Saturday, 24 May 2008

Opening Remarks

Welcome to the blog!

To object to CCTV in "today's inconnected world" is to hold an unfashionable minority viewpoint. This is the preserve of old-Labour socialists, recalcitrant liberals, hard-nosed Tories, human rights lawyers, privacy activists, data protection campaigners, hoodies, Victor Meldrew types, visitors from overseas or returning ex-pats, conspiracy theorists, gloommongers, hippy visionaries, peaceniks and constitutionalists. This is the awkward squad. But boy what a coalition this awkward squad represents!

Our cause - first and foremost - is a principled one. We value the privacy of the individual citizen and the dignity of our community at large - here, in Kirkcaldy. Without privacy, there can be no dignity. Privacy is a right, while dignity lies at the heart of our humanity.

CCTV is an infringement on your privacy. By this means, the state builds up an unduly detailed picture of our lives. In future, all of your errors, stumbles, bloody noses, bad hair days, confrontations, romantic moments - the private matter of public places - will become the property of the state to be duplicated and disseminated in a manner entirely outwith of your control.

Society functioned for better and worse without CCTV and public surveillance in general for millenia past. Increasingly, we are replacing natural, organic relations, with filtered, atomised, virtual existences. Our neighbourliness - as Fifers never exactly one of our more famed characteristics - will suffer as we substitute spontaneous, interpersonal lives for mediated dependencies controlled by a state bureaucracy whose function is to mechanise and saniticise vital, natural instincts.

Like the right to protest. Like the right to associate with real police officers as they walk the street in their professional capacity of guardians of the law. Like the right not to have CCTV operators learn all manner of details of your proclivities, habits, tastes, waking hours. Like the right not to have you stumble down a manhole or dress tear beamed around the world for popular entertainment.

Your privacy and - therefore - your dignity is at the heart of the matter. This is not a question about crime. Surveys have shown that the impact of CCTV on relevant crime in covered areas is four percent, and that is before the displacement issue is taken into account.

We must have the utmost of respect for the Police. I would love to see the day that the Police are respected - not feared - in Kirkcaldy, in a way that they haven't been since the first few post-war years. To do this they must be seen and known. The money saved by dismantling the CCTV network should be ringfenced for Policing. This is not an anti-Police campaign movement. The Police are at the heart of successful communities.

Fellow langtonians, now is the time to make your voices heard. Ask your elected representatives where they stand on this issue. Make your vote contingent on a respect of civil privacy and human dignity. It is time for CCTV to be banned in all public places in Kirkcaldy.

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