Terrorism is a terrible thing, obviously. It is a problem that calls for increased vigilance and strong measures to combat it. It also requires our support as citizens.
However, when the hunt for terrorists becomes a McCarthyist witch hunt where the ‘reds under the bed’ are replaced by terrorists on every corner I feel things have gone too far.
It seems, that the police can, and do, use the terrorist excuse for anything they like, and lately it seems that photographers are taking the brunt of it.
Okay, there are examples of ne’er do well terrorists casing their target using cameras: indeed there was just such an incident on the news the other day. A cynic might question the timing of the release of this peice of news, given the bad press that the police have been having lately for harrassing photographers, but even such cynicism aside, this does not mean that everyone weilding a camera should automatically be assumed to be a terrorist.
It makes a change I suppose: until the recent terrorist hysteria anyone with a camera in a public place was assumed to be a paedophile, which is probably worse.
Luckily my wanderings around Gloucester taking pictures of pubs has earned me nothing worse than funny looks and a degree of pointing and laughing (obviously I’m used to that!). It has not yet earned me any time in the cells. How long, though, before carrying a camera in public is as much an offence as carrying a knife?
The thing is, whether terrorist or paedophile, whipping up public panic for even the most innocent of activities is not healthy, and turning the country into something approaching a police state does not make it a more pleasant place to live.
Please can we just all calm down and use some common sense!
For the latest injustice to an innocent photographer see http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/dec/15/italian-student-police-arrest-filming.
To join a movement to stop the madness check out I’m A Photographer not a Terrorist at http://photographernotaterrorist.org/