Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Welcome, fellow terrorists!

Police attending a fire in the Bermondsey area. © Magnus Andersson

UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith didn't give two hoots about my last post on the subject. Now it seems that any man/woman wearing a police uniform is perfectly intelligent enough to decide for themselves if that person over there - with a camera - is a terrorist, and then take the appropriate action. Journalists have no rights in the eyes of a police officer anymore, the once 'open society' is now well and truly gone.

The UK is currently one of the most oppressed countries to live in, just take a look at this story from 2002. Back then, we were photographed on average 300 times per day! Imagine what the stats would show for 2009?! And why do the police deem photography unlawful only when they see it so? It seems to me that there are a huge amount of double standards going on here.

I deleted a lot of ranting here for the benefit of keeping this blog on the clean side of commentary, but I can only refer to a story that I shot a few days ago on the repercussions of this disastrous government decision.

Apart from the fact that democracy as we used to know it is falling apart, there's not much to report. The Mugabe approach (see earlier posts here and here), which Gordon Brown seems to have adopted, is so much more effective than we ever imagined.

See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil. © see here

The suspects are of course the tabloids' obvious caricature: beard-plus-Middle-Eastearn-looks, but we can now also add ANYBODY with that well known WMD - a camera - to that list.

Well done Gordon Brown! The democracy that you foster is second only to, well, most of the rest of the world.

Did anyone tell you, Gordon, that Guantanamo Bay is closing down forever, for the simple fact that it was all a BIG MISTAKE? Didn't anyone tell you, Gordon, that persecuting journalists is a Mugabe sport, not something that an instigator of international freedom should engage in?

GAZA, GAZA STRIP - JANUARY 06: (EDITOR'S NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT) Palestinians evacuate the dead body of a child from in the rubble of a four story house that collapsed when struck by an Israeli air strike on January. 6, 2009 in Gaza City, Gaza Strip. Israeli forces killed at least 30 people today when artillery shells targeted a United Nations run school where Gazans sheltered from fighting. Israel continues to intensify its wide-scale ground assault against the Gaza Strip ignoring mounting international calls for an immediate cease-fire. (Photo by Thair Hasani/Getty Images) © Getty Images

Did you think that the Israeli tactic to not to let any journalists into Gaza was a good move? See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil? For a so-called Labour man you seem to have forgotten your core values a long time ago.

So why allow this stupid guilty-before-proven innocent-approach in the first place? There can only be a couple of good reasons, the first one being to get elected again by pretending to be tough on terrorists. Well...so far, not a single terrorist plot has been stopped by checking someone's camera. Secondly, it might favour the police if they can confiscate any photographic record of their own wrongdoings. Or am I just being cynical, Rodney King?

Things are looking gloomy for UK photojournalism, perhaps worse than it ever has been. We're all terrorists now, professionals and happy amateurs alike, and entirely in the hands of people that are neither elected nor properly educated on human rights.

This is the police officer, TL 270, whom I wrote about here, and who will know not even have to apologise when he takes my camera next time. © Magnus Andersson

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