Today's Opinions, Tomorrow's Reality
Bigfoot, UFOs and Racism
By David G. Young
Washington, DC, June 19, 2016 --
Video streaming capabilities of mobile phones are dispelling some myths and proving others.
In a film that celebrates the existence of Aliens and UFOs, the 1977 classic Close Encounters of a Third Kind offers a rare dose of skepticism:
"[L]ast year, Americans shot more than seven billion photographs," notes a doubting questioner at a press conference, "Now, with all those shutters clicking, where is the indisputable photographic evidence?"1
Nearly 40 years later, those modest statistics about photography sound downright quaint. InfoTrends estimates that over a trillion photographs were shot worldwide last year2. Most of these were made from mobile phones that are always on a person’s body, ready to capture an image within seconds of the start of an event. Never before has it been so easy for people to capture documentary evidence of their experiences.
Despite all these pictures, there still isn’t any indisputable photographic evidence of alien spacecraft visiting earth. Nor is there evidence of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, or any other supernatural myths so popular back in 1977.
But while many stories of the 1970s have proven false, others have been right on the money. In the wake of the Civil Rights movement, tales of police brutality ran rampant in the 1970s. It took more than 30 years before enough people regularly carried high resolution cameras in their pockets to capture evidence of how widespread it really is, proving that unlike UFOs and Bigfoot, brutal and racist cops are no myth.
The dramatic footage of the police killing of Philando Castile at a routine Minnesota traffic stop earlier this month is just the latest high profile example of such evidence.3 It proves the great value of cameras in the hands of the citizenry to keep security forces in check. In that case, the video wasn’t just locally stored on the camera (leaving the possibility of confiscation of the recording by authorities), but streamed live to the world.
Without such dramatic documentary footage, the Minnesota incident would have gotten relatively little attention and would have devolved into a case of the word of the police against the word of a surviving black suspect. Given that the passengers admitted to having marijuana and a gun in the car4, the story without a citizen’s striking video evidence likely would have gone a whole lot differently.
The value of citizen-operated cameras stands in stark contrast to the value of dashboard or body cameras operated by police, which have proven completely unreliable at capturing civil rights violations. Widespread reports of Chicago police sabotaging their own dashboard cameras5 and a history of lawsuits by police unions trying to eliminate such cameras6, show that cops will bitterly resist attempts to collect evidence to hold them accountable for their actions.
Even on rare occasions where police forces do distribute cameras and they have not ben sabotaged, they have a nasty habit of malfunctioning at times very convenient for offending officers. Alton Sterling, a black man selling CDs in Baton Rouge was shot to death earlier this month by multiple white police officers. Authorities claimed two different body cameras worn by the police officers just happened to fall off during the scuffle, so no video was recorded.7 Fortunately, a nearby convenience store owner captured the incident on his cell phone, showing that officers fired their guns while the suspect was pinned on the ground8.
The downside to these revealing videos is the uncontrolled outrage that they have inspired. Two days ago, a gunman murdered three Baton Rouge Police officers in an apparent act of revenge9. This follows the similar July 9 ambush and killing of five officers in Dallas. Injustice following injustice is a tragic consequence of letting this infuriating problem fester way too long. Police officers simply doing their jobs should not have to fear being targeted for the indefensible acts of their bullying racist colleagues.
The best hope for stopping vengeance killings is for a sense of justice for all to ultimately prevail. Now that citizens have cameras at the ready, it will be harder than ever to deny this justice. No, there is no compelling proof that UFOs exist. But the indisputable photographic evidence of racist police killings is now there for all to see.
Related Web Columns:
1. Sci Fi Scripts.com, Close Encounters of a Third Kind Script, as posted July 19, 2016
2. InfoTrends, Fun Facts About the Photography Market, Apr 14, 2016
5. The Verge, Chicago Police are Destroying Their own Dashboard Cameras, January 28, 2016