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CCTV is progressive?
April 1, 2009 8:14 AM   Subscribe

"The idea that the state is an unwarranted assault on individual freedom is not a progressive one. This kind of libertarianism works to protect privilege by cloaking the advantages of the rich in the garb of personal autonomy, individual freedom and the “human right” to privacy." Or so says Professor Gearty in an article in the New Statesman. Via David Miliband's blog, in which he also salutes the debunking of the 'myth' that people in Britain are captured "300 times a day on CCTV"
posted by patricio (114 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I really like the term libertard for those people.
posted by RussHy at 8:19 AM on April 1, 2009


16-year-old Ayn Rand-reading Rush-listening LOLIBERTARIANS what about road system huh?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:28 AM on April 1, 2009


[sarcasm] Of course we're not captured that often by CCTV! Why, when the Metropolitan Police shot dead a plumber in 2005 for boarding a tube train, then lied to the inquest, there was miraculously no CCTV film in that particular tube station or train carriage at all, and the audio recording of the Police control room also vanished into thin air! [/sarcasm]
posted by alasdair at 8:29 AM on April 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


I really like the term libertard for those people.

How enlightened and constructive.
posted by brundlefly at 8:29 AM on April 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't really care if it is 300 or 30 times a day. What I care about is that the right to privacy - privacy unchallenged by the rather creepy question that if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear - has consciously been taken off the agenda.

And to make matters worse, CCTV footage regularly makes it into primetime TV: it's now a fully paid up part of the entertainment industry.

That said, when I see how poorly certain people seem to distinguish between their private and their public lives, posting pics of themselves openly on facebook or discussing their ongoing treatment for chlamydia to their mate by cellphone I do wonder if diminishing privacy isn't a consumer-led phenomenon, rather than big, bad government.

Perhaps one day people will talk about privacy as a rather quaint historical notion like chivalry, finishing schools or feudalism.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:32 AM on April 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


It is tempting to say that by arguing against legal restrictions of freedom, you are tacitly arguing in favor of extralegal restrictions of freedom.

He makes some good points in this article about racial and gender discrimination which seem unrectifiable without legal action.

As I have commented elsewhere, it seems like the folks who are loudest about not wanting to pay taxes are the ones who benefit most from the protective services those taxes pay for.
posted by idiopath at 8:32 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry: Jean Charles de Menezes.
posted by alasdair at 8:33 AM on April 1, 2009


How enlightened and constructive.

Yes, because we mustn't call idiotic and destructive beliefs idiotic and destructive. We must equally value every voice, whether it be Randroid or National Socialist or Maoist or Religious Right.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:34 AM on April 1, 2009


Oh look, a member of the government thinks there's no risk of the tools and systems his government is spending billions to implement might be mis-used by his government or a future, unknowable government.

That's all right then. I'm totally reassured.

I met David Milliband once at a technology event, when he was still the DEFRA minister. He's the definition of a careerist politician who puts his own advancement ahead of anything else. Creeped me the hell out. Can't stand the man.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:35 AM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I really like the term libertard for those people."

You might do well to remember that a lot of libertarians are left-leaning disenfranchised Democrats who believe in a strong civil liberties platform, which the Democrats have mostly abandoned as a plank of their platform. Obama's better, but civil liberties are still sidelined when inconvenient.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:38 AM on April 1, 2009 [14 favorites]


Yes, because we mustn't call idiotic and destructive beliefs idiotic and destructive. We must equally value every voice, whether it be Randroid or National Socialist or Maoist or Religious Right.

Speaking strictly for myself, I think there's a difference between calling something idiotic and destructive in order to criticize it, condemn it and move past it on the one hand and dismissing its adherents with pejorative terms and namecalling on the other.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:41 AM on April 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think Hardy Kruger would be great in this role
posted by clavdivs at 8:42 AM on April 1, 2009


or Robert Carlyle
posted by clavdivs at 8:42 AM on April 1, 2009


Yes, because we mustn't call idiotic and destructive beliefs idiotic and destructive.

If you think their beliefs are idiotic and destructive, perhaps you can find a better way to counter them than to dehumanize them and call them "retarded."

It's interesting that a lot of right wingers refer to liberals as "libtards." Only two letters short. Interesting bedfellows.

Btw, I won't even get into the offensiveness of using "retarded" in this way.
posted by brundlefly at 8:44 AM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Gearty writes that when the right-wing Government passed new police powers in the 1980s he himself feared it was a step towards a police state. Now, with a left-wing Government, he notes that right-wingers object.

Stikes me that what's different is that (1) Gearty's mates are in charge, so their assaults on liberty are fine, and (2) Gearty is older, and therefore more authoritarian.
posted by alasdair at 8:48 AM on April 1, 2009


I first wrote that Britain was in danger of becoming a police state in the New Statesman, in June 1986.

So, it's been 23 years.

What exactly can you NOT do now in Britain that you COULD do in 1986?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:53 AM on April 1, 2009


Btw, I won't even get into the offensiveness of using "retarded" in this way.

And why exactly should calling someone "retarded" be offensive? The word doesn't describe a specific condition like using "Down Syndrome" might. "Retarded" literally means "slowed," and it is the result of various mental conditions, rather than the conditions themselves. Why should "retarded" be any more offensive than "idiotic," "stupid," "moronic," or any other number of words that mean "diminished in mental abilities"?

Granted, people should generally speaking be more civil as well as more accurate in their criticisms, not confusing the people for their ideologies or arguments. That said, it's the attitude and way of delivering the words, and not the words themselves that are offensive. That, or we're going to have to start aggressively berating people for labeling others as "crazy" because it's "offensive" and insensitive to the mentally ill.
posted by explosion at 8:53 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Yes, because we mustn't call idiotic and destructive beliefs idiotic and destructive. We must equally value every voice, whether it be Randroid or National Socialist or Maoist or Religious Right."

I think the point is that name calling isn't that productive or conducive to a good conversation. It won't change the minds of the people in question.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:01 AM on April 1, 2009


Logic will always fail to sway a certain percentage of the population.
posted by kldickson at 9:08 AM on April 1, 2009


Let's see what he's saying:

I first wrote that Britain was in danger of becoming a police state in the New Statesman, in June 1986. The occasion was the Public Order Bill that was then before parliament. Our civil liberties were being “horribly squeezed”, as I saw it, by an increase in police power that was producing a “distressing drift into discretionary law”. I ended by declaring that a “police state, even a benevolent one, is not a free society for long”. I wish now I had not used that phrase: it was too shrill for the circumstances it sought to describe, drawing too quick a conclusion from too flimsy a factual base.

The Conservatives were trying to introduce legislation which regulated various things (notably protests/gatherings). This legislation would allow more discretion for the police. Discretion is bad, because I say so, so this legislation is bad. Viva the common law!

Subsequent work on this point has convinced me that it has never existed; that if anything in recent years the power of the police and of the state generally has been regulated by statute in ways that simply did not exist in years gone by. Until quite recently the police did whatever they wanted and the common law (for which read reactionary judges) upheld them in court on the very rare occasions that they happened to be challenged.

Newsflash: legislation replaces the common law! Recent legislation (dare I suggest, post-1997, which is when Labour were elected) has been a good thing. Police were lawless lawmakers, and the bloody judges let them get away with it. The common law was powerless. Of course, had those reactionary judges done anything, we would've said that they were legislating, thus violating the separation of powers. Viva legislation!

Odd though it might seem to say, the existence of laws on state power may point to a move away from rather than in the direction of a police state. Two examples of this are the rules regulating the interception of communication, brought in to replace an entirely unaccountable executive scheme which had operated for years in total secrecy; and a recent House of Lords decision on public protest which overruled police use of the common law on the basis that the police should now work within the statutory framework that parliament had enacted for them. This is progress.

Newsflash: It turns out that statute trumps the common law! And legislation is precise and defined (post-1997, anyway), so it's good that we use it.

Second, there is the naked selectivity of much of the current discussion on liberty. Proponents of the “end of freedom” hypothesis seem to ignore all the evidence pointing the other way. But there is a very great deal of this indeed, at least since 1997: devolution legislation; the Freedom of Information Act; the Data Protection Act; and (above all) the Human Rights Act, together with the many judgments under that act which have been accepted by the executive even where these have not been to its taste (the “Belmarsh” detention case for example).

Since Labour came into power, there's been transparency (just don't ask us about our expenses!). And those heroic reactionary judges have stepped into the breach. Viva both statute and the common law!

A similar kind of mistake is made with regard to the common law, often treated by proponents of liberty as a beautiful work of freedom which has been irreparably damaged by the intrusions of a big brother state. But without legislation it would still be OK to engage in racial discrimination, to deny women the full rights of personhood and to prioritise individual property rights to the exclusion of other public interests. The new legal action available for breach of privacy would not exist without the Human Rights Act. There have been many occasions when progressives have needed the state to save society from the common law.

