I don’t like the proliferation of security cameras in public, partly because it’s invasive, secondly because it creates the mindset that crime is best dealt with through cheap gestures. However, there’s one civil liberties non-argument against security cams in public that I’d like to see done away with, mainly because it frames the issue in abstract terms that seem to make sense, but can’t be verified.

Here it is: some civil libertarians propose that the presence of cameras somehow puts people into a submissive (versus a cautious) mindset. If you’re writing a novel about a soulless Big Brother future where love does not compute, fine. Describe streets bejeweled with security cameras, serving as soul-sucking floating eyes and draining people of their willingness to rise up against their oppressors. It’s a great literary image, but (outside of a prison’s walls) it’s just not true. Perhaps that’s a debatable position, but let me ask these questions:

1. When you realize a camera is trained on you at the store, the bank, or on a main intersection, do you EVER care (barring the possibility that you might actually be there to rob the bank or store), much less develop a submissive personality?

2. What is the actual percentage of individuals walking around, constantly planning crimes, only to be flummoxed by the camera in the far corner of the room?