No photos at the train station now? What for?
I'm not really in the mood to argue.
I mean, I've had some excellent food lately, which should really put anyone in a good mood.
But I'm still shocked and appalled.
And I really should've replied to the news that photography is banned from the station with a chilly, "what for?"
You see, according to the best guess of the Montreal train station's security, I apparently must look like a terrorist. Wow, they should've seen me when I was all scruffy and bearded in university. One of my friends from back then thought I was a History, rather than a Commerce student, for that simple fact.
This is the second time in two months that I've been witness to an instruction from security to stop taking photos in a government-owned facility. And it's so stupid I wish I got drop the hammer on someone the way America's Henry Waxman does two and a half minutes into this video.
Waxman is understandably annoyed with the stonewalling he gets from the EPA about its conversations with America's worst president - something which I would find especially infuriating as an auditor used to getting answers from my interviewees - and getting those answers fast.
I, on the other hand, am annoyed on two levels:
- You really think I'm a terrorist? Are you insane?
- I know you don't, actually. But if you thought I was, is this how you're going to treat me?
Given the choice, I think I still prefer a pathetic police state to a truly vicious one, but I fear the shift from the former to the latter.
It's one thing to have to open your files to an auditor to show them how you do your job. That's what we're here for - to make sure your job is being done effectively and to help prevent some kid from off the street from causing mayhem in your office.
But harassing members of the public ... for enjoying public spaces?
Maybe they were hiding the fact that more than half the trains were late.
If you're going to do it, let's return to point #2: if I were planning on causing mayhem, would standing in a wide open area and letting everyone see me use my camera be the best way of accomplishing such a goal?
In addition to being a completely ineffective way of stopping me from doing whatever I feel like - I have gigs of photos - if you really think I got super-duper secret information - oh look, train departures! - shouldn't you quickly escort me to a secret room for interrogation?
The fact that they didn't even try and take down any information from me - "why are you taking these photos" would be a good start, but hey, I'm just a CA, and not highly trained train station security guard - is almost more chilling than the fact they think running up to me and asking me to stop taking pictures is going to do something useful.
Of course, I'm glad I wasn't whisked off and beaten like you would be in some parts of the world - check out this video of Israeli mall security - but we're quickly heading off in that direction if you're sending security agents dressed all in black to scare you away, which pushes me to speak out.
If a facility is private, then they can of course tell you to leave for trespassing - a place of business can refund your money spent and ask you to leave too if they don't want you there, as long as they're not violating your human rights in their decision to expel you.
But government run facilities better have publicly posted rules telling you what you can and can't do.
I was recently at an LCBO - an Ontario government-run liquor store - and my cousin took a picture. Security pounced almost instantly.
How they spot you.
Are we going to set off BOMBS in your liquor store? The liquor is precious and we're Polish - we'd use bombs to defend the store in the event of a national emergency, never to harm it.
No, they didn't pull a lame 9/11 hyper-reaction argument on us. They argued that the store has to protect the design of its layout so it won't be copied by the Chinese who will then open similar rip-off stores in China.
Yes, I almost fell down laughing at that explanation.
Does the Liquor Control Board of Ontario seriously believe that some Chinese will decide they won't visit Toronto because they already know what our prettier government-run liquor stores look like?
Security suggested I voice my concerns to management. That day I was in a mood for arguing, so I did without hesitation.
They said I was free to take my business elsewhere if I was displeased with their policy.
Very well and good, except that means driving to Quebec or New York state, since the government owns all the liquor stores in Ontario.
If this was a military installation, I'd understand that you have to take some reasonable precautions.
Heck, even the train station isn't completely crazy for trying to stifle photography - even though like airport security screenings, it's a largely ineffective move. At least the "national security" argument has some weak measure of validity.
But regardless, I'm not like one of these terrorists on vacation in Vegas - great video, by the way - I just feel like taking some pictures while I'm travelling.
I'm not always going to feel so cheery and happy.
If someone's going to be a jerk about this again, we're going to have some words of discussion.