I can't believe the judges did sweet FA, when we needed them most. After all, as elected representatives of the people, it's clearly their job to do so. Unless in doing so they'd step on the toes of the legislature. In which case we'd slap them down. Plus let's ignore judicial attempts to create a law of privacy, eh? And keep quiet about "...the naked selectivity of much of the current discussion on liberty. which I used to criticise others earlier. Jolly good.

The third problem, linked to this, is one of proportionality. For advocates of the end of freedom thesis, it often seems that any evidence of state intrusion will do in support of their case. This makes it impossible for them to discuss the rights and wrongs of particular interferences: all is always bad in all possible cases [....] Of course, these powers can be abused and so must be controlled in a way which balances their importance with the risk that they impact on personal freedom too severely. It is not enough to rule out all discussion of this new technology as inevitably unacceptable, yet this is what many of today’s self-styled defenders of liberty seem to do. And doing this in such an indiscriminate manner means that we lack the verbal tools to critique truly unacceptable exercises of state power on the occasions that these arise – if everything is always condemned, nothing truly is.

Defenders of liberty have such a black and white view. Can't they take into account proportionality? Which, by the way, means that intrusion is always justified, AMIRITE?

The idea that the state is an unwarranted assault on individual freedom is not a progressive one. This kind of libertarianism works to protect privilege by cloaking the advantages of the rich in the garb of personal autonomy, individual freedom and the “human right” to privacy. It is not at all surprising that the Convention on Modern Liberty is attracting strong support from those on the right of politics, politicians who hanker after a golden age of rights for the rich and responsibilities for everyone else. But the left, or at least those parts of it that believe in the progressive power of the state, need to be more careful about defining exactly where they stand when they join in this chorus of dissent.

So, when I said that Labour did a great job in introducing the Human Rights Act, I didn't mean that because they wanted to protect human rights they're right-wing and rich. That's only people who want to defend the rights. And I'll offer no support for this at all, other than to say that some rich people protect rights. So those who protect rights are rich, and want to subjugate the proletariat.

Obviously, I'm probably as guilty of a lot of what the author's done, and this is mostly hyperbole. But I just thought the piece massively incoherent, so why not fight fire with fire?
posted by djgh at 9:08 AM on April 1, 2009


What I care about is that the right to privacy

i thought the streets were public spaces - there may be a good arguments to be made against public cameras but privacy really isn't one of them
posted by pyramid termite at 9:08 AM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


What exactly can you NOT do now in Britain that you COULD do in 1986?

Well, see, this is the thing. In 1986, there were all sorts of things wrong with the country, as there are now. But you could reasonably expect to not have to carry a national ID card, and that you wouldn't be put on a national DNA database for civil offences like speeding.

There was never a golden age when a Briton could breath in the free air of Great Britain and know, by God, that he was a free man. But that doesn't mean that the various projects of this government, layered upon more and more regulation and legislation of free speech, the right to protest and privacy laws, don't carry horrendous risk of being mis-used in the future.

I've said it many times - I don't believe the current government are inherently evil (even if a few of them are stupid, condescending and don't give a fuck about their citizenry or what we think). But the things they're putting into place have risks attached to them that are continuously belittled, dismissed and ignored.

We're not on a scale that is steadily going down, fighting to get back to an ideal. Rather, we're fighting hard to stop specific steps that, while partially offset by the very real advances in civil rights over the last 30 years, have the potential to cause incredible harm to our society in return for utterly minimal, unproven 'benefits' to our security.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:09 AM on April 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


"But you just don't get it! Taxes are a form of slavery!"
posted by grubi at 9:10 AM on April 1, 2009


This kind of libertarianism works to protect privilege by cloaking the advantages of the rich in the garb of personal autonomy, individual freedom and the “human right” to privacy."

"I don't like the idea that people who make more money than I do want the government to butt out of people's private lives; therefore, privacy doesn't matter."

But without legislation it would still be OK to engage in racial discrimination, to deny women the full rights of personhood and to prioritise individual property rights to the exclusion of other public interests.

I'm surprised that a law professor would confuse "legally permissible" with "morally acceptable."

CCTV cameras save lives and secure convictions of bad people that might otherwise not be achieved.

And cameras are a whole hell of a lot better at capturing muggings than capturing embezzlement, so the idea that the rich avail themselves of an un-filmed life to secure their "privilege" is backward.

DNA evidence has the potential to transform the process of crime detection in this country.

Here in the States, we fuck up the probative value of DNA evidence constantly. The science is fine, the legal application is hardly straightforward.

The interception of communications can play a vital part in preventing serious wrongdoing.

So can arresting everybody. This is not a worthwhile measure of a proposition's actual efficacy or cost.

It is not enough to rule out all discussion of this new technology as inevitably unacceptable, yet this is what many of today’s self-styled defenders of liberty seem to do.

Do you want the government to be able to use infrared technology to spy on people in their houses? Congratulations, you're more authoritarian than US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

– if everything is always condemned, nothing truly is.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The idea that the state is an unwarranted assault on individual freedom is not a progressive one.

Begging the question.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:12 AM on April 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


What? Unbelievable.

When we say "progressives" are we talking Utopian Totalitarians now? Because last time I checked, if it's a code word for socialists, left-leaning liberals, or liberals of any stripe, the founding idea of liberal political philosophy is that the state has to have its genesis among the governed; they're supposed to consent to coming under its jurisdiction. (This sorta thing is hard to prove and get right and whatnot but that's the idea at least.)

How is something that derives power from you, doing something you don't want, not an issue for "progressives"?
posted by Non Prosequitur at 9:13 AM on April 1, 2009


What exactly can you NOT do now in Britain that you COULD do in 1986?

Organize a march/public procession without giving six days written notice to the police, or without having conditions opposed or having it banned for three months.

Assemble in public without facing restrictions on the duration, location or the number of people who could attend.

These came about as a result of the Public Order Act passed in 1986. It was later amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994 which, among its other notorious provisions, banned gatherings of more than 100 people outdoors where music was played. This, in turn, was later amended by the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 to cover indoor parties and limit out parties to 20 people.

This is my no means a comprehensive list, just the first stuff that came off the top of my head.
posted by tallus at 9:14 AM on April 1, 2009 [18 favorites]


All been downhill since the Great War, if you believe AJP Taylor.
posted by Abiezer at 9:15 AM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


You might do well to remember that a lot of libertarians are left-leaning disenfranchised Democrats who believe in a strong civil liberties platform, which the Democrats have mostly abandoned as a plank of their platform.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Libertarians like to talk about civil liberties as if they gave a shit, but as a bloc they vote for whoever they think will cut their taxes.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:15 AM on April 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


He doesn't exactly debunk the myth that a person is captured 300 times a day by CCTV cameras. He just points out that that stat comes from a hypothetical account of a typical person.

Even if they're only captured twice, or five or ten times, that's enough to build up a VERY comprehensive profile on someone. You can build detailed statistical models indicating where they spend most of their time, where they're likely to be, even what they do for a living. Think of Amazon: "People who follow this traffic pattern also ...".

Jesus people, it's not the cameras. Those are just dumb input devices. It's the data-mining software, some which doesn't exist yet. But it will get written, by thousands of smart graduate students in CS throughout the world.

Maybe part of the reason this isn't a concern to most people is because data-mining, machine learning, pattern recognition and the like are damn complex fields. Maybe we need simple examples of how these systems work, and can be used for evil.

And as for his rubbish argument about privacy and liberty being from covert right-wingers. Is that how they're going to spin it? If you want privacy you're selfish? I want privacy for everyone, especially the poor.

And as for the libertards.. Fuck that. I'm a green, progressive-minided individual who also believes in this silly concept of civil liberty. But please, don't stop creating this rift between libertarians and progressives, who share many of the same ideas. It's working great for people like Gearty. Divide and conquer baby.
posted by formless at 9:16 AM on April 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah, because allowing the police to search your car, wiretap you, put security cameras everywhere is totally going to affect mostly the rich and not at all impact the poor!

Seriously, does this guy live on planet earth?
posted by delmoi at 9:17 AM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Retarded" literally means "slowed," and it is the result of various mental conditions, rather than the conditions themselves.

And "gay" literally means "happy", and "wetback" literally means "someone whose back is wet". I mean, it's not like the way that words have come to be used in the general population should have any effect on how we react to them, right?
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:23 AM on April 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm always stunned at how otherwise-intelligent people will support giving vast powers to government when "their team" is in power, hand-waving away any consideration of how those powers might get used when they're no longer in charge.

It seems like the same impulse that drives equally-intelligent people to throw all their money into risky investments in a bull market, even though intellectually they must know that things cannot stay the way they are forever. But nobody wants to hear caution when the market is going up, up up, and nobody wants to talk about restraint when they've just won an election.

We seem almost hard-wired to believe that when something we like happens, that it's a game-changing event and will stay that way forever. IT bubble? "New Economy." Real Estate? "It'll never go down." Republicans win? "Permanent majority!" &c.

