EVERYTHING BUT: O Big Brother!
Well, In its conttinuing fight against crime, our Police Force has been increasing its use of surveillance cameras in public places, to wit Bridgetown and The City’s environs.
The hope of the police is that with these cameras at every street corner of The City they can keep a permanent eye on public goings-on and a cover on criminal activity – at the very least, they can be an eyewitness to the latter. Of course, the force’s closed-circuit television system at Central Command will allow for recording of all activity.
Coming under surveillance even more will be the area from Spring Garden to Cheapside in the south. The impatient and high-strung minibus drivers and their fellow hyper ZR speedsters, who imagine Fontabelle as a strip for high acceleration testing at Bushy Park, caring not for the zebra crossing outside Nation House, will literally come under the camera – and, we hope, at some point under the hammer.
At last we may see the faces of those who toss litter out of the said vehicles, or those others who inconspicuously drop their empty styrofoam food containers along Fontabelle, blocking drains when it rains and contributing to car door-high floodwater.
We could identify the meeting drivers who nonchalantly cause a back-up of traffic in both lanes as, idling their engines side by side, they chat merrily and comfortably for minutes about business we don’t understand and don’t remotely care about.
We could finger too those lazy fellas, who under the pretext of having problems with their urinary tract, water the premises of businesses and homes indiscriminately while displaying their prowess. Public exposure of one’s private parts is still against the law, as far as I know.
Of course, the gentlemen who walk romantically along Cheapside-Fontabelle will do so with their own women, for peering and unmistaken eyes will be upon them. Vice versa, the romancing ladies.
Which brings me to Rehab: it’s more than a nightclub; it can be an experience. Truth be told, I have no first-hand knowledge of it; I got the foregoing information from a horse’s mouth. But I am told that if you are well known, and you are going solo to Rehab, you ought to approach the premises in the dark of night, discreetly, one furtive step after another lest you attract attention to yourself and not be able to give good cause for your visit.
Another way in, I am told, is to bury yourself in any boisterous group venturing in by politely begging excuse and ensuring you are encircled until you reach the door. Once inside, everybody is sworn to secrecy and not carrying tales out of school – though you are permitted to take tails.
It is very hard work to have a good time. But that is what Big Brother does for you.
Some people will cry invasion of privacy on account of these cameras. But I am not au fait with how much privacy you can get in a public place where women teach you to dance, by practice or by sight, and where something’s always happening.
Yes, we all have a right to privacy; but it will be mostly in our homes!
We might as well face it, surveillance cameras will become ubiquitous in public places. They are for our good. We got accustomed to them in the banks and at the workplace; it wouldn’t be so difficult to get used to them in the streets.
The obvious benefit here is the catching of criminals in the act by the police, thus reducing crime, and making the streets safer for ordinary people. More importantly, offenders or petty hoodlums like the purse snatcher and the BlackBerry thief will almost certainly be deterred.
If society will be much safer for the cameras, let them run. We cannot be too concerned about feeling like we are “being in jail”. If we aren’t committing crime ourselves, why should we worry unduly?
There is no George Orwell’s 1984 here. And, brother, we have always managed to balance need for public security with respect for the individual privacy. Haven’t we?
• Ridley Greene is a Caribbean multi-award-winning journalist.