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Photography issues

Readers — This is just a fascinating artifact from the world of Worst-First thinking, where folks believe today’s children are completely besieged by criminal masterminds (or at least the last of the phonebook users)  who are driven in equal measures by rank evil and a love of intensive research. It ran as a letter to the Press Enterprise paper in Bloomsburg, PA (boldface mine):

To the Editor: I am writing this letter as a concerned former resident of the Bloomsburg area, and am a reader of the Press Enterprise. I no longer live in the area but still return to Bloomsburg because of family and friends who live there.

The March 3rd newspaper carried a page that is commonly used every month, but disturbs me, and others in the area, very deeply. Yesterday it was page 22, the page featuring pictures of young children in the area who are celebrating their birthdays. I would like to urge the Press Enterprise to please, please stop printing this page. These are beautiful, young children who deserve to have their birthdays made a special day for them, but please don’t make it so obvious and so public.

I caution not only the newspaper, but the parents who send in those pictures and the information accompanying them. It is a practice that puts the lives of these children in jeopardy. If I were someone desiring to do something to a child that is too horrible to imagine, all I have to do is get a copy of the newspaper that features a page 22 with all the pictures and information I would need  in order to carry out my desires. By purchasing that newspaper I would have a current photo of the child; know the names of the parents; know the town they lived in, and get a phone book to look up the address; learn the names and towns of the grandparents; know  how many siblings there are and their ages; and, by putting two and two together, come up with the school they go to.

If I learned their address from the phone book, I could drive to the area where they live, sit in my car and watch for them to walk to school and make my move. This is an extremely dangerous situation and the newspaper and the parents are making it very simple and treacherous for the very children they love so much.

This morning (March 4, 2014) I looked on the Internet and did a search for current registered sex offenders in Bloomsburg, Danville, and Berwick. There were a total of 66 current registered sex offenders. How many others are there in the area who are not current or are considering taking that next step to becoming one? Of course the three towns only skim the surface of the residents Benton, Hazleton, Northumberland, and, of course Sunbury where very recently a teenager was arrested for murder by finding victims on the Internet.

Bloomsburg is not the innocent town it once was when I grew up there (I graduated high school there in the ’60s). I know several residents of the area who have never  traveled over 100 miles from the town and probably never will. If you live in the town, you may never see Interstate 80 except when you drive on it. You may not even have a concept of the amount of traffic that drives on that highway. Do you even realize that I-80 goes from the New York City area all the way to the west coast? The number of people who travel through the Bloomsburg area daily is tremendous. It would be so easy for one of them to buy a newspaper, see the pictures of the children, do a little research, and their day would be planned. I would hate for something horrible to happen in my hometown.

S. H. . Norman, Okla.

Those poor doomed children who live in Bloomsburg, PA.

The doomed town of Bloomsburg, PA.

 

Folks — The Manifesto Club in  Britain is just a brilliant group dedicated to many of the same issues as Free-Range Kids. Among them: The way that pedophile panic is making us distrust absolutely every adult around a child. The latest example? This:

An Australian primary school has banned parents from taking photos of their kids’ swimming gala.

The headteacher justified the move thus: “We want parents to be able to have a record of the children’s events and be part of that, but it’s about protecting our children. (Swimming) is part of their curriculum and they should be able to participate in that while feeling safe.”

The suspicion directed at parents is a defining feature of many contemporary ‘child protection’ rules. Rather than focusing on ‘dodgy strangers hanging around’, controls instead target parents trying to record milestones in their children’s lives.

This primary school is ‘protecting children’ against their parents; and suggesting that children will not feel ‘safe’ if their parents and their friends’ parents are snapping photos of their races (which is, of course, the opposite of the truth).

This kind of ridiculous rule is what turns a community into a citadel of distrust. It’s the same kind of rule I heard about today when I was on the Michael Graham radio show. He said he was not allowed to visit his child’s classroom to read aloud because he didn’t have a background check. Like he was going to molest a child while reading to the other 24.