Now that we have a new party in town, people come crawling out of the woodwork, claiming in essence that the skepticism that many people have for government should just go away. Bull: that skepticism is more important now than ever, because a government that's loved is inherently more dangerous than one that's hated and kept under close watch. It's right now, in the midst of all the warm fuzzies, that people need to be keeping a close eye on every decision made, and thinking about how it will be (mis)used by a future administration.

The test of every new policy should be this: 'What would Karl Rove do with it?' If the idea of some new law (or the precedent set by a new law) or new government agency gives you the chills when you imagine it used as a political weapon or stuffed full of cronies by someone you find ideologically repugnant, then it's probably a really bad idea.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:24 AM on April 1, 2009 [20 favorites]


it seems like the folks who are loudest about not wanting to pay taxes are the ones who benefit most from the protective services those taxes pay for.

God yes. The power of the state to enforce contracts is so well-entrenched that people have psychologically internalized the idea that people honor contracts. So these libretarian idiots think that once the state is "off our backs" contracts will continue to be honored. Not so fucking fast you idiots!

They also have internalized the existence of the FDIC, the SEC and the courts in general. They take it for granted that the money they wire to their broker will go straight to buying stocks. Without evil, "big gubment" that money would be gone.

Also, could someone explain why the anarchists are skinny little fucks that would be the first to be wiped out as soon as the evil government "got off our backs?"
posted by Ironmouth at 9:29 AM on April 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


I really like the term libertard for those people.
..
16-year-old Ayn Rand-reading Rush-listening LOLIBERTARIANS what about road system huh?
...
"But you just don't get it! Taxes are a form of slavery!"


Obviously there are dumb libertarians, but did you people even read the text of the FPP? This guy is talking about putting up tons of CCTV cameras and about how we don't really have a right to privacy at all. How is not wanting the government to monitor your every move and communication "Retarded" or even politically related to road construction or taxes?

Speaking of 1986, one difference (just off the top of my head) is the RIP act which allows the U.K. to demand you turn over any encryption keys it thinks you might have.

Anyway I don't live in the U.K but it does seem worse then the U.S, at least for people who are not "terrorists"
posted by delmoi at 9:29 AM on April 1, 2009


"Libertarians like to talk about civil liberties as if they gave a shit, but as a bloc they vote for whoever they think will cut their taxes."

I think you are laboring under a misunderstanding. I consider myself a left-libertarian. I also believe in progressive taxation, and a top bracket with a much higher rate than we have now. This last election, I voted for Democrats in all races, national and local, because I think they have the current best chance to make a change, and I want my voice to be part of it. I don't agree with everything the party claims to stand for, but I'm not voting based on phony populist issues like tax cuts as a solution for every problem. That was McCain's ticket, who is a far cry from a libertarian.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:32 AM on April 1, 2009


krinklyfig, what separates you from the Democrats?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:38 AM on April 1, 2009


Gearty writes that when the right-wing Government passed new police powers in the 1980s he himself feared it was a step towards a police state. Now, with a left-wing Government, he notes that right-wingers object.

Let's be clear, a lot of the Tories' newfound respect for "privacy" could also be called "angling for a new image to get votes." I'll never forget watching a "New Tory" rollout three years back. They had some blueblood huffing and puffing against a national ID card that was designed to specs suggested by "the FBI and Microsoft." The disdain in his voice when he said "Microsoft" was a surprise. I figured the next thing on the program was going to be free Macs for all and flaxseed oil in school lunches or something. This, from the Tories.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:39 AM on April 1, 2009


I was ready to come here and snark "LOL LIBERTARDS", but this thread is actually one of the more interesting and intelligent political discussions I've read on MetaFilter, probably thanks to the Great Britain focus and the efforts of the posters in this thread from GB (or who are knowledgeable about what's going on in that country).
posted by KokuRyu at 9:46 AM on April 1, 2009


i thought the streets were public spaces

But not car parks, pubs etc.

Even in the case of public areas, there are still fairly important questions over the ownership and usage of that footage, their role in the criminal justice system and their "creep" into the public/private sphere.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:46 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


How is not wanting the government to monitor your every move and communication "Retarded" or even politically related to road construction or taxes?

Well, the problem is that the author thinks that the Tories are trying to use privacy concerns as a trojan horse to convince the populace that government itself is evil, and the reason they are doing it is becasue they only really want lower taxes. The evidence for this is the behavior of the Tories the last time they were in power.

I happen to disagree with him on the privacy part--it is important--but his point that this is all a trojan horse for lowering taxes is likely spot on.

It reminds me of debate on McCain-Feingold in the states. Bradley Smith, the former chairman of the Federal Elections Commission hated any spending limits and wanted to see his own agency abolished. So what did he do? He gave an interview to Wired magazine saying that the FEC was considering making blog posts an "in-kind contribution" which could be regulated by McCain-Feingold. It was all a lie, no such regulations were under consideration, but the damage was done. Daily Kos and the rest of the left blogosphere turned against the bill in a fury. It was an enlightening moment. It was also the biggest day for my now-moribund blog, as I was the only one saying we needed to take all of this with a grain of salt.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:53 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


i thought the streets were public spaces - there may be a good arguments to be made against public cameras but privacy really isn't one of them

I am also confused by the idea that someone expects privacy while in public. The argument isn't the "if you aren't doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear" one; it's the "you're out in public where everyone can look at you" one. If they can look at you, they can take your picture. Even if they don't take your picture, they can watch you. Cops and investigators have been doing that for longer than any of us has been alive. Having cameras means the cops can watch you without actually being there, but it doesn't mean you have less privacy, because you never had any to begin with.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:00 AM on April 1, 2009


the problem is that the author thinks that the Tories are trying to use privacy concerns as a trojan horse to convince the populace that government itself is evil

Or less controversially, that the Home Office is an ill-qualified guardian of the country's security, cf the comment that the Home Office was not fit for purpose.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:02 AM on April 1, 2009


But not car parks, pubs etc.

Not car parks? Really?

(I won't ask what "pub" is short for.)
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:03 AM on April 1, 2009


krinklyfig, what separates you from the Democrats?

I can't speak completely for krinklyfig, but as someone who also considers himself left-libertarian (albeit one who regularly votes Democrat), here are some of the things that separates me from Democrats:

I believe in prosecuting corporations that involve themselves in illegal wiretapping activities.
I believe in protecting the rights of people to peacefully assemble in protest.
I believe in making sure that when those "few bad apples" in law enforcement break the laws that they're sworn to protect, that they're actually appropriately punished for it.
I believe in drug law reform.
I believe in taking steps to reduce the number of non-violent offenders imprisoned in this country.
I believe in putting in place laws that favor individuals over corporations.

In short, I believe in all of the things that Democratic politicians constantly promise but seldom if ever actually provide. I also believe in paying my fair share of taxes, because I like infrastructure. While there are certainly a large number of libertarians who are about taxes and nothing more, the sloppy caricature that MetaFilter tends to make of anyone who thinks along libertarian lines is a bit disheartening to those of us who believe that the government should be held to a stricter standard.

Also, there are quite a few of us who think that Rand would be an odious and laughable philosopher, even if she wasn't a shitty author.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:04 AM on April 1, 2009 [11 favorites]


Ah, so basically you're a liberal.

Just because the Democratic Party has become a center-right party doesn't mean that liberalism isn't liberalism.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:06 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not car parks? Really?

A lot of car parks are privately owned, and therefore no more "public" than shops, bars etc.

Pub = public house = a place where one partakes of a tipple of the devil's brew.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:13 AM on April 1, 2009


Kirth Gerson, you need to go back and read formless's comment. We do have the right go about our lives in public in relative anonymity, because we've always had it, up until very recently. Sure, cops and investigators can follow you around, but in order to do that, until recently, they've had to dedicate expensive resources (i.e., human beings who get paid) to do so. So it tended to happen only in cases where it was important (a murder investigation, say). Now the computational resources are cheap, so everyone's behavior can be scrutinized by automated systems. That's a very unpleasant qualitative change.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:14 AM on April 1, 2009


Ah, so basically you're a liberal.

No, hes a left leaning libertarian. He even told you so.

LIIBBERRAAALLL GOOOOODDD LIBERTARIANNN BAAADDDDDD

MAN UNDERSTAND NOW! WORLD IS BLACK AND WHITE.

ALL LIBERTARIANS RIGHT WING CARICATURE!

NOW MAN GO EAT MEAT

MEAT GOOD. LEAF BAD.

posted by 5imian at 10:16 AM on April 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


"krinklyfig, what separates you from the Democrats?"

Well, for one thing they went from being the party of union labor to the party of big business in order to gain influence and raise as much as the Republicans. The money they've raised through these influences have had a corrosive effect on the party as a whole, as well as union labor as a whole, as it comes from entities which seek to undermine the principles of the party. They have continued to wage the Drug War, against all evidence and common sense. They have become comfortable with interventionist military policies, as long as their motives are what drives it. They embraced "free trade" policies which mostly helped the corporate interests which contribute to their coffers, not so much their constituencies, however, and not so much the emerging markets that Tom Friedman can't stop gushing about. They have proven they are all too willing to embrace busybody nonsense like the PMRC, as long as one of their own is heading it. Well, at least someone married to an elected Democrat.

