March 7, 2007

Avoiding Rodney King-style troubles the French way.

It's now illegal in France for nonprofessionals to film acts of violence. (Via Memeoradum.)
...16 years [ago] Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King were filmed by amateur videographer George Holliday on the night of March 3, 1991. The officers’ acquittal at the end on April 29, 1992 sparked riots in Los Angeles.

If Holliday were to film a similar scene of violence in France today, he could end up in prison as a result of the new law, said Pascal Cohet, a spokesman for French online civil liberties group Odebi. And anyone publishing such images could face up to five years in prison and a fine of €75,000 (US$98,537), potentially a harsher sentence than that for committing the violent act.
The original motivation for the law was to deal with things like "happy slapping" ("violent attack is filmed by an accomplice, typically with a camera phone, for the amusement of the attacker’s friends"), but they've intentionly drafted it to cover citizen journalists of the Holliday type.

Think it couldn't happen here?


CB said...

Yet more evidence that the dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe.

Mark the Pundit said...

Think it couldn't happen here?

Wouldn't the film be considered protected under the First Amendment? It's a legitimate story, after all.

Then again, I did read somewhere a week or so ago where police (in Miami I think) arrested someone for filming them arresting someone.

Richard Fagin said...

I've already read one story about a homeowner videotaping the street near his home to catch violators of a traffic control device. This person was threatened with arrest and confiscation of his equipment when he caught a police officer violating the device. I believe the threat of criminal action was dropped when the case became publicized, but still......

Sorry to be so vague, I can't remember the details.

TMink said...

Of course it is illegal to videotape illegal activity in France. They are worried that the cameramen would unconditionally surrender.


bill said...

There's this, A Bartow County, Georgia couple who caught a cop on a homemade speed camera are threatened with arrest.:
While police in 23 jurisdictions throughout Georgia have embraced photo enforcement, a couple is being threatened with jail this week for having turned the speed cameras on police. Lee and Teresa Sipple spent $1200 to mount three video cameras and a radar speed unit outside their Bartow County home.

The couple intended merely to harass neighbors into slowing down outside their home until they caught a Kennesaw police officer Richard Perrone allegedly speeding past at 12 to 17 MPH over the speed limit. After Sipple informed Bartow County officials, a police deputy arrived to inform the couple that Perrone intended to charge them with stalking.

And a number of people have been harassed and arrested for filming cops doing their jobs--or most likely, not doing their jobs. Whether any of these have held up to court scrutiny I don't know. Mostly sounds like the typical cop as bully, not institionalized policy.

So, yes, it could happen here, but I'm more and more inclined to lean towards David Brin's Transparent Society.

Fen said...

Don't they also contend that mocking French is "racist"? I have some friends in Europe and am constantly amazed at how readily they self-censor.

The Drill SGT said...

The French are in absolute denial of their societal problems. This is one example. Another is that the French have no "race" problem with their "Youths". Reason?

It is illegal to gather or analyze any statistics based on race. No numbers, no proof, no problem.

So there is no problem with unemployment among Muslim youth, because there is no unemployment among Muslim Youth

non ipso facto

Hoosier Daddy said...

Think it couldn't happen here?

I think anything is possible depending on how well the law is crafted, although, I will confess I never heard of happy slapping or new it was such a problem that it warranted legislation, even in France. I guess I live a sheltered life in flyover country.

As for the comments on incidents in the US of people arrested or threatened with arrest for filming such actions, I would defer to Ann as to the legal grounds for it. A cop can pretty much arrest you for anything but whether it has legal grounds is another issue.

cokaygne said...

It could happen here. It does happen here. There are differences, though. It is legal in this country for local police to raise revenue by taking a picture of your car's registration plate while it may be speeding or running a red light at 3 AM, and then sending you a violation notice in the mail. The French and some other EU nations have made Holocaust denial a crime. Germany outlaws displaying the swaztika. In this country we are on the verge of outlawing use of the N word or the F word (I don't mean F__k, which is the word of choice for lefty bloggers). What can one say? Speeding, running red lights, Holocaust denial, displaying the swaztika, and using the N or F words are all abhorrent. Why shouldn't there be laws against these things? Why shouldn't these horrible acts be punished summarily without the bother and expense of a trial? For that matter, why not make it illegal to utter things that might offend certain groups that learn about them via an email from someone who was not present when the alleged utterances were made?

monkeyboy said...

Drill SGT:

I was thinking along similar lines. This law may also be directed at the videos of "youth violence" from last summer. No video, no ethnic violence.

Jeff said...

Rodney King-style trouble? On the contrary- the French police are more likely to be the victims of a videotaped beatdown!

Pogo said...

This is a form of information control perfected only under authoritarians like Stalin or Mao. No bad news reported means no bad news, or so they believe. But the underlying rot in France continues apace. The Muslims are taking over, and the West is just sweeping the place, tidying up, before they move in.

As Mark Steyn observed, "...there's very little difference between living under Exquisitely Refined Multicultural Sensitivity and sharia."

bill said...

cameras protecting other cameras

Hey said...

It has happened here: McCain Feingold Bi-Partisan Campaign Finance Reform Act. The 1st amendment doesn't mean what it says. Since electoral speech can be curbed to combat the perception of i9mpropriety, curbing speech to prevent disorder is much less threatening to democracy. All we need is the right legislator.

Such tyranny is why strict constructionalists need to be on the USSC: "Congress shall make no law" should mean that congress can make no law, rather than that they can make a few laws if they're really, really important.

aquariid said...

I used to like to imagine to myself how I would react if someone committed an egregiously unjust act against me. It is a form of emotional masturbation, it is pleasurable to wallow in self righteousness. I don't think I am alone in this indulgence. Fantasizing about being arrested for recording a crime for the purpose of exposing that crime would be an example.

"...but they've intentionly drafted it to cover citizen journalists of the Holliday type." That is an unsubstantiated claim made by the french civil liberties activist. It seems more likely that the law's reference to "professional journalists" was a well meaning but inadequate attempt to differentiate the intentions of those who record a violent act. They want to punish those who record violent assaults for the purpose of glorifying them, and where the person taking the pictures is most likely involved in the assault.

So, try assuming that the intentions of others are honorable. That though they fall short they mean well. That maybe Prof. Althouse purposely left out the source of the above quoted statement to underscore the problem being not the intention of the law but the imperfection of its language.
(And as for me being hopelessly idealistic, it has been demonstrated to me countless times that people do live up to expectations.)

Cedarford said...

It's a new world. We have run into new media technology being used as a weapon against the American People, the troops, for terrorists scouting targets.

The French may be right in that media propaganda manufactured by enemies of the state does need to be suppressed for a democracy to function. The 1st Amendment in America, despite recent SCOTUS declarations behind the walls of rhetorical incense the High Priests in Judge robes have declared, is not absolute. Pro-loyalist, pro-acharchist terror, pro-Copperhead, Pro-Nazi, pro-Soviet propaganda was suppressed in earlier days.

And the "new media" HAS been used to damage both private citizens and state employees doing their jobs through selective editing.

Islamic Jihad has moved onto the Internet where carefully edited and faked footage becomes the prime propoganda and recruitment tool. The instance of the French Left media working for Palestinian terrorist in false footage of "Zionists" killing a young boy is the most notorious example. But plenty of footage exists of "Iraqi passerbyes" that "just happened to be fortunate enough" to be able to film Iraqi executions happening on the street, US troops reacting in the aftermath of an edited-out IED bombing, and so on.

The enemy knows a video camera with digital editing and creative photoshopping is as potent a weapon as a AK-47 or an ACLU lawyer.

In the USA and Europe, we have seen Anarchists, Lefty activists on campus, and Islamoids trying to bait authorities into arresting or disbursing them - with the provoking behavior and/or attack with objects edited out. Moreover, Muslim terrorist scouts have been caught with videotape of targets in the USA and Canada - along with lists of other targets they are to videotape, get blueprints of if possible, then send on to Iran, KSA or Pakistan.

The Rodney King video was a good example. While police did overreact, that video was cut, edited and spliced to show angry blacks and Lefties the "greatest cop hits" again and again, without context of what was cut out to recreate the tape in the most inflammatory way possible.

Properly prepped for violence by the purveyors of the King tape, the mob reacted much like Islamoids conditioned by Jihad propaganda do - lethally. Whites, hispanics and Asians were dragged from cars and killed or beaten to pulps. Blocks burned. 19 were killed, over 100 hospitalized.

And the centerpiece, the prime cause of all that death and carnage, was a deliberately misleading video.

Which shows America too, must acknowledge media is a weapon..not just a "free press" right anymore...and there are people afoot that do want the Chicago subway plans vidoe'd to Karachi, or cops set up so a lethal riot can happen.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Glenn Reynolds has suggested more than once making it explicitly legal to videotape law enforcement officers and activities happening in public places.

One problem is provenance; how do you know a particular tape wasn't altered or edited before you see it? But that's a different issue and no reason to ban the taping in the first place.

Cedarford said...

Erratum - My numbers were from just the 1st day of the King riots, just in LA. Counting other towns and cities as well as the 2nd and 3rd days in LA, the cumulative damage was:

Estimates of the number of lives lost during the Rodney King Verdict unrest vary between 50 and 60, with as many as 2,000 persons hospitalized. Several thousand more were attacked but escaped or were subjected to injuries that did not require documented medical care. Estimates of the material damage done vary between about $800 million and $1 billion. Approximately 3,600 fires were set, destroying 1,100 buildings, with fire calls coming once every minute at some points. About 10,000 people were arrested.

Also, the King Tape was one of two factors, the other being Asians and their stores racially targeted by blacks for a manslaughter by an Asian storeowner that happened shortly after the King incident and also was used to propagandize blacks into rage.

CB said...

America too, must acknowledge media is a weapon..not just a "free press" right anymore

Fortunately we have the Second Amendment too.

Revenant said...

I have some friends in Europe and am constantly amazed at how readily they self-censor.

You don't even have to go that far. Canada and Mexico both practice widespread censorship, as well. The Canadian government's power to slap gag orders on the press is pretty alarming, and would be moreso if they didn't have convenient access to American media that could ignore the orders.

P. Froward said...

So if you're not a "real journalist" in France, you're not allowed to film stuff? How do they define "real"? I checked DailyKos, and they said you're not a real journalist if you're gay, or something. Has France consulted with those guys? Because I know there's been a lot of progressive concern about that issue, the threat of non-real... gay... journalism, uhh... issue, thing. But they can totally identify who's a real journalist, is the thing, which is a valuable skill.


In fairness, on the sharia issue, the Women's Studies department is a lot less likely to have you decapitated.

The Drill SGT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Drill SGT said...


In fairness, on the sharia issue, the Women's Studies department is a lot less likely to have you decapitated.

In that Women's study's departments ARE like Afghan women. The favored punishment is not beheading. Pogo remember Kipling?:

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, and the women come out to cut up what remains, jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains and go to your gawd like a soldier.

Pogo said...

The Drill SGT's right. A teacher would probably be prosecuted for teaching Kipling these days, though.

Steyn was referring to the fact that Multiculturalism, over time, becomes ever more restrictive of activity that might be deemed offensive to some favored group. In England this meant removing pictures of pigs and certain fast food ads with ice cream ads that -to a mad mullah- seemed to read 'Allah' in arabic.

In certain French neighborhoods, non-Muslim women have taken to wearing scarves to avoid being attacked by Muslims (er, I mean "Youths"). In Wisconsin, even a long-time lefty law professor with all sorts of liberal cred gets smacked down when he even deigns discuss another culture.

Women's studies programs flourished under American rule, but set the stage for takeover by rigid fundamentalists who will use multiculturalism like a weapon against them.

And I wonder how long gay marriage will last in Canada when Muslims take over their city councils?

Dewave said...

Just one more indication of how bad things are in Europe. Instead of addressing the problems, let's make it illegal to bring the problems to light!

Oh well, can't say we aren't headed down the same censorship road. Thank you, McCain-Feingold.