I want to think so. I really do. But all I see is the erosion continuing. More and more you can't photograph or videotape the police (regardless of what the law actually says). Why? For your protection. On the other hand, they and other government organizations can photograph and videotape you all they want and you have no recourse. Why? For your protection.
I have long held a theory that as freedoms erode, good men and women will not wish to be engaged in the violation of said freedoms. Therefore they will naturally not want to be a part of law enforcement. This means that, over time, law enforcement will be dominated more and more by those who don't give a damn about your liberty and will abuse it however they see fit.
- We flocked to suburbs because cities just aren't safe.
- We turned into a nation of helicopter parents terrified that our children were surely going to be kidnapped at any moment.
- We elected politicians who promised to be "tough on crime" giving us such gems as mandatory minimum sentencing, huge prison terms for petty crimes, trying 15 year old kids as adults, etc...
- We massively increased the number of police on our streets.
And we did all of this, despite the fact that statistically we we're actually never in much of anything resembling danger. I remember folks in Cabot Arkansas (where I attended high school for two years) freaking out over a perceived gang problem. It was ridiculous then, but they made sure to hire a few more police officers to keep an eye on it.
Americans have proven to be two things: 1) terrified and 2) really bad at math. Our reporters don't understand statistics and our soccer moms are even worse.
That's why I'm greatly amused about all the fighting we do over national politics. Who cares about Obama... you should be fighting tooth and nail over your mayor. The person who is in charge of your police and ultimately much more likely to impact your freedom.
How many folks have made this an issue locally? I haven't heard a peep here in Denver.
I think it's pretty clear that nearly everyone (except the police (except when being glorified on "Cops")) agree that citizens have the right to observe law enforcement. The law is just ambiguous about this filming right now because it wasn't a consideration in the past. Some police officers are abusing this situation, but as more and more of these cases pop up, the law will have to be clarified.
Same with civil liberties taken by police and other enforcement. The attitude some (not all, or even the majority of) officers seem to have is the attitude of control and being the boss, not serving and protecting. (Like this article--on what imaginable grounds did the officer think he could arrest a citizen for taking film from within their own house if not because "I don't like being on film, so I'm going to show this person who's boss by arresting them"). When it becomes a case of maintaining some sort of imagined and idealized "order" instead of enforcing specific law, our liberties are eroded; and when we just lay back and take it, they probably aren't coming back, because those erosions then eventually become law as people and enforcers get used to the idea.
There are of course cases where things have been turned around for the better, like civil rights, suffrage, etc. But this more modern trend of slow, steady, and insidious erosion of rights in the name of protecting us is that much more dangerous because we've become convinced we need the protection.
And when the enforcers have the big guns, the ability to detain or throw anyone in prison for almost anything, and a staggeringly complex body of law that requires a small fortune to defend against, things aren't so easy to change anymore. I'm not talking black-helicopter conspiracy theories or anything here, just a general sadness to see us giving up so much of what makes real life free and enjoyable for the illusion of safety from child rapists and terrorists.