Well, this is off the top of my head, but I could come up with more reasons. Also, I'm not a joiner. Party politics tends to drive me nuts. But I do mostly vote for them, but I try to actively support good, principled candidates at the local level rather than try to have an influence through the party machine.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:17 AM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


This thread is suffering from a bizarre conflation of libertarianism in the US and civil liberties activism in the UK.

In the UK we have always been much keener on (or more tolerant of) fairly high taxes, national universal healthcare, the welfare state etc than in the US. The debate starts from a different place. The issue is the troubling authoritarian leanings of the current government, and plans such as the ID cards scheme and limits on rights to assembly. Comparing people who object to this to Ayn Rand supporters is ludicrous.

As an additional side-note, "retarded" is way more offensive to most people in the UK than the US, for whatever reason. (Same way American friends of mine will arbitrarily throw in the word "wanker" in contexts where I'd never use it in Britain. In crossing the Atlantic, it seems to have lost about 50% of its rudeness.)
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:19 AM on April 1, 2009


No, hes a left leaning libertarian. He even told you so.

And the point I'm making is that I don't see anything specifically libertarian in there; it just looks like liberalism.

Of course, I'm aware that words actually meaning things and being useful for communication is out of style, so maybe I'm bashing my head against a wall meaninglessly by trying to get people to use language which describes reality.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:21 AM on April 1, 2009


krinklyfig, what separates you from the Democrats?

I also can't speak for krinklyfig, but as a self-identifying libertarian (who usually votes Democrat in the US) I can add this:

Many Democrats and progressives focus on the importance of providing social services to those in need. I completely support this, and think we aren't spending enough in this country on providing a social safety net. But I also think just providing those features isn't enough. The root cause of many of the ills in this country is repressive drug laws and a broken criminal justice system. I support drug law reform, and think it should be a priority. Mainstream Democrats aren't willing to take on this issue, but the libertarians are. In addition, I also support increased privacy protections. The past two Democratic presidents (Clinton and Obama) don't seem to support my views on this. But the libertarian groups (ACLU, EFF, etc.) do push these issues.

I have no problem with infrastructure. Build more of it. Socialize it even. It makes economic sense. In addition, more education spending please!

Maybe I'm not a "true" libertarian, maybe we need to build a new political group.

The past few months, MetaFilter has been getting it's hate on with libertarians. It's sad, because working together with some libertarian groups, we could get real change in this country and world.
posted by formless at 10:22 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, for one thing they went from being the party of union labor to the party of big business in order to gain influence and raise as much as the Republicans...

See, now, I'm still not seeing anything other than old-school liberalism here. Why invent a new word for your position when it's coterminous with an existing position?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:24 AM on April 1, 2009


There are all sorts of issues with the direction the UK's been headed in respect to civil liberties. There's a clear impetus to collect as much information on each citizen as will be tolerated - the database of all children in England, the DNA database, the phone and email database, have all been proposed. Once in possession of all of this data, it's inevitable that it will be mined for evidience of 'wrongdoing', regardless of the risk of errors in records and false positives on risk criteria. At the same time, proposed moves on detention for terror suspects and reduction in availability of jury trial have also been floated. It would clearly be more onerous for an average punter to contest any accusation springing from these measures in the absence of a high priced lawyer that the elite could afford. Whether or not the Tory party position on this is a stalking horse for a tax argument (I would suspect that it is), doesn't invalidate the position per se.
I really despair of New Labour. They seem to have abandoned the wrong half of the old-style socialism, keeping the authoritarianism and chucking out the egalitarianism. It's impossible to listen to Gordon 'Socialist' Brown discuss the free market and globalisation, or Jack 'CND' Straw talk of removing jury trials, without seeing Napoleon at the dinner table in the farhouse kitchen.
posted by Jakey at 10:26 AM on April 1, 2009


Same way American friends of mine will arbitrarily throw in the word "wanker" in contexts where I'd never use it in Britain.

In a guitar shop, we used the word 'wanking' to describe those kids that came in and played with the distortion pedals all day, unloading an endless stream of highly overdriven 100 watt guitar riffs:

zzzzzz...***....CHUM*** CHUM CHUUUMMMMMMMM****!!! ...zzzzzzz....... CHUUUUUMMM****!!!!

...

Daggadaadum dagaaadaadum dagaddaaumm dudududum


.... literally all day. 'Wanking' all day.
posted by 5imian at 10:33 AM on April 1, 2009


Kind of a dumb essay; kind of a dumb thread (GIGO).

His points about tempering over-reaction against expansive government powers are reasonable, as is the point that progress has been made on progressive fronts and that an ideological opposition to governmental interference—which is what libertarianism is—is over-simplistic.

However, he does not support his conclusion, that libertarians are a Trojan Horse for the right, even as it may be true.

As to the question of CCTV, framing it as a question of privacy is difficult, because most people understand privacy to mean something different, an opposition to publicity. But if we think about the concept of consent to scrutiny being important and understood as a common law (US, as I'm not familiar with the UK usage of the term enough to feel fluent), then CCTV is an intrusion on that right. We can accept moderate intrusion on liberty for social and personal benefit—that's the whole point of government—but the proliferation of domestic surveillance does encroach on that intuitive right and thus requires a higher standard of justification than, say, monitoring only those suspected of crimes.
posted by klangklangston at 10:35 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


"And the point I'm making is that I don't see anything specifically libertarian in there; it just looks like liberalism."

Uh, since libertarianism is pretty much Classical Liberalism, you're kind of playing the amateur copyeditor game of political science. Further, since the New Deal, the meaning of Liberal has changed, hence the need for the Libertarian label.
posted by klangklangston at 10:39 AM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pope Guilty: I consider the line between "liberal" (in the traditional sense) and "libertarian" (small "L") to be a fairly thin one. Unfortunately, the way those words have been used has changed. More often than I'd like, I'm noticing that alarming numbers of people who self-identify as liberal or progressive are increasingly authoritarian. The link above, for example, provide what I consider to be a disturbing example of the kind of dangerous thinking that a significant number of self-proclaimed liberals (not all or even most, by any means, but enough to make me nervous) have been adopting lately.

If you're looking for old-school liberal values, not finding them from people who identify as liberal, and notice that a number of self-identifying libertarians are arguing for them, maybe it's time to take a good, hard look at the company that you want to keep.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:39 AM on April 1, 2009


There's a clear impetus to collect as much information on each citizen as will be tolerated...
Seen incidences of employer's blacklists of union militants again recently (Radio 4 story), reminiscent of the old Economic League.
posted by Abiezer at 10:40 AM on April 1, 2009


Pope Guilty, the problem you're having is that you asked krinklyfig, what separates you from the Democrats?, as opposed to krinklyfig, what separates you from the liberals?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:45 AM on April 1, 2009


Yeah, I realized my mistake pretty quickly.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:47 AM on April 1, 2009


i thought the streets were public spaces - there may be a good arguments to be made against public cameras but privacy really isn't one of them

In WA. USA, this view was held. Until some guy started taking photos of people in public spaces. With a shoe camera. Up their skirts.

So he was caught and arrested.

Then they tried to charge him with something.

But as far as the law was concerned, he hadn't been doing anything "wrong".

So he walked.

Thus the people decided that being in a public place did not mean you no-longer had any right to privacy, and suddenly there was a dogpile of pandering politicians eager to be seen as the driving force behind amending the laws.

The UK surveillance cams are used to (among other things) look down the shirts of women. If it anything like American, all you need to do is have a news outlet air some camera staff perving and making boyzone comments, and you've got yourself a law change.

So I guess the question is, how easy is it to watch the watchers?
posted by -harlequin- at 10:48 AM on April 1, 2009


"And the point I'm making is that I don't see anything specifically libertarian in there; it just looks like liberalism."

Look, it gets rather tiresome trying to defend political positions based on other people's interpretations of what political labels mean. I find that certain labels, like "libertarian," tend to provoke some irrational reactions. I'll also be the first to admit that libertarianism as a modern political movement is largely a trojan horse for business and upper class interests. I'm not involved in the political movement, because it's full of cranks and shills and doesn't represent my views very well at all, but does try to put legitimacy to letting the rich get their way at the expense of society as a whole.

But, to answer your observation, civil liberties has always been one of my primary political concerns, and the Democrats have all but abandoned it. There has been more attention paid lately, but frankly the economy looms much larger in the public mind right now. But there is room to make changes, and I think the Democrats have the opportunity to act on principle and build the new party on it. I see some steps in the right direction. I'm willing to add my voice. But my overall concerns still exist, and I can't put party above principle.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:48 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


What exactly can you NOT do now in Britain that you COULD do in 1986?

