03 January 2012

iPhones vs. the Cops

The image of the 'protester with the iPhone' is one that's been constantly ridiculed since Occupy began some, now, three-plus months ago.

One example from the Free Republic forums:

"Unsurprisingly, those that claim to be "oppressed" at Occupy Seattle have laptops, iPhones, internet access, and movie projectors. They also have a website on which they have published a schedule of upcoming events."

...because you shouldn't be able to speak out about injustices unless you're completely destitute.

Time Magazine and The New Yorker, though, offer a look (beyond just mocking) at some of these technology-wielding people. From Time's profile of "The Protester" -
Rami Jarrah, a Syrian activist who fled to Cairo, brought his battered iPhone. He showed me some of the most intense protest footage I’ve ever seen. A Spanish protester named Stephane Grueso brought his iPhone too, referring to it as a “weapon.”

And, from The New Yorker's excellent article on the way that iPhones and readily available cameras are changing our relationship with the police:

Why does someone like me defer to a policeman, after all? It’s probably because, in the old days, if he and I were to present to a court conflicting narratives of what happened between us, the court would more or less be obliged to take his side, not because the court was certain he was right, but because the court had an institutional relationship with the policeman to maintain. Knowing that, it made sense for me to concede that the policeman had an advantage: he was going to have the privilege of telling our story.

But things are different nowadays. Smart phones have cameras, and almost everyone has a smart phone. A court is therefore less likely to be ignorant of what actually occurred between the policeman and me. The policeman and I may have videotaped it. Bystanders might have, too.

...worth thinking about.

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