Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Right To Keep And Wear Tinfoil

No, really. It's a basic right; some of the notable figures in the America Revolution flirted with various forms of bugnuts crazy -- Thomas "doesn't work and play well with others" Paine, for a start, or the Deist Ethan Allen, who drove an innocent J. of the P. to tears at his own wedding with a line of questioning aimed at finding out if the "God" referred to in the ceremony included "Nature's God," the somewhat formless conceptualization of his belief, as well as the Christian God to Whom it was generally taken to refer.[1]

So, yeah, we've got a long history of loonies. This is not to say that some loonies are not more laughable than others. For instance, the one who is presently in Tam's crosshairs of snark has earned her place fair and square. She's no Tom Paine.

On the other hand, the linked news story -- as I read it, YMMV -- doesn't show any especially obnoxious actions. She was on public land taking photos of something in plain view.

The handy-dandy pocket .pdf guide to not gettin' busted while photographing cheerily informs us "...commanders of military installations can prohibit photographs of specific areas if they deem it necessary," but it's an open question if that writ applies off the base. If I can stand way far away and take pictures with a telephoto lens, shouldn't I be able to stand on the shoulder of the road right outside the base and wield a Canon? It is okayer if I'm on the far side of the road? Driving by in a Google Streetview vehicle? Taking pix from orbit? Sketching it on the scene? --At home from memory? Certainly in instances where they're really serious about it -- around Groom Lake NAS[2], popularly known as "Area 51" f'rinstance -- .mil/.gov moved the fences waaaaay out and have taken other precautions so you can't take snapshots of the Sekrit Stuff.

I'm not sayin' it's kewl to twit the officer in charge of your local Guard base over the "DO NOT READ THIS SIGN" signs he's posted near all the interesting stuff; a base commander's lot is not a happy one already and there's no need to add to it, plus he has a few bored MPs ready to hand. Nor am I suggesting the OMG! FEMA Death Camps are everywhere! notion is particularly likely or even all that sane. But -- at what point does being a bit bonkers, thinking goofy things, become a matter for arrest rather than well-deserved mockery? If it's merely at the point of photographing objects in plain view, we might indeed want to be a little concerned.

Did she actually trespass with anything other than reflected light? That's a key bit of info. I've yet to find out.
1. I have always hoped his bride shared his religious convictions and fervor, 'cos otherwise...!
2. No, I'm guessing. But the USN is the Senior Service, after all.


Anonymous said...

What do you make of the fact that the light she recorded itself escaped through the fence? I mean, it was leaking out anyway, you could make an argument that she performed a community service by preventing it from slopping around any further by soaking it up with metal halide crystals. (Or the surface of her camera's CCD in all probability.)

In any case it is my opinion that if any base commander leaves anything in sight of public property which shouldn't be, he is the one at fault, not the person being a pain in arse by taking photos of it.


w/v: dunceli: Notably ignorant pasta.

Will Brown said...

Sorry Roberta, but here in the US, the US Army was formally founded prior to the USN (says a USN vet). In Britain, the RN is the more senior national military arm (the Crown owned the ships and directly paid the crews and officers; the Crown simply "called up" the aristocracy's military units on an as-needed basis). Gen. Washington's Revolutionary Army was formally authorized well before Congress formed the Navy.

Roberta X said...

H'mmm, how about that. Lot of pro-Navy sentiment in my chidhood home, Dad having been a Naval Reservist and his brothers who served were all regular Navy....