Well you could bring water and nail clippers onto a plane.
posted by Mitheral at 10:52 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


But not car parks, pubs etc.

it should be up to the owner, who would be required to place a notice that those who entered would be on camera - that's how it works in the states

the police trying to MAKE a pub owner install these cameras - that's too much

even in the case of public areas, there are still fairly important questions over the ownership and usage of that footage

in the ownership link, it's still a public act and occurrence - if the police had responded to the guy slashing his wrists by beating him up, would it be a violation of his human rights to post the footage?

as far as the two guys who were using the cameras as peeping toms, i doubt anyone's going to make an argument supporting that

their role in the criminal justice system and their "creep" into the public/private sphere.

what's the difference between a guy wandering around a parking lot writing down numbers and a guy using a camera to write down numbers? - aside from the fact that a paper bag will hide the number from a camera better than it would from some guy walking around?

----

We do have the right go about our lives in public in relative anonymity, because we've always had it, up until very recently.

you've never lived in a small town, have you?

----

In WA. USA, this view was held. Until some guy started taking photos of people in public spaces. With a shoe camera. Up their skirts.

since when is the interior of a woman's skirt a public place?

by the way, do you have a link?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:53 AM on April 1, 2009


Pope, there are differences

I too consider myself a left-leaning libertarian.

A lot of things is believe coincide with liberals. I support gay rights, pro choice, pro drug reform.. these are all things i consider "pro freedom".

The differences are there too. I support right to bear arms, for example. Most hardcore liberals think owning a gun means you are (obviously) going to on a shooting rampage, rambo-style. I disagree.

Most left-leaning liberals support infrastructure. but not big government. And theres a LOT of dissension between your average libertarian and conservatives....

Pope, you are thinking of politics in ONE dimension. there is left and right. conservative or liberal.

look at this. its the nolan chart.

It is possible to be right wing and authoritarian and right wing and libertarian, or
left wing and authoritarian and left wing and libertarian. We aren't the ones "not getting" the right terminology - its you. Theres MANY flavors of libertarianism.

Left- leaning libertarianism, anarcho-libertarinism, libertarian socialists, geolibertarianism, mutualists, paleolibertarianist ("New Fusionism"), Objectivists, green libertarians, constitutionalists, libertarian conservatives, minarchists, and neo libetratianism.

you are acquainted quite well with the "right wing" variety- the neolibertarian people. The right- wing libertarians. The "Ron Pauls". The cartoon version you all love to slam.


Dude thats only ONE KIND of libertarianism. ONE, out of TONS. Do you think those guys get along with green libertarians? Socialist libertarians?

Theyre really different..and NOT Liberals, necessarily.
posted by 5imian at 10:58 AM on April 1, 2009


We do have the right go about our lives in public in relative anonymity, because we've always had it, up until very recently. ... So it tended to happen only in cases where it was important (a murder investigation, say). Now the computational resources are cheap, so everyone's behavior can be scrutinized by automated systems. That's a very unpleasant qualitative change.

Relative to what? If the police decide to follow you around and film your every move, that's no different from what they've been doing to some people for decades. You haven't ever, let alone always had any right that prevented their doing that. If they're doing it by remote-control, it's just a different technology, it isn't a qualitative change, it's a quantitative change. It's the same thing that's been done to your Important Criminals, but now it's being done to everyone. If you were OK with it being done to John Gotti, you're going to need a better argument than "my privacy" to stop it happening to you.

Just to be clear, I hope someone comes up with that better argument; I don't want to be continuously surveilled any more than you do.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:58 AM on April 1, 2009


Most left-leaning liberals support infrastructure. but not big government

i mena left- leaning libertarians. typo.
posted by 5imian at 10:59 AM on April 1, 2009


Hmm, can it be that MetaFilter has driven away all the libertarians who would normally be flaming krinklyfig and formless to crisps in any other online forum?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:03 AM on April 1, 2009


Pope, you are thinking of politics in ONE dimension. there is left and right. conservative or liberal.

look at this. its the nolan chart.


bwahahahahahahahahahahaha!

The Nolan Chart is Libertarian propaganda; you have to accept Libertarian capitalist dogma about the meaning of "economic freedom" or else you're ungraphable.

The thing is that trying to chart politics on a fucking graph is stupid as hell and creates idiotic oversimplifications like trying to define things as "more left" or "more right" or creating inane metrics like the Nolan chart. Politics is an incredibly complex subject; the idea that you can make a chart and point to a particular location on it and say "This is me!", no matter how you construct the chart, is inane.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:04 AM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't get this, "You're in public, so you have no privacy" line. I see a pretty huge difference between, "Yeah, a cop could potentially watch you someday" and, "You are being watched all the time, every day, and if we care to we could mine that data to develop a complete movement profile on you."

In the first case, cops can't be detailed to tail everyone all the time. The very idea is absurd, so you have the assumption that your activities are relatively anonymous.

In the second case, that assumption is utterly annihilated. It doesn't matter that in the first case, your privacy could be stripped at any time, because by and large it will not be. In the second case, it will be.

If you're not bothered by it, fine, but don't pretend to those of us who are that it isn't a huge shift.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:06 AM on April 1, 2009


trying to chart politics on a fucking graph is stupid as hell and creates idiotic oversimplifications

YOU are the one making idiotic oversimplifications. My ENTIRE point is it ISN'T that simple, buddy.
posted by 5imian at 11:06 AM on April 1, 2009


Pope Guilty, "liberalism" has changed enormously in the course of the 20th century. To declare that since a group's position today looks like "classical liberalism" as it was half a century or more ago they are, in fact, "liberals" seems somewhat tenuous. I don't see a problem with these people grabbing hold of a new name, anymore than I am bothered by the fact that a lot of people who would formerly identify as liberals are shifting over to calling themselves progressives.

These sort of things often indicate real changes in the emphasis that people lay on certain positions, even when the positions do not change. Liberals and libertarians of the krinklyfig sort may indeed hold similar positions, but the latter are more likely to, for example, go out and protest, or give money, or write their congressmen (or get into arguments on the Internet) regarding things like civil liberty violations, the growth of police power, and the lack of transparency in government. Whereas the former may agree that all those things are bad but never feel the need to take action regarding them, while pushing harder for things like universal health care, minority rights, gay marriage, and the reining in of the military-industrial complex. These are all causes that, again, krinklyfig and his sort would espouse in theory but may not emphasize in practice.

So what to you seems a distinction without a difference (krinklyfig libertarians - I think that's going to be my official mental tag for this sort now, actually - and liberals, "classic" or no) actually makes a great deal of a difference in the real world where the relative amounts of money, effort, and political activism determines which issues will get the most attention in government and the media. The fact is that krinklyfig and his sort see the emphases laid down by the "liberal" establishment - which they identify with the Democratic Party - as out of whack with what they consider to be the most vital issues at present.

Apologies to krinklyfig and the others if I've got you all wrong.
posted by AdamCSnider at 11:13 AM on April 1, 2009


Kirth, the police have never been able to go back in time and follow you around. That feels like a qualitative change to me. Also, the police have never been able to follow everyone around all the time and look for signs of "suspicious" behavior. You can say that that's a quantitative change, but I would say that that's a quantitative change of such a magnitude that it amounts to a qualitative change.

Either of these changes used to be called "science fiction", not so very long ago. These fundamental changes in our lives must not be allowed to occur without pushback and widespread debate. There's a major, yes, qualitative difference in being able to do it to "some people" (a relatively small number, actually) vs. "all people".
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:14 AM on April 1, 2009


It's interesting that you have a number of people in this thread saying, in effect, "who cares if it's 300 cameras or 3 cameras?" If it were the case, however, that 3 cameras is basically the same as 300, why has the "300 per day" meme become so entrenched? If you tell people "in the average day you're recorded by 3 security cameras" they'll mostly shrug and say "so what?" And they'll do that because they can immediately picture to themselves what those cameras probably are. The cctv down at the local grocer's shop, the security camera in the subway station they go to each day, the security camera over the receptionist's desk at the office building they work in--for example.

Now, are any one of those cameras "Big Brother"? Are any of them a ghastly intrusion into your privacy rights? No, of course not. Most of us want the grocer to be able to identify a gunman who might hold the store up. Most of us think it reasonable for the building to have a camera in their lobby so that the security staff can see if someone comes in intending to vandalize the place or worse.

The "300 per day" thing is used to generate a feeling of pervasive hidden surveillance. We think "I haven't seen anything like that number of cameras" so we assume that we must be being filmed surreptitiously all the time. Maybe there are cctv cameras in the public toilets we go to? Maybe they're watching us from satellites in space? Maybe all the cameras are somehow linked together and being operated by a coordinated spy network.

