Join 3,420 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Paranoia vs Preparation
August 21, 2007 2:16 PM   Subscribe

Traditionally, media doesn't print names/photos of people only accused, but not yet convicted, but not always. Lots of towns have a police blotter section where arrests are listed. Here in Seattle, the FBI recently asked the public for help in identifying two men seen acting suspicious on the ferry system. The Seattle PI has decided not to publish the photos. Other local media have. The commentary on if the PI made the right choice follows predictable paths...
posted by nomisxid (33 comments total)

 
"Acting suspicious" is such a bullshit excuse for police harassment. When the hell did "unusual behaviour" ever mean that the law immediately had to be involved? Is it a crime to fail to blend in with a crowd?
posted by tehloki at 2:25 PM on August 21, 2007


Actually, this guy said it better.
posted by tehloki at 2:28 PM on August 21, 2007


Jesus, do yourself a favor and don't read the commentary section. It's just LGF with a few normals sprinkled in.
posted by mrnutty at 2:28 PM on August 21, 2007


"Watch out Itchy he's IRISH!"
posted by Max Power at 2:38 PM on August 21, 2007


Dude, I thought Seattle was supposed to be cool.

We really have devolved into a plurality of neocon pussies, scared of shadows and boogeymen. It's just more evidence that the terrorists have won.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:42 PM on August 21, 2007


Puget Sound's ferries were the nation's No. 1 target for maritime terrorism.

Ferry terrorism just seems so undramatic.
posted by smackfu at 2:43 PM on August 21, 2007


Ferrorism.

Ferryism?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:06 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Traditionally, media doesn't print names/photos of people only accused, but not yet convicted...

Huh? Tell that to Michael Vick, Florida state Representative Bob Allen and countless others who stood accused of crimes these pasr few weeks.
posted by ericb at 3:07 PM on August 21, 2007


They're celebrities/public figures, it's not like we didn't already know what they looked like. Also, that dood totally looks like a terrerist.

Furry Ferryism.
posted by Debaser626 at 3:12 PM on August 21, 2007


They're celebrities/public figures...

The six men accused of killing the three college students in Newark, NJ are neither celebrities or public figures. Yet they're plastered all over the news these days.

It was a poorly worded statement. I'd suggest this: "Traditionally, media doesn't print names/photos of people not yet named suspects..."
posted by ericb at 3:16 PM on August 21, 2007


Goddamned Safari... apologies...
posted by Debaser626 at 3:16 PM on August 21, 2007


* Offer not valid if you're a public figure, or if you're accused of a sex crime or of terrorism. Pricing and participation may vary.
posted by kid ichorous at 3:17 PM on August 21, 2007


Traditionally, media doesn't print names/photos of people only accused, but not yet convicted...

Huh?


Yeah, I think there are some confused concepts here. There are three categories we're talking about: 1) suspected, 2) accused (i.e., charged with a crime), and 3) convicted. Then there's the further complication of when juveniles are involved. The OP's "Traditionally" link points to a case involving a juvenile who was accused/charged. But that's not to say that media don't print the names of accused adults all the time. Don't they?

Anyway, that's a different question from when the cops only have suspects or "persons of interest," when privacy concerns may be more important, like Richard Jewell, that scientist written about by Nicholas Kristof, etc.
posted by chinston at 3:18 PM on August 21, 2007


ericb writes "I'd suggest this: 'Traditionally, media doesn't print names/photos of people not yet named suspects...'"

Is that even true? If there's a bank robbery, or an assault, police will distribute video stills or sketches of the suspect(s). You can see it on your local news every night, if you dare.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:29 PM on August 21, 2007


tehloki: "Acting suspicious" is such a bullshit excuse for police harassment. When the hell did "unusual behaviour" ever mean that the law immediately had to be involved? Is it a crime to fail to blend in with a crowd?

Actually (and since the VT shootings?) there's been some buzz about lowering the standards of involuntary psychiatric commitment, meaning that deviant behavior alone (without clear indications that you intend to do harm) could be enough to land you in a cell or hospital. Another Mefi user blogged about this.
posted by kid ichorous at 3:29 PM on August 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


I wonder if either of them is called Winston Smith?
posted by Jakey at 3:38 PM on August 21, 2007


That guy on the right is clearly one of the Gallaghers from Oasis.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 3:39 PM on August 21, 2007


Seattle WAS cool. Lesser Seattle will have its revenge!

From the way the local media acts around here, you'd get the impression they're hoping something would happen on the ferries!
If you're on a boat and free to wander around for 30 to 60 minutes, short of going into restricted areas, what could you possibly be doing that's 'suspicious?' Eating too many corndogs?
(Wait, that's me.)

I think the P-I was correct. There's been no crime committed. There's bomb-sniffing dogs and coast guard escorts already, I suppose going through metal-detectors is next.

*sigh*
posted by black8 at 3:39 PM on August 21, 2007


I wrote a comment earlier, but the fine performance of metafilter today ate it. Terrorism, right there.

Anyway, I live in a state of wimps. Just reading those PI comments from the scared and clueless is enough to make anyone want to blow something up just in hopes that those people might be nearby.

