of people calling themselves 'the public'. You know, the ones who paid for it.

Silly me.


I define ownership as having an exclusive right or control over property. If the "public" (i.e 65 million people) are the legitimate owners of "public" space then the government is illegally preventing them from exercising their rights as property holders. That doesnt alter the fact that it is private property, because by very definition all property is private.

And you didnt pay for it, you had taxes extracted from your pocket through the threat of coercive force(prison). There is no difference, in terms of rights, between the mafia running the local park or high street, and the government.

Having the whole of society be the owner of property as the communists envisaged leads ultimately to two problems.

i) If everyone is the owner of the local park, you have to get the consent of 65 million people before you can take the dog for a walk or get a loaf of bread. The human race would quickly die out.

ii) If everyone is the owner of everything by default, then there are no incentives to produce or invent or maintain property. (Tragedy of the commons?)

OK, so you may say that we have delegated, as property owners, control to a monopoly force(the government), who force taxes out of us a result. That doesnt give them ownership rights and so the installation of CCTV or other acts against our will on public space would still be illegal.

But ultimately we have agreed on the same point, and the one that I wished to make; the argument for a libertarian should not be about whether CCTV is good or bad, but about the government's abuse of property rights! Neil, as a socialist, doesnt recognise them and thus cannot recognise the subtle difference in our argument.

But again, why not allow a private companies to look after our parks and libraries, with the inevitable result of having a local service that fits the needs of those willing to pay.

Anonymous said...

Just because the State decides it owns them doesn't make it true.

I think we agree on the same basic point. It is not a matter of CCTV and how CCTV is used or even whether we distrust the government, as DK's post seemed to be labouring over, because CCTV can be a very useful tool as much as it can also be a nuisance or threat.

Debating over the merits or drawbacks of a certain tool or service, is to ignore the rights of the individual, and thus gives much more weight to the arguments of a socialist.

Budgie said...

The magic word "democratic" makes all coercion legitimate for socialists - as in German "Democratic" Republic. Socialists quite rightly point to the dangers of private business monopolies, yet are totally blind to state monopolies whether in business, coercion, social control or surveillance. For socialists, tribalism and the state's power (provided they control that power) counts for more than liberty and justice.

Old Holborn said...

Or rather for Socialists, the common good trumps the individual every single time.

Trouble is, it is only them that gets to decide what the common good is.

Is Libertarianism selfish? Probably - with the exception that it does not allow your actions to be detrimental to others. Is Socialism selfish? Most definately - all come above individual needs regardless of the detriment to you. Is Capitalism selfish? Undeniably.