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I often wonder about our different reactions to cameras and video recording.

There are CCTVs and surveillance cameras everywhere. Just look up in the corner of the store, or under the eaves, and there they are. You never know if you're being recorded or not, and to what purpose the video will be put.

We've had lots of reports in the news about police reacting violently to being recorded in their public actions by bystanders. Is detaining or arresting someone a private act and the recording of it an invasion of privacy? They don't seem to give a second thought to the surveillance cameras which might be taping them also.

It comes down to an issue, I think, of what we consider private and what we consider to be public actions, and whether or not a citizen is entitled to record for his personal use -- or for public airing -- of the actions of public officials.

I'll bet if you were to walk along a busy sidewalk, video camera in hand, recording the ordinary public activities of people you'd get a lot of objections. We have the feeling that, even though we're in public, our actions are private unless they touch upon a public concern.

The drivers of cars that pull up in front of my house at school dismissal time have, for the most part, been respectful of the quiet neighborhood. However yesterday one of them honked and honked and HONKED her horn until I was driven outside to ask her if there was a problem and could I help her.

She huffed at me, closed her window, and continued honking. I took my phone out of my pocket and took a picture of her car's license plate. Just harassing her back, since asking her to stop her noise (she could get her butt out of the car and go get her child) wasn't working.

She called the police! They said that she was indeed in violation of some civil code or other, but that I had no right to take a picture of her car. They couldn't cite any legal regulation, though. Just told me not to do it again. I asked them since when did it become illegal to take a picture of a person's car on a public street, turned around and took a picture of the patrol car.

They were annoyed with me, but after giving me another verbal warning, got in their car and left. I'm probably on their list now as the "crazy lady" in the house across the street.

I really shouldn't get so riled up. We lost a lot of our civil rights after 9/11 and making a fuss only makes the officials even more paranoid.

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