Ugly word, ugly actions

A photographer was arrested for taking photographs in Kent – and apparently also for being tallish in a public place (according the Register, although this bit of the story may be apocryphal). Well, being tallish seems safer than looking a bit Brazilian.

Medway Eyes has links to several magazines and newspapers that discuss this infuriating story. (Eg, Henry Porter in the Guardian.)

The wrongness of this incident is self-evident. (For instance, let’s start with the misuse of anti-terror laws to harass people or with the de facto imposition of a requirement to show ID…..)

However, I’m getting soooo tired about banging on about the loss of civil liberties that I won’t bother here. Please take it as read.

Instead, I’m just going to whine about the word “de-arrested” According to Amateur Photography:

A spokesman for Kent Police confirmed this morning: ‘We can confirm that on Wednesday 8 July, at approximately 12.30pm, a man was arrested on Military Road, Chatham. After a short period of time the man was dearrested and no further action will be taken.’

“Dearrested”. It’s not a word.

I’m all for making up words on spec but surely any inventions should add something to the English language, not just make speech uglier, to no purpose.

What’s wrong with “freed”? Maybe “freed” was rejected because it carries a subliminal association with the concept of “freedom,” whereas “dearrested” just reminds you of “arrest.”

There’s a subtle suggestion that the condition of being arrested is the default state, with “dearrest” (sic, not “dearest”, please try to keep up) being the anomaly.

Obviously, being “dearrested” is infinitely preferable to being arrested. But, then, who’d have thought – ten years ago – that using your own camera in a public shopping street could lead to you getting arrested in the first place?

On 9th July, the Metropolitan Police issued guidelines to its police officers to point out that taking photographs was not a crime, but apparently the Home Office was not altogether behind that seemingly innocuous message. And it certainly doesn’t seem to have filtered through to the Medway towns.

In any case, if taking photographs is somehow a crime, how can anyone square that with the ubiquity of CCTV in Britain? There must be scarcely more than ten feet of public space that isn’t being photographed on a 24-hour -a-day basis. The Register pointed out a truly amazing statistic:

As if to underline Britain’s status as the West’s most monitored society, the BBC’s Freedom of Information requests showed that authorities on the Shetland Islands have more CCTV cameras than the San Francisco Police Department.

9 thoughts on “Ugly word, ugly actions

  1. Sadly, the Chaplain is spot on. Equally sadly, the UK seems to use 1984 as a political blueprint…

  2. “Released” is the word most often used in US press reports (suggesting – correctly – that someone was previously caged). The “no further action will be taken” also seems to suggest “Well, the guy’s a crook sure, but we’ll let him slide with a warning this time”, rather than “Oops. Our bad.”

  3. Angie – good points. The Police statement does imply that this photographer is up to no good, but they are letting it slide… for now.

    Surely this is 180 degrees from how the relationship between police and public should be.

    It will be interesting to see what the response to the planned mass-photographer gathering is. Either they all get stopped and ID, which will be chaotic or the police think that terrorists are so stupid they would only ever carry out reconnaissance on their own, with a blatantly obvious camera and tripod.

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  5. Angie

    That event was absolutely scandalous.

    It’s also disturbingly obvious that it would have been seen as just everyday normal policing if Henry Gates wasn’t world famous.

  6. Angie – words fail me. That is outrageous.

    This leads me back to a long running whine I have about how we (the west in general) seem to be giving our police / governments so many powers that, should a bad thing happen, we have no recourse or oversight. Surely that is the death knell for democracy.

  7. TW – That’s actually the justification for most liberal/atheist 2nd amendment types. It’s in our Constitution that we can arm as a militia if necessary.

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