Our marching orders? Distrust every human over the age of 18. They all want to prey on kids. Maybe even the 84-year-old lady “saying” she needed help with a heavy package. Lady — we know your pervy kind. – L.

What kind of disgusting pervert took this photo?

Readers — Here’s a great letter by George Mason economist Alex Tabarrok that he graciously allowed me to lift from his blog, Marginal Revolution. – L.

Dear Principal _____,

Thank you for requesting feedback about the installation of interior cameras at the high school. I am against the use of cameras. I visited the school recently to pick up my son and it was like visiting a prison. A police car often sits outside the school and upon entry a security guard directs visitors to the main office where the visitor’s drivers license is scanned and information including date of birth is collected (is this information checked against other records and kept in a database for future reference? It’s unclear). The visitor is then photographed and issued a photo pass. I found the experience oppressive  Adding cameras will only add to the prison-like atmosphere. The response, of course, will be that these measures are necessary for “safety.” As with security measures at the airports I doubt that these measures increase actual safety, instead they are security theater, a play that we put on that looks like security but really is not.

Moreover, the truth is that American children have never been safer than they are today. Overall youth mortality (ages 5-14) has fallen from 60 per 100,000 in 1950 to 13.1 per 100,000 today (CDC, Vital Statistics). Yet we hide in gated communities, homes and schools as never before.

When we surround our students with security we are implicitly telling them that the world is dangerous; we are whispering in their ear, “Be afraid, do not venture out, take no risks.” When going to school requires police, security guards and cameras how can I encourage my child to travel to foreign countries, to seek new experiences, to meet people of different faiths, beliefs and backgrounds? When my child leaves school how will the atmosphere of fear that he has grown up in affect his view of the world and the choices he will make as a citizen in our democracy? School teaches more than words in books.

Yours sincerely,

Alex Tabarrok

Thanks, but no thanks, bro.

Hi Folks! I’m trying to gather examples of warnings, waivers and official worires that annoy, amuse or outrage you, especially regarding your kids. For instance, over in England  schools are forbidding parents from taking pictures at plays. One sports program requires shutter-happy parents to wear a special ARM BAND if they’re going to snap pix. In this amazing article, Josie Appleton, head of The Manifesto Club, writes that the “Robin Hood primary and nursery school in Nottinghamshire says its photographs are stored in a ‘secure location’ for not more than four years, after which they are ‘privately destroyed.’” Like government secrets!

I’m speaking at a conference about this kind of stuff in November and I’ve got a lot of wonderful examples from you already. But if you’ve got any more — let’s hear! L.   (who can’t quite figure out why, at the end of this video, you go right into my next-to-latest video…but so be it) 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB22r7uUnvg?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Hi Readers!  Just realized (it IS summer) I posted this story earlier. Sorry! Stay tuned for something new in a little bit! Or re-read and get mad all over again! L.

My Brush with Predator Mania by Nicholas Martin

I took my 9-year-old daughter and two of her friends to swim today at Brookville Lake, an Indiana state park. I was shooting pictures of them from the beach with a telephoto lens when I was approached by two park guides who asked if I was photographing my own kids or other people’s.
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I responded that I had the legal and constitutional right to photograph anyone. I asked if there was a complaint and a female guide responded that one beachgoer had motioned them over to question my picture taking. The guide said that she was just ensuring the safety of the children. I said that it was ridiculous to think that a man shooting with a large camera and lens on an open beach was a potential threat to kids, and pointed out that probably hundreds of people on the beach had cell phone cameras that could take pictures without being noticed. I told the guides that they should tell the complainers that anyone had a right to take pictures at the beach. The guides were unfailingly cordial and respectful and we bid each other a friendly goodbye.
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Minutes later the ladies next to our beach tent pointed out the woman nearby who had made the complaint to the guides. She was with three other women, all apparently in their thirties and with no accompanying kids. Seconds later one of the four women lifted her cell phone and began taking pictures of one of her friends standing in front of the water. Or she could have been taking pictures of the children behind her for all I know!
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I approached the woman who had complained and asked if we should notify the authorities about her friend’s picture-taking. She responded by asking me if I would want a stranger taking pictures of my child at the beach. I said it would be fine with me since it presented no threat.
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Later my kids heard some people in the water complaining about my picture-taking. One of them said, “He better put that camera away.” It is not far-fetched to imagine a mob of people driven by a sufficient frenzy to inflict “justice” on a photographer at that beach. What if I hadn’t had any kids with me and was just shooting some beach scenes, with kids, adults, and lapping waves? The American mania regarding sexual predation is not to be toyed with.
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Perhaps area photographers should show up at the beach for a Photo Freedom Day to publicize and defend the right to do photography. - Nicolas Martin
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Lenore here: I like the idea of a Photo Freedom Day. If anyone organizes one, please let us know how it goes! – L 

What kind of disgusting pervert takes a picture like this?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lp4yfHTR3Gc]

Hi Folks — Two letters I got, two days apart:

Dear Free-Range Kids: I have always wanted to have something to share about my experience as a Free-Range Kid parent, but today I don’t get to do that. My story is of how the 9 or 10-year-old girl from down the street came over and said she can only play if my wife is at home. I said “Oh, really?” and marched her home and confronted her mom and sure enough, it’s not acceptable for me to be the only parent in the house when she over. “It’s to protect both her and you” she says. I guess we live in a world where all men are perps. – T.F.

And here’s Letter #2, from Nicholas Martin, executive director of the Consumer Health Education Council, who was at the beach with his 9-year-old daughter and two of her friends.

Dear Free- Range Kids: I took my 9-year-old daughter and two of her friends to  swim today at Brookville Lake, an Indiana state park. I was shooting them from the beach with a telephoto lens when I was approached by two park guides who asked if I was photographing my own kids or other people’s. I responded that I had the legal and constitutional right to photograph anyone. I asked if there was a complaint and a female guide responded that one beachgoer had motioned them over to question my picture taking.

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The guide said that she was just ensuring the safety of the children. I said that it was ridiculous to think that a man shooting with a large camera and lens on an open beach was a potential threat to kids, and pointed out that probably hundreds of people on the beach had cell phone cameras that could take pictures without being noticed. The guides were unfailingly cordial and respectful and we bid each other a friendly goodbye.

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Minutes later the ladies next to our beach tent pointed out the woman nearby who had made the complaint to the guides. She was with three other women, all apparently in their thirties and with no accompanying kids. Seconds later one of the four women lifted her cell phone and began taking pictures of one of her friends standing in from of the water. Or she could have been taking pictures of the children behind her for all I know. I approached the woman who had complained and asked if we should notify the guides about her friend’s picture taking. She responded by asking me if I would want a stranger taking pictures of my child at the beach. I said it would be fine with me since it presented no threat.
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Later my kids heard some people in the water complaining about my picture taking. One of them said, “He better put that camera away.” It is not far-fetched to imagine a mob of people driven by a sufficient frenzy to inflict “justice” on a photographer at that beach. What if I hadn’t had any kids with me and was just shooting some beach scenes, with kids, adults, and lapping waves? The American mania regarding sexual predation is not to be toyed with. [NOTE FROM LENORE: Sure isn't. A man on the sex offender list for having sex with his younger girlfriend as a teen was murdered by a vigilante last week.] 
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Though they never should have approached me, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources guides deserve credit for acknowledging my rights and being pleasant in their questioning. In my view, this is another case of “guilty of being male.”  Perhaps area photographers should show up at the beach for a Photo Freedom Day to publicize and defend the right to do photography. – N.M.
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Lenore here: I like the idea of organizing a Photo Freedom Day. I like the idea of organizing any kind of “Return to Normalcy Day” (like my “Take Our Kids to the Park…And Leave Them There Day”) and alerting the press. 

What kind of creep took this photo? I see KIDS in it!