June 11, 2004

NYC Photo Ban

New York City is considering whether or not to ban photography in and around the subway for security reasons. The New York Times reports hundreds of photographers rode the subway all at the same time and started snapping away in protest.

At a protest by photographers, you see things like a guy taking pictures of a guy taking pictures of a few more guys taking pictures of one another.

There was such a protest yesterday, but it might take hundreds of pages to describe it, given all the pictures that were taken, each one worth at least a thousand words.

[...]

"The point is really to make everyday people wake up and realize that photographers are not terrorists," said Joe Anastasio, who organized the event. "In the last few years, photographers near anything vaguely important have been getting harassed."

Mr. Anastasio went on to tell the story of a friend who took his wife's picture near the Whitestone Bridge, only to be called in for questioning by the police. He told another of a man caught snapping pictures at a Metro-North station who was interrogated for nearly two hours by authorities at the scene.

"The paranoia," he said, "has gone a little too far."

You should expect these kinds of rules in places like Libya. Ghaddafi is the hated boss of a military police state, so he has plenty to be afraid of. So does New York City after 9/11 for different reasons, not the least of which is that Mayor "Nurse" Bloomberg needs to protect the city while Ghaddafi needs to protect his ass. But the salient difference is that New York is an open liberal city and Tripoli isn't.

Rudy Giuliani found a mix of liberal Republicanism that most New Yorkers thought worked pretty well, but Bloomberg - even though he was a Democrat until he entered the mayoral race - can't seem to figure out how it's done.

Here's a clue for Mr. Bloomberg: Popular tough leaders don't act like hectoring school principals - especially not in a freewheeling place like New York - nor do they get nicknames like "Nurse." (No offense intended to the fine nursing profession.) Try being more of a leader and less of a boss and see how that works for a while.

In fairness to the mayor, this is not his idea. It comes from the NYPD. But Bloomberg is in charge more than anyone, and he's been "a picknose control freak," as Christopher Hitchens put it, ever since he took office. He has more power to turn this around than anyone else.


UPDATE: Jason Holliston, a friend of mine who is a small-l libertarian, makes a good point that I didn't expect to see from someone with his point of view.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 11, 2004 1:35 AM
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