I'm not saying that there aren't real concerns about the possibility of future misuse of these technologies. Face and gait recognition software, the linking of cameras into a constantly monitored single network etc. But there's a strong whiff not only of slippery slope fallacy about the arguments currently being made, but of a deliberate distortion of the actual facts on the ground. It may be a good idea to place intelligent legal curbs on the governmental use of cctv. It's never a good idea (though often an effective one) to use tendentious distortions of reality to stir up the popular mood in support of your positions.
posted by yoink at 11:16 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


But I just thought the piece massively incoherent

a total waste of ink to be sure
posted by caddis at 11:19 AM on April 1, 2009


I see a pretty huge difference between, "Yeah, a cop could potentially watch you someday" and, "You are being watched all the time, every day, and if we care to we could mine that data to develop a complete movement profile on you."

if the fbi cared to, they could do that without cctv cameras or data mining - at the end of the day, someone still has to decide WHY this information is important and WHY it should be collected on person x and not person y

the whole point is that you aren't being watched all the time by a human that has decided that watching you is important

maybe you just think that a government that can do this is just too big - but that raises other questions ...
posted by pyramid termite at 11:20 AM on April 1, 2009


"If the police decide to follow you around and film your every move, that's no different from what they've been doing to some people for decades. You haven't ever, let alone always had any right that prevented their doing that."

No, the difference is that police are legally obligated to show cause to put you under surveillance. Otherwise, it's harassment and a violation of your civil rights. That they have done it doesn't mean that it is right or legal—cops have been murdering suspects forever, but that's neither right nor legal.

"It's the same thing that's been done to your Important Criminals, but now it's being done to everyone. If you were OK with it being done to John Gotti, you're going to need a better argument than "my privacy" to stop it happening to you."

Again, this is incorrect. Police have to impinge on the right to privacy in order to do their jobs, but that's recognized as rightly limited. The default position is that they are not watching you. That someone is OK with Gotti being watched within prescribed limits does not mean that they are OK with everyone being watched and no limits.
posted by klangklangston at 11:25 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


ATTENTION AMERICAN POSTERS ARGUING THE TOSS ABOUT THE DEFINITION OF LIBERTARIAN

Listen, I love you guys. I really do. I'm married to an American for goodness sakes. But:

- This thread is about an article, written by a British person, in a British magazine, commenting on security issues in Britain and subsequently commented on by a member of the British government.

- The US meanings of liberal, libertarian, progressive and other terms being discussed have no bearing on this thread.

Really chaps, we have maybe a 1:50 UK/US politicsfilter on the site. Can we not make this yet another pissing match about who fits in which American media politics box? Please? This stuff is very important to me.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:32 AM on April 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


i thought the streets were public spaces

But not car parks, pubs etc.

Even in the case of public areas, there are still fairly important questions over the ownership and usage of that footage, their role in the criminal justice system and their "creep" into the public/private sphere.


Um, "pub" is short for public house. And, yes, these are all public places. I think there is some confusion about what privacy is and isn't. It is not the right to not be observed when you are in public places. But, yes, if a place is privately owned, the owner should be able to refuse a CCTV camera, whether a pub or lot.

But your larger point, MuffinMan is well taken and I agree with it. Use of such images need to be strictly controlled by law and by practice, as we do have some rights as to how the govenment might use its information on us. I wouldn't want someone in the government to maliciously show the video of my tryst to my wife (hypothetical, I swear!). I guess I feel that as long as the information does have such strictures and mechanisms to verify that those strictures are being observed, then use of such information for law enforcement is permissible.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:40 AM on April 1, 2009


the idea that you can make a chart and point to a particular location on it and say "This is me!"

How is that any worse than pointing at a political party and saying "I'm a Democrat, This is me". The 'more this', 'more that' , 'less this', 'less that' multidimensional approach, while admittedly not perfect is a whole whole whole lot fucking more resolute and descriptive than the binary:

YOU ARE A DEMOCRAT OR A REPUBLICAN.
YOU ARE LIBERAL OR CONSERVATIVE.
1 or 0.
Off or ON.


Which quite frankly, you and many other mefites often seem to be arguing. Either Libertarians are just "liberals" or "right wing conservatives in disguise... "a "trojan horse for right wing capitalism"" No. They're not. there a different thing. Even when someone tells you point blank "i'm a libertarian and i believe x", you still feel this need to OVER SIMPLY his beliefs and pigeon hole him into an already existing context. Liberal or conservative.

As i've said a bazillion times, and others have said a bazillion times. Its not that simple. Libertarians isn't that simple. And there's a lot of flavors. A lot of variation. Did my list of 12 or so different types of libertarian not communicate any degree of complexity to you? Or is the world still political ones and zeroes to you?


The Nolan Chart is Libertarian propaganda;

What?? I know the guy who made it was libertarian, but how does that make the chart itself propaganda. did I miss the "vote libertarian sticker" on it? Theres no loaded messages in it. Its not at all propaganda in the slightest. Do you even know what propaganda is? There is usually an agenda being pushed. X Sucks. Vote for X. How is a chart designed to help understand modern politics propaganda? That's really just absurd.

bwahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Wow. Mature.


ATTENTION NON AMERICAN POSTERS USING THE BLINK TAG COMPLAINING ABOUT AMERICANS ARGUING ABOUT LIBERTARIANS

The FPP says: This kind of libertarianism works to protect privilege by cloaking the advantages of the rich in the garb of personal autonomy, individual freedom and the “human right” to privacy. SO yes. Libertarianism as a political construct and what it means IS, in fact, quite fucking relevant.

But if it pisses you off enough to whip out the infernal blink tag (forged in the fires of hell)... fine i'll drop it.
posted by 5imian at 11:48 AM on April 1, 2009


The US meanings of liberal, libertarian, progressive and other terms being discussed have no bearing on this thread.

When an American says "I'm a libertarian", they become relevant.


How is that any worse than pointing at a political party and saying "I'm a Democrat, This is me".

Because political parties endorse certain constellations of positions and policies which you can agree with or disagree with. They don't take complex positions and ideas and attempt to reduce them to arbitrary math.

Which quite frankly, you and many other mefites often seem to be arguing

I'm not in the slightest arguing that and I have to wonder how closely you're reading what I'm saying if that's what you're getting from it. That I believe krinklyfig's position is better described as liberalism than libertarianism is irrelevant to the question of political binaries.

What?? I know the guy who made it was libertarian, but how does that make the chart itself propaganda. did I miss the "vote libertarian sticker" on it? Theres no loaded messages in it. Its not at all propaganda in the slightest. Do you even know what propaganda is? There is usually an agenda being pushed. X Sucks. Vote for X. How is a chart designed to help understand modern politics propaganda? That's really just absurd.

Well shit, let's start with the fact that the Nolan Chart exists as a way of plotting answers to the bullshit "World's Smallest Political Quiz", which is designed to make you go "Oh hey, I guess I'm a Libertarian!" Then let's move on to the point that you have to agree with the Libertarians about what exactly constitutes "economic freedom" in order for the chart to be comprehensible.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:55 AM on April 1, 2009


if the fbi cared to, they could do that without cctv cameras or data mining

How? What I mean is, how could they do that to everyone, which is what's being discussed here.

the whole point is that you aren't being watched all the time by a human that has decided that watching you is important

No, but under a camera regime, you are being watched all the time, and that information is being recorded. So, at any time in the future, anyone with access to those recordings could mine them for info and use them in any way they choose. That is a huge difference from a police detail that has been put on your tail for a specific purpose.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:58 AM on April 1, 2009


Because political parties endorse certain constellations of positions and policies which you can agree with or disagree with. They don't take complex positions and ideas and attempt to reduce them to arbitrary math.

Crock-a-shit. Political parties do JUST THE OPPOSITE. They FUNNEL you into political binaries. They absolutely DO take complex viewpoints and distill them down to a couple of choices. usually "right" or "left", and quite frankly its crap. Here in America, you can't even vote in primaries if you don't play by the rules of the political binary. To me thats ideological reduction on a very mechanical level.

That I believe krinklyfig's position is better described as liberalism than libertarianism is irrelevant to the question of political binaries.

No its totally relevant, because you tried to CRAM him into all already existing political binary. Liberalism. AFTER he specifically told you he WASN'T a liberal.

the Nolan Chart exists as a way of plotting answers to the bullshit "World's Smallest Political Quiz", which is designed to make you go "Oh hey, I guess I'm a Libertarian!"


As simple as it is its still a MILLION times more dimensional and gradiented than your glaringly binary approach to politics, and also the ancient left-right political spectrum. You claim you're not arguing political binaries, but you defend political parties that wedge you into the RED TEAM or the BLUE TEAM and then try to cram others into that very political binary. I also posted a MULTITUDE of variation within the libertarian party IMMEDIATELY after the chart . I didn't the chart consider to be my strongest piece of material but you are just fucking fixated on it.

In any case the nolan chart is just a rehash of the political compass, pornelle chart, The Hans-Slomp european political spectrum and the political spectrum. Its a model that comes up a lot from a number of different sources. I am not saying its the end all way of looking at things. Just One way. But a better way than the old right-left or "horseshoe" ways of looking at things.

BAH! i said id drop it. and i am sucking at that.

TL;DR:

POPE GUILTY! I THINK YOU'RE WRONG SIR! ok... done.. bye.
posted by 5imian at 12:17 PM on April 1, 2009


No, the difference is that police are legally obligated to show cause to put you under surveillance.

