Film a cop, face 16 years in jail

That’s what a Maryland man is looking at — 16 years if convicted, for filming police at his own traffic stop and then posting the video on YouTube. All of this according to Ray Sanchez of ABC News (h/t Scott Horton).

The arrestee is charged with violating the state’s anti-wiretapping laws. The ABC News story is here. The YouTube video is here. (Don’t let the Maryland police catch you watching it.)

Sanchez says these arrests are more and more common, with an obvious purpose:

“The message is clearly, ‘Don’t criticize the police,'” said David Rocah, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland who is part of Graber’s defense team. “With these charges, anyone who would even think to record the police is now justifiably in fear that they will also be criminally charged.”

Click through to the news story; there are lots of other instances. Horton agrees this is a “growing trend.” He concludes:

This is an extreme example of the arrogance of power, in which a Maryland cop exercised bad judgment, was embarrassed when he was publicly exposed, and got his colleagues and prosecutors to exercise still worse judgment.

As Aristotle teaches us, in a democracy the people are entitled to throw light on the dealings of public officials to keep them honest, whereas the private dealings of the people are to be sheltered from unreasonable intrusion. In a tyranny, the officials of the government are enshrouded in secrecy but constantly invade the privacy of the common citizens. Which model does this bring the people of Maryland closer to?

The cop was filmed with a gun in his hand at a traffic stop. Rules of engagement?

GP


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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