Evidence of Wrongdoing? We Have the Solution!

Of course, it is Texas. Still….

The House Bill 2918 introduced by Texas Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) would make private citizens photographing or recording the police within 25 feet of them a class B misdemeanor, and those who are armed would not be able to stand recording within 100 feet of an officer.

As defined in the bill, only a radio or television that holds a license issued by the Federal Communications Commission, a newspaper that is qualified under section 2051.044 or a magazine that appears at a regular interval would be allowed to record police.

This is exactly the sort of measure for which the Yiddish word “chutzpah” was invented. (For you non-Yiddish-speakers, “chutzpah” has been defined–inadequately–as “gall or nerve.” The standard illustration is a kid who kills his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan.)

The ubiquity of cameras has uncovered troubling and evidently none-too-rare incidents of police misconduct, most of which have involved the fatal shootings of unarmed black men. You might think that the appropriate response would be aimed at correcting the problem: better training, psychological testing to weed out the bad apples, etc.

But no.

Since it appears that cameras have made it harder to get away with unconscionable behavior, we should get rid of the cameras. Problem solved.

These people have no moral center. Worse, they have no shame.


  1. In most of the video and camera cases I have read about involving police actions, the camera is confiscated and never returned to the owner who took the photos. Some people in Ferguson had their cameras taken away, so if you want to photograph police actions, better be surreptitious about it!

  2. Let’s hope a qualifying newspaper or magazine owner will be a mensch and deputize all Texans as volunteer reporters.

  3. I am hoping there are enough advocates of common sense in their legal process to stop this bill from going all the way.

  4. Evidence of reality is to conservatives what light is to werewolves. They shrink at its sight.

    Climate change, evolution, the failure of trickle down, the truth of gayness, the success of Obama care, the total failure of the Cheney Administration, the blatant Koch Bros power grab, the beauty of diplomacy vs the agony of war, and yes, and the realization that not all cops are good nor all poor lazy and/or criminal defines their world and all in their world must be accepted on faith, for there’s no evidence of it.

    Have faith that they are right and ignore evidence that they are wrong.

    Yet there are conservatives. Lots of them apparently.

    We used to wonder why and how the Dark Ages came to be. Did people forget how to think? Was ration abandoned?

    Apparently it happens when the power of ignorance is employed by the few.

  5. Could the Holocaust have happened if the “good Germans” had camera phones? Could slavery have persisted for so long had those who fought against it had camera phones? Of course authorities want to pass laws against citizens using them to film law officers committing crimes; the only way they have to fight this 21st Century form of unarmed self-protection is to pass more unfair laws and remove more civil and human rights from all of us. For most of us, our only protection is the voting booth on election days…we average citizens outnumber the oligarchy – and that 1 or 2% who will receive another major tax break – but they are winning due to inaction. Another term for the Yiddish word “chutzpah” is “brass balls” and the GOP is loaded with them.

  6. Good use of the blog, but this issue should be much higher with the Democrats.

    Nobody’s dying over wedding cake.

    The Dems should also focus on cops killing citizens, regardless of color.

  7. In 1857 Theodore Parker said:

    “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”

    “Things refuse to be mismanaged long. Jefferson trembled when he thought of slavery and remembered that God is just. Ere long all America will tremble.”

    While he was comfortable attributing the moral universe to God, as his Faith deemed Him the highest authority, the truth is that the trajectory of the moral universe is determined by the culture that humanity is inclined to settle for.

    Many refuse to accept injustice as the best that we can do. That defines the arc. We should not accept less. Ever. We cannot afford to.

  8. Take my camera/phone for exercising my rights, I’ll voluntarily give out hot slugs too. This place is going to shit…. we will be in camps soon enough. ..

  9. One might indeed make the argument, in the name of First Amendment principles, that absent a compelling interest on the part of the state, any citizen ought to have the right to observe and capture on any medium the activities of public officials, including police officers, in the performance (or mis-performance) of their duties. Sensible limitations related to undue interference with justice, security, etc., can be allowed, but absent that it ought to be a punishable offense for any police officer to confiscate or otherwise wrongfully hold such media. But I suspect they’ll have none of that in the Texas Legislature.

  10. My late Father was a long-serving homicide detective and police artist with the Indianapolis Police Department and also a seriously straight arrow in regard to doing his job, and while a crack shot never shot a soul during his long tour of duty. He used to tell me that police departments cannot effectively do their job unless they have the trust and cooperation of the citizens they serve. He also told me that you have to treat everyone, no matter who they are or where they’re from, with the same level of respect. He governed his whole 33-year professional career around those concepts, ending up being regarded as a legend by his former department, even today 36 years after his retirement. A short Mark Twain quote that he had in a desk globe sums him up – “Always do the right thing; you will gratify some and amaze the rest”.

    He would be appalled, no actually furious, at what is happening today given the truly pitiful news worthy performances by police officers and police departments across this country. He had absolutely no tolerance for “dirty cops”, and would very likely be all for police officers wearing cameras on patrol since they help protect the good ones and illuminate the bad ones and the bad ones need to be routed out. I bet he would also say that private citizens should have every right to monitor the work performance of police officers. I think he would also be wondering where Representative Villalba is coming from given his push for a bill that would muzzle private citizens from exercising their rights as citizens. Where do people like Villalba actually come from and why can’t we send them back to wherever that is? I bet it’s a big place though given how many there are of them these days.

  11. Gopper: it’s called free will. We all have it. At least until we give it away to in exchange for comfort.

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