In your home and on your telephone/computer/text messaging. Where you have no expectation of privacy, no need to show cause, for example a phone booth.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:28 PM on April 1, 2009


Political parties do JUST THE OPPOSITE. They FUNNEL you into political binaries. They absolutely DO take complex viewpoints and distill them down to a couple of choices. usually "right" or "left", and quite frankly its crap. Here in America, you can't even vote in primaries if you don't play by the rules of the political binary. To me thats ideological reduction on a very mechanical level.

I don't think you understand the nature of the American two-party system very well.

No its totally relevant, because you tried to CRAM him into all already existing political binary. Liberalism. AFTER he specifically told you he WASN'T a liberal.

Look, man, I am myself not a liberal nor a conservative. I am a libertarian socialist- a libertarian in the original sense. You are arguing against a strawman.

Honestly, holy shit, 5imian.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:30 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I believe in making sure that when those "few bad apples" in law enforcement break the laws that they're sworn to protect, that they're actually appropriately punished for it.

Ironically, the best way to do this is to put video cameras in every police car.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:33 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the creepiest thing I've read lately about CCTV is their use in schools: CCTV to spy on pupils aged four - complete with CPS evidence kit.
posted by homunculus at 12:35 PM on April 1, 2009


London cops reach new heights of anti-terror poster stupidity

Remixes of the paranoid London police "anti-terror"/suspect your neighbours posters
posted by homunculus at 12:47 PM on April 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


"I am a libertarian socialist- a libertarian in the original sense."

So, you believe in free will?

Look, not only is all of this pissing match a giant fucking derail, it's infinitely stupid. So can you two knock it off?
posted by klangklangston at 12:51 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the creepiest thing I've read lately about CCTV is their use in schools: CCTV to spy on pupils aged four - complete with CPS evidence kit.

If I taught primary school kids, I'd want every square inch of the school covered by continuous cctv. No chance of getting railroaded on a charge of satanic kiddy-diddling rituals that way.
posted by yoink at 12:52 PM on April 1, 2009


I don't think you understand the nature of the American two-party system very well.

Funny i was thinking the same thing about you. Or how long has it been since we had an "independent president"? Or something other than a democrat or republican? I'm standing by my statement. Many people compromise their political beliefs, to increase the strength of their political voice... by joining the red team or the blue team. They compromise. They funnel into a political binary. They register so, in order to be a party of the primaries.

I am a libertarian socialist- a libertarian in the original sense.
but further up the page...
Libertarians like to talk about civil liberties as if they gave a shit, but as a bloc they vote for whoever they think will cut their taxes.

Maybe I am reading into things too much, but it sounded like you were implying krinklyfig was one of the two dominant parties (democrat and not libertarian), and also libertarian bashing by implying that "as a bloc" libertarians just "vote for who cuts their taxes". But now you're telling me you ARE a libertarian?

So when I posted that massive slew of various types of libertarian...i was preaching to the choir? You knew better?

I mean, i read some posts about "libertards" and such and it sounded like you were vocally jumping on the bandwagon, even asserting that the nolan chart was this like insidious tool to enlist more individuals into the ranks of libertarian. I thought you were just...bashing..libertarians... (which this article was like a magic carpet for)

And really, why wouldn't I? You're about as clear as mud.

Honestly, holy shit, Pope Guilty.
Are you this thing?
I really really really am unclear, and the last thing i want to do is argue a straw man here (which i think might be mostly born of miscommunication) , so lets back up- and you tell me, so i get it right and maybe reframe your argument. Is this a "capital L" libertarian "little l" libertarian miscommunication or something? please. enlighten me.

because this article is talking about "libertarians". and how they "cloak the advantages of the rich"
posted by 5imian at 12:55 PM on April 1, 2009


London cops reach new heights of anti-terror poster stupidity

Wow--those are truly absurd. You'd think the cops would be the last people who'd want to endorse such nonsense; all it will do is generate a river of false leads, making it that much harder to pick up on genuine ones.
posted by yoink at 1:01 PM on April 1, 2009


No, the difference is that police are legally obligated to show cause to put you under surveillance. Otherwise, it's harassment and a violation of your civil rights.

You seem to be wrong. For instance:
Normally, no warrant is required when the surveillance does
not entail physical or technological intrusion into the target’s
home or other private area. Compare Kyllo v. United States,
533 U.S. 27, 40 (2001) (holding that surveillance of home
with thermal technology requires warrant), with California v.
Ciraolo, 476 U.S. 207, 213 (1986) (upholding warrantless
aerial surveillance of fenced-in backyard).
By regulation, federal agents may freely conduct
“[p]hysical or photographic surveillance of any person.”

Dep’t of Justice, Attorney General’s Guidelines on General
Crimes, Racketeering Enterprise and Terrorism Enterprise
Investigations § II(B)(6)(g)
Also, private investigators can and do follow people around and photograph them all the time with no legal requirement to show cause. Why do you think the police can't do that? Some police agencies require that their agents get supervisory approval before starting a physical surveillance, but I don't think that's what you mean by "show cause."
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:08 PM on April 1, 2009


So, you believe in free will?

Heh! The word "libertarian" is an Anglicization of libertaire, a French word coined by anarcho-socialists to evade a ban on "anarchist" publications.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:27 PM on April 1, 2009


Heh! The word "libertarian" is an Anglicization of libertaire, a French word coined by anarcho-socialists to evade a ban on "anarchist" publications.

OED doesn't agree with you. And it gives multiple C18th cites of "libertarian" meaning "one who believes in free will" or "one who believes in liberty."
posted by yoink at 1:31 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's easy to answer: If they don't have a viable reason to suspect someone of breaking the law, which is a lower standard than the probable cause required for a warrant, they're harassing. That's why profiling is illegal.

As for private investigators, they're held to a lower standard than police are, except when they are acting as an agent of police. It's the same reason that bounty hunters aren't generally constrained by the same laws that police are.

In either case, someone following you and taking pictures of you, even in public, can easily be considered harassment—about the only way that paparazzi function is through the public figure exception. This is even more true in the UK, where the protections of the press are weaker (Sienna Miller won a lawsuit against a paparazzi agency for harassing her).
posted by klangklangston at 1:44 PM on April 1, 2009


If I taught primary school kids, I'd want every square inch of the school covered by continuous cctv.

But how would you have felt if they'd had them when you were a school kid yourself? I remember how disturbing I thought 1984 was when I first read it in 7th grade. Man, if they'd had cameras in the classroom, that would have really bothered me.
posted by homunculus at 1:53 PM on April 1, 2009


When one word is capable of bridging so many opposite meanings, from the citizen-as-sovereign personhood of Mill's 'On Liberty,' to the to the vast, counterfeit personhoods worn by piles of wealth, its use conveys very little information. Instead, I find the value of words like libertarian is that they anger mostly the right people in mostly the right ways. The hater of libertarians, or liberals, or conservatives, is outlining a set of mostly localized rules of engagement and shorthands. On Metafilter, I'm a libertarian; on Free Republic, we're all liberals. I'd bank on Metafilter libertarians being members of the ACLU and EFF (and probably NRA), just as I'd bank on many Free Republic libertarians fitting the stealth-plutocrat image; but just as many, I think, are welded into a cable news cycle so tightly that they don't even have any manifesto.

On the CCTV argument: I believe, as I think most of us do, that the free press is a natural check to police abuse - a balance of power between the camera and the gun. So my question boils down to this: do we live in a society where the average citizen can videotape a police officer without fear of reprisal? If not, and if there's no reciprocity to be had for the forth estate, why should we bestow any new power on the police? What's in it for anybody but the police?
posted by kid ichorous at 4:17 PM on April 1, 2009


The funniest thing is that one of the reasons the British Law & Order show is so boring is because of the CCTV thing. Terrorizing suspects in the U.S. version is a far more entertaining violation of civil liberties.
posted by melissam at 4:25 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


"You'd think the cops would be the last people who'd want to endorse such nonsense; all it will do is generate a river of false leads, making it that much harder to pick up on genuine ones."

Think of all the job security.

So my question boils down to this: do we live in a society where the average citizen can videotape a police officer without fear of reprisal?

Funny you should mention that.
posted by Mitheral at 6:45 PM on April 1, 2009


"Liberals and libertarians of the krinklyfig sort may indeed hold similar positions, but the latter are more likely to, for example, go out and protest, or give money, or write their congressmen (or get into arguments on the Internet) regarding things like civil liberty violations, the growth of police power, and the lack of transparency in government. Whereas the former may agree that all those things are bad but never feel the need to take action regarding them, while pushing harder for things like universal health care, minority rights, gay marriage, and the reining in of the military-industrial complex. These are all causes that, again, krinklyfig and his sort would espouse in theory but may not emphasize in practice."

