In all honesty, mate, I think you've been reading too many tabloids.
In all honesty, I've seen three different people I know done over with this sort of rubbish. Two to the degree of having computers taken (and returned damaged), having to be kept separated from their children, etc.
It only takes an unfounded accusation to seriously screw you up in the current paranoid climate.
2009-07-27 08:36 am (UTC)
I disagree with your "unimportant but annoying" tag. To me, this is an important issue. It might be a small thing in the overall scheme of things. But it's the small things that combine to become big things. It's rare that we look at something that's a big issue and find that there are just one or two big causes. More often, it's a myriad of small issues, insignificant on their own, that just build and build and build until we realise we have a big problem, and wonder where it came from.
I can see it becoming a very significant issue for me in the not-too-distant future. I have two nieces, whom I dote upon. The elder is eight, the younger, four. If they go for sports in a significant way - soccer, basketball, hockey, that sort of thing - I would love to be out there with something like the Canon 100-400mm and the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 (both brilliant lenses in their niche), taking photographs to treasure. Yet I can't help but feel that if I do this, the accusation might be made, and the trouble that results will be more than I can handle.
It's a tragedy, is what it is, when men who have nothing more than the intent to preserve cherished memories have to pause lest their actions be misunderstood, and, through misunderstanding, their lives be ruined.
I suspect I'm babbling - sorry if it comes across this way. But I couldn't not comment.
My Brother in law who turned up to a swim meet at his daughter's school to take photos for his wife who wasn't able to be there, was told in no uncertain terms that he was forbidden to take any photos of the event.
Last year while I was in Scotland I went to the end of year ceremony for my cousin's eldest child, who was leaving primary school and going on to high school. Pictures were not allowed to be taken because that would require the permission of all parents. And so little by little, even when the child is a relative of yours, it seems that the moments which mark their growth and change aren't getting recorded.
Photos that we used to take of children playing, carefree and innocent, we no longer do, or the act of taking them gets tainted by this worry. I find this very sad.
That's just sad.
The worst aspect that I see is that later on you may not be able to record Lex's interaction with other kids, creating an illusion of a solitary life for a kid who probably won't be the least bit solitary.
I agree totally crazy and I really feel sorry for your friends who had to go through the ordeal of being investigated without reason.
Recently there was a case in the UK where a woman who worked in a child care centre was charged with making kiddy porn (one way they charged her was that some of the pictures were actually taken at the childcare centre). It was really interesting to see the media and community outrage and shock that a woman could do this. Because as we know only men are involved in child abuse and all men who show any interest in children are that way inclined. And then we wonder why we can't get any male teachers in primary schools...
Recent studies seem to suggest that the rate of abuse by women is actually substantially higher than first thought. 25% is currently being bandied about as the figure. One of the big issues is that if a child said they were being touched inappropriately by a woman, the default was that the child must be confused or mistaken, as a woman was thought incapable of such behaviour.
Now it's coming out that female teachers, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, etc. make up a sizeable portion of child molesters. And some have gotten away with it for decades because no-one would believe the kids.
Personally, I've had a gutfull of the assumption that, as a male, I'm automatically predisposed towards interfering with children, and have to be treated as a potential danger right from the start.
if IS important, both this issue and the 'only terrorists want to take pictures of buildings' crap, and the 'copyright means you can't take pictures of public art' crap. Fuck them all, we have the right to take photos.
I am not sure that it is quite as bad as you say, though. Certainly some overzealous passer by might ask you to stop, the federal police really do have better things to do with their time.
On one hand, it's not as bad as I say, in that the worst case was that I would probably have been told to fuck off by the coach.
On the other hand, people are getting dragged through all the crap that I mentioned on the basis of single accusations with no evidence. And this is a crime where one is definitely treated as guilty until proven innocent. But even if proven innocent, people's lives are still affected afterwards by people who no longer trust them.
The real point is, rather than feeling free to just take a photograph when I was moved to, I had to weigh up what might happen, and given the kneejerk responses of people, decided it wasn't worth risking the hassle.
We met a professional photographer, one who'd been around a couple of decades, had art shows, etc. He was talking about how, even with his professional credentials, he wasn't allowed to take photos of his kids on the sports field. The rule they have is, one has to obtain the permission of every parent before taking any photos. How the hell is that even practical?
About 5 or so years ago, my uncle refused to take a film in to be developed. My aunt had taken a couple of photos of their grandkids playing in their nappies (so she could paint the image). He was not prepared to take the film in, because he figured on something like what you describe.
I was still unfussed by all this a couple of years ago. Back then, I would have taken the photo. But it's gotten a bit out of hand.
At Lex's swimming class a grandmother was stopped from taking a photo of her grandson learning swimming. The picture was for the child's father, who is overseas. I don't think anyone in our swim class would have objected, but we weren't even given that chance either way.
This is the kind of fucked up thing that upsets me greatly.
And there is so much that I have so much trouble articulating, and at nearly 2am don't want to step on a soap box and wake up to trying to make intelligent responses at people tomorrow.
I'm having a cynical moment inside of the response I'm having which is a) human and not a small part feminist.
The context in which guys get to be guys is as absolutely fucked up and offensive as the inherent lack of value placed in women is.... that and several levels of other stuff.
I'd actually blame the anti-male sentiment that comes from so many wimmins and feminist groups in part for the continued negitive views towards men in our society. See above for the discussion on the number of women who are child abusers or who commit acts of domestic violence and the lack of support of victims.
Sad to say, but that was probably a wise choice. The thing I find really stupid about the whole situation is the ban on taking photos of kids in normal situations. How on earth can that harm them, regardless of who looks at the photos? If taking a photo is so bad, why are we letting anybody watch them in the first place? Surely that would be much worse. It is all so stupid and such a long way from the kids who are really being harmed.
Still, at least you aren't in the UK where you can be arrested for taking photos of bus stations or pretty much anything that the copper involved thinks is unusual. God knows what would happen if there were still any Police Boxes left standing in England as taking photos of them would probably see you in permanent detention.
Ah the great anti-terrorist law that says taking footage of a police officer on duty is an illegal terrorist act... even if they are beating someone to death.
Reminds me of when Max was a baby: I used to take him out in the stroller quite a bit, unaccompanied by his mother, and some of the looks I used to get (mainly from people in their 40s or 50s, and mostly women) still stick in my mind. Nobody ever said anything, but it left me feeling quite bitter at the time.
Without in any way wishing to downplay the true horror of kiddy-fiddling, it really has become the one major crime that seems to require little or no evidence for the general public to cry 'foul'.
And based on such a small percentage. Yes we should protect children, but we as a society are currently condemning all males for the sins of a few.