Monday, May 18, 2015

Eye In The Sky

I am glad that there is a conscious effort currently being made across the globe to seek out the bad guys and make sure that they are brought to justice. I was an enthusiastic supporter of the idea of getting surveillance cameras mounted on our school after I had an early morning contact with a police officer who was looking for a bad guy on the run in the neighborhood. "Do you guys have cameras outside?" asked the patrolman. I sighed and confessed that I wished that we did. Maybe that would keep people from hopping the fence on long weekends to break windows and add their own flavor to the walls and doors of our building with spray paint.
It wasn't until several hours later that the ACLU portion of my brain woke up and shouted, "Waitaminnit!" Do we really need Big Brother peering into our lives twenty-four-seven? How do we keep our private lives private? The rest of my brain answered back, "If you're not doing anything bad, why would you have to worry about what those cameras catch and record for posterity?" I was grateful at this point that I was not standing in front of a police officer and I could maintain this relative fugue state for a few more conversational volleys.
The answer I came up with for my own rhetorical question: Editing. Who decides when to start and stop the tape? As a teacher, I am keenly aware of the volume of video being shot on cell phones of disruptions in class and the number of these incidents that seem to start up just a tick before the grownup blows their stack. This isn't an apology for any educator who loses their composure when dealing with kids, but it is a reminder about The Whole Story. We don't see it very often. The twenty-four hour news cycle, as expansive as it may seem, only captures and promotes the tiniest snippets of evidence to support their editorial point of view. Can thirty seconds of video really cover years that led up to the riots in Baltimore? Would a vest mounted camera on ever officer's chest keep them from making bad choices in the heat of the moment? No, and no. Video will not save us. It can only confirm those bad choices and momentary lapses of reason.
Upon further reflection, I suppose I would welcome the addition of video cameras on my school's facade, but only to be used for historical record. Until someone climbs up on the roof and steals them.

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