Clash of the Titans LXV: Surveillance Cameras

January 29, 2008, 12:00 pm; posted by
Filed under Connie, Debate, Mike J  | 7 Comments

In this corner, supporting public surveillance cameras, is Connie!

And in this corner, opposing their use, is Mike!

June 2, 2007 — Kelsey Smith, 18, was abducted and strangled by Edwin Roy “Jack” Hall, outside a store where she had purchased a present for her boyfriend. Hall’s identity and apprehension was aided by the store’s use of security cameras. On his MySpace page, “Jack” called himself a “Sweet Troubled Soul,” interested in “eating small children and harming small animals.” Prosecutors are considering the death penalty.

February 1, 2004 — Carlie Jane Brucia, 11, was returning from a sleepover when she cut through a car wash. There she was led away by a man, never to be seen alive again. The camera at the car wash showed a man in a uniform shirt approaching Carlie, talking to her, and then leading her away. NASA assisted by enhancing the image, and the FBI helped find Brucia and her abductor. Police arrested Joseph P. Smith, who had been arrested at least 13 times in 11 years, and had been previously charged with kidnapping. Carlie’s family described her as a beautiful young girl who loved her cat named Charlie and enjoyed time with her friends.

February 12, 1993 — Jamie Bulger, 2, was kidnapped from a mall in Liverpool, England, by two 10-year-old boys, who then took him for a long walk which ended with them senselessly beating him to death and tying him to train tracks. The boys, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, had been stealing things all day at the mall. Caught on CCTV with James, the boys were convicted of his abduction and murder.

May 30, 2005 — Natalee Holloway, 18, disappeared while on a post-graduation senior trip in Aruba. She was last seen leaving a popular nightclub with three young men — Joran van der Sloot, Deepak Kalpoe, and Satish Kalpoe. All three men were arrested but released, and there was no security tape available of her on the island. Her family and friends hold out hope for a miracle, and her mother travels to churches, sharing her testimony of God’s strength and presence in her life, despite these devastating circumstances.

I could have listed numerous cases of missing kids where cameras could have provided some needed answers and valuable closure. I personally believe that when you are in public, you and your actions are public property.

The argument in favor of surveillance cameras is a touching one. How many crimes against innocents — especially children — could be prevented? Isn’t saving a life — just one life — worth any qualms we might have over privacy issues?

Of course, exactly the same argument could be raised for banning McDonald’s. Many more people die from the results of overeating than are murdered each year. Shouldn’t our government be concerned with this? Isn’t saving lives the point?

While people who feel this way (including my worthy adversary) are to be commended for their humanitarian spirit, I don’t understand the role of government in this way. Government doesn’t exist to save the lives of its citizens, it exists to preserve the rights of its citizens without which freedom is a hollow word.

The genius of the seminal documents of our nation is that they recognize the dangers of totalitarianism: give all the power to the state and watch the state misuse it. The right to privacy implied in the Constitution provides an important safeguard against this.

I may occasionally choose to give up my right to privacy. With a club card, I allow the grocery store to know what I purchase in return for discounts. I allow cookies on my computer in order to use internet services I enjoy.

I am willing to compromise my right to privacy in extraordinary circumstances, or simply for something special I enjoy. But I am unwilling to compromise my right to privacy simply to walk around town or use the subway.

Does that mean that occasionally people will violate the rights of others, even the sacred right to life? Yes, of course, and those people should be punished appropriately. But violating the basic rights of all to protect against a few predators is simply unacceptable.



7 Comments to “Clash of the Titans LXV: Surveillance Cameras”

  1. Tom on January 29th, 2008 3:01 pm

    Your argument hinges on the right of the individual to privacy. However, if you are in a public place you have no reasonable expectation to privacy, and no exclusive right to images taken of your person. If that were not the case there would be no such thing as the paparazzi. To argue that recording events taking in public is akin to banning fattening foods is a little farcical. Surveillance is not a matter of restricting the rights of the many to protect the few, but rather protecting the many from the actions of the few.

  2. Steve on January 29th, 2008 3:38 pm

    The problem I see with this particular debate is that we’ve blurred the distinction between private security cameras and those installed by the government. No matter which side you’re on, I would think that difference would affect your position to some extent.

  3. David on January 29th, 2008 5:12 pm

    I agree with you 100 % Connie. The Nattalee Holloway case of course was big here because she is from Alabama. It made every one here shake there heads and marvel that you can’t even let your teen aged daughter go around the corner to a third world nation and stay out til 3:00 AM unchaperoned at a night club without having to worry about her safety.

  4. Connie on January 30th, 2008 11:07 am

    I know…(sigh).
    Believe me. I weighed using that one. But this is why I did.

    Her Mom is doing the church circuits promoting her new book in which she touts her faith which I absolutely do not doubt has gotten her through the ordeal. There is Faith in this family, so I found myself wondering what happened?

    I think she gambled. I used the situation to talk to my girls (and whomever happened to be nearby) about the fact that maybe…the ONE time this girl MAY HAVE chosen to make this bad decision ended up costing her her life and future.

  5. David on January 30th, 2008 11:44 am

    I regretted making that comment but couldn’t erase it. It was the wrong place and time. So I apologize if it offended anyone.

    But that is the thought behind it. How many kids have we raised? Can you conceive of letting them get into that kind of situation? Or they themselves when they were old enough getting into that situation? That is where that comment came from originally though, discusiing it with Philip and Rachel when they were back from college.

  6. Connie on January 31st, 2008 11:26 am

    I absolutely would NOT have let them go to that trip. They prob would have hated me for it, but eventually they would have simmered down to a seething indifference. I figured by the time they hit child bearing age they would have worked it all out in counselling. It’s all good.

    I let Rose go on her senior trip because Jere had gone to the same place (Disney World). But I hated the whole atmosphere of no parents allowed and no real chaperones or accountability. I had to trust that the foundations we’d helped to lay in them in Christ, would get them through any temptations to sin. I prayed that they would be testimonies to the others and that their lights would shine in a depraved dark world. I hoped it happened.

  7. Djere on February 2nd, 2008 11:54 pm


    Disneyworld was nothing.

Leave a comment!