“…The blackmoustachio’d face gazed down from every commanding corner. There was one on the house-front immediately opposite. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption said, while the dark eyes looked deep into Winston’s own. Down at streetlevel another poster, torn at one corner, flapped fitfully in the wind, alternately covering and uncovering the single word INGSOC. In the far distance a helicopter skimmed down between the roofs, hovered for an instant like a bluebottle, and darted away again with a curving flight. It was the police patrol, snooping into people’s windows. The patrols did not matter, however. Only the Thought Police mattered.”, 1984, George Orwell.
Big Brother has arrived in St. Petersburg. Signs will likely be planted in downtown St. Petersburg soon stating nearly exactly what was stated in George Orwell’s 1984: “Big Brother is Watching”. The St. Petersburg City Council is about to vote on approving 15 new cameras in St. Petersburg that will be use to monitor the public. Next to these cameras will be signs warning “you are being monitored”, which is nearly the same as “Big Brother is watching”.
St. Petersburg is rapidly turning into surveillance society. Red Light Cameras are being used to siphon money from citizens while they increase car crashes. Soon they will expand to new locations. Now, 15 security cameras (purchased from a $263,000 federal grant from the RNC convention last summer) are being considered for permanent installation. Most would be at downtown areas to monitor crowds. City Council member Wengay Newton was able to glean from police officials that the areas to be monitored are not high crime areas. In addition, Police Chief Harmon has stated that he does not have an interest in placing cameras in high crime areas. So what is the point?
There can be only one point: to create a surveillance society in the city that will be designed to grow. The red light cameras are likely to grow despite evidence they hurt rather than help citizens. How will the surveillance cameras be used? Will they be used to selectively create incriminating evidence against targeted individuals while tapes of more important members of the political class transgressing the law are erased? Will they be used to justify more cameras throughout the city? At what point will the police be requesting drones to be purchased and flown over neighborhoods. Will the drones then be used to find code violations and raise more money for the city through fines while helping nobody in any meaningful way?
There are better ways to solve the crime problems in St. Petersburg. Place more police at high crime areas. Move police from speed traps and into neighborhoods with prostitutes and drug dealers. More importantly, work on building a moral society where crime is not a way of life, but an aberration to be rejected. When are we going to see our churches and citizens going into neighborhoods to help their fellow man find a better way where good dominates their life and evil is rejected?
There has got to come a point when people say “no more”! The incremental loss of freedom is the classic way in which governments grow to dominate our lives. Citizens should let the City council know: “No more cameras! Big Brother can watch his own family, not mine”. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and Mayor@stpete.org .
Remember these important warnings from the past:
“Those who would give up a little security for a little liberty will lose both and deserve neither”, Benjamin Franklin.
“As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air however slight lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”,William O. Douglas, Justice of the U.S Supreme Court.
“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”, James Madison.