9/11 sure has provided a HUGE return on investment for whoever did it, hasn't it? I mean, some boxcutters, airfare, a few copies of flight sim and they have the US spending trillions and running around like scared five year olds.

I take that back. We live in a nation of wimps.
posted by maxwelton at 3:44 PM on August 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


ericb writes "I'd suggest this: 'Traditionally, media doesn't print names/photos of people not yet named suspects...'"

Is that even true? If there's a bank robbery, or an assault, police will distribute video stills or sketches of the suspect(s).


Key phrase: "not yet suspects." Once someone is named a suspect or "person of interest" you do indeed see photos, drawings and in many cases the name of the person suspected of a crime in various media.
posted by ericb at 3:49 PM on August 21, 2007


More to the point, there's not even any evidence that a crime has been committed.
posted by dersins at 3:56 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


From tehloki's link:

I feel guilty as hell for all of my subversive activities; where do I turn myself in at?
[Report violation]


I don't know why, but the proximity of these made me smile.

I totally agree with the comment though. I am so going to get busted one of these days. I like looking at and taking photos of weird things, like the undersides of raise-able bridges (have you seen the gears they use, they're huge)

And some asshole is going to see me and naturally assume that the guy with the camera is planning a coordinated attack, whereby I will send waves of trained scarab beetles covered in an adhesive agent into the bowels of the bridge. There they will coat the gears and force the bridge to be locked in an upright position, this will completely bring commerce in the area to a halt and strike a blow against the capitalistic pigs running this country.

I mean, what else could a person possibly think?
posted by quin at 4:08 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Law enforcement trends of the future: "these guys weren't doing anything illegal so we couldn't actually arrest them for anything, but we'd like to enlist the media's help in raising an angry mob that may hopefully show these strangers the what-for!"

The future sounds more like the Dark Ages by the day.
posted by clevershark at 4:21 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Last fall, I was taking pictures of trees in a residential neighborhood. A lady came out of her house, asked me what I was doing and told me the police were on their way. I smiled, thinking she surly must be joking, but sure enough, the police showed up. They asked what I was doing. I told them and let them look at my camera. They told me not to go onto anyone's property or else I would be arrested for trespassing. Post 9/11 america sucks. And just for the record, I was on a public sidewalk taking pictures.
posted by Sailormom at 4:25 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


One of the commenters in the paper wrote, "Better safe than sorry."

In its general form, this is an argument for mental illness. Consider someone who believes "better safe than sorry" for germs -- this is called OCD and in an acute form will prevent you from ever leaving the house. Consider someone who believes "better safe than sorry" for people -- that's called "paranoia".
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:28 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


dersins writes "More to the point, there's not even any evidence that a crime has been committed."

I think that's the rub. That's what makes this weird.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:38 PM on August 21, 2007


I have to read the PATRIOT act sometime. Maybe they did add photography, pedestrian tourism, and curiosity to the list of federal crimes.
posted by tehloki at 6:19 PM on August 21, 2007


I'm pretty sure the Patriot Act has been classified and you can't read it anymore.
posted by RavinDave at 8:33 PM on August 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


There's one in the spotlight, he don't look right to me!
Get 'im up against the wall!
posted by Goofyy at 10:28 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think the problem is, if these two dudes DID do something, and it came out that local law enforcement had been aware of two "suspicious" men inspecting the workings of ferries and did nothing, there'd be hell to pay. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

While the general public is now in the mix, as evidenced by NYCs "If you See Something, Say Something" ad campaign, law enforcement has been doing similar things for ages. (They even tout the fact that "1734 New Yorkers Said Something Last Year). It's just Middle Easterners who are now added to the mix. Granted the impetus is fear, but profiling has been going on for as long as there's been police. When I was in HS, I was told by the NYPD that I couldn't wax my car outside my own home, as it was loitering. (Meanwhile the other cop was illegally searching my vehicle) When I informed the officers that one cannot "loiter" outside one's own residence, and that the officer currently poking around in my trunk was commiting an illegal search, they threatened me with arrest. I let the matter drop, but they simply targeted me for my dress and the fact I was listening to rap music (not at an unreasonable volume for a Saturday afternoon either.)
posted by Debaser626 at 8:28 AM on August 22, 2007


I saw the photos. They must be guilty of something. In fact one sort of looks like Osama bin Laden of you hold your monitor up to a mirror and squint your eyes.
posted by mygoditsbob at 9:23 AM on August 22, 2007


I get the feeling that some blog posted this and demanded that it's readers write into the comment section.

I live in Seattle and wouldn't think that this is the reaction that would traditionally be had. I could be wrong, but this conversation feels a little one sided and off...
posted by Chris Brummel at 10:31 AM on August 22, 2007


Ferries? Seriously? This is the same city that has a large terrorist-inspirational sign saying "no trucks with explosives on I-5 under the convention center," right? I mean, I can't imagine a terrorist plot involving a ferry that would be as half as spectacular as a well-timed stop at PAX or the Seattle Summer Gift Show.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 7:22 PM on August 22, 2007


« Older Asheville likes to play: Pin the Bush on the Flag ...  |  Obesity has been called an epi... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments