Video Vigilantism in Vacouver

The naming & shaming now going on in BC is as bad, maybe worse, than the riots …

It’s been over half a century since George Orwell wrote 1984, but Big Brother is still watching us. In fact, he’s been watching us more and more – email and phone conversations keyed to certain words, surveillance cameras on street corners and in corner stores. We don’t have Orwell’s two-way telescreems that you can’t turn off (yet). But we do have facebook.

It’s not just the thought police who are monitoring ‘what’s on your mind’, it’s any one of your 900 “friends”. So if you’re dumb enough to brag about setting a car on fire at the Canucks riot, or a big enough wiener to send around snapshots of your Schneiders, somebody in authority is going to notice.

Even if you keep your thoughts, words and deeds (and anatomy) to yourself, the person behind you has a cell phone camera. In fact, the police are counting on it. In Vancouver they’re asking people to send them their photos and videos of the riot so they can track down the hockey hooligans who trashed the city. Well, I hope they do. And if Adam Nobody and those other folks whose civil rights took a beating in Toronto during the G20 find justice, it’ll be because someone was recording the cops. And if democracy comes to Syria and Libya, it will be because someone shot pictures of the state shooting people.

I get it. There’s something reassuring about a national neighbourhood watch. But there’s also something unsettling, especially when you consider all the official, and unofficial, state surveillance. Video vigilantes give me the same feeling I got when I first saw the barbeque on my back deck from outer space—like we’re another step closer to room 101 in the Ministry of Love. And brother, that’s scary.

From CBC Online, June 20, 2011




For a legal opinion, click here.


About David McLaren

David McLaren is an award-winning writer. He has worked in government and the private sector, with NGOs and First Nations in Ontario. He is currently writing from Neyaashiinigamiing on the shore of Georgian Bay and can be reached at In February 2015, he won the nomination for the NDP to represent the riding of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound in the 2015 federal election. See that page for writings during the campaign.
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