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04/26/2004 Archived Entry: "Attacks on mobile radar vans"

THE NATIVES ARE GETTING RESTLESS. MysteryMan Mike sends the following news:

The first attack involved a newspaper box, which someone on an overpass hurled at Lois Bowes's photo radar van below. The next time it was a brick. This week it was a chunk of concrete.

Attacks against the Edmonton Police Service's mobile photo radar units have become so prevalent 13 in the past 13 months that the force is looking at fortifying the vehicles to protect their operators.

What's so interesting about this (aside from the fact that it's being done by those oh-so-polite Canadians) is the targets. These are manned police vans. But they're automated: click -- ticket -- click -- ticket -- click -- ticket. That is, there's no human face on the transaction, even though there's a human being in the van. No hope to get a little mercy from an officer. No chance, either, to look in the officer's face and see a person who's got his or her own life, own worries, own needs -- a person you might want to give a break to, yourself. Just click -- ticket -- and, increasingly, SMASH!

The article continues:

And where there is traffic enforcement there is rage. British police estimate that 400 mounted speed cameras have been vandalized over the past two years. In Israel, drivers have shot at the devices.

"Where there is traffic enforcement there is rage"? Maybe. But the point these governments and these journalists is missing is that where there is faceless traffic enforcement, there is totally understandable alienation. And the governments themselves sowed what their employees and their cameras are reaping.

People might not like traffic tickets written by an officer by the roadside. But they perceive it as some sort of balanced transaction -- one on one. The officer may be right or may be wrong. But he has to work to catch you. He has to face you. Maybe he even has to stand out in a howling rainstorm or 100-degree sun to do it. That's fair. That's human. Everybody has a chance and a say and a viewpoint. Maybe "you can't fight city hall." But at least city hall is populated by humans and one of those humans is standing at your driver's side door.

All the fortifications in the world aren't ultimately going to protect a government that expects to automate and dehumanize justice and to control individuals without individuality. Their "efficiency" (not to mention their crass attempts at using tickets primarily as a fundraising device) is going to hurt them in the long run -- as well it should.

You go, Canadians! Screw 'em. (But don't aim for the van driver; being a human extension of the robot-state isn't a capital crime. Try for the camera.)

Posted by Claire @ 12:22 PM CST

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