Yes, that's pretty much it. I was raised to believe in the Democratic Party, but I came to discover that they didn't represent some of my primary concerns very well at all. Seeing what happened to protesters during the '90s taught me that the Clinton administration was just as dismissive of their concerns as Reagan was. The problem with the Democrats since Carter is that they've been terrified to stand up for their principles, because the conventional wisdom says we're living in conservative times, so keep your head down. People who do stand up are ridiculed as clowns and dismissed out of hand. And it didn't start with Bush. Clinton in particular seemed to hold contempt for the very idea that people might consider their privacy and liberty valuable and pressed a number of initiatives and bad legislation, like COPA, mandated skeleton keys provided to the government to allow access to all encrypted content, the CDA, and the practice of outsourcing torture, AKA, "extraordinary rendition," and that's not even close to a complete list. Here's a pretty good rundown. Bush had a lot of tools at his disposal thanks to his legacy. And that's who lead the party throughout my early adulthood and set the tone and policy direction. Not only did he do damage to civil liberties in general, he seemed to make a point of it. I remember attending the rally in '91 at UNM for his campaign. It was exciting, and it seemed like everyone was hopeful, and what a cool guy. It was difficult realizing how naive I was to believe his concerns were the same as mine just because he was a Democrat.

Right now it's not easy to keep people's attention on these issues, and honestly I think health care is probably a more pressing issue as an immediate concern. Rising health care costs and sharply rising unemployment are going to force us to make decisions, and we have to make the right choice and start seeing it differently. If we have to rally everyone for the cause, we do have to do it for that cause. But if the Democrats continue to hold the idea of civil liberties in contempt, it's difficult for me to put my heart into it. I think Obama's got potential, but he has failed a few times when it mattered. We need to start peeling back the layers of abuses, not adding to them.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:52 PM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


How? What I mean is, how could they do that to everyone, which is what's being discussed here.

even with the equipment that's being discussed here, they cannot do it to everyone - at the end of the day, a human being's got to look at and evaluate the data - and they don't have millions of people working for them, do they? - therefore, it cannot be done to everyone

(sorry for interrupting HURF DURF LIBERTARIAN filter with an on topic post - carry on)
posted by pyramid termite at 8:46 PM on April 1, 2009


"even with the equipment that's being discussed here, they cannot do it to everyone - at the end of the day, a human being's got to look at and evaluate the data - and they don't have millions of people working for them, do they? - therefore, it cannot be done to everyone"

Unless computer sorting algorithms grow more complex, and since that's the direction they're heading, with the ability to sift more and more predictively, I don't think "They can't do it at this exact moment" is anything more than a momentary rebuttal of practicality.
posted by klangklangston at 9:08 PM on April 1, 2009


See, now, I'm still not seeing anything other than old-school liberalism here.

Because that is, in fact what libertarian means.

Why invent a new word for your position when it's coterminous with an existing position?

In the United States, "liberal" means something very different. I agree that inventing new terms shouldn't be undertaken lightly. But if you self-identify as liberal in the U.S., people won't think you value liberty.
posted by yath at 9:58 PM on April 1, 2009


even with the equipment that's being discussed here, they cannot do it to everyone

It's true that they can't do it universally and still do it well, but I'm not convinced that they need to. With 90+ percent of convictions won by plea bargaining, building a single case that meets an unsparing criminal standard of proof becomes less important than overwhelming the accused with as many charges as possible. And if you're looking to build cases wide and shallow, you only need two things: an automated system that gathers only the most circumstantial evidence of wrongdoing, and an an extremely wide index of crimes to look for.

This same strategy has transformed IP law to public spectacle: in the RIAA's black books of offending IPs, or the paper minefields of Microsoft's 'defensive' patent applications. They're toothless only to the extent that the defendant can weather the cost of a trial. In American law, at least, the FPP finds its contradiction: intimidation strategies are more effective against a large number of poor defendants than a small number of rich ones, and thus privacy is by no means an aristocratic or anti-egalitarian need. The rich have demonstrably less need of it than the poor.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:49 PM on April 1, 2009


With 90+ percent of convictions won by plea bargaining, building a single case that meets an unsparing criminal standard of proof becomes less important than overwhelming the accused with as many charges as possible.

I think that most travesties of justice occur because the police sincerely believe they have the right guy, and then go about concocting a case by any means possible. (Most, I say, not all. Sometimes it's "Get the brown-skinned guy.") Fabricating evidence is generally easier than collecting it. When there is easily available exculpatory evidence, they are less likely to zero in on the wrong guy immediately and more likely to expand their efforts to find the right one. In my humble opinion, this effect and the effect of actually identifying a perpetrator would far outweigh the effect of wrong-place, wrong-time prosecutions. Whether I am right or wrong would make a good research subject, actually.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:30 AM on April 2, 2009


Why invent a new word for your position when it's coterminous with an existing position?

Oh, and never use a big word when a diminutive word will do.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:32 AM on April 2, 2009


even with the equipment that's being discussed here, they cannot do it to everyone - at the end of the day, a human being's got to look at and evaluate the data - and they don't have millions of people working for them, do they? - therefore, it cannot be done to everyone

You're still missing my point. They can record the data necessary to do it to everyone/anyone and keep it in perpetuity. Then if they decide at some future point to do something about it (whether with klang's software advances or good old fashioned elbow grease) they can. That's the shift. Before ubiquitious surveillance, they had to come up with a reason to watch you before they started doing so, if for no other reason than resource allocation. After ubiquitous surveillance, the barrier to entry in terms of gathering the raw intel is vastly lowered.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:38 PM on April 2, 2009


Not to pour gas on the fire, but mind if I chime in? From my experience, libertarian is a very broad term.

There are libertarians who are libertarians because they took that "World's Smallest Political Test" (which, I will admit, is probably biased considering the people who put it out are a libertarian outreach group). There are libertarians who are just old fashioned Republicans. There are libertarians who want more civil liberties and they don't care much for the economic side of things. There are some who just care about the economics and don't care much for civil liberties. There are libertarians who think Ron Paul is great. There are some libertarians who think he goes too far. There are libertarians who think he doesn't go far enough. There are libertarians whose entirety of libertarianism stems from Ron Paul and their personal philosophy is "GOOGLE RON PAUL, END THE FED, etc." There are some libertarians who are Chicago School monetarists and think the Fed is alright if it does the right stuff. There are some who are Austrian School and thinks the Fed sucks and wants it abolished. There are some libertarians who think Lincoln was a swell guy. There are some libertarians who think Lincoln was just as bad as Hitler. There are some libertarians who want less government because they don't want the government to take their guns away. There are some libertarians who hate capitalism because capitalism is actually a state invention. There are some libertarians who think the US Constitution is great. There are some libertarians who wish we could go back to the Articles of Confederation. There are some libertarians just would like to see the Post Office privatized. There are some libertarians who want to privatize EVERYTHING. There are some libertarians who even object to the phrase privatization because it creates a notion of the state doing things. There are libertarians who think the Libertarian Party is terrific. There are some libertarians who think the Libertarian Party is a contradiction in terms. There are some libertarians who read Ayn Rand and think businessmen are awesome guys. There are some libertarians who read Adam Smith and think businessmen will fuck over the consumer at every chance the get, with the help of the state. There are libertarians who ramble on about the common law in America and that you really don't need a driver's license because of some obscure court decision. There are some libertarians who call themselves liberals because of historical connotations. There are some libertarians who think liberty and a philosophy of non-coercion is so damn great, we need to coerce other countries to accept it. There are libertarians who point fingers at the other libertarians and cry out that they are not TRUE libertarians because they do not believe what they believe. There are libertarians who are goldbugs. There are libertarians who think the Free State Project is what we need. There are other libertarians who think it's a dumb idea as dilutes libertarian influence elsewhere. There are other libertarians who insist we should move to Wyoming instead of New Hampshire. There are libertarians that believe the Civil War was justified because slavery is an infringement of the liberty of slaves and therefore not moral. There are libertarians who believe that the Civil War was unjustified as they believe that the South had a right to secede and that slavery could be abolished without government intervention. There are libertarians who read "Reason." There are some libertarians who say that "Reason" sold out years ago. There are libertarians who wear tin foil hats and worry about CCTV. Then there are libertarians who are really socialists or just plain 'ol anarchists but they say they're the "true" libertarians and that just confuses the hell out of everyone.

A year ago or so, the Cato Institute put out an Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Strangely though, there was not a single article on libertarianism in itself probably because it's so damn broad. From my experience, libertarians can be all over the place in terms of what constitutes libertarians and will argue which libertarianism is the right one.

As not to totally derail, but the article, I was kinda disappointed. Not so much at what it said but it was too short because I think he doesn't quite explain how he goes from objections about CCTV to a conclusion that libertarianism (or I suppose liberals in the context of European parliamentary politics) is some sort of front for the rich and upper class.
posted by champthom at 2:41 AM on April 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Personal web data to be stored for a year
posted by homunculus at 4:08 PM on April 4, 2009


Meanwhile, in the US: New and worse secrecy and immunity claims from the Obama DOJ
posted by homunculus at 4:21 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh crap. Are we still supposed to be waiting and seeing because they're still figuring out what to do?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:15 PM on April 6, 2009


Manchester's streets to be patrolled by CCTV cars that film you picking your nose at the wheel and then send you a fine
posted by homunculus at 11:41 AM on April 11, 2009


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