Wednesday, May 03, 2006

University cops promote web snitching for fun and profit

After the pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the Chinese government broadcast surveillance camera footage and offered cash rewards for anyone willing to rat out individual protesters.

The University of Colorado at Boulder has taken a page out of the Communists' handbook and published surveillance photos online from a "smoke-in" style anti-drug war protest on April 20, aiming to identify and presumably prosecute the participants.

You get $50 apiece for snitching out your fellow students. Ugh! That's revolting to me, both that the university would do it and that anyone would participate to help identify folks. I've argued before that, while sometimes justified, snitching violates a number of
positive, right-thinking values that deserve more respect than the criminal justice system and the drug war often afford them.

I'm sure police believe publishing these photos on the web will serve a shaming function, punishing alleged offenders through public disgrace whether or not they can be convicted of anything (after all, who can prove what was in the depicted hand-rolled cigarettes?). But that's not law enforcement's role - judges and juries decide punishments in this country, not police.

If these aren't actually prosecutable cases, this tactic becomes nothing but thuggish harassment, no better, really, than what these guys are doing.
Certainly it's hard to argue that anything about this totalitarian exercise improves public safety.

Surely some people would report anyone they saw smoking pot to authorities; for them, the pay wouldn't change a thing. But if you wouldn't snitch without it, fifty bucks seems a grotesquely small sum for someone to be willing to trade their values, turn on their friends and become a rat.

Thanks to Daniel Bear for pointing me to this case.


Anonymous said...

I like how you ran this item right after the one about the blue wall of silence. Maybe if internal affairs offered $50 a name, cops would be more willing to snitch on each other....

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Celtictexan, you're hilarious - you should take that act on the road, except Steven Colbert beat you to it. Oh wait, maybe that wasn't satire ...

Nobody here ever said witnesses to rape or murder shouldn't speak up. For example, in this post I wrote that "I never would tell someone who witnessed a violent crime, for example, not to report it." You're arguing against a beast of your own invention, not anything I've said.

How does red herring taste, anyway?

Anonymous said...

Hey, I know that one guy!

He's the son of one of the sicko idiots who thought up the idea to snitch out the students for 50 pieces of silver!

Kevin Schmidt, Sterling VA

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Anonymous said...

Anti-drug people are such boobs. CU Boulder is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Pot has always been part of the culture, a laid-back, creative, culture of tolerance and progressiveness.

The CU cops have disgraced the school, the community, and most of all, themselves.

Anonymous said...

celtictexan - "liberals are liars" - what a pathetic little person you are.

Anonymous said...

liberals are liars what is your point?

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