Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Smith : Freedom hits a red light

First state to welcome Big Brother, Ariz has a duty to cancel invitation

The eye of Big Brother is upon you: A photo enforcement camera patrols 22nd Street just east of Pantano Road this  summer.

The eye of Big Brother is upon you: A photo enforcement camera patrols 22nd Street just east of Pantano Road this summer.

We’re on a slippery slope here, amigos, and you know what happens when you’re on a slippery slope? You begin sliding downward, faster and faster till you’re out of control.

Nature’s most powerful and surest force – gravity – takes over, and not you or anyone can slow, let alone stop, the inevitable.

Call a cop. See if he can be of service.

The greased runway I allude to is the mechanized eye of Big Brother. My generation, the boomers, children of the ’60s, were raised in the folklore of fearing Big Brother. With very good reason.

We read George Orwell’s “1984″ and its depiction – more prophetic than that Italian dude, it turns out – of our brave new world of police camera vans filming speeders, cameras on street corners snapping red-light runners, even random camera locations downtown, taking video movies in the random chance they’ll catch a bad guy in, after or before the act.

Is this the land of the free and the home of the brave we sing about when we stand to commence the World Series?

Hell no. But it is coming to be the reality in which we live, day to day.

That patriotic bushwa we serenade at the ballfield has come to be wishful, wistful thinking.

I had hopes of dying peace- fully in my sleep before my country turned this sour. But unless the rest of you get as alarmed and mouthy about this as I am, we all will cease being citizens and be turned into subjects in a nation, make that flock, of sheep.

The woolly-natured among you may feel safe and happy, but I ask you:

Who among you is truly safe when every outdoor move is monitored by a government, neo-police state actually, that does not trust you with that dangerous plaything the citizens of 1776 bestowed upon us?

Freedom.

Frightening thing, freedom, so disquieting that the countries of Europe do not truly embrace it. Africa? Forget about it. Truth to tell, only one country in the history of the planet truly has practiced the freedom our founding documents preached, and that of course is – was – us. U.S.

Do you honestly feel free when you know that every time you drive through the intersection of Tanque Verde and Grant, you’re being filmed by police surveillance cameras?

There soon will be other cameras at other intersections in town, crossroads where a high incidence of speeding and red-light infractions have been compiled over the years.

Those infractions were compiled by cops on motorcycles or in squad cars, in a fair and square contest between law and disorder.

You may accuse me of making light of speeding, running the light, lawbreaking that endangers life and property. And you’re right, I am making light of it. Because compared with our freedom to move about in our homeland, as free citizens in a free society, free to make choices that in a small percent of cases are lawless and dangerous, that freedom is worth our lives.

Go ahead and snicker. After all, it’s only a camera, taking snapshots of your face and your license plate. It’s only mechanized surveillance at a few busy crossroads, in the back of an unmarked van cruising I-10, hidden on a light pole downtown, flying overhead in unmanned drones, in a balloon on a tether over Fort Huachuca.

These are the ones I know of off the top of my head, the ones reported in the press. How many more do you suppose are out there?

Land of the free, my ass.

And Arizona was the state where this type of highway-cruising camera got its start. Let’s make Arizona the state where the end of it begins.

Jeffyboy is upset about something. He may be reached at (520) 455-5667 or jeffyboy@wildblue.net.

If you get a ticket, you'll also be sent a photo of yourself snapped by the system. Only your eyes won't be blacked, as they are in the above sample.

If you get a ticket, you'll also be sent a photo of yourself snapped by the system. Only your eyes won't be blacked, as they are